Exposition of Revelation: Revelation 1:8–11

Revelation 1:8–11
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God – the one who is, and who was, and who is still to come – the All-Powerful!
9 I, John, your brother and the one who shares with you in the persecution, kingdom, and endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony about Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day when I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet, 11 saying: “Write in a book what you see and send it to the seven churches – to Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.”
 (NET Bible)

 They don’t call him “All-Powerful” for nothing!

We frequently tell our children that they are the future inheritors of our nation and its future. We seek to motivate them toward education, hard work and greatness, and that is a fitting custom.

But the truth is that humankind is not in charge of history. It is not the hand of a contemporary child that will one day rule the world but the hand of the All-Powerful!

If you want a description of God’s authority and power, you can do no better than Revelation 1:8. The thoughtful Bible student will recall the numerous “I am” statements by Jesus in the Gospel of John (e.g. “I am the way, the truth and the life” John 14:6). The same Greek phrase, eg? eimi, opens Rev. 1:8.

The first clause is “I am the Alpha and the Omega” (1:8), which Greg Beale explains in the following way: “[It] is a figure of speech called merism (a merism states polar opposites in order to highlight everything between the opposites).”[1]

The second clause is “I am . . . the Lord God” (1:8). Note that God speaks in Revelation only here (1:8) and in 21:5. As to the phrase translated “the Lord God,” it occurs five other times in the New Testament (Luke 1:32; Revelation 4:8; 18:8; 21:22; and 22:5.) and the Hebrew counterpart [Sovereign Lord] “is frequent in the writing of the OT prophets, particularly Ezekiel (e.g., 6:3, 11; 7:2).”[2]

In third position within 1:8, we have the clause “the one who is, and who was, and who is still to come,” and the repetition (1:4) serves to emphasize God’s mastery over history.

Finally, John wraps up this revealing verse (1:8) with the Greek word pantokrat?r [pronounced pan-to-KRA-t?r], which NET rightly translates as “the All-Powerful.” While that has a freshness that helps me, it is hard to get our minds around it! You would benefit from checking out all the references to the awesome title (Revelation 1:8; 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7; 19:6; and 21:22).

John tells us he “was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony about Jesus” (1:9). Patmos is a small island in the Aegean Sea off the western coast of Turkey (then the Roman province of Asia mentioned in Rev. 1:4). It lies about 38 miles southwest of Ephesus.

You may be interested to see information concerning an expedition to Patmos to photograph ancient New Testament manuscripts written in Greek. Many Christians never stop to think how they got the Bibles they hold dear, but manuscript collection and analysis is part of the long process.

John does not reveal the exact circumstances of his exile to Patmos, but it would appear that he was sent there “because of the word of God and the testimony about Jesus” (1:9). That would seem to imply persecution.[3]

The All-Powerful defines the end of history

We do not know which generation will be the last before God’s awesome power will shatter the kingdoms of this world and replace them with a ruler and people of his own choosing. While we wait for that day, it is wise to remember that God will have his way with the close of human history.

The visions and descriptions given in Revelation are so awesome that they defy our ability to grasp their significance. We would do well to remember the blessing promised to those of us who read the prophecy and obey the things written in it (Rev. 1:3).

Copyright © 2011 by Barry Applewhite. All rights reserved worldwide. Derived from material created for Christ Fellowship, McKinney, Texas. Used by permission.



[1] Beale, Revelation, 39, citing D.A. Carson, Moo, D.J., and Morris, L., An Introduction to the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1992) 199.

[2] Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 1-7 (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992) 81.

[3] Grant R. Osborne, Revelation, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002) 82.

Do you have an opinion or a different interpretation? Let me know!