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.