'I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.'"
In Revelation, John is not so much teaching the gospel as he is building on it, encouraging Christians to endure because of it, and to be faithful to it even unto death. Consequently, he does not always refer to the gospel of Christ’s atoning work to defeat the guilt and power of our sin explicitly. Here in verse 5, however, John refers to Jesus as “the firstborn of the dead” because his resurrection guarantees the general resurrection (cf. 1 Cor. 15:20–22). John also identifies Jesus as the one “who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood” (Rev. 1:5). Christ loves sinners and has freed us from our sins. This is the wonder of the gospel.
At many points, such as here, John presents the salvation Jesus has accomplished as the ultimate fulfillment of a rescue of God’s covenant people analogous to Israel’s exodus from Egypt. Jesus dies as the new and better Passover Lamb (cf. 5:6). Moreover, just as God made Israel a kingdom of priests (Ex. 19:6), so here, having redeemed us from sin and death, Jesus makes us “a kingdom, priests to his God and Father” (Rev. 1:6).
We receive John’s worshipful response to this gospel message as he ascribes to Jesus glory and dominion forever and ever. Because of the salvation Jesus has accomplished, he is worthy of praise (cf. 5:5–14; 7:9–12; 14:2–3; 15:2–4). John refers to the death of Christ as he describes Jesus coming with the clouds (in fulfillment of Dan. 7:13) when at his second coming “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him” (Rev. 1:7). This piercing took place at the cross in fulfillment of Zechariah 12:10, which is itself reflecting the piercing of the Davidic servant in Isaiah 53. By citing Zechariah 12:10 and Daniel 7:13, John brings together the Old Testament themes of the suffering and conquering Messiah, identifying the former with Christ’s first coming and the latter with his second.
This series of posts pairs a brief passage of Scripture with associated study notes drawn from the Gospel Transformation Bible.