What better place to continue looking at the names of Jesus than the beginning? Alpha is the very first letter in the Greek alphabet. It is also one of the names of Jesus. But before we get to it, let’s look at the English alphabet first.
One of the first things we were taught when we started school, or even before then, was the alphabet. Parents, grandparents, and teachers seek to teach young children the alphabet as early as their first year of life. When I was growing up, we had songs that helped us memorize it. Today, there are a variety of games, toys, and videos little ones can interact with that will help them learn not only the letters, but also the sounds of each letter.
The reason why learning the alphabet is such an emphasized part of childhood is because knowing A to Z serves as the foundation upon which we can understand all words. Words depend on letters. Letters make up words. These words then comprise our thoughts, and the communication of those thoughts becomes the bedrock for all knowledge.
Imagine what your life would look like if you didn’t know the alphabet. You would not be able to read. You would not be able to communicate clearly. You would not know how to juxtapose consonants and vowels so that pronunciation could be accurate and clear. You would find yourself in a world of hurt trying to live in your part of the world without a knowledge of the English alphabet.
Now, you still may have had some experience in this. Perhaps you’ve visited a foreign country and didn’t speak the language. Understanding simple things in that situation is nearly impossible. Try asking for directions in English in a country where the language is not spoken. It’s doubtful you’ll wind up at your desired location. Why? Because accurate communication rests on an accurate understanding and application of the building blocks of a language.
Because we know how important language and words are, we will often use the phrase “from A to Z” to indicate the fullness of a task or topic. This isn’t merely referring to the letters in the alphabet. Rather, this phrase references the completeness of whatever point is being made.
The reason why the alphabet is so critical is because letters matter, words matter, thoughts matter, and knowledge matters.
Now, what “A to Z” is in the English language, “alpha and omega” is in Greek. Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and omega is the last. When Jesus lived on earth, He lived in a Greek-speaking world. He understood the significance of alpha and omega. Just as “A to Z” signifies the completeness of communication, fullness of knowledge, and clarity of thought, the phrase “alpha and omega” symbolized the same for the culture in which Jesus lived. Thus, when He says He is the Alpha and the Omega, He is declaring that He Himself is the complete knowledge base for all life. He is the entirety of all information. He is the answer to all questions. He is the sufficiency of all communication. He is the sum total of all that can be totaled.
Jesus followed up His claim to the name of Alpha and Omega by further identifying the scope of His existence and being. He did this by adding that He is “the first and the last” (Revelation 22:13). Essentially, no letter comes before Him, and no letter comes after Him. He is the first, the last, and everything in between. Not only that, but by saying this, He also declared that He is the living God. We know this because God referred to Himself in the same way in the Old Testament.
In Isaiah 44:6, we read, “Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, and there is no God besides Me.’ ” And Isaiah 48:12 says, “Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called; I am He, I am the first, I am also the last.”
When Jesus declared He is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, He declared that He is the God of the Old Testament. This name, in particular, is a claim to deity. It is an acknowledgment of divinity. Because, after all, how many firsts or lasts can there be? If the God of the Old Testament introduced His identity as being the first and the last, then when Jesus described Himself in the same manner, He was revealing that He is a part of the Godhead.
Tony Evans, The Power of Jesus’ Names (Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 2019).
We have just released a new Bible study on topic of The Power of Jesus’ Names. This study supplements Tony Evans’s book by the same name.
These lessons are available on Amazon, as well as a part of my Good Questions Have Groups Talking Subscription Service. Like Netflix for Bible Lessons, one low subscription gives you access to all our lessons–thousands of them. For a medium-sized church, lessons are as little as $10 per teacher per year.
Part 1: Power in His Positions
2. Alpha and Omega
4. Lamb of God
5. Great High Priest
Part 2: Power in His Person
7. I Am
11. Son of God, Son of Man