Who is speaking at Revelation 1:8—Jehovah or the Lord?

    Ones of Jehovah's Witnesses have raised a good question concerning Revelation 1:8. They are asking whether verse 8 was spoken by Jehovah or by the Lord. This is an appropriate question because the subject of verse 4 is separated from Jesus Christ in verse 5 by the word "and." Verse 5 does not extend the subject of verse 4 with a statement saying that the subject of verse 4 "is" the subject of verse 5. The "and" at the beginning of verse 5 introduces Jesus Christ as separate from the subject of verse 4.

    Carefully read the entire passage below from the New World Translation. Pay particular attention to verses 4 and 5. Also notice the paragraph divisions used by the New World Translation.

Revelation 1:1-8 from the New World Translation

    1 A revelation by Jesus Christ, which God gave him, to show his slaves the things that must shortly take place. And he sent forth his angel and presented [it] in signs through him to his slave John, 2 who bore witness to the word God gave and to the witness Jesus Christ gave, even to all the things he saw. 3 Happy is he who reads aloud and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and who observe the things written in it; for the appointed time is near.

    4 John to the seven congregations that are in the [district of] Asia:

    May YOU have undeserved kindness and peace from "The One who is and who was and who is coming," and from the seven spirits that are before his throne, 5 and from Jesus Christ, "the Faithful Witness," "The firstborn from the dead," and "The Ruler of the kings of the earth."

    To him that loves us and that loosed us from our sins by means of his own blood— 6 and he made us to be a kingdom, priests to his God and Father—yes, to him be the glory and the might forever. Amen.

    7 Look! He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, and those who pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in grief because of him. Yes, Amen.

    8 "I am the Alpha and the Omega," says Jehovah God, "the One who is and who was and who is coming, the Almighty."

    The questions is, "Who is speaking in Revelation 1:8—Jehovah or the Lord?" We will answer this question by first considering the context of the verse, and secondly, by considering the textual source of the verse. We will consider the context of the verse first because this is the way that ones of Jehovah's Witnesses have asked the question.

I. The context of Revelation 1:8 (verses 1 through 7)

  A. The complexity of subjects: The passage lists 19 subjects in the first seven verses. Needless to say, 
       this becomes an extremely complex context to decipher. The 19 subjects (some used multiple times as indicated 
       within parentheses), are as follows in chronological order:
    1. Jesus Christ (3 times).
    2. God (3 times).
    3. Slave[s] (twice).
    4. Angel.
    5. John (twice).
    6. He who reads.
    7. Those who hear.
    8. [Those] who observe.
    9. The seven congregations.
   10. The One who is and who was and who is coming.
   11. The seven spirits.
   12. The Faithful Witness.
   13. The firstborn from the dead.
   14. The Ruler of the kings of the earth.
   15. Priests.
   16. Father.
   17. Those who pierced.
   18. All the tribes.
   19. In addition, "him" appears 7 times, "his" appears 6 times, "he" appears 
       4 times, "YOU" appears once, "us" appears 3 times, "our" appears once, 
       and "themselves" appears once.

B. Paragraph breaks: Both the New World Translation and the Kingdom Interlinear
   Translation break verses 1 through 8 into six paragraphs.  (See the paragraph breaks in 
   the passage above from the New World Translation.) Notice the subjects within each paragraph:

  1. Verses 1 through 3: 
    a. The book is identified as the revelation of Jesus Christ.
    b. It is to show his slaves the things that must shortly take place.
    c. He sent his angel and presented it to his slave John.
    d. Who bore witness to the word God gave.
    e. Happy is he who reads, and those who hear and obey.
    f. The appointed time is near.
  2. Verse 4a: John to the seven congregations.
  3. Verses 4b through 5a: John's salutation to the seven congregations:
    a. May you have undeserved kindness and peace from "The One who is and who was and who is coming."
    b. May you have undeserved kindness and peace from the seven spirits that are before his throne.
    c. May you have undeserved kindness and peace from Jesus Christ.
  4. Verse 5b through 6: John's expression to Jesus as,
    a. The one that loves us and loosed us from our sins by means of his own blood.
    b. The one who made us to be a kingdom.
    c. To him be the glory and might forever.
    d. This section breaks with "Amen."
  5. Verse 7: The one coming in the clouds.  This section breaks with "Amen."
  6. Verse 8: The one who is identified as the "Almighty."

Observations from the complexity of the subjects and the paragraph breaks. The large number and complexity of the subjects in Revelation 1:1-7 alerts us to the need to carefully determine who may be speaking, and of whom it is being said. In some cases, the use of personal pronouns almost makes the task of determining the subject (or the referent) with absolute certainty impossible in the English text. However, the paragraph breaks clarify the obscurity of the passage. In verses 4b through 5a John's salutation wishes the seven congregations "Undeserved kindness and peace" from "The One who is and who was and who is coming," from the seven spirits that are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ.

    Verse 5b and 6 is a new paragraph which makes reference to both Jesus and the Father. Therefore, the two paragraphs including verses 4b through 6, refer to both the "The One who is and who was and who is coming," and to Jesus Christ. This section is closed by the word "Amen."

    However, verse 7 is again a new paragraph. It is clearly understood by ones of Jehovah's Witnesses as being a reference to the Messiah who came in the clouds and who was "pierced." Again, this section is also closed by the word "Amen."

    Therefore, an evaluation of the context places important contextual breaks between the declarations taken to be references only to Jehovah and verse 8. Most importantly, verse 7 is a complete paragraph which is ascribed solely to Jesus.

    There is a final observation which must be made in regard to the punctuation of verse 8. The New World Translation clearly makes this a quotation. We would then ask, "Who is speaking in the book of Revelation?" Verse 1:1 tells us that this is "A revelation by Jesus Christ." Of course, there are many speakers quoted in the book of Revelation. However, we would normally understand that a quotation in the first person which is not ascribed to an identified speaker would be that which was said by the one who is giving the revelation. By both the context of Revelation 1:8 and the quotation marks used in this passages, every indication is that this is now the first thing said by the one of whom this revelation is about.

    We are asking, "Who is speaking in Revelation 1:8—Jehovah or the Lord?" The second part of our evaluation must consider what the text written by John says. Before we return to our outline, look at the Greek text for Revelation 1:8 in the Kingdom Interlinear Translation.

Revelation 1:8 from the Kingdom Interlinear Translation

II. The textual evidence for Revelation 1:8

  A. The Greek text in the Kingdom Interlinear Translation: The Greek text uses the word Kyrios (Κύριος) 
        rather than the Tetragrammaton (יהוה).
  B. The textual evidence: The only textual evidence for this verse indicates that John wrote  "Lord" rather than "Jehovah" in verse 1:8.

Observations from the Greek manuscript evidence. The only manuscript evidence available conclusively verifies the contextual evidence that Revelation 1:8 is identifying the "Lord" as God Almighty.