Daily Archives: April 12, 2018

April 12: Costly Grace

Deuteronomy 23:1–25:19; 2 Corinthians 6:1–13; Psalm 39

When we say something hurtful to a friend or a family member, we know we can’t just ignore the harm we have caused (we should know, anyway). In order to repair the relationship and earn back trust, we have to acknowledge the rift we’ve created. But when it comes to our relationship with God, we don’t always look at it the same way. Sometimes, consciously or unconsciously, we belittle the incredible love that He has shown us.

When we don’t acknowledge our sin as an act of rebellion, we feel far from God. We’ve created this great divide because we’ve tarnished our relationship with Him. In Psalm 39, the psalmist is in great agony over his sin—to the point where he acknowledges that people are nothing and his life is vanity: “Surely a man walks about as a mere shadow” (Psa 39:6).

Without God, life is meaningless. The psalmist acknowledges that his transgression has done great harm. He turns to God and says: “And now, O Lord, for what do I wait?” (Psa 39:7). At the heart of that cry is a need for redemption from a God that answers. He provided a way of salvation—one that was incredibly costly through Christ. In 2 Corinthians, Paul stresses the importance of not taking this great gift for granted: “Now because we are fellow workers, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain.… Behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation!” (2 Cor 6:1–2).

Paul’s call is urgent because Jesus’ coming to earth wasn’t a small gesture. It was incredible. If we aren’t amazed at it, if we scorn it (even by accident), we may miss out. We have a greater hope than the psalmist was ever able to realize; his broken cry would not be fully answered for centuries. So today, when you hear God’s call, don’t respond with silence. Respond with a thankful heart.

Are you ignoring sin in your life? How can you live with a thankful heart, since Christ has bought you with such a great sacrifice?

Rebecca Van Noord[1]

[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

April 12 Evaluating Your Righteousness

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied” (Matt. 5:6).


Your relationship with God is the measure of your righteousness.

Righteousness” means “to be right with God.” When you hunger and thirst for righteousness, you passionately desire an ongoing and ever-maturing relationship with God Himself.

Righteousness begins with salvation and continues in sanctification. Only after you abandon all self-righteousness and hunger for salvation will you be cleansed from sin and made righteous in Christ. Then you embark on a lifelong process of becoming as righteous as Christ—a process that will culminate when you are fully glorified in His presence (Rom. 8:29–30; 1 John 3:2). There’s always need for improvement in this life (Phil. 3:12–14), but satisfaction comes in communing with Christ and growing in His grace.

You can know if you’re hungering and thirsting for righteousness by asking yourself some simple questions. First, are you dissatisfied with your sin? Self-satisfaction is impossible if you are aware of your sin and if you grieve when you fall short of God’s holy standard.

Second, do external things satisfy your longings? A hungry man isn’t satisfied until he eats. A thirsty man isn’t satisfied until he drinks. When you hunger and thirst after righteousness, only God’s righteousness can satisfy you.

Third, do you have an appetite for God’s Word? Hungry people don’t need to be told to eat. It’s instinctive! Spiritual hunger will drive you to feed on the Word in order to learn what God says about increasing in righteousness.

Fourth, are you content amid difficulties? A hungry soul is content despite the pain it goes through, because it sees every trial as a means by which God is teaching greater righteousness. If you react with anger or resentment when things go wrong, you’re seeking superficial happiness.

Finally, are your hunger and thirst unconditional? The rich young ruler in Matthew 19 knew there was a void in his life but was unwilling to give up his possessions. His hunger was conditional.

Christ will fully satisfy every longing of your heart, and yet you will also constantly desire more of His righteousness. That’s the blessed paradox of hungering and thirsting after righteousness.


Suggestions for Prayer:  Read Psalm 112 as a hymn of praise to God.

For Further Study: Read the following verses, noting how God satisfies those who trust in Him: Psalm 34:10; 107:9; Isaiah 55:1–3; John 4:14; 6:35.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 115). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.


He that taketh not his cross…is not worthy of me.

Matthew 10:38

Many of the great evangelists who have touched the world for God, including such men as Jonathan Edwards and Charles Finney, have declared that the church is being betrayed by those who insist on Christianity being made “too easy.”

Jesus laid down the terms of Christian discipleship, and there are some among us who criticize: “Those words of Jesus sound harsh and cruel.”

This is where we stand: Receiving Jesus Christ into your life means that you have made an attachment to the Person of Christ that is revolutionary, in that it reverses the life and transforms it completely! It is complete in that it leaves no part of the life unaffected. It exempts no area of the life of the total man.

By faith and through grace, you have now formed an exclusive relationship with your Savior, Jesus Christ. All of your other relationships are now conditioned and determined by your one relationship to your Savior.

To receive Jesus Christ, then, is to attach ourselves in faith to His holy person, to live or die, forever! He must be first and last and all!

Lord, Your call upon my life is total. But there are times when I feel pulled in other directions that may not be pleasing to You. Give me grace and strength to keep You in first place in my life.[1]

[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

April 12, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

3 With the dawning of each new day, prayer is renewed, with the hope that the Lord will soon respond. The “morning” is symbolic of a renewal of God’s acts of love (cf. La 3:23). The change from darkness to light brings with it the association of renewed hope. In the early morning hours (cf. 55:17; 88:13; 92:2) the psalmist sought the Lord (his covenantal God) in prayer because he knew that Yahweh would not forsake him. It is to this end that he presented God with his “requests” (or “offerings”; see Notes). During the day he waited “in expectation” to see what the Lord would do for him.[1]

5:3 David’s prayers were not spasmodic but regular. Every morning the Lord heard his voice. Every morning the man of God prepared a sacrifice of praise and prayer and watched for the Lord to reveal Himself during the day. Too often we do not watch for God’s responses. “We miss many answers,” said F. B. Meyer,” because we get tired of waiting on the docks for the returning ships.”[2]

5:3 In the morning … In the morning. These words have led many to label this a morning psalm (cf. Ps 3:5).[3]

5:3I prepare a sacrifice for you is difficult in the Hebrew, which could also be rendered as in the ESV footnote, “I direct my prayer to you.” The mention of the morning here, and the Lord’s house in v. 7, favors “sacrifice”; the idea here is that the prayer comes in the context of a faithful worshiper who receives assurance and expresses personal consecration by way of these ordinances; it is small wonder that such a person will watch, looking around and ahead in expectant faith.[4]

5:3 This psalm is sometimes called a “morning psalm” and underscores the importance of a daily devotional time. Much depends upon how we start each day, and what better way to begin the day than with a personal time of meditation. An intimate fellowship demands communication. The breakdown of communication presupposes disruption in fellowship (cf. Gen. 3:8). Therefore, to enjoy fellowship with the Creator, one must make time to communicate with Him. God speaks to man through His Word (103–105; 119:9–16); man talks to God through prayer andthen listens for the divine response (cf. 1 Sam. 3:3–15; Matt. 7:7, 8). One cannot live a Spirit-filled life without daily direction and sustenance from God (cf. Prov. 3:6; John 6:33–35).[5]

5:3 In the morning is repeated and indicates the time of the prayer (88:13). Plead my case is literally “prepare” or “set in order.” While it could mean preparing a sacrifice, there is no other indication that a sacrifice was being offered. Instead, it was more likely preparing words (Jb 32:14) in a request for vindication.[6]

[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, p. 115). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 553). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[3] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Ps 5:3). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.

[4] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (pp. 945–946). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Criswell, W. A., Patterson, P., Clendenen, E. R., Akin, D. L., Chamberlin, M., Patterson, D. K., & Pogue, J. (Eds.). (1991). Believer’s Study Bible (electronic ed., Ps 5:3). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[6] Warstler, K. R. (2017). Psalms. In E. A. Blum & T. Wax (Eds.), CSB Study Bible: Notes (p. 821). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.


Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the LORD.

ACTS 3:19

True faith requires that we believe everything that God has said about Himself, but also that we believe everything He has said about us!

Until we believe that we are as bad as God says we are, we can never believe that He will do for us what He says He will do. Right here is where popular religion breaks down. It never quite accepts the severity of God or the depravity of man. It stresses the goodness of God and man’s misfortune. It makes sin a pardonable frailty and God is not too much concerned about it—He merely wants us to trust in His goodness.

To believe thus is to ground faith upon falsehood and build our eternal hope upon sand. God has spoken. We are all under solemn obligation to hear the affirmations of the Holy Ghost.

To manipulate the Scriptures so as to make them excuse us, compliment us and console us is to do despite to the written Word and to reject the Living Word. To believe savingly in Jesus Christ is to believe all He has said about Himself and all that the prophets and apostles have said about Him.

A dreamy, sentimental faith which ignores the judgments of God against us and listens to the affirmations of the soul is as deadly as cyanide. A faith which passively accepts all of the pleasant texts of the Bible while it overlooks or rejects the stern warnings and commandments of those same Scriptures is not the faith of which Christ and His apostles spoke![1]

[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

April 12 Jesus Clarifies Murder’s Definition

You have heard that the ancients were told, “You shall not commit murder” and “Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court; and whoever says to his brother, “You good-for-nothing,” shall be guilty before the supreme court; and whoever says, “You fool,” shall be guilty enough to go into fiery hell.—Matt. 5:21–22

Throughout history, most decent people rest assured that at least one sin they have not committed is murder. The conventional wisdom limits murder to physically taking another person’s life. But Jesus’ teaching on murder shatters the self-righteous complacency of so many good people.

God’s original command “you shall not commit murder” was of course scriptural (Ex. 20:13). But the Jewish practice of taking murder cases to civil court fell well short of the biblical standard in three ways: it did not prescribe the death penalty (Gen. 9:6), it did not take God’s holy character into consideration (His role in meting out judgment, the sinfulness of taking a life made in His image, or the general disobedience to the law), and it said nothing about the heart offense of the murderer. These omissions ignored David’s statement in Psalm 51:6, “You [God] desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom.”

With the transitional words, “But I say to you,” Jesus begins to point us to a scriptural understanding of murder and its implications. Murder goes much deeper than physically taking someone’s life. It originates with evil thoughts in the heart, and is still a serious sin, whether or not it culminates in violent action against another person.


If Jesus is making this harder than before, then what’s so freeing about being free from the law? Why is this more helpful than a black-and-white statute?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 111). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

April 12 Leaving No Cause

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed.

1 Peter 3:15

It’s not likely, but according to the apostle Peter, there is a remote possibility that you may suffer for being righteous. Indeed, many Christians suffered for their obedience to Christ in the early church, but others suffered for their disobedience. When a Christian disobeys God’s Word, the world senses a greater justification and freedom for hostility. Even godly Christians should not be surprised or afraid when the world treats them with hostility.

A passion for goodness is no guarantee against persecution. Doing good only reduces the likelihood of it. No one did more good than Jesus, yet a hostile world eventually killed Him. Nevertheless, your life should be above reproach so critics will have no justification for any accusations against you.[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 117). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

April 12, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

119:154 The writer asks God to serve as His advocate and His life-giver. Grievous charges have been made against him; he needs a defender. He has been persecuted to the point of exhaustion; he needs a new infusion of life.[1]

119:154 Plead my cause The word riv often appears in legal contexts to refer to a legal dispute, but can also mean something as basic as “quarrel.”

redeem me Emphasizes deliverance from bondage through outside help. See 103:4 and note.

preserve my life The psalmist repeats this request three times in Stanza 20 (vv. 154, 156, 159). It is the dominant expression that defines God’s help.[2]

119:154 Plead my cause. This phrase comes from the courtroom. The psalmist asks the Lord to intercede for him before his enemies.[3]

[1] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 746). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[2] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Ps 119:154). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[3] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 850). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

Would Christ have had to die for the social justice gospel to be true?

Would Christ have had to die for the social justice gospel to be true?If the answer is no … if social justice has, de facto, become the gospel itself, and our goal is simply to “redeem” the culture” then Jesus would not be needed as a Savior, but merely as an example. Without personal redemption,…

via Would Christ have had to die for the social justice gospel to be true? — Monergism.com Blog Feed

Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?

Possessing the Treasure

by Mike Ratliff

1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”
2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me.
6 “But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Matthew 18:1-6 (NKJV) 

The Bible is the Word of God. It is inerrant, inspired, and our final…

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John MacArthur Destroys The Social Justice Movement in Two-Minutes

In this short two-minute video from an interview on the Janet Mefferd Show from 2013, John MacArthur destroys the concept of Social Justice and the Social Gospel. MacArthur explains that in Christ’s ministry here on earth He did nothing to campaign change in social structures of the time. In fact, Christ spoke against changing those…

via John MacArthur Destroys The Social Justice Movement in Two-Minutes — Pulpit & Pen

April 12 The Unjust Condemnation

“ ‘Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?’ They answered and said, ‘He is deserving of death!’ ”

Matthew 26:65–66


Like many through the centuries, members of the Sanhedrin rejected Jesus Christ without fairly judging all the evidence.

Lynching is an activity we don’t hear much about today. But during earlier generations, the heinous crime occurred quite regularly. Innocent people, or those merely presumed guilty (prior to any trial), were tortured and killed, usually by angry, hateful mobs. Often the person lynched was a victim of racial or political prejudice or some other irrational fear held by the perpetrators.

The members of the Sanhedrin certainly held blind prejudices against Jesus. No amount of evidence would open their eyes to the truth of who He was. Those unbelieving leaders of Israel discounted Jesus’ claims to deity long before they placed Him on trial. He had even pleaded with them, “If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; but if I do them, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and understand that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father” (John 10:37–38).

In today’s passage the high priest Caiaphas reacts forcefully to Jesus’ agreement that He is God’s Son and the Messiah (see Matt. 26:64). Caiaphas’s mind was made up; he was convinced that Jesus had blasphemed, and he was determined to rush forward with this “evidence” to condemn Jesus to death. Caiaphas and the Council could barely wait to render a verdict. The high priest asked for their opinion on Jesus’ guilt, and immediately the Council members asserted, “He is deserving of death!”

The irony of the Jewish leaders’ condemnation of Jesus was their blind insistence that He was a blasphemer when in reality they were the blasphemers for their rejection of the Lord and His message. Even more sobering is that every person who has ever finally rejected Christ is also guilty of blasphemy and will suffer the same fate as the chief priests and elders: “He who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him” (John 3:36).


Suggestions for Prayer: Pray for someone you know who has been closed to the gospel. Ask God to open his or her heart and grant him or her repentance.

For Further Study: Read Hebrews 3–4. What spiritual attitude do these chapters warn of? What Old Testament parallel does the writer make?[1]

[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.


For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.

—Hebrews 12:6

How good it would be if we could learn that God is easy to live with. He remembers our frame and knows that we are dust. He may sometimes chasten us, it is true, but even this He does with a smile, the proud, tender smile of a Father who is bursting with pleasure over an imperfect but promising son who is coming every day to look more and more like the One whose child he is.

Some of us are religiously jumpy and self-conscious because we know that God sees our every thought and is acquainted with all our ways. We need not be. God is the sum of all patience and the essence of kindly good will. We please Him most, not by frantically trying to make ourselves good, but by throwing ourselves into His arms with all our imperfections, and believing that He understands everything and loves us still. ROR014

Thank You, Loving Father, for Your incredible patience. Help me indeed to look more and more like You each and every day. Amen.[1]

[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

April 11 Daily Help

WHEREVER the church is, there is God. God is pleased, in his mercy and condescension, to stoop from the highest heavens to dwell in this lower heaven—the heaven of his church. It is here, among the household of faith, he deigns—let me say it with sacred reverence—to unbend himself, and hold familiar intercourse with those round about him whom he hath adopted into his family. He may be a consuming fire abroad, but when he comes into his own house he is all mercy, mildness, and love. Abroad he does great works of power; but at home in his own house he does great works of grace.[1]

[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 105). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

April 11, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

The Certainty of the Second Coming

“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (1:8)

In this verse the Lord God puts His signature on the prophecy of the Second Coming recorded in the previous verse. Three of His divine attributes guarantee the certainty of the pledge of Christ’s return.

Alpha and the Omega emphasizes God’s omniscience. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and Omega is the last. All knowledge is conveyed through the letters of the alphabet; thus God’s designation of Himself as the Alpha and the Omega affirms that He has all knowledge. He knows, therefore, the certainty of this promise.

As the one who is and who was and who is to come, God’s transcendent, eternal presence is not confined by time or space or any feature or event in them. There is no possible contingency of which He is unaware regarding the Second Coming. Thus, His promise that the Lord Jesus Christ will return settles the issue.

The designation of God as the Almighty (cf. 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7, 14; 19:6, 15; 21:22) affirms His omnipotence. Since He is all powerful, nothing can hinder Him from carrying out His sovereign will. No one or no thing can possibly prevent Christ from returning in glory as described in verse 7.

Jesus came the first time in humiliation; He will return in exaltation. He came the first time to be killed; He will return to kill His enemies. He came the first time to serve; He will return to be served. He came the first time as the suffering servant; He will return as the conquering king. The challenge the book of Revelation makes to every person is to be ready for His return.

John Phillips writes,

One of the most stirring pages in English history tells of the conquests and crusades of Richard I, the Lionhearted. While Richard was away trouncing Saladin, his kingdom fell on bad times. His sly and graceless brother, John, usurped all the prerogatives of the king and misruled the realm. The people of England suffered, longing for the return of the king, and praying that it might be soon. Then one day Richard came. He landed in England and marched straight for his throne. Around that glittering coming, many tales are told, woven into the legends of England. (One of them is the story of Robin Hood.) John’s castles tumbled like ninepins. Great Richard laid claim to his throne, and none dared stand in his path. The people shouted their delight. They rang peal after peal on the bells. The Lion was back! Long live the king!

One day a King greater than Richard will lay claim to a realm greater than England. Those who have abused the earth in His absence, seized His domains, and mismanaged His world will all be swept aside. (Exploring Revelation, rev. ed. [Chicago: Moody, 1987; reprint, Neptune, N.J.: Loizeaux, 1991], 22–23)

Only those “who have loved His appearing” (2 Tim. 4:8), who love Him and acknowledge Him as the rightful king, will enjoy the blessings of His kingdom.[1]

8 Such a stupendous promise requires more than the prophet’s own signature or even Christ’s “Amen.” God himself speaks and, with his own signature, vouches for the truthfulness of the coming of Christ. Of the many names of God that reveal his character and memorialize his deeds, there are four strong ones in this verse: “Alpha and Omega”; “Lord God”; “who is, and who was, and who is to come”; and “the Almighty” (cf. v. 4 for comments on the second title). Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Their mention here is similar to the “First” and “Last” in v. 17 and is further heightened by the “Beginning” and the “End” in 21:6 and 22:13. Only the book of Revelation refers to God as the “Alpha and the Omega.” God is the absolute source of all creation and history; nothing lies outside of him. Therefore, he is the “Lord God” of all and is continually present to his people as the “Almighty” (pantokratōr, lit., “the one who has his hand on everything”; GK 4120; cf. 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7, 14; 19:6, 15; 21:22; 2 Co 6:18).[2]

1:8 / John concludes his initial salutation to the seven churches with an oracle from God that repeats his earlier confession about God’s eternality: God is who is, and who was, and who is to come (1:4b). Yet, in light of his confession about Jesus’ messianic love, John can also add that God is the Alpha and Omega, the Lord God … the Almighty. Alpha is the first and Omega the last letter of the Greek alphabet. Used together they symbolize entirety or wholeness. When used as a divine title, they refer to God’s sovereign rule over the history of creation. John couples this title with the ot name for a powerful God, Lord … Almighty, which signifies the rightful exercise of rulership over all people. When understood by the revelation of Christ’s love for his people (cf. 22:13), the power of God over all creation clearly intends that all people enter into the grace and peace now enjoyed only by the faithful church.[3]

1:8. Before describing his first vision, John records the sovereign words of the Lord God who is able to bring it all to pass. Since one theme in Revelation is the conflict between the powers of good and evil, readers are reminded of who really has the power. First, he is the Alpha and Omega, the A and Z, the one in control from before the beginning of time until after the end. His eternity is further noted in the phrase, who is, and who was, and who is to come (v. 4). Finally, his power is seen in the title the Almighty (Gr. pantokrator), the one whom none can resist. Nine of the ten times this term appears in the New Testament are in Revelation (also 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7, 14; 19:6, 15; 21:22). The other is in 2 Corinthians 6:18. The term may well go back to the Old Testament Shaddai, used forty times. Romans 9:29 and James 5:4 refer to “the Lord of Sabaoth,” transliterating the last Hebrew term in “Lord of Hosts,” sometimes translated as “Lord Almighty.” The Greek translation of the Old Testament often rendered “Lord of Hosts” as “Lord of pantokrator”, that is “Almighty Lord.” Revelation’s language thus reflects the Old Testament’s triple designation, Lord God … Almighty. It is the full Old Testament name of God, traditionally translated “Lord God of Hosts.”[4]

8. I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.

Here is the first self-designation of God, which John repeats with an addition in 21:6, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.” The question, however, is whether these words refer to God or to Christ. For one thing, the I am was spoken by God when he called Moses at the burning bush, “I am who I am” (Exod. 3:14). But in the Gospel of John, Jesus identifies himself repeatedly with the I am formula, for example, “Before Abraham was born, I am” (John 8:58). Both God and Jesus identify themselves as “I am the Alpha and the Omega.” Notice these parallels:

God: I am the Alpha and the Omega (1:8).

Christ: I am the First and the Last (1:17).

God: I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End (21:6).

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

The parallels are identical, yet not Jesus but God is called Almighty (1:8; 4:8; 11:17; 15:3; 16:7, 14; 19:6, 15; 21:22; and 2 Cor. 6:18). Nonetheless, Christ is eternal and can say that he is the first and the last, the originator and the one who completes the work of creation and redemption. He is the first and the last letter of the Greek alphabet (i.e., everything from A to Z); he is fully the Word of God. Thus we see “Christ as the divine agent both in God’s creation in all things and in God’s eschatological fulfillment of all things.”30 Jesus is the one who was sent by God the Father to deliver the words of God (John 3:34).

This verse summarizes the first segment of chapter 1 by emphasizing the divinity of Jesus Christ as one with God the Father. The Lord Jesus Christ has been from eternity with the Father, has come to earth to pay the penalty of our sin through his death and resurrection, and is giving us the promise of his return. Jesus himself is uttering the words of this text, as is evident from a succeeding segment (vv. 17–18) where he identifies himself as first and last, the living one who was dead, but who lives eternally, holding the keys of Death and Hades. Jesus takes center stage in the first eight verses of this chapter:

  • in the opening verses as God’s agent of revelation (vv. 1–2);
  • in the greeting as the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth (v. 5a);
  • in the doxology as the redeemer and king (vv. 5b–6);
  • in the prophetic announcement of his return (v. 7);
  • and in his declaration of his eternity, divinity, and power (v. 8).

John F. Walvoord rightly concludes, “If no more had been written than that contained in this introductory portion of chapter 1, it would have constituted a tremendous restatement of the person and work of Christ such as is found in no comparable section of Scripture.”[5]

1:8 There is a change of speaker. The Lord Jesus introduces Himself as the Alpha and the Omega (the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet), the Beginning and the End. He spans time and eternity, and exhausts the vocabulary of excellence. He is the source and goal of creation, and it is He who began and will end the divine program in the world. He is and was and is to come, eternal in His being and the Almighty in power.[6]

1:8 The Lord God’s self-description as the Alpha and the Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, means He is Almighty from the Beginning to the End of all creation. This knowledge can be a great comfort to a person who is suffering (v. 9). The Lord is sovereignly guiding history toward its consummation, the victory of Christ over all (1 Cor. 15:24–28).[7]

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1999). Revelation 1–11 (pp. 34–35). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Johnson, A. F. (2006). Revelation. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Hebrews–Revelation (Revised Edition) (Vol. 13, p. 601). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Wall, R. W. (2011). Revelation (pp. 59–60). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[4] Easley, K. H. (1998). Revelation (Vol. 12, p. 16). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] Kistemaker, S. J., & Hendriksen, W. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Book of Revelation (Vol. 20, pp. 87–88). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[6] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2353). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[7] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1734). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.