This is according to the article, Who or What Is “the Alpha and the Omega”? which also says, "This term occurs three times in the Bible. Revelation 1:8; Revelation 21:6; and here at Revelation 22:13."

They then say at the end of the article, "Does Revelation 22:13 prove that Jesus is "the Alpha and the Omega?" The answer they give is "no," followed by this explanation.

The speaker at Revelation 22:13 is not specifically identified, and there are various speakers in this chapter.

This begs the question? Why were they so "dogmatic" when they clearly stated, "The Alpha and Omega" refers to Jehovah God, the Almighty?"

So to prove their contention that the speaker is not specifically identified they quote Professor William Barclay:

"Things are set down without any apparent order; ...and it is often very difficult to be sure who is the actual speaker." (The Revelation of John, Volume 2, Revised Edition, page 223)

Then the article continues to say

Thus, "the Alpha and the Omega" at Revelation 22:13 can be identified as the same Person given this title elsewhere in Revelation-Jehovah God."

So being a good Berean according to Acts 17:11 I checked out what Professor Barclay really said under the title,

THE CLAIMS OF CHRIST (Revelation 22:12-13)

22:12,13 Behold, I am coming soon, and I have my reward with me, to render to each man, as his work is. I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. You can read his complete analysis at the following site.

Bible Commentaries: William Barclay's Daily Study Bible Revelation 22

The Risen Christ once again announces his speedy coming; and he makes two great claims.

Now, one of the reasons the Jehovah Witnesses deny that this is Jesus Christ is included in their own article.

The term "the First and the Last" occurs at Revelation 1:17, 18 and 2:8. In these verses, the context show that the one referred to died and later returned to life. Thus, these verses cannot refer to God because never died.

However, Jesus died and was resurrected.

The short answer is that the one person of Jesus Christ has two natures, one human and one divine. It was the human nature that died, not His divine nature. One cannot help notice the obvious contradictions.

So here's the question: Why do the Jehovah Witnesses quote Professor William Barclay saying "it is difficult to be sure who is the actual speaker?" Clearly his words are taken out of context in that he identifies the speaker as being Jesus Christ in his commentary on Revelation 22:12-13.

The quote by Barclay was used by the JW's to demonstrate that Jesus Christ is "NOT" the speaker at Revelation 22:12-13. I then showed proof from Barclay himself that the speaker is Jesus Christ. This is according to the context which includes Revelation 22:16, "I, Jesus have sent My angel to (not Michael the arc angel) to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, the bright and morning star."

"The bright and morning star." Please read (Psalm 84:11, Malachi 4:2; Matthew 17:2; Revelation 1:16; 2 Peter 1:19.) Finally, Revelation 22:20:20-21, "He who testifies to these things (what things?) says, Yes, I am coming quickly. Amen. Come Lord Jesus. Verse 21, "The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all/the saints. Amen."

  • 2
    You should drastically edit this question to simply ask if William Barclay was misquoted in the article written by Jehovah’s Witnesses.
    – Kris
    Jul 18, 2020 at 22:58
  • 3
    @Kris No sir! Your the ones who made the statement therefore it's incumbent upon you to correct the "so-called" misquote. I merely provided/fact-checked the evidence that the statement is false, based on what Professor Barclay really said which was obviously contrary to to the facts.
    – Mr. Bond
    Jul 18, 2020 at 23:13
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    @Kris Sort of! I'm accusing them of using "ellipses." An ellipses is used when omitting a word, phrase, line, paragraph, or more from a quoted passage or source. An ellipses is three dots like this ... In the JW link it says, "Professor William Barclay wrote: "Things are set down without any apparent order: ... and it is often very difficult etc. Notice the three dots after the word "order." They left out whatever else Barclay had said after the three dots. This is why I posted what he really said regarding Jesus being the speaker at Revelation 22:12-13.
    – Mr. Bond
    Jul 19, 2020 at 0:02
  • 3
    The full sentence that Barclay wrote is: "Things are set down without any apparent order; there are repetitions of what has gone before; and it is often very difficult to be sure who is the actual speaker." The ellipsis doesn't change the meaning of the quote. However, it's true that Barclay believed Rev. 22:13 was spoken by Jesus.
    – user32540
    Jul 19, 2020 at 1:12
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    2 physicians can agree that a diagnosis of a particular disease is difficult to make. Then those 2 doctors may eventually come to different conclusions after making a careful examination and based on experience and other case studies. Still at the end of the day they would both agree that a diagnosis was difficult.
    – Kris
    Jul 20, 2020 at 15:13

2 Answers 2


First, let me answer your question near the end of your comments, and then I will be able to give a swift, simple answer to your question in the heading. You asked near the end, “Why do the Jehovah Witnesses quote Professor William Barclay saying "it is difficult to be sure who is the actual speaker?"

The first point to make is that establishing who the actual speaker is in verse 13 is not clear-cut. More than one speaker speaks in chapter 22, from when the epilogue starts (verse 6) to the last verse (21).

Verse 6 starts, “And he said unto me…” (unto John, that is. I won’t include John’s comments in these verses, as those are clearly identified.) Verses 7 and 12 say, “Behold, I come quickly…”. Verse 13 says, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”

It is legitimate to ask whether there are two, or three heavenly speakers here, because there were no inverted commas in koine Greek, to help distinguish one speaker from another. This is where translations like the Authorised Version openly show the nature of the difficulty, not having inverted commas. But some translations, like the Jehovah’s Witness New World Translation, do insert inverted commas, which demonstrate their belief that a third heavenly speaker breaks into the dialogue – they would say that the new speaker from verse 12 through to the end of verse 15 is Jehovah God.

But trying to identify various speakers in the epilogue, without reference to the preamble (chapter 1 verses 1 to 3) and everything from there to the epilogue is ridiculous and, thankfully, you do not ask us to make any identifications of speakers in chapter 22. However, anyone who has studied the whole book of the Revelation will know that it is neither chronological nor literal. And chapter 22 deals with future events. Therefore, anyone who claims that it is difficult to be sure who the speaker is in chapter 22 verse 13 is being honest. As was William Barclay in that partial quote by the Watchtower Society.

The reason why they gave that partial quote was because they hoped it would substantiate their argument for claiming the speaker there to be Jehovah God. Unfortunately for them (as you proved in your comments) Barclay came to the conclusion that it was Jesus speaking, so all that can be claimed from Barclay’s quote is that he found it difficult to state who the speaker was in verse 13 even though, on balance, he came down on the side of it being the resurrected Christ.

Now the answer to your main question: "Why do Jehovah’s Witnesses cite William Barclay as to the identity of the speaker in Revelation 22:13 knowing he believed it is Jesus?" To be charitable, we cannot state that the anonymous writer who incorporated that partial quote of Barclay knew that Barclay believed it to be Jesus. He may not have done any research into Barclay’s other comments about what Jesus said in the book of the Revelation. Perhaps he was under instructions to pick quotes from various theologians that could pad out the Watchtower article, to encourage readers to think that ones such as Barclay concluded the same as the Watchtower Society (when he did not.) Certainly, the wording immediately following Barclay’s partial quote easily lends itself to the erroneous idea that “Thus, ‘the Alpha and the Omega’ at Revelation 22:13 can be identified as the same Person given this title elsewhere in Revelation—Jehovah God.”

At risk of sounding uncharitable now, I would say that from my experience of the amount of checking up on Watchtower quotes that rank and file Jehovah’s Witnesses do, very few of them would even try to get hold of Barclay’s writings, to see if he had been quoted out of context or not. Indeed, it has only been in comparatively recent years that the Watchtower Society has ensured that full citation references are given when it quotes others, to enable their readers to check, should they so wish. I have a considerable library of their books, and hundreds of their magazines (up till the turn of the century) and I was almost never able to chase up quotes purely via their literature. Even with the advent of the Internet, it still remains a hugely time-consuming task to get a full quote without a precise source and page number given. But as the full citation for Barclay's partial quote was given in that Watchtower article, any diligent Jehovah’s Witness can do a check and discover for themselves what appears to be a somewhat misleading misconstruction of Barclay, to make it seem as if he agreed with the Watchtower Society re. Rev. 22:13, when he actually disagreed. And if anyone thinks I am being uncharitable here, please just check out for yourself by researching Barclay, as I have done on such matters. He is now dead, so cannot defend himself from misleading applications of his work, which I think this is an example of. But Jehovah’s Witnesses will disagree, which they are entitled to do. After all, this is a matter of interpretation of one of the most profoundly symbolic and prophetic parts of the Bible. Nevertheless, scholastic integrity requires honest representation of those quoted, and not partial quotes that are not balanced by more quotes that would lead to a different conclusion.

  • Barclay held many different beliefs over his scholarly life time Since you yourself answered this related question you must know that. Quoting a scholar who says “it is difficult to know who the speaker is” is not misleading especially when barclay held the view that Jesus is not God for at least some of his life. I urge all to read the linked Q&A
    – Kris
    May 3, 2021 at 0:04
  • @Kris My answer agrees with your point, that the quote was not misleading in and of itself. It was not misquoted, but it was taken out of context to encourage JW readers to think that Barclay was being cited in support of the JW interpretation when he did not agree, on that point. I know that Barclay had many theological views I and many other Protestants disagreed with. But people often change their beliefs over the years; I once did not believe Jesus is God, but now I do. I am not promoting Barclay by exposing this misapplication of a tiny quote, though I wonder why the Watchtower Society
    – Anne
    May 3, 2021 at 8:07
  • calls on him, as if he supported them, when Barclay had many theological views most biblically orthodoxly Christian people could never agree with. To have been open and scholastically honest, the Wt.Soc. should have quoted his acknowledgment of how difficult it is to identify the speaker of Rev. 22:13 but pointed out that, despite that, Barclay came down on the side of it being Christ. In which case, why quote him at all? Everybody already knows its difficult to identify the various speakers in that chapter!
    – Anne
    May 3, 2021 at 8:07

@Mr. Bond Please note that in the article that you cite from the JW.org website states,

Commenting on this section of Revelation, Professor William Barclay wrote: "Things are set down without any apparent order; . . . and it is often very difficult to be sure who is the actual speaker.” (The Revelation of John, Volume 2, Revised Edition, page 223) Thus, “the Alpha and the Omega” at Revelation 22:13 can be identified as the same Person given this title elsewhere in Revelation​—Jehovah God.

The article is using the statement that "Things are set down without any apparent order" to further reiterate that no one knows for sure who is actually speaking. And for that reason the article says,

“the Alpha and the Omega” at Revelation 22:13 can be identified as the same Person given this title elsewhere in Revelation​—Jehovah God.

So they are making a logical conclusion based on other scriptural evidence and not making a supposition based on a whim.

Incidentally Barclay is frequently quoted by JWs. In fact a quick search of his name on Watchtower Libray comes back with 37 occurrences. While true that he identified the speaker in Revelation 22:13 as Jesus it is also true that he says it is difficult to be sure and also true that Barclay said Jesus is not God.

This begs the question: How can Jesus be identified as the Alpha /Omega by Barclay on the one hand and be said not to be God on the other? JWs consistently identify Alpha/Omega only as Jehovah God.

  • In his third paragraph from the end, the OP was making the following point: by applying the same reasoning to the expression the first and the last, one would then be forced to conclude that it refers to Christ (1:17, 2:8); as such, since 22:13 contains this term as well, it would have to denote the same person. Their ad hoc dichotomy between the two expressions (next-to-last chapter) is supported neither by the words' very meaning (alpha & omega being the first & last letters of the Greek alphabet, and therefore its beginning & end), nor by any explicit passage from Revelation itself.
    – user46876
    Jul 19, 2020 at 11:52
  • @Lucian the Op is asking specifically about the quote in watchtower from Barclay and why it was used to bolster jws conclusion that Jehovah is the speaker in rev 22:13 in light of the fact that barclay himself came to a different conclusion as demonstrated in subsequent writings by him.
    – Kris
    Jul 19, 2020 at 12:35
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    @agarza It's utterly illogical to partially quote Prof. Barclay as a reason to come to a different conclusion than the one he came to. One sentence is wrested away from Prof. B's conclusion, whereas had his logical conclusion being admitted to, nobody would have used his partial quote to bolster their contradictory conclusion. The Watchtower Society had made a similar distortion to what the Prof. wrote re. John 1:1, trying to give the impression that he supported their anti-trinitarian stance when he was a trinitarian, believing that the Word was God (capital 'G'): scholastic dishonesty x2.
    – Anne
    Jul 21, 2020 at 8:52
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    @Kris In The Daily Study Bible series, "The Gospel of John" Vol. 1, Barclay writes of the Logos, how John was challenging the Greeks to consider "a new category in which the Greek might think of Jesus, a category in which Jesus was presented as nothing less than God acting in the form of a man." (p8) John also exposed Gnostic heresies (that Jesus was not really divine or not really human): "The Gnostic beliefs at one and the same time destroyed the real godhead and the real manhood of Jesus." (p14) Barclay agrees with John as to Christ's godhead and manhood = trinitarianism re. Christ.
    – Anne
    Jul 22, 2020 at 7:00
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    I believe the issue is in citing Barclay but not providing his conclusion as to who it identifies. So the Watchtower use is at best misleading or at worst purposely deceitful. Good exegesis cites scholarly analysis and includes their conclusion. There is no good reason to cite Barclay's analysis of the passage and fail to give his conclusion. For example, a more honest approach would be to say "Barclay concludes “the Alpha and the Omega” at Revelation 22:13 is Jesus but it can be identified as the same Person given this title elsewhere in Revelation​—Jehovah God." Dec 28, 2020 at 8:28

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