In Revelation the Lord Jesus claims to be God since he ascribes to himself certain titles and attributes which none but God can claim. Here is one such example:
"Look, he is coming (erchetai) with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen. I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, who is, and who was, and who is to come (ho erchomenos), the Almighty." Revelation 1:7-8
He who is to come is the very One who was pierced, the Lord Jesus Christ. We, therefore, have Jesus claiming to be God Almighty!
Moreover, saying that Jesus is the Alpha and Omega means that Christ has been there from the very start and will be there at the end. In other words, Christ as the Alpha and Omega is the One who initiated the creation and will usher in the end of this present age which culminates with his coming or return from heaven. Jesus is basically claiming to be the Maker and Sustainer, as well as the sovereign Lord of the entire creation.
The other titles which John uses, such as the First and the Last and the Beginning and the End, also convey this very same meaning, just as the following OT references demonstrate:
"Who has done this and carried it through, calling forth the generations from the beginning? I, the LORD with the first of them and with the last I am he." Isaiah 41:4
"For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another. Listen to me, O Jacob, Israel, whom I have called: I am he; I am the first and I am the last. My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they all stand up together." Isaiah 48:11-13
The text of Revelation 1:8 has left many anti-Trinitarians desperately searching for a refutation of the notion that the speaker in verse 8 is Christ. One such anti-Trinitarian is Muslim neophyte Sami Zaatari who, in his debates, claims that the speaker here must be God the Father since in Revelation 1:4b-5 he is addressed as the one "who is, who was and who is to come":
" 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 "
In this text the Lord Jesus is depicted as being personally distinct from the one "who is, who was and who is to come." Hence, Jesus cannot be the one speaking in 1:8.
There are several ways to respond to this rather desperate attempt of denying the rather explicit witness to the Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ provided by Revelation 1:8.
First, it should be pointed out that the inspired Scriptures often use the same titles for both Father and Son. An example of such can be found in 1 Timothy 6:15-16 and Revelation 17:14 where both God and the Lord Jesus are called "King of kings and Lord of lords."
Therefore the title of "who is, who was and who is to come," presents no particular difficulty for the Trinitarian since this is one of the many names shared by God and Christ. We will have more to say concerning the interchangeable use of Divine titles for both the Father and the Son a little later.
Furthermore, the context of 1:4-5 ends at verse 6, being a doxology to the Triune God:
"John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: 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. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen." Revelation 1:4-6
Here we have an invocation of blessing, a prayer beseeching the three Divine Persons of the Godhead to grant grace and peace to all believers, all of which presupposes the essential equality of these distinct Persons. After all, John takes for granted that the three Divine Persons have the same ability to pour out grace and peace to all the true believers who are located all throughout Asia. John then ends the book with a prayer to Jesus to do the same!
"The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God's people. Amen." Revelation 22:21
In light of 1:4-6 being a Trinitarian doxology this only serves to reinforce the point of Jesus being God. Moreover, this indicates that one must look for the identity of the Speaker within the immediate context of Revelation 1:7-8, since the context of verse 4 ends at verse 6. After all, vv. 7-8 are speaking of a different theme from that of vv. 4-6. Since the context of vv. 7-8 identifies the One who is to come as he who had been pierced this makes it abundantly obvious that John is referring to the Lord Jesus as the Almighty.
To put this in simpler terms, vv. 4-6 indicates that the Father is the one "who is, who was and who is to come" since the context differentiates that one from Jesus Christ whereas the context of vv. 7-8 shows that it is the Son who is thus described.
Moreover, the Holy Scriptures are clear that God (or the Father) reveals himself in the Person of his beloved Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ, after all, is the visible manifestation and perfect expression of the Father and to see him is to therefore see his Father:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known." John 1:1, 14, 18
"No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: They will all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me. No one has seen the Father except the one who is from God; only he has seen the Father." John 6:44-46
Jesus point here is that the reason why the Father brings everyone to learn from the Son is because he alone has beheld or comprehended God and therefore fully qualified to make the Father known.
To put this in simpler terms, God has clearly and fully made himself known in and through the Person of his beloved Son since the Son has complete knowledge and comprehension of the nature and Person of the Father. The NT repeats this point quite often:
"Then Jesus cried out, When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one that sent me." John 12:44, 45
"I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them." John 17:6, 26
"He is the image of the invisible God " Colossians 1:15
"The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word " Hebrews 1:3
With the foregoing texts in view it is abundantly clear that the expression "the one who is to come" must mean in relation to the Father that he will reveal himself in and through the appearance of his glorious Son. In the words of the Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul:
"If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his glory and in the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God." Luke 9:26-27
"waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works." Titus 2:13-14
All of this presupposes the perfect Deity of the Lord Jesus. After all, one cannot speak of the appearance of a finite creature as the glorious manifestation and revelation of God since no mere finite being can adequately reveal the infinite and eternal God. As the noted Evangelical NT scholar Murray J. Harris puts it:
"Central to the Christian tradition is the belief that God as he is in himself cannot be seen by the physical eye; he is invisible (1 Tim. 1:17; 1 John 4:12). No one has seen him or can see him (1 Tim. 6:16). But equally central is the conviction that, in Christ, God the Father has revealed himself perfectly. Jesus Christ has accurately and comprehensively made visible the invisible nature of God:
No one has ever seen God. The only Son, who is God and who resides in the Fathers heart he has revealed him. (John 1:18, my translation)
"Only the Son who shares the divine nature (cf. John 1:1) is qualified to reveal the Father personally and completely. Johns compound verb (exegesato, he has revealed) implies the perfection of Gods self-revelation in Christ. In response to Philips request, Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us (John 14:8), Jesus remarked, Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father (John 14:9).
"It is not only the apostle John who expresses this view of the role of Jesus. Paul depicts Jesus as the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15). That is, he is the exact and visible expression of a God who has not been seen and cannot be seen. Then there is the author of Hebrews, who declares that the Son is the radiance of Gods glory and the exact representation of his being (Heb. 1:3). The two Greek terms in this verse are colorful. Apaugasma (radiance) pictures Christ as the outshining or effulgence or irradiated brightness of God the Fathers inherent glory. Charakter (exact representation) points to Christ as the flawless expression of Gods nature, one who is indelibly stamped with Gods character." (Harris, Three Crucial Questions about Jesus [Baker Books, Grand Rapids MI, 1994], pp. 70-71)
" Johns point in the verse [John 1:18] is that, although no person on earth can claim to have gained knowledge of God as he is in himself, Jesus Christ, the only Son, has accurately and fully revealed God to humankind, since he himself is God by nature and intimately acquainted with the Father by experience." (Ibid, p. 94; comments within brackets ours)
John provides further evidence that Jesus is indeed God Almighty since what he says of God he then applies to Christ. Note, for instance, the following examples:
"He said to me: It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son." Revelation 21:6-7
"The angel said to me, These words are trustworthy and true. The Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent HIS angel to show HIS servants the things that must soon take place. Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book." Revelation 22:6-7
According to these verses the Lord God is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the One who sent his angel to show his servants the things to come and who is coming soon. Yet John says elsewhere that it is Jesus who is and does all of these very same things!
"To the angel of the church in Thyatira write: These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads MY servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds." Revelation 2:18-23
"Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End I, JESUS, HAVE SENT MY ANGEL to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star. He who testifies to these things says, Yes, I am coming soon. Amen. COME, LORD JESUS." Revelation 22:12-13, 16, 20
According to these inspired texts the Lord Jesus is the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, the One who sent his angel to testify to his servants and who is coming soon. In other words, Jesus Christ is the very Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets and is therefore the Almighty!
In fact, John even depicts Jesus as the Almighty when he describes him in the following manner:
"Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne, encircled by the four living creatures and the elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth." Revelation 5:6
Christ as the Lamb having seven horns and eyes point to his omnipotence (all-powerful) and omniscience (all-knowing).
The number seven often represents completion or perfection. This is an inference that is based on the first two chapters of Genesis where God finished creating the universe on the seventh day and saw that it was very good:
"God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morningthe sixth day. Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done." Genesis 1:31, 2:1-3
God rested on the seventh day since he had completed his work and there was nothing left for him to create. Therefore, seven = completion = perfection.
John himself provides the meaning of horns:
"The ten horns you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but who for one hour will receive authority as kings along with the beast." Revelation 17:12
A horn is a king and a king is one who has power and authority. Thus, horn = king = power and authority.
John has already told us that the seven eyes represent Gods seven Spirits who survey and permeate creation, implying that nothing escapes Gods sight.
Thus, Jesus seven horns symbolize his authority as King, that he has total and complete power which enables him to subject everyone and everything to his rule:
"They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kingsand with him will be his called, chosen and faithful followers." Revelation 17:14
"But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body." Philippians 3:20-21
Christs seven eyes point to his having perfect knowledge of everything (cf. 2:23).
In light of the foregoing why should it be deemed improbable that John was quoting Jesus in 1:8 as the Lord God Almighty who is coming soon?
And now here is the final line of evidence which indicates that the Lord Jesus is the Speaker in 1:8:
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: Do not be afraid. I am the First (who was) and the Last (who is to come) and I am the Living One (who is); I WAS DEAD, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades." Revelation 1:17-18
"To the angel of the church in Smyrna write: These are the words of him who is the First (who was) and the Last (who is to come), who died and came to life again (who is)." Revelation 2:8
There is no doubt that it is the Lord Jesus who is claiming to be the First and the Last and the Living One since the One who is speaking here is he who died and came back to life. What many people do not notice is that this phrase is simply another way of saying that Jesus is the one "who is, who was and who is to come." Evangelical scholars Robert M. Bowman Jr. and J. Ed Komoszewski explain it best in their comments concerning Revelation 1:7-8:
"Verse 7, as everyone agrees, refers to Jesus as coming. Then God states in the next verse that he is the one coming. In light of the later references to Jesus using the title the Alpha and the Omega and synonymous titles, it would seem clear enough that verse 8 is identifying Jesus as God Almighty.
"There is something else about the title the first and the last that we should notice. When John introduces this description of Jesus, it is actually a three-part title: I am the First and the Last and the Living One (1:17b-18a, our translation). In form and meaning, this three-part title is synonymous with another title of deity in the book of Revelation: the one who is and the one who was and the one who is to come (Rev. 1:4, 8, authors translation). Both titles express the lordship of the one to whom they apply from three temporal perspectives: past (the First; the one who was), present (the Living One; the one who is), and future (the Last; the one who is coming). In Jesus, though, Gods everlasting existence is seen not as static, unperturbed, or remote, but as fully engaged in our own life-and-death struggle: the everlasting one, the first and the last, is the living one on our behalf through his death and triumphant resurrection (1:18). The ungrammatical wording of the three-part title in Revelation 1:4, 8 (literally, the being and the was and the coming!) reveals such dynamic involvement in time and history to be true to the very nature of God.
"We also should note that the title the one who is and who was and the one who is coming is likely a covert form or interpretation of the Old Testament divine name YHWH, or Jehovah. The first part of the title, the One who is, is identical to the Greek translation of Gods explanation of his name in Exodus 3:14
"Also suggesting that Gods self-description in Revelation 1:8 is a self-description of Jesus Christ is the third element, the one who is coming. This Greek expression, ho erchomenos, is a messianic title found in all four Gospels (Matt. 11:3; 21:9; 23:39; Mark 11:9; Luke 7:19, 20; 13:35; 19:38; John 6:14; 12:13; see also Heb. 10:37).
"The evident application to Jesus of this three-part title of God in Revelation 1:8, and the parallel three-part divine title of Jesus in Revelation 1:17-18, recalls another threefold description of Jesus: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Heb. 13:8). This description of Jesus would seem to be yet another affirmation of his unchanging, divine presence throughout time, and in which we hear another echo of Gods self-description in Exodus." (Bowman & Komoszewski, Putting Jesus in His Place The Case for the Deity of Christ [Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI 2007], Chapter 14. Jesus Is It from A to Z, pp. 180-181; source)
The preceding factors present an irrefutable case that Revelation 1:8 does indeed refer to the Lord Jesus Christ as God Almighty. So much for Zaataris desperate and weak tirade against the NT witness to the perfect and absolute Deity of the Lord Jesus Christ.
To read the thorough refutation of the rest of Samis poor attempts of addressing the explicit teaching of the NT concerning the perfect Deity of the Lord Jesus, and to see how his arguments backfire against him by showing that Allah cannot be god, we suggest the following articles:
Rebuttals to Answering-Christianity
Articles by Sam Shamoun
Answering Islam Home Page