Alpha and Omega

Greek expression: Alpha kai Ōmega

Pronunciation: AHL fuh; KIGH; oh MAY guh

Strong’s Numbers: ,

Have you heard the expression, "He knows everything from A to Z?" "A to Z" in this context connotes comprehensiveness. In the Greek alphabet, Alpha is the first letter and Ōmega is the last. The expression "A to Z" in Greek would therefore be "Alpha to Ōmega." The New Testament gives both God and Jesus the title Alpha and Ōmega, as well as "the Beginning and the End" and "the First and Last" (Rev. 1:8,17; 2:8; 21:6; 22:13). According to these passages, God in Christ is not only the First and the Last, but is also comprised of everything in between. Thus, God expresses and affirms His fullness, comprehensiveness, and all-inclusiveness; He is the Source of all life and will bring all things to their appointed end.

Such affirmations, which have their counterpart in the Old Testament (see Isa. 41:4; 44:6; 48:12), stress the unique and faithful sovereignty of God and his Son, Jesus. Christian readers are reminded that the creation and the end of all human history are under control of the living God.

Key Verses

Revelation 1:8; 21:6; 22:13

In the book of Revelation, God is called the Alpha and Ōmega because all revelation begins from Him and ends with Him. He is the Creator and Terminator of all life. Christ also bears this title because He is the source and the goal of life. If we have anxiety about how the world will end and what it will be like after this life is over, we can rest assured that the same God who began this world (as the Alpha) will be there in the end (as the Ōmega). The Lord presents Himself many times as the Alpha and Ōmega in the final book of the Bible. The knowledge that He is in complete control of every aspect of our lives is a source of assurance and comfort during times of trial.


Greek expression: glōssa

Pronunciation: GLOHSS sah

Strong’s Number:

The Greek term glōssa means "languages." When the early believers were empowered with the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, they were given the ability to speak in many different "languages," so that those visiting from all around the Greco-Roman world could hear the glories of God being uttered in their native tongue (Acts 2:4-11). The household of Cornelius also spoke in different languages when they were baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:46). The same phenomenon happened with the new disciples from Ephesus (Acts 19:6).

But not all spoke in "tongues" when they received the Spirit (Acts 8:15-17); so it wasn’t the unique sign for having received the Holy Spirit. The Scripture teaches that all believers are baptized by the Spirit as they become integrated into the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:13). The genuine evidence of the work of the Holy Spirit is the "fruit of the Spirit" as defined in Galatians 5:22-23. In any event, some members of the early church regularly spoke in different languages as a way of praying to God, and others spoke in different languages in church meetings. When these languages were spoken in private, interpretation was not needed; when they were spoken in the meetings, Paul required interpretation so that the others could understand and be edified (1 Cor. 14:2-27).

In order to establish firmly the public practice of tongue-speaking as a ministry to the church and to prevent its abuse as a quest for personal fulfillment, Paul put forth a set of rules designed to control its corporate exercise. These are explained in 1 Corinthians 14:27-33. Those people speaking in tongues must always have their utterances interpreted for the benefit of others. Persons participating in worship should be in control of their conduct at all times. They may not appeal to ecstatic states to excuse disorderly conduct or infractions to the rules of worship.

Key Verses

Acts 2:4, 11; 10:46; 19:6; 1 Corinthians 12:10; 14:2, 4-6, 9, 13-14, 18-19, 27

Finally, Paul taught that the gift of tongues is not to be sought after. Only the "higher gifts" involving communication through directly intelligible speech are to be earnestly desired (1 Cor. 12:31; 14:1, 5).

—Holman Treasury of Key Bible Words