We read in 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 …”
Listen to the relevant Scriptures from the Book of Revelation 1:1-8 and chapter 22: 6-21 (linked back-to-back for your convenience):
All English translations of the world are in agreement, except the Jehovah’s Witness version of the Bible which converts the Greek “…Ἐγώ εἰμι τὸ Α καὶ τὸ Ω ἀρχὴ καὶ τέλος, λέγει ὁ κύριος ὁ ὢν καὶ ὁ ἦν καὶ ὁ ἐρχόμενος ὁ παντοκράτωρ …” to “…I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says Jehovah God, “the One who is and who was and who is coming, the Almighty…”
When asked why the New World Translation replaced “Lord” (κύριος) with “Jehovah” the Witnesses recently told me that they did so to “clarify the text and who is speaking.” Fair enough. Christian translators have done similar things, and we do so based on the context of the passage. A literal word-for-word replacement and matching word order of the Greek text would render the English Bible unreadable. Revelation 1:8 would, in fact, read “… I am the alpha and omega original (beginning) and finish (consummation) is saying the master the being and the was and the coming the all-holder (almighty). Make sense?
Our gripe is not the attempt to smooth out the translation so that the English-speaking world can understand what is being said; rather, we challenge the presupposition the Watchtower Society holds in converting it to a more readable form. The Watchtower is trying to force the text to make it say that Jesus is not speaking here. Ironic it may seem, but Christians would actually agree with the Watchtower Society that Jehovah God is indeed speaking, and His name is Jesus! In opposition, the Watchtower would claim that Jesus is not Jehovah and therefore Jesus is not the one in this verse claiming to be the Almighty.
Jehovah’s Witnesses are intensely opposed to considering Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. He is not Jehovah they say; He is in their view a super-human, semi-god – not quite Almighty God and someone not quite a normal human being either. They might say he is in a category of angels and super-beings. Christians on the other hand believe Jesus is, was, and always will be the great almighty Jehovah (Yahweh) God of the Bible. He came down from heaven, taking on human flesh (identical to ours, only sinless) to die on the cross to save His people from their sins.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses frequently encounter thorny situations such as Revelation 1:8, and when they do they must force the text to agree with their theological opinions. They have, therefore, inserted the word “Jehovah” into the English text; and they have added the word to the Bible by their own admission.
For argument’s sake let us agree with the Jehovah’s Witnesses that the context of Revelation 1:8 permits the insertion that Jehovah is speaking (although no ancient manuscript can be found that allows it). It is implied that He is speaking here. Christians agree with Jehovah’s Witness on this occasion. The presupposition can be proven to be technically correct if the reader reads the context and compares Revelation 1:8 with the rest of Scripture. We will proceed, then, using the Jehovah’s Witness translation. We do so not because we agree with the Watchtower publishers. Christians do not trust the Watchtower translators. Christians do not in any way rely on this faulty translation to prove the deity of Christ; we depend on the available Greek manuscripts to do that for us. What I attempt to do here is quite a different thing. I endeavor to show Jehovah’s Witnesses that they, as believers in the reliability of the NWT, are bound to accept what it says about Jehovah and Christ’s deity in Revelation 1:8.
You, too, might discuss these verses with a Jehovah’s Witness should you be paid a visit, and you can use the New World Translation to prove the deity of Christ.
Listen to Dr. Walter Martin discuss how to witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses using Revelation 1:8 as a proof text (from a cassette recording circa 1976):
Revelation 1:7-8 says that someone “is coming.” Who? Verse 7 says it is someone who was “pierced.” Who was it that was pierced when he was nailed up to die? Jesus! But verse 8 says that it is Jehovah God who “is coming.” Could it be that there are two who are coming? No! Verse 8 refers to “the One who … is coming.”
Revelation 1:8 states clearly that Jehovah God is the Alpha and the Omega. Note what he says at Revelation 22:12-13: “Look! I am coming quickly … I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last. . . .'” Therefore Jehovah God is coming quickly. But notice the response when he says it again: “Yes; I am coming quickly. Amen! Come, Lord Jesus” (22:20, NWT).
Watch The Gaither Vocal Band perform The Alpha and the Omega (crank up your volume)
At this point we must point out that Alpha is the first letter of the Greek alphabet, while Omega is the last letter. Therefore, “the Alpha and the Omega” means the same thing as “the First and the Last.”
Then, again referring to the New World Translation, we continue on. Who is speaking in Revelation 2:8? “These are the things that he says, ‘the First and the Last,’ who became dead and came to life again. . . .” Obviously, it is Jesus. The Jehovah’s Witness will only agree that God did not and cannot die. Who was Jesus identifying himself as being, when he called himself “the First and the Last”? This is also how Almighty God described himself in the Old Testament. Jesus knew that the apostle John, who wrote the Book of Revelation, and later Bible readers would all remember these Old Testament verses:
. . . I am the same One. I am the first. Moreover, I am the last. Moreover, my own hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my own right hand extended out the heavens (Isaiah 48:12-13) and “… I am the same One. Before me there was no God formed, and after me there continued to be none. I, I am Jehovah, and besides me there is no savior” (Isaiah 43:10-11).
Note that the term the first and the last is used this way to refer to the Jehovah God in Revelation 22:13: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Yet John also records: “… And he laid his right hand upon me and said: ‘Do not be fearful. I am the First and the Last, and the living one; and I became dead, but look! I am living forever and ever . . .’” (Revelation 1:17-18).
The Jehovah’s Witness must be reminded that he has read in his own Bible that Jehovah God is the One who is coming, the One who is coming quickly, the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, and the only Savior. He has also read that our Savior Jesus Christ is the one who is coming, the One who is coming quickly, the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last.
If the Witness has difficulty reaching the right conclusion, namely that Jesus Christ is Almighty God, we ask him to read Colossians 2:9: “… it is in Him (Jesus Christ) that all the fullness of the divine quality dwells bodily…” (NWT). Or, according to the English Standard Version says, “…for in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily…”