He Who Is

In the Book of Revelation, God is the “Almighty,” the “One Who sits on the Throne,” the “Alpha and Omega,” the “One Who is and Who was and Who is coming.” This last phrase is more than a declaration about His nature, and the appellation is modified at key points in Revelation to mark progress towards the consummation of the present age. This description of God recalls the self-designation that Yahweh declared to Moses: I AM WHO I AM.

Creator - Photo by Denis Degioanni on Unsplash
[Creator - Photo by Denis Degioanni on Unsplash]

Like Moses, John received his commission while in exile. Just as Yahweh freed His people from Egypt and summoned them to become a “
kingdom of priests,” so, Jesus now “frees” his people from sin and makes them a “kingdom, priests” – (Exodus 3:14 19:4-5, Revelation 1:4-6).

But John does something odd in the grammatical structure of the sentence. Per Greek syntax, the three pronouns should be in the genitive case since they follow the preposition apo or “from.” Rather than “from HIM who is,” it reads “from HE.”

Thus, John uses the nominative form of the pronoun, or “he,” where the text expects a genitive. Similarly, in English, after the preposition “from” the appropriate masculine pronoun is “him” or “whom” rather than “he” or “who.” What John wrote would have grated on the ears of his Greek-speaking audience.

However, this grammatical “error” is deliberate. It makes the clause in Chapter 1 conform grammatically to its other occurrences of this phrase later in the Book. Most likely, this was done so its original audience would not miss the literary connections.

For example, the appellation is repeated at the end of the opening salutation. The one speaking is “He Who is and Who was and Who is coming.” In this instance, the clause is in the nominative case and spelled precisely the same as in the first instance, and properly so. The fact that John has written the phrase correctly the second time indicates that his previous “grammatical error” was no mistake at all.

In the vision of the “Throne,” the “four living creatures” standing around it cried out continuously, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, Who was and Who is and Who is coming.” The Almighty was portrayed as reigning supreme from the center of the Cosmos - (Revelation 4:1-11).

In Chapter 4, the clause is again found in the nominative case, but now, the first two verbs have switched positions, possibly for stylistic reasons.

Later, when the “Seventh Trumpet” sounded, the Day of the Lord arrived, the time of final judgment. At that time, John heard the “twenty-four elders” declare - “We give you thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, WHO IS AND WHO WAS because you have taken your great power and reigned” – (Revelation 11:17).

In Chapter 11, the final clause, or “Who is coming” is dropped. This is done since no longer was He in the process of “coming,” He had arrived and “taken power” over the Earth. The sounding of the seventh trumpet marked the commencement of the Day of judgment.

After the “Third Bowl of Wrath” was emptied, the “angel of the waters” declared God to be “just,” and identified Him as the one “WHO IS AND WHO WAS, the Holy One, because you have judged.”

Once more, the final clause, or “He Who is coming,” is omitted. Collectively, the “Seven Bowls of Wrath… COMPLETE the wrath of God.” They represent the final outpouring of His “wrath” on the wicked and “Babylon the Great”; once again, we see the time of final judgment portrayed – (Revelation 16:5-6, 17-21).


The description of God as the one “Who is and Who was, and Who is coming” does more than identify Him as Yahweh, the God of Israel who spoke to Moses from the Burning Bush.

The literary links inform us that a much larger story is being told. John is not simply praising God. Very graphically, the Book presents us with the cosmic war that has been raging since the fall of Adam, one that will continue until its consummation at the end of the age. The vision is much larger than the Seven Assemblies of Asia or History’s final few years.

The pivotal battle has been waged and won already in the death and resurrection of Jesus, the “Ruler of the Kings of the Earth” who “loosed” his people from the dominion of sin and constituted them as a victorious “kingdom of priests. Ever since his victory Jesus has reigned from the Throne.

In the Book, Satan and his servants are still active but can only operate within the parameters set by the “Lamb” – only when and within the limits allowed by him. Thus, for example, the “Beast from the Sea/Abyss” cannot launch its “war against the saints” until authorized to do so (“It was given to it to make war on the saints”).

In His Son, the God “Who is and Who was” is “coming” with condemnation for His enemies and vindication for His saints. But when the final day arrives, no longer will He be “coming.” Heaven will declare, “It is finished,” and “New Jerusalem will descend to Earth” to be inhabited by His people forevermore.

The Book of Revelation presents us with a process, but one that will reach its intended conclusion at the end of the Age.




Second Trumpet

Short Season