Revelation 22:13
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. (NIV)

The phrase, “the First and the Last,” is a title that is used five times in the Bible, twice in Isaiah of God (Isa. 44:6; 48:12) and three times in Revelation of the Son (Rev. 1:17; 2:8; 22:13).  Trinitarians sometimes make the assumption that since the same title applies to both the Father and the Son, they must both be God.  However, there is no biblical justification on which to base that assumption.  When the whole of Scripture is studied, one sees that the same titles are used for God, Christ and men.  Examples include “Lord” (see Rom. 10:9) and “Savior” (see Luke 1:47) and “King of kings” (Ezra 7:12; see 1 Tim. 6:14-16).  If other titles apply to God, Christ and men without making all of them into “one God,” then there is no reason to assume that this particular title would mean they were one God unless Scripture specifically told us so, which it does not.

Let us look more closely at these titles to try and understand their meaning. Since, all three phrases, “the First and the Last,” “the Beginning and the End,” and “the Alpha and the Omega,” are so similar and all are said of Jesus in Revelation 22:13, we will treat them as essentially the same in meaning. 

So, what is the meaning of these titles when God is described as “the Alpha and the Omega” or “the First and the Last”? Although there is no evidence from the historical sources that anyone is named “the Alpha and the Omega,” Bullinger says that the phrase “is a Hebraism, in common use among the ancient Jewish Commentators to designate the whole of anything from the beginning to the end; e.g., ‘Adam transgressed the whole law from Aleph to Tau’ (Jalk.  Reub., fol. 17.4).”[1] Although many scholars have concluded that the phrase has something to do with starting and finishing something, or the entirety of something, that understanding is a little misguided. If we notice in this quote from Bullinger, the phrase is quite different. Particularly, the fact that it says, “from Aleph to Tau,” not simply, that the Law is “the Aleph and the Tau.” Perhaps the difference would be even clearer in English. It is quite different to say, “from A to Z,” than to say, “I am the A and the Z.” One communicates the whole of something, namely, the whole alphabet, and the other carries a more ambiguous meaning. Thus, Bullinger’s source does not give us a clear insight into the meaning of the phrase, “the Alpha and Omega” as a title.

We propose that the phrases “Alpha and Omega” and “First and Last” as titles in reference to God refer to being unique, completely alone in a category. Let us look at the Old and New Testament contexts which give these titles to God to see why this is the best way to understand them.

In the context of Revelation 1:8, the author gives us more information on the meaning of “Alpha and Omega” as a descriptor of God. It reads, “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega,’ says the Lord God, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.'” God is the one who was, and is, and is to come. Thus, God has always existed. The end of verse 8 goes on to say that he is all-powerful or “almighty.” Yet, we know from the rest of scripture that God is the only being that these things are true of, they are unique to him. Only God is all-powerful (2 Cor. 6:18; Rev. 4:8; 15:3; 16:7; 19:15; 21:22) and only God is immortal (1 Tim. 6:16). Yet, He grants immortality to those who trust in Christ (2 Tim. 1:10). God is not the first one and the last one to be Almighty, as if others are in the middle, but the only Almighty one.

We find that “uniqueness” is the exact meaning in its usage in Isaiah 44:6 as well. It reads, “I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God except me.” God continues in verse 8, “Is there a God except me?” We see that the emphasis is not that God is the first in some way and the last in some way, with other beings in the middle, or that God completed something from beginning to end, but the emphasis of the phrase is on God’s uniqueness. It speaks to how there is no one else like him, he is the First and the Last God, the only God (Isa. 44:6; John 17:3). 

In Isaiah 48:12, the meaning of “I am the First, and I am the Last,” is a little more unclear. However, God being God alone is in the immediate context both before and after. Before, in Isaiah 48:11 he says, “I will not give my glory to another,” and directly after the phrase in question he says, “Yes, my hand has laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand has spread out the heavens.” The immediate context is amplifying God’s uniqueness, only He created all things (Gen. 1:1; Psa. 104:24; 121:2), and only he deserves supreme glory and honor, glory of the only God (Isa. 48:11). Thus, God can rightly say he is the “First and the Last” in this context as well, he is utterly unique and can alone be credited with those works. Again, nothing in Isaiah 44 or Isaiah 48 suggests that the meaning of “the First and the Last” is the first to do something and the last to do something, with others in the middle, but being the only one to do something. 

We also find that the titles “the First and the Last” and “the Alpha and the Omega” carry the meaning of uniqueness when they are in reference to Jesus as well (Rev. 1:17; 2:8; 22:13). In Revelation 1:17-18 we read, “I am the First and the Last, and the Living One, and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forever and ever, and I have the keys of death and the grave.” Similarly in Revelation 2:8 we read, “the first and the last who was dead, and has come to life.” These are characteristics that only Jesus possesses. Only he died and was resurrected three days later to never die again, only he could provide true atonement by dying in place of the sinner (Heb. 10:12), and only he has the keys to Death and Hades (meaning he can release people from death, by giving them everlasting life). Now, Peter did receive the keys to the Kingdom (Matt. 16:19) but only Jesus possesses the keys to Death and Hades. He is unique in this. It is not as if Jesus is the First and the Last Messiah and there are other Messiahs in between, no, he is the only Messiah. 

Likewise, in Revelation 22:12-13 we read, “I am coming quickly, and my reward is with me, to render each one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last…” Just like in Revelation 1:17 and Revelation 2:8, Jesus’ unique characteristics are mentioned right beside the title, “the First and the Last.” Jesus is unique in this context because God has handed over all judgment to the Son, and no one else. No one else is going to “render each one according to his work.” Notice, that Jesus does not say, ‘I am God, there is no other, the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last.’ Being God, is not what makes Jesus the “Alpha and Omega,” but rather being the one true Messiah and the only one who will judge each human, since God has handed over all judgment to the Son (John 5:22).  

Also, notice how Jesus does not repeat the part that Trinitarians want to espouse. He does not quote, “there is no other God besides me,” instead he simply quotes: “I am the First and the Last.” Saying the phrase “I am the First and the Last,” does not make someone God. However, saying, “there is no other God besides me,” would make Jesus God. Yet, Jesus does not say this. It is not proper exegesis when someone quotes the Old Testament, or uses similar language to an Old Testament passage, to then apply everything in that passage to the New Testament situation. For instance, in Hebrews 1:9 which quotes Psalm 45:7 and applies it to Jesus, we would not then take all of Psalm 45 to apply to Jesus as well. This would be a major problem because the King of Psalm 45 has a wife (Psa. 45:9). So, what justification would we have to do this in places like Revelation 22:13? Jesus does not claim to be God in Revelation 22:13, so, we should not import that into the text.  

Patrick Navas gives another reason why this text along with Revelation 1:17 is not calling Jesus God:

“Jesus is the one who ‘was dead’ but now lives…. In two out of three instances where Jesus describes himself as ‘the First and the Last’ in the book of Revelation, the statement is made in association with his death and subsequent resurrection. …If ‘the First and the Last’ in this case means, or ultimately implies, ‘God (Almighty), the Eternal One,’ in what way would it make sense for Jesus to say, in effect, ‘I am the Eternal God, I died but came to life’? How strange and how unlikely—if not impossible—would it have been for God to have died or said that he died? Even many Trinitarians teach that ‘God,” or the ‘divine nature/aspect of Christ,’ did not die, in any way. …So Trinitarians would have to argue, ultimately, that Jesus is identifying himself as God by calling himself ‘the First and the Last’ and, immediately after, switching to, or speaking out of, his ‘human nature,’ due to the fact that he died. This would clearly be a case of ‘playing fast and loose’ with Scripture.”[2]

Thus, the phrase “I am the First and the Last,” means to be unique in a category. Wilt Chamberlain, scored 100 points in an NBA game on March 2nd, 1962. He is the first and likely the last to do that, as it is such an incredible accomplishment that can probably never be repeated. Therefore, he could rightly be called, “the First and the Last” to do that. It is even more true that Jesus is the First and the Last Messiah. He is the only one who could possibly live a perfect life, die, and then resurrect from the dead as he did, and judge the world with perfect righteousness. Thus, Jesus likewise can confidently say, “I am the First and the Last” (Rev. 1:17; 22:13). 

Since both God and Jesus Christ are “the Alpha and the Omega” in their own respective ways, there is good reason to believe that the title can apply to both of them, and no good reason why that makes the two into “one God.” The titles “Lord,”  “Savior,” and “King of kings,” apply to both God and Christ, as well as to other men (Ezra 7:12; Dan. 2:37).  As with “Lord,” “Savior” and “King of kings,” this title fits them both. 

Jesus is the only Messiah, the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.

Morgridge, p. 122

Racovian Catechism, pp. 157-163

Snedeker, p. 469

Back to the list of “Verses Used to Support the Doctrine of the Trinity”


1.  E. W. Bullinger, Commentary on Revelation, 147-48. Back to top

2.  Patrick Navas, Divine Truth or Human Tradition, Authorhouse, 2011, pp. 585-588. Back to top

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