The Deity of Christ in the New World Translation: Alpha and Omega, Beginning and End

 

Posted by Clark Bates
July 10, 2017

 

It is only fitting to conclude this short series with a passage from the book of Revelation.  As has been demonstrated in the previous article in this series, as well as those before it, the divinity of Christ bleeds from the pages of Scripture in such a way that it cannot be hidden.  The New World Translation (NWT) of the Bible is the unique translation of the Watchtower Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses), created with the express purpose of denying that truth.  When we engage with those trapped in this deception, ground cannot be gained by arguing against their translation, doing so will only shut down the conversation.  This is why I recommend using the Bible that they bring to your doorstep to show them the Truth.  As in all the posts in this series, all biblical passages are drawn from the NWT without any reference to other translations of the Bible.

Revelation 1:8 and 1:17

When we come to the book of Revelation, we see the capstone of God’s redemptive plan.  In it, we find possibly the most direct association of Jesus Christ with Yahweh (Jehovah) of the Old Testament.  The first instance of this comparison is found in the opening chapter of John’s apocalypse.  From the NWT we read:

“I am the Alʹpha and the O·meʹga,” says Jehovah God, “the One who is and who was and who is coming, the Almighty.”

Rev. 1:8 (NWT)

And also,

“When I saw him, I fell as dead at his feet.  And he laid his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last, and the living one, and I became dead, but look! I am living forever and ever, and I have the keys of death and of the Grave.”

Rev. 1:17-18 (NWT)[1]

When dealing with verse 8 of Revelation 1 it is clear that the one speaking is Jehovah God of the Old Testament.  The one, true God according to the Watchtower Society.  Lest there be any doubt that this is the conclusion of the Jehovah’s Witnesses and not merely a personal interpretation, the footnotes of the NWT contain this marginal reference attached to verse 8:

“Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I have called.  I am the same One.  I am the first; I am also the last.”

Isaiah 48:12 (NWT)[2]

The reference to Jehovah as the “Alpha and Omega” is a clear reference to the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, and indicative of God’s sovereignty over the beginning and end of time.  It would not be out of line to acknowledge that this suggests His sovereignty over all that transpires in between as well.

The marginal note connecting verse 8 to Isaiah 48:12 is additionally clarifying given its acknowledgment of Jehovah God as “the first and the last.”  As we can see by looking at vv. 17-18, the one speaking to the Apostle John also identifies as “the first and the last.”  The question to ask the Watchtower member is, “Who is speaking to John in verse 17?”

Before it can be asserted that the Being-in-Question is Jehovah, we must answer the additional title in v.18, “I became dead, and Look! I am living forever and ever. . .”  Watchtower doctrine does not conclude that Jehovah has ever died and returned to life, therefore it cannot be Jehovah who is speaking.  Also, the marginal verses attached to this passage are 1 Cor. 15:45, 1 Pet. 3:18, and Rom. 6:9, all of which are references to Jesus Christ.  Therefore, while Rev. 1:8 attributes the title “Alpha and Omega” to Jehovah, a reference to “the first and the last” of Is. 48:12, Rev. 1:17 attributes the same title “the first and the last” to Jesus Christ; a clear indication of the equal divinity and sovereignty of our Lord.

But wait, there’s more!

Revelation 21:6 and 22:13

Only to further prove the connection between Jehovah and Jesus in the book of Revelation, we turn to chapters 21 and 22.  In them we read:

“And the One seated on the throne said: ‘Look! I am making all things new.’ Also, he says: ‘Write, for these words are faithful and true.’  And he said to me: ‘They have come to pass! I am the Alʹpha and the O·meʹga, the beginning and the end. . .’ ”

Rev. 21:5-6 (NWT)

And,

“‘Look! I am coming quickly, and the reward I give is with me, to repay each one according to his work.  I am the Alʹpha and the O·meʹga, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. . . ‘I, Jesus, sent my angel to bear witness to you . . .’ ”

Rev. 22:13; 16a (NWT)

By combining the opening descriptor, “the One seated on the throne” with “the Alpha and Omega” the reader is forced to recall both the description of Jehovah in Rev. 4:1 and Ez. 1.[3]  In so doing, the author is clearly speaking to Jehovah.  Yet again, as in Rev. 1:8 and 17, we read in Rev. 22:13 the ascription of “Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end . . .” to Jesus.  The identity of the speaker in v.13 is made clear by the self-attestation of v.16.  The author parallels the pattern at the close of Revelation that he utilizes at its opening creating an inclusio or “book-end” to the writing.

“This is the last of the . . . ‘Alpha and Omega’ passages, and fittingly all three types of this saying are found here . . . . The titles refer to the sovereignty of God and Christ over history . . . . Since this is the only passage to contain all three titles, it has the greatest emphasis of them all on the all-embracing power of Christ over human history.”[4]

The divinity of Christ is the foundation upon which the redemption of mankind rests, and no work of man to suppress this truth will ever succeed.

 

Conclusion

When presenting the divinity of Christ from the New World Translation of the Bible to a Jehovah’s Witness, it is always paramount that we do so with grace, mercy and love.  These passages are not to be used with an arrogant superiority but with a desire to plant the seed of truth within the heart of the unbeliever so that it might grow through the inner-working of Christ.  While it will be almost certain that the Watchtower member will attempt to deflect these passages as referring exclusively to Jehovah, a careful explanation, as has been given here, of the surrounding context will demonstrate the futility of such attempts.  The divinity of Christ is the foundation upon which the redemption of mankind rests, and no work of man to suppress this truth will ever succeed.  This is why even a biblical translation, created explicitly with this intent, cannot and will not succeed.

 

[1] All verses taken from https://www.jw.org/en/publications/bible/nwt/books/revelation/1/

[2] https://www.jw.org/en/publications/bible/nwt/books/isaiah/48/#v23048012

[3] Incidentally, these passages are also used as marginal references in the NWT demonstrating that even the Watchtower Society agrees on this point.

[4] Grant  R. Osborne, Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Revelation, (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2002), 789.

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