THE GOD OF JESUS: PART TWENTY-THREE
Jesus in the Revelation
Revelation 1:1-2: “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testifies to everything he saw--that is, the word (logos) of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
John writes that God gave Jesus the Revelation. Since God is commonly used throughout the NT to designate the Father, we can assume John sees the Father as giving the Revelation to Jesus. As discussed in Chapter Six, the word (logos) of God is the thoughts of God expressed in speech and creative activity. John writes of testifying to the word (logos) of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. John makes a distinction between the logos of God and Jesus. This shows the logos of God is not Jesus as is often claimed. Trinitarians will argue that when John writes it is God who gave Jesus the Revelation, it is God as Father giving the Revelation to Jesus within the Trinitarian relationship of Father, Son and Spirit. The following passage dispels such a notion.
Revelation 1:4-6: John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father--to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.
In this passage John gives greetings from “him who is, and who was, and who is to come” and from the seven spirits before his throne and from Jesus Christ who is identified as the firstborn from the dead who has made us a kingdom of priests to serve His God and Father. Here we see distinction not only between the Father and Jesus but between God and Jesus. If distinction was only being made between the Father and Jesus, it could possibly allow for some kind of single Being, indwelling relationship as found in Trinitarianism. Distinction, however, is made between God and Jesus. John is clearly saying that the Being who is to be praised is both God and Father of Jesus, not just the Father of Jesus. If God is seen as the God of Jesus, how can Jesus be that same God? Remember, we are seeing Jesus after His ascension. Jesus still relates to God as His God after he has ascended to God. In Revelation 3:12, Jesus is quoted four times as referring to God as His God. Therefore to postulate that God and Jesus are a single Being and equally God is a virtual oxymoron.
Revelation 3:12: Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name.
Distinction is made between the one associated with the throne before which are seven spirits and the person Jesus. Who is associated with the throne? In chapter four is a description of the throne on which sits the Lord God Almighty who is characterized as “who was, and is, and is to come."
Revelation 4:2b, 8b: before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. Verse 8b: "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come."
In Revelation chapter five, the one who sits on the throne is seen as handing the scroll to Jesus Christ who is represented by a lamb. In chapter eleven, the Lord God Almighty is identified as “the one who is and who was.”
Revelation 5:6-7: Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing in the center of the throne; ---- He came and took the scroll from the right hand of him who sat on the throne.
Revelation 11:16-17: And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying: "We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, the One who is and who was, because you have taken your great power and have begun to reign.
It is apparent the one who sits on the throne is the Lord God Almighty. The one sitting on the throne is seen as interacting with the Lamb (Jesus) in various ways throughout the Revelation.
Revelation 7:10: And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."
Revelation 12:10b: Now have come the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of his Christ.
Revelation 20:6c: but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years.
Christ is seen as separate from the Lord God Almighty who sits on the throne and is identified as the Christ of God. Therefore, Jesus is not one and the same God who sits on the throne as the Lord God Almighty. It is the Lord God Almighty who is seen as “him who is, and who was, and who is to come.” Therefore, this title is not referring to Jesus. Since God the Father is seen as the God and Father of Jesus in 1:5, it should be apparent Jesus is the servant of the Lord God Almighty who sits on the throne.
Some believe Revelation 1:8 refers to Jesus as the Alpha and the Omega and “him who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” Therefore, Jesus is believed to be the Almighty God no less than the Father.
Revelation 1:8: "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."
In this passage reference is made to the “Almighty” as the “who is, and who was, and who is to come.” This title is associated with the Lord God Almighty who sits on the throne (compare Revelation 4:2 and 4:8c). In Revelation 5:6-7, the one who sits on the throne is seen as separate from the Lamb (Jesus). Therefore, it should be apparent the Almighty of 1:8, the Lord God Almighty of 4:2 and 8c and the one who sits on the throne in 5:6-7 is the same Being and a different Being from the one seen as the Lamb. Since the Lord God Almighty is identified in Scripture as the Father, He who sits on the throne is God the Father and is the Alpha and the Omega of 1:8. Since it is the Father and not the Lamb (Jesus) who sits on the throne, Revelation 1:8 is speaking of the Father and not Jesus. In Revelation 21:5-7 the one who sits on the throne is specifically identified as the Alpha and the Omega.
Revelation 21:5-7: He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." He said to me: "It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To him who is thirsty I will give to drink without cost from the spring of the water of life. He who overcomes will inherit all this, and I will be his God and he will be my son."
In this passage it is the one seated on the throne who will be the God of those who overcome and they will be his sons. Since the Scriptures speak often of we becoming sons of God the Father and since becoming a son implies a Father/son relationship, it is evident we become sons of God the Father which further verifies that the one seated on the throne is God the Father who is the Lord God Almighty and the God and Father of Jesus.
Trinitarians point to Revelation 22:12-13 referring to Jesus as the “Alpha and Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End,” as Jesus being YHWH.
Revelation 22:12-13: "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End."
In Revelation 11:16-18 the Lord God Almighty (YHWH) is seen as being worshiped on his throne and is identified as the “one who is and who was.” He is also seen as bringing reward to his servants (verse 18). In Matthew 6:1-4, reward is seen as derived from the Father. As already discussed, the Lord God Almighty is the Alpha and Omega sitting on the throne and is seen as separate from the lamb (Jesus) and as the God (YHWH) of Jesus throughout the Revelation. Therefore, references to the coming of Jesus must be seen in the context of Jesus acting as the agent of His God (YHWH) and Father. Matthew writes that Jesus comes in the glory of the Father. It is the Father who facilitates reward and judgement through the Son. The Son is seen as coming in the presence of God the Father.
1 Thessalonians 3:13: May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
God the Father is seen as the one coming through His agent Christ Jesus. Jesus, as the “Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End,” as seen in Revelation 22:12-13, is Jesus coming as the representative of His God and Father and as such is given these titles. Application of these titles to Jesus does not define Jesus as being the one He consistently calls His God.
YHWH is identified as the first and last in Isaiah 44:6 and 48:12. In Isaiah 44:6, YHWH is identified as the Almighty and the one and only God. It should be apparent from our discussion to this point that YHWH, as the “first and the last” and the one and only God, is the God and Father of Jesus which precludes Jesus being this same God. Therefore, Jesus is not the first and the last in the same manner as YHWH is. Any reference to Jesus as the “first and the last” must be seen in the broader context of who God is versus who Jesus is.
In Revelation 1:17 and 2:8, Jesus is seen to be the “first and the last.” Do these passages identify Jesus as YHWH? In both these passages Jesus associates being the first and the last with His death and resurrection and not as being without beginning or end as is true of YHWH. Jesus died. Jesus is identified as the Lamb of God (YHWH) slain for the sins of the world and not as the Almighty God who sits on the throne as the Alpha and Omega. In Revelation 1:18 Jesus is quoted as saying “I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever!” In Revelation 2:8, John speaks of Christ who died and came to life again. As previously discussed, God can't die.
The designation, “first and last” is being applied in two different ways in the Revelation. In relation to the one who sits on the throne, it signifies the eternally existing YHWH, the one and only Almighty God the Father. In the case of Jesus, it signifies His death and His resurrection to eternal life through YHWH who is the God and Father of Jesus.
The very language of the passages we have considered from the Revelation should make it clear Jesus is not God but is the glorified servant of God. If you carefully read the entire Revelation and pay careful attention to the flow of narrative, it will become abundantly clear God and Jesus are separate Beings and not separate persons of the same Being. Jesus is not the YHWH who sits on the throne but is the anointed of YHWH who sits on the throne. God the Father is the Eternal Almighty Creator God and Jesus is the resurrected Son of this God unto whom this God has granted eternal life, great power, authority and glory.