A Clear Understanding of The Alpha and Omega

Continued from Part 16

The Alpha and the Omega

In the Book of Revelation we find the verse, “I am the Alpha and the Omega,7 says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8).   Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet and Omega the last letter.  This description is ascribed to God who verse 6 says is “his [Jesus’] God and Father.”  Verse 8 in the King James Version8 reads:  “‘I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending,’ saith the Lord, ‘which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.’”  In this verse, the King James Version and its derivative translations leave out the words ho theos  (“the God”) and use only kyrios (“Lord”) giving the impression that the text is referring to Jesus when Alpha and Omega are distinctly applied here to the “Lord God” and not to Jesus.  The word “God” is found in the best ancient manuscripts and, as a result, many modern versions do include the word “God.”9  As is clear from the context, the author of the Book of Revelation applies these words to God and not to Jesus.  Thus we find, “Grace and peace to you from Him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth” (Revelation 1:4-5).  Confusion became more pronounced as exegetical study of the New Testament intensified the connection between the so-called “Lord Jesus” and “the Lord God.”  But, there is a definite separation between God, “who is, and who was, and who is to come,” and Jesus. Those who rely on the King James Version or its derivative translations are further misled by its rendering of Revelation 1:11.  The King James Version mentions the Alpha and Omega in verse 11, which in context implies that it refers to Jesus.  This text reads: “Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.”  The title, Alpha and Omega, is absent in the best ancient manuscripts and, as a result, is not included in most modern translations.10  This verse should read:  “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” 7 Christian commentators differ as to what the phrase means.  More than likely the phrase is a Hebraism to designate the whole of anything from the beginning to the end; e.g., “[T]he faithful who fulfilled the Torah from alef to tav.”  (Yehudah Ashlag, Sefer HaZohar . . . im . . . HaSullam, Jerusalem:  HŽevrah Lehotsa’at Hazohar, (reprint)1974, Bereshit, Parashat Bereshit 23 [1:2b]) 8 The Greek text used for the King James Version was edited by Erasmus (1466-1536).  It was a poorly edited volume containing hundreds of typographical errors and many of its readings supporting Christian doctrines, although sometimes ancient, are not found in the better and more ancient manuscripts.  An example of Christian scribal interpolation to support trinitarianism is the King James Version of the New Testament reading at 1 Timothy 3:16.  It reads, “God [Theos] was revealed in the flesh” in conformity with some later manuscripts, but the reading of this verse in the ancient manuscripts is “[he, Jesus,] who [hos] was revealed in the flesh.”  (See B.F. Westcott and F.G.A. Hort, Introduction to the New Testament in the Original Greek, Peabody, Mass.:  Hendrickson Publishers, 1988, pp. 133-135.) 9 The word “God” is found in the oldest Greek manuscripts, including the Alexandrine, Sinaitic, and Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus. 10 The title, the Alpha and the Omega is not found in the oldest Greek manuscripts of Revelation 1:11, including the Alexandrine, Sinaitic, and Codex Ephraemi Rescriptus. © Gerald Sigal Continued