The Twentieth Sunday of Ordinary Time

Revelation 1:4-8

Alpha and Omega

This is that part of the letter called the “Greeting,” where the Apostle identifies himself as the writer, but more important, the God in whose name he writes.  He writes to the “seven churches that are in Asia,” what today is called the nation of Turkey.  He will name those churches in chapters two and three, but we should note that he writes to seven churches—not five or nine but seven.  We must admit now before entering on these devotions that the Book of Revelation is highly symbolic in nature; indeed, the Greek word in verse one translated in the ESV, “made known,” is translated in the NKJV, “signified.”  Most of the symbols have some relation to Old Testament prophecy in Ezekiel, Daniel, and Zechariah, some apocryphal/apocalyptic writings during the four-hundred “silent years” between the Malachi and the birth of our Lord when there was no prophet among the Jews, and finally some New Testament writings as well.  The number, “seven,” is one such symbol indicating completion and fullness.  John did indeed write to the seven churches in Asia he specifies but also meant this Revelation for all the churches—the whole Church of God.  And so we read it today as we are so behooved in verse three.

But again, the important part of this passage is the God in whose name the greeting is made.  He is described as “him who is and who was and who is to come.”  Indeed, this description is repeated in verses four and eight.  Moreover, this God also calls himself, “the Alpha and the Omega,” the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet (also 22:13).  These verses teach us God’s eternal nature; there never was a time He was not and never will be a time when He is not—He simply is.  It is for this reason that He revealed His name to Moses as “I Am,” describing not only His eternity but also that He is beyond human description and comprehension (Exodus 3:14).  He IS, and because He is, everything is, until He says it isn’t.

The greeting also extends from the “seven spirits who are before His throne,” a reference to the Holy Spirit who is fully God, and “from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness [Prophet], the firstborn of the dead [Priest], and the ruler of kings on earth [King],” and also fully God.  Jesus Christ as the Father’s only-begotten Son and the Holy Spirit who proceeds from the Father share the divinity and eternity of the Father.  We also note that Jesus Christ is called the “firstborn of the dead,” a reference to the fact that he alone has risen bodily from the grave.  This speaks to his preeminence among all men and all creation.  Our future resurrection depends completely upon his.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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