Alpha and Omega



Christian symbols

Visual representations and signs - also known as symbols - are very important in the Christian religion. Christians may be called "people of the book" (meaning they are readers of the Bible) and "people of faith" (meaning they believe in unseen things). Still, imagery plays an important role in the Christian life. For instance, symbols incorporating colors, shapes, and numbers, can have significant importance in the right context.

While faith apart from the senses may be of primary importance in Christianity, believers recognize that God is also the creator of the human senses, including sight. Moreover, what is visible and physical can, under the right circumstances, be an aid to faith. For example, when Christians remember the cross of Jesus Christ, in accordance with biblical instruction (e.g. 1 Corinthians 11), they consume bread and wine (or similar elements) at the Lord's Supper.

Faith is thereby supported by a sensory experience.




Alpha and Omega in the Bible

Alpha and Omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. When used symbolically in Christianity, they signify that God is "the beginning and the end," meaning that God is eternal.

Furthermore, the expression is commonly understood as a merism, which is a figure of speech that articulates the beginning of something and the ending of something, but the implication that it refers to all things in between as well.

As symbols, the Alpha and Omega were used in early Christianity and appeared in the Roman catacombs.

The Alpha and Omega symbols are often combined with the cross (#3 right), chi rho (#6 right), or other Christian symbols.

In Judaism

In Rabbinic literature, the word emet ("truth"), composed of the first and last letters of the Hebrew alphabet, is "the seal of God," and in Judaism it carries somewhat the same connotation as Alpha and Omega.

Related Bible Verses

"I am the first and the last" (Isa. 44:6)

"From everlasting to everlasting thou art God" (Ps. 90:2)

"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." (Rev 1:8, NIV)

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References
  1. Carolle E. Whittenmore, ed., Symbols of the Church.
  2. "Alpha and Omega." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2006. Encyclopædia Britannica Premium Service.