The Revelation of Jesus Christ certainly unveils many aspects of the glory of Christ and truths about Him. Consistent with Scripture, the book of Revelation also gives insight into the deity of Jesus Christ. This paper reviews key passages that demonstrate the God-Man as revealed to the apostle John and ultimately the Church.
Revelation 1:5 reads, “To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood.” This is the first verse in Revelation that gives credit of deity to Christ. For who can forgive and cleanse sins but God alone? There are several instances where Jesus forgives sins in the New Testament. One example is Mark 2:10. We read the Pharisees questioned this claim by Christ in Mark 2:7. They considered this blasphemy since they did not understand the full nature of Jesus. Wiersbe supports this notion by stating, “But of the three Persons of the Trinity, it is to Jesus Christ alone that this book is dedicated. The reason? Because of what He has done for His people. To begin with, He loves us (present tense in most manuscripts). This parallels the emphasis in John’s Gospel. He also washed us from our sins, or, as some texts read, freed us from our sins.” 1
Revelation 1:7 uses Old Testament descriptive language to God in reference to the Second Advent of Christ. The first part of the verse reads, “Behold, He is coming with clouds.” A student of the Old Testament would immediately pick up the language of “coming with clouds.” This verse certainly relates to Daniel 7:13, which speaks of the glorious second coming of Christ. In his book The Apocalypse Code, Hank Hanegraaff gives further insight on this notion of coming with clouds. He writes, “Even the most basic comparison of Scripture with Scripture reveals that clouds are a common Old Testament symbol that pointed to God as the sovereign Judge of the nations.”2 Hanegraaff gives the example of Isaiah 19:1 to demonstrate the term coming with clouds is used in reference to God and His judgment.
Revelation 1:8 is the start of a string of verses which refer to the deity of Jesus. The verse states, “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,’ says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.’” The author notes that commentators differ on whether this verse is in reference to God or more specifically to the second Person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ. For example, the Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary states, “God confirmed his eternal sovereignty in 1:8. For Alpha and Omega, see 21:6; 22:13; and Isaiah 41:4. While some take “the Alpha and the Omega” (1:8) to refer to Christ (21:6), in this context it refers to God who is verifying the contents of the prophecy. He is the ‘A’ to ‘Z,’ that is, the complete God.”
Oppositely, MacArthur makes the case this verse refers to Christ. “These are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. An alphabet is an ingenious way to store and communicate language. The 26 letters in the English alphabet, arranged in almost endless combinations, can hold and convey all knowledge. Christ is the supreme, sovereign alphabet; there is nothing outside his knowledge, so as there are no unknown factors that can sabotage His second coming.”4 The author notes that if Revelation 1:8 does refer to Christ, then the end of this verse–“the Almighty”–also is an attribute of deity of Jesus.
Regardless, if one takes the position Revelation 1:8 and the corresponding title Alpha and Omega does not specifically refer to Christ, there are later verses that do plainly ascribe this to the Lord. For instance, Revelation 1:11 also uses the term Alpha and Omega as well as instructions to John, “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches.” We need to keep in mind whom the revelation of this book is from–Jesus Christ. More specifically, Revelation 1:12 tells us that John turned to see who was speaking. In verse 13 we read it is “One like the Son of Man” and a further description of His appearance in verses 14-16 are reminiscent of the anthropomorphism used to describe God in the books of Daniel and Ezekiel. The New International Greek Testament Commentary agrees with this author’s assessment with a thorough explanation:
The transferal of attributes from the judicial figure of the Ancient of Days (cf. Dan. 7:9–12) to Christ also evokes his role as the latter-day, divine judge, which is also clear from 19:12 (where οἱ δὲ ὀφθαλμοὶ αὐτοῦ [ὡς] φλὸξ πυρός [“and his eyes as a flame of fire”] is a metaphor of judgment [cf. 2:18–23]). Jesus’ constant presence with the churches means that he always knows their spiritual condition, which results either in blessing or judgment (e.g., ὁ ἔχων τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ ὡς φλόγα πυρός [“the one having his eyes as a flame of fire” in 2:18 and its development in 2:23).(115)
This role of judgment is enforced by Daniel 10, since there the primary purpose of the heavenly man is to reveal the divine decree that Israel’s persecutors would assuredly be judged (see 10:21–12:13). Dan. 10:6 even depicts the “Son of man” as having “eyes . . . like flaming torches.” The application of the attributes from the Ancient of Days to Christ also points to his inherent possession of eternal life, which he has together with his Father (cf. 1:6b). (116)
Christ’s feet are described as “like bronze as having been fired in a furnace,” which suggests his moral purity and will become the basis for his demand that those among whom he walks must reflect this purity in the midst of moral turpitude (cf. 3:18, where “fired” is used in this manner). (117)
John employs the phrase “in the midst of the lampstands one like a Son of man” to bring together the description of the heavenly beings in Daniel 3, 7, and 10 and to apply them all to Christ (cf. the LXX of Dan. 3:25, 92; 7:13; 10:5-6, 18). The Daniel 10 influence, together secondarily with Ezek. 9:2, 11, is further evident in the concluding phrase of v. 13, which alludes to the heavenly man from Daniel 10:5. There the heavenly being is clothed in a robe and “girded with gold,” which are descriptions of priestly attire (e.g., the use of ποδήρης [“a robe reaching to the feet”] in Exod. 25:7; 28:4, 31 ; 29:5; 35:9 ; Zech. 3:5; Wis. 18:24; Sir. 45:8; Josephus, Ant. 3.159; see especially Rev. 15:6).
The portrayal of the Son of man’s head and hair (v. 14a) is taken from that of the Ancient of Days in Dan. 7:9, while the description of his eyes and feet again follow Dan. 10:6 ( LXX ). The mention of the “furnace” (v. 15b) again echoes the description from Dan. 3:25 (93, Theod. ), although Ezek. 1:27 perhaps also lies near. Just as Dan. 10:6 ends with mention of the roar of the “Son of man’s” voice, so the portrayal of v. 15 concludes, although the actual language describing the voice is taken from the MT of Ezek. 1:24 and 43:2, where God’s voice is compared to the roar of many waters. God’s voice in Ezek. 43:2 is located near the end-time temple of chs. 40–48, and Jewish writings located it in Israel’s temple itself ( Midr. Rab. Gen. 3.4; Pesikta de Rab Kahana 21; Midr. Ps. 104.4; and Midr. Rab. Lev. 31.7). The Son of man’s voice is also set in a heavenly temple context (see also on 1:12, 16), which underscores further Christ’s divine attributes.5
A very straightforward case of the Alpha and Omega verses is Revelation 1:17-18. The speaker of the passage claims, “I am the First and the Last.” He then reveals specifically who He is by stating, “I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore.” Since God the Father has never been dead, it is Jesus Christ, the God-Man, who died and was raised back to life.
Three times in the book of Isaiah God claims the title “The First and the Last.” In A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments, the authors write, “From eternity, and enduring to eternity: the First by creation, the Last by retribution: the First, because before Me there was no God formed; the Last, because after Me there shall be no other: the First, because from Me are all things; the Last, because to Me all things return” [Richard of St. Victor]. 6
Revelation 2:8 states, “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life.’” Similar to Revelation 1:17, this verse demonstrates the eternality and deity of Jesus. A good summary is found in The Bible Reader’s Companion, which states, “This designation reminds the persecuted church that Christ is sovereign, the Creator, and also Lord of history.” 7
This interesting verse starts with, “Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb.” This verse demonstrates worship to Jesus Christ. Since only God is to be worshipped, it supports the deity of Jesus. The Bible Knowledge Commentary writes, “When the scroll was taken by the Lamb, the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb in worship.”8 It should also be noted that the prayers are offered to the Lamb, and only God is to be prayed to.
The verse in Revelation 5:13 ends with a praise of worship, “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!” A Handbook on the Revelation to John comments, “All living beings in the whole universe join in the praise offered to the Lamb and to God.”9 The New Bible Commentary adds further insight into this praise:
The angelic multitudes now take up the song of praise to the Lamb (cf. Dn. 7:10). The doxology has reference to the power and blessings of Christ at the commencement of his reign (11:17) and is closely similar to that sung to God in 7:12. All creation in heaven, earth, sea and the realm of the dead finally joins the host of angels and archangels (13). Whereas the praise of heaven in vs. 8-12 celebrates the Lamb’s initiating the kingdom of salvation, the universal worship of God and the Lamb awaits its consummation in the future. The like applies to the hymn of Phil. 2:6-11: the Lord has been given the name above every name at his exaltation to the throne of God; its acknowledgment awaits his manifestation in glory.10
This verse contains another example of worship to God and the Lamb by the Tribulation saints. It reads, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” The Pulpit Commentary: Revelation comments, “The present tense expresses the unceasing nature of their occupation (Alford). Saying, Salvation to our God; that is, ‘The praise and honour due for our salvation belongs to God, since he is the Cause of our salvation.’ Note the similarity to the ‘Hosannas’ of the palm bearing multitude of the Feast of Tabernacles (see John 12:13; 2 Macc. 10:6, 7; Ps. 118:25). Which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. To the Triune God, and to the Lamb.” 11
Revelation 21:22-23 refer to the New Jerusalem. The verses state, “But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light.” As one commentator states, “There will be no temple building in the New Jerusalem because the Father and the Son (the Lamb) will be there. Recall that Christ referred to His body as a temple (John 2:19, 21) and that the church itself is called ‘the temple of God’ (1 Cor. 3:16), ‘a holy temple,’ and the ‘dwelling place of God’ (Eph. 2:21, 22).”12 Matthew Henry writes, “God in Christ will be an everlasting fountain of knowledge and joy to the saints in heaven; and, if so, there is no need of the sun or moon, any more than we here need to set up candles at noon day, when the sun shineth in its strength.”13
The final verse the author will review is Revelation 22:13, which states, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last.” One can know this passage is attributed to Jesus for four reasons. First, the overall context of this book is the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Second, the passage preceding Revelation 22:13 states, “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” This passage is a quotation of Jesus Christ. Christ is the one who is coming quickly, as written in Revelation 22:20, “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!” Third, we also know that Jesus Christ is the One who is to give believers their reward as written in 2 Corinthians 5:10. This also confirms that Christ is the speaker in Revelation 22:12. Lastly, Christ has claimed to be the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last in several previous verses in the book of The Revelation of Jesus Christ. These include 1:5, 1:7, 1:8, 1:11-16, 1:17-18, 2:8, 5:8, 5:13, 7:10, 21:22-23, and 22:13.
The Bible Knowledge Commentary has a good summary about this passage: “Once again Christ is described as the Alpha and the Omega (first and last letters of the Gr. alphabet), the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End. Christ is before all Creation and He will continue to exist after the present creation is destroyed. He is the Eternal One.”14
In conclusion, several passages in the book of Revelation demonstrate the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. The author has reviewed several key passages that demonstrate this fact. A repeated theme is that Christ is the Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last. This represents the eternality of Christ, which is an attribute that pertains only to God.
1 Warren W. Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996), S. Rev. 1:4.
2 Hank Hanegraaff, The Apocalypse Code (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007), 229.
3 Robert B. Hughes and J. Carl Laney, Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary, rev. ed. (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 2001), 735.
4 MacArthur Study Bible, annotated by John MacArthur (Dallas, TX: Word, 1997), Rev. 1:8..
5 G. K. Beale, The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998), 209..
6 A. R. Fausset, “Revelation,” in A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments, eds. Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondrvan, 1938), Rev. 1:17.
7 Lawrence O. Richards, The Bible Reader’s Companion (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1991; published in electronic form by Logos Research Systems, 1996), 908.
8   John F. Walvoord, “Revelation,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures: New Testament, eds. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 2:945.
9 Robert G. Bratcher and Howard Hatton, A Handbook on the Revelation to John (New York: United Bible Societies, 1993), 107.
10 Roger Beckwith, “Revelation,” in New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, rev. ed., eds, Gordon J. Wenham, J. A. Motyer, D. A. Carson, and R. T. France (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), Re. 5:1.
11 T. Randell, and A. Plummer, “Revelation,” in The Pulpit Commentary: Epistles of Peter, John & Jude. The Revelation y, eds. H. D. M. Spence-Jones and Joseph S. Exell (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1950), 209.
12 Earl D. Radmacher, Ronald B. Allen, and H. Wayne House, eds., Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1999), Re. 21:22.
13 Matthew Henry, Commentary on Revelation 21, Blue Letter Bible. Available: http://www.blueletterbible.org/commentaries/comm_author.cfm?AuthorID=4. Accessed October 10, 2009.
14 Walvoord, 2:989.
Beale, G. K. The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998.
Beckwith, Roger. “Revelation.” In New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition, rev. ed., eds. Gordon J. Wenham, J. A. Motyer, D. A. Carson, and R. T. France. Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity, 1994.
Bratcher, Robert G., and Howard Hatton. A Handbook on the Revelation to John. New York: United Bible Societies, 1993.
Fausset, A. R. “Revelation.” In A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. Eds. Jamieson, Robert, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondrvan, 1938.
Hanegraaff, Hank. The Apocalypse Code. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2007.
Henry, Matthew. Commentary on Revelation 21. Blue Letter Bible. Available: http://www.blueletterbible.org/commentaries/comm_author.cfm?AuthorID=4. Accessed October 10, 2009.
Hughes, Robert B., and J. Carl Laney. Tyndale Concise Bible Commentary, rev. ed. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House, 2001.
MacArthur Study Bible. Annotated by John MacArthur. Dallas, TX: Word, 1997.
Randell, T., and A. Plummer. “Revelation.” In The Pulpit Commentary: Epistles of Peter, John & Jude. The Revelation. Eds. H. D. M. Spence-Jones and Joseph S. Exell, 1-585. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1950.
Radmacher, Earl D., Ronald B. Allen, and H. Wayne House, eds. Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1999.
Richards, Lawrence O. The Bible Reader’s Companion. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1991.
Walvoord, John F. “Revelation.” In The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures: New Testament. Eds. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, 925-991. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985.
Wiersbe, Warren W. The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1996.