The First and the Last Presentation
By: The John Ankerberg Show
|By: Lorri Macgregor; ©2013|
|The first and last chapters of Revelation are used to show the Deity of Christ to Jehovah’s Witnesses.|
I title this presentation on the Deity of Christ, “the First and the Last”, not only because it uses this term, but also because it uses the first and last chapters of Revelation to prove the point. We begin by reading 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.” (NASB).
This scripture teaches us a few points. The “Alpha and Omega” is the “Lord God Almighty”, and He is coming.
All will agree, but the J.W.’s will point out that their bible inserts “Jehovah” for “Lord”. Refer them to their purple Kingdom Interlinear Translation so they can see for themselves that “Jehovah” is not in the Greek text, but is an insertion by the “translators” of their bible. In spite of this, all can agree that Almighty God calls Himself “The Alpha and the Omega”.
Turn now to Revelation, chapter 22. There are several speakers in this chapter, but we want to single out the “Alpha and Omega” Speaker to see what else He has to say. Insist on reading the verses IN CONTEXT. The Speaker does not change between verses 12 through 16, so let’s consider Revelation 22:12-16,
“Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me to render to every man according to what he has done. “I am the ALPHA AND THE OMEGA, THE FIRST AND THE LAST, the beginning and the end.” Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter by the gates into the city. Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying. I, JESUS, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star”. (NASB).
Only now, with verse 17, does the Speaker change. Therefore the same Speaker, namely the Alpha and Omega, has said all the above things. He is “coming quickly” (agreeing with Revelation 1:8 read first), He is the “Alpha and the Omega”, He is the “First and the Last”, and He identifies Himself as “I, Jesus”. The Apostle John evidently agrees, for in verse 20 he records,
“He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.” Amen, come Lord Jesus”. (NASB)
Jehovah’s Witnesses will become agitated at this point, insisting that verse 12 is probably Jesus, then verse 13 must be Jehovah, then verse 16 is Jesus again. Rather than arguing, ask them, “Do you agree that in verse 13 the “Alpha and Omega” calls Himself “The First and the Last”? They must agree. Remark that Revelation, chapter one, leaves us in no doubt as to the identity of “The First and the Last”. Turn to Revelation 1:13-18. This account is a vision of the “son of man” Ask them who this is. They will reply “Jesus”. You will agree. You could take the time to read through the vision, but concentrate on verses 17 and 18, where the Apostle John says:
“And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as a dead man. And He laid His right hand upon me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I AM THE FIRST AND THE LAST, and the living One, and I WAS DEAD, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.” (Revelation 1:17,18 NASB).
Jesus has here called Himself “The First and the Last”, the same as He did in Revelation 22:13, where He also called Himself the “Alpha and the Omega”. It is obviously Jesus speaking also in Revelation l:8, where He repeats that He is “coming”, He is the “Alpha and the Omega” and He is “Almighty God”. We’ll read Revelation 1:8 again to fully establish the claims of Jesus Christ,
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God (Jesus Christ), who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Jesus Christ is truly Almighty God by His own witness of the fact. Therefore, He is not some secondary god, or one god among many, or the Archangel Michael, nor only a good man. Jesus Christ is Almighty God manifest in the flesh.
JESUS CHRIST IS THE ONLY GOD AND ETERNAL
1 Timothy 1:16 & 17 reads, “And for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost, JESUS CHRIST might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life. Now to the King ETERNAL, immortal, invisible, THE ONLY GOD, be honor and glory forever and ever, Amen.”
Yes, Jesus Christ is Eternal (not created, as J.W.’s teach), and He is called “The Only God”. Point out the location of the “Amen” in these scriptures. J.W.’s would like verse 16 to be Jesus, but verse 17 to be Jehovah. Not possible. There were no chapter and verse divisions in the early manuscripts, and the “Amen” closes the thought. Furthermore, the subject is Jesus Christ.
UNDERSTANDING JESUS’ HUMANITY & DEITY
Jesus is truly God, but He is also truly man. It is the scriptures dealing with His humanity that cause the most distortions in the cult doctrines. Verses 5 and 6 of Philippians, chapter two, begin regarding the humanity of Jesus, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.” (NASB)
The phrase “existed in the form of God” means literally in the Greek, He “never ceased being in the form of God”. Remembering this point, we continue to the phrase “(He) did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped.” The cults love to disregard the first phrase and seize on the second, to try to “prove” Jesus inferior. However, in context, Jesus Christ never ceased being God, but rather than grasping after the equality that was His, He chose a course of humanity and humility. Verses 7 and 8 of Philippians, chapter two continues on,
“But emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men, and being found in appearance AS A MAN, he humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (NASB).
AS A MAN, DID JESUS LOSE HIS DEITY?
The answer to the above question is “Never!” Jesus Christ was not just a good man as some cults teach, He was God manifest in the flesh. He did function totally as a man while on earth, but He was always God. Colossians 2:8,9 warns that false teachers would deceive people on this very point, as do the J.W.’s,
“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the elementary principles of the world rather than according to Christ. For in HIM ALL THE FULLNESS OF DEITY DWELLS IN BODILY FORM.” (NASB).
All is all, and full is full, and “all the fullness of Deity” (Godhead, Godship), is dwelling in Christ “IN THE FLESH.”
IS JESUS INFERIOR TO THE FATHER?
The cult groups denying the Deity of Jesus Christ always use scriptures from the time of His humanity, and try to apply them to His Deity. A favorite example is John 14:28, quoting Jesus,
- “…the Father is greater than I”. (NASB).
Is Jesus saying He is inferior to the Father? No, if Jesus wanted to say He was inferior, He would have said, “The Father is BETTER than I”. The Greek word for “better” means “higher in nature”. Jesus did not use that word, since He is not inferior, or lower in nature than the Father, as the cults teach. Jesus used the Greek word for “greater”, which means “higher in position”.
While Jesus was humbled, emptied, functioning as a man, the Father was in a higher position. This would be much like the President and Vice-President of a company. The President is in a higher position than the Vice-President, but by nature, they are both men and equal. If Jesus had been claiming to be only “a god” as J.W.’s and others teach, then He would not have been charged with “blasphemy”. Jesus knew He was God, His disciples worshiped Him, eye-witnesses testified to His claims to be God, and the whole church believed Acts 20:28, which tells the elders,
“Be on guard for yourselves and for all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of GOD, which HE PURCHASED WITH HIS OWN BLOOD.”
It is possible to witness to a Jehovah’s Witness and prove the Deity of Jesus Christ.