The Wonder of His NameAlpha and Omega
Leslie Basham: Jesus is the Alpha and Omega. What does that mean to you? Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.
Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Everything we need is found in Him—from A to Z. What do you need? Peace? Joy? Help? Grace? Love? Kindness? Time? Perspective? Balance? A to Z, whatever you need. If it’s not found in Him, you don’t need it. Everything you need is found in Him.
Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss for Tuesday, April 8.
Nancy’s continuing in the series, “The Wonder of His Name: 32 Life-Changing Names of Jesus.” Today’s program was recorded on the Revive Tour in Chagrin Falls, Ohio.
Nancy: In ancient Roman mythology the god of beginnings and transitions was known as Janus. J-A-N-U-S. He was the god of beginnings and transitions, and as such, he was also considered to be the god of time and the god of endings. So beginnings and transitions, time and endings. This god, supposed god, Janus, is usually shown with two faces—one looking to the past and one looking to the future. Now, can you guess which month of the calendar the Romans named in honor of the god Janus? January. Right.
We’ve looked at several I AM names in the Gospel of John throughout this series. We saw that Jesus is the Bread; He says I am the Resurrection and the Life; I am the Good Shepherd; I am the Truth. Today we want to look at another I AM name. This one is not found in the Gospel of John, but it’s found in last book of the Bible, the book of Revelation, where Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” That is, Jesus is the one true God of beginnings and endings. He is the God of time and transitions—Alpha and Omega.
Now, let me give you a little background on that name, and then we’re going to explore a little bit about what it means for us. The Book of Revelation was written by apostle John, the same one who wrote the Gospel of John as well as three short epistles—1, 2 and 3 John.
John was one of the original twelve disciples. So he walked with Jesus during His three years here on earth. He knew Jesus well. He was in the inner circle—Peter, James, and John. In fact, there’s probably no one who was closer to Jesus than the apostle John. During Jesus ministry here on earth, John had come to believe that Jesus was the Son of God. He had stood at the cross as Jesus was crucified. He’d been a witness of the resurrected Christ. He had seen Jesus ascend into heaven.
And then he became active with the other apostles in the leadership and the growth of the early church. In fact, he had served at one time as the pastor of the church in Ephesus. And then he was banished by the emperor Domitian to the penal colony of Patmos. I’ve had the privilege of being there and just to imagine John writing the Revelation which was given to him in that place is so amazing.
So now as he’s in exile on Patmos, he’s an old man. He’s in his nineties. By this time, all the other apostles have died. Most, if not all, of those apostles had been martyred for their faith in Christ, including John’s brother James, who’s another one of the twelve apostles who’d been the first to die.
At this point, when he’s writing Revelation, that vision of Revelation that’s been given to him, it’s been more than sixty years since he has last seen the Lord Jesus with his eyes. And now, he’s given this amazing vision of heaven and the resurrected Christ in all of His glory. He sees it in a way that he hasn’t seen Christ for years.
In the revelation he’s given a glimpse of things yet to come and of the end of the story. In the last chapter of Revelation, Revelation 22:13, Jesus speaks and He says:
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.
Now you have three phrases here that are essentially synonymous—the alpha and omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. I think Jesus gives us those three phrases to emphasize and reinforce His point.
Alpha and Omega, as many of you know, are the first and the last letters of Greek alphabet. It’s as if we were saying A to Z or soup to nuts or top to bottom or stem to stern. He says, “I’m the beginning and the end, the first and the last, the Alpha and the Omega.” We use different phrases to suggest that entirety of something. And Jesus says, “I am the entirety of all of life.”
As with the other I AM names, this is an unmistakable claim on Jesus' part to be God. We’ve looked at that through this series twice elsewhere in the book of Revelation, God calls Himself with this same name. He says:
"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty" (Rev. 1:8).
[The Father says,] "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end" (Rev. 21:6).
[Jesus says,] "I am the Alpha and the Omega" (Rev. 22:13).
Jesus is claiming to be God, and of course, we know that He is God.
You see this same concept in the Old Testament. It’s emphasized many times, particularly in the book of Isaiah, that God is the first and the last. Let me just read to you a few of those verses:
Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the Lord, the first, and the last; I am he (Isa. 41:4).
Thus says the Lord, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god” (Isa. 44:6).
Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last (Isa. 48:12).
So when Jesus says, “I am Alpha and the Omega; I am the first and the last; I am the beginning and the end,” He is saying again, I and the Father are one.
Now there are a number of implications to this name of Jesus that I think should be encouraging and helpful to us as we walk and live this Christian life. First of all, it’s just clear that He is the one and only. "I am the Alpha and the Omega." He is unique. There is no other like Him. He has no competitors. And of course that’s the same with His other names, as well. He is in a class all His own.
Well, you say, “What’s so important about that?” Listen, this world does not believe that about Jesus. They believe He’s one among many and maybe a good man and maybe a good teacher, maybe not even that. But even many people believe He’s very special, but they don’t realize and they don’t believe that there is no other one like Him. He’s the name above all names. He is the Alpha and the Omega.
Then that name speaks to us of His eternal existence—“from everlasting to everlasting" from everlasting past to everlasting future, you are God, Psalm 90:2 tells us. Jesus, like the Father, always existed. There was never a time when He didn’t exist. He created all things including time. Before He created there was no time. No one created Him. He was there before anything or anyone else existed.
This is mind boggling. You can’t really wrap your mind around this. If you try to, you lose your mind. But we have to believe it’s true because the Scripture teaches us this. He existed in all of eternity past. There never was a time when He wasn’t. And He will always exist in eternity future. There never will be a time when He doesn’t exist. He always was; He always will be. He was there in the beginning of time, and He’ll be there at the end of time. He’s the beginning and the end of all things. His existence is eternal.
Then the Jewish rabbis would commonly use the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet. aleph and tau are those letters. They would use those letters to refer to the whole of something, from beginning to end. Well, Revelation expresses that similar concept using the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet.
Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega if you’re speaking Greek. If it’s Hebrew, He’s the aleph and the tau. He is the whole thing. He’s not just at the beginning and at the end, He’s everything in between. It’s an all-encompassing name. You can’t get outside of Him. He’s everything—first and last and all-encompassing, the entirety of it all.
Then we see that He is the beginning and the end of history and of all creation. All things were made by Him; He holds everything together; He will bring it to its final consummation. There will be an end to time and history and this corrupt and fallen world. And He is the one that will bring that about. He is the one who will create a new heaven and a new earth where righteousness dwells. He’s the beginning and the end of history and of creation.
He’s the beginning of all history, and He’s the end toward which all creation is moving. He is the Creator and all creation is moving toward Him. All things exist for Him. All things exist for His glory.
Now, I’ll just tell you that I’m swimming way out of my depth. I can only doggy-paddle here. It’s just so amazing, and that’s what I want us to see is we have an amazing Savior. He is the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and end of history and creation.
He is the beginning and the end of our salvation. Hebrews 12 tells us that He is the author and the finisher of our faith. Or as some of your translations have it, "He is the founder and the perfecter of our faith" (Heb. 12:2). From beginning to end, our faith, our salvation is dependent upon and derived from Him. He’s the Alpha. He initiated our salvation. He gave His life for us. He drew us to Himself. He’s in process of sanctifying us and conforming us to His image.
He’s the Omega of our salvation. He’s the end of the Old Testament priesthood and the sacrificial system that we talked about when we saw Jesus as our Great High Priest. And Romans 10:4 tells us that “Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.” He’s the Alpha and the Omega, the end, the goal, the aim, the purpose of our faith.
He promises that He will complete the good work that He has begun in us. We will be like Jesus. We will be sanctified. We will be glorified because He is not only the Alpha, the beginning, but the Omega, the end of our salvation. He accomplishes what He begins. Is that encouraging to you? I know it is to me.
Now, in addition to the beginning, that concept of alpha, the Jews also used the word alpha to speak of the chief or the highest or the best of a group of people or things. We talk sometimes about something being A-1. We mean that’s the best; it’s the most; it’s the highest.
In the animal kingdom sometimes you’ll hear talk about an “alpha male.” That’s the animal that has the highest rank in a particular animal hierarchy or social grouping. It’s the dominant animal. It's the leader of the pack, the highest in the pecking order. That’s the alpha male.
Jesus is the alpha being of the entire universe, preeminent, the chief, the highest, the best, first in priority, exalted. We see this theme all through Scripture. Revelation 1"5 tells us He’s the “firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth.” He’s the alpha. Colossians 1:18 tells us, “He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent,” the alpha being.
Now, by contrast, omega could refer to that which is the last and the lowliest. And I think this speaks not just of Christ being the alpha, the exaltation of Christ, but also the omega, Christ in His humiliation. He made Himself lower than the angels. He was despised. He was rejected of men. Psalms says He became a worm and no man. He humbled himself.
He became obedient to death. The alpha, the exalted Christ; the omega, Christ in His humiliation. So whether you are doing top to bottom or left to right, beginning to end, highest to lowest, He is the Alpha and the Omega.
One of the questions I always try to ask here on Revive Our Hearts is, so what? What difference does it make? Why does this matter to us? I think you’ve already seen some of that, but let’s just talk for a few moments about what difference it makes to know Jesus as the Alpha and the Omega.
First of all, it tells us that everything we need is found in Him—from A to Z. What do you need? Peace? Joy? Help? Grace? Love? Kindness? Time? Perspective? Balance? A to Z, whatever you need. If it’s not found in Him, you don’t need it! Everything you need is found in Him.
Now that’s easy to agree to while we are sitting here in this nice church, being true women of God. But you need to remind yourself of that when you go home tonight and you need to find sanity to deal with things. Okay, that’s an A to Z. You find it in Christ. Whatever you need to deal with whatever situation.
It also means that He has ordained the beginning and end of our lives and everything in between. Psalm 139 says:
My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in secret . . . your eyes have seen my unformed substance . . . [He knew us before we were born. But it goes on to say,] in Your book were all written the days that were ordained for me, when as yet there was not one of them (vv. 15–16).
He knows our last day. He’s ordained it, the beginning and the end of our lives and everything in between. That’s a safe place to be. That’s a secure place to be. Knowing that my life is not lived by chance, but it’s been ordained by the Alpha and the Omega.
It frees us from fear to know Jesus as the Alpha and the Omega. In Revelation 1, John is on the Isle of Patmos and he sees this awesome vision of the risen, reigning Christ. The sight is terrifying to him. It says in verse 17:
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (vv. 17–18).
That’s what delivers us from fear, from fear of seeing Christ, is to know that He is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the living one.
Now, not only had John just seen this amazing vision of Christ, but he was about to see a vision of a terrifying future, all these great judgments upon judgments, upheaval in the world. I think Jesus revealed Himself to John before he saw all that terror that was coming because He wanted John to know that Jesus was in charge of it all. The reason John didn’t need to fear whatever was coming was that Jesus is Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. He’s in charge of everything in between!
I know there are those here who are looking into an unknown or an uncertain or a fearful future. Maybe you’re single or widowed and you’re feeling vulnerable, alone, concerned as you get older about who’s going to pay the bills? Who’s going to take care of you? So we need to remind ourselves that He is the first and He is the last. He gives us a sense of security to focus on the fact that He is our Alpha and Omega and that we can go into unknown future—maybe even some things that we do know that look terrifying—but we can go into that future knowing that it’s all wrapped up in Him.
This name of Jesus disrupts the cycle of worry. Some of you live in that cycle of worry. You’re worrying about things that haven’t even had a chance of happening. You conjure up these worries in your head, sometimes in your dreams. Listen, you can disrupt that cycle of worry and break into that thing that you’re fearful of with this thought that Jesus is your Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last. So whatever your problems are, they won’t outlive Him. He’ll be there. He is there.
I talked to woman recently who was concerned there might be some abnormality with her newborn grandchild and is wondering, Is there maybe something wrong with this baby? Nothing’s been diagnosed, but this grandma is just wondering. She has to trust what she can’t see, what she doesn’t know what the outcome will be, that Jesus is her Alpha and Omega.
Knowing Jesus in this way means that you live in safe, closed system, that there’s nothing that can touch your life that is outside of Him. There’s nothing bigger than Him. There’s nothing beyond Him. There’s no threat beyond Him. He encompasses you. He holds you in the palm of His hand. He covers you. He is your first and your last, from top to bottom, from left to right, from beginning to end. He surrounds us. He is the Alpha and the Omega.
That gives us grace to persevere through trials. Those letters to the churches in Revelation 2 and 3, they were written to churches that many of whom were being persecuted for their faith in Christ. And Jesus didn’t come and say, “Oh, you won’t suffer.” He said, “You will suffer. Be prepared for it.”
But to the church in Smyrna, the church that was the suffering church he wrote: “The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life” (Rev. 2:8). Now he goes on to say, “Some of you are going to be martyred for your faith. But I’m speaking to you. I am the first and the last. I died, and I came to life. And because of who I am, you have hope as you go through suffering.”
Your trials, no matter how weighty or heavy or difficult they may be are not the end of the story. Jesus is! He will outlive and outlast them all. Think about all the things that are going on in our country and in our world. Many of you have children that there is a natural fear of what it’s going to be like for your children and your grandchildren growing up in this world with escalating violence.
You get to where you are afraid to go to a mall, afraid to go to school, afraid to go to church. There are going to be these random shootings. It is a crazy, fallen, messed up world. And I’m not going to tell you nor does Jesus tell you that some of those things may not happen to us.
But the fact is, regardless of what happens here on this earth to these mortal bodies, you can trust the Lord with your future. We know the end of the story, that beyond all of that there is Jesus. We will live with Him forever as our Alpha and Omega.
That should encourage us when we can’t see the end or the outcome of a matter, to know that He is at work and that He finishes and completes what He begins. He will complete your sanctification. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the author and the finisher of our faith.
Sometimes maybe you’re serving in some way, raising kids, or you’re serving in some other way. You feel like you’re not seeing fruit of your labors, especially is that true of mothering, right? And you wonder at times, “Is anything taking? Are these kids ever going to get this?” Well, before the foundation of the world, the Alpha and the Omega established His purposes. He ordained good works for you to walk in them, Ephesians 1:10. And you can trust that as you’re doing what He has called you to do and be, that He will complete the work He has begun through you.
It takes pressure off of you. It’s not up to you to make your kids turn out right. Some of you have maybe invested years in a child who has become a prodigal, and you haven’t seen the fruit. I don’t know what the end of that story is for you humanly speaking, but I know that God is still alive, still at work, the last chapter has not been written, and God can still draw that prodigal’s heart to Himself. In all things He’s working for our good and for His glory. He knows the beginning from the end, and He is at work in and through all of it.
Listen, to know Jesus as our Alpha and our Omega really defines our calling, our mission and our purpose in life because you see, Jesus is intended to be the bookends of our life and everything in between. He is our life. But we don’t want to have any life, we can’t have any life apart from Him.
Now, the question is, as people see us, do they see those bookends? Do they see Jesus? What will they remember about us when we’re in the ground, our bodies are in the ground, and there is just that marker, two dates with a little hyphen in between? What will people remember about me, about you? Will it be some accomplishment, something we did? Or will it be Christ that they remember? He was her Alpha and Omega. I remember Christ about this woman.
Is Jesus the Alpha and the Omega of your life? Do you trust in Him? Do you rest in Him? Is it all about Him for you? Whatever you’re doing, wherever you work, whatever your office environment is like, as you’re in church, as you’re in the community, as you’re shopping, as you’re going to the doctor, taking your kids to appointments, sitting on the sideline watching soccer games and other sporting events, as you’re doing Bible studies, whatever you’re doing, is it all, all, all about Jesus? He is the Alpha and the Omega. Fear not. Be encouraged. Lift your eyes up. Look to Him.
Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been showing us what it means that Jesus is the Alpha and Omega. Alpha and Omega is one of the names Nancy writes about in a new devotional book called The Wonder of His Name. This book is all about Jesus. As you read the book, you’ll find your mind staying on Jesus more. You’ll learn more about Him. And most importantly, I think you’ll grow to love Him more.
This would be a great book to read now, and then again during the Lenten season next year as you prepare for Resurrection Sunday. We’ll send you the book, The Wonder of His Name, when you support Revive Our Hearts with gift of any amount.
Your contribution makes a big difference as we ask the Lord to meet the needs of this ministry. When you call with your gift, ask for The Wonder of His Name. The number is 1–800–569–5959, or visit