In Revelation 1:8 we read,

"I am the Alpha and the Omega," says the Lord God, "who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty."

This clearly says that God is yet to come.

In Revelation 11:17 (after the seventh trumpet has been sounded) we read,

We give thanks to you, Lord God Almighty, The one who is and who was because you have taken your great power and begun to reign.

This scripture clearly says that God has come.

In Revelation 16:5 we read

You are just in these judgments, you who are and who were, the Holy one.

This implies to me that God has come

My question is, if God does not begin to reign until after the seventh trumpet, what does, "you who are and who were," mean?


3 Answers 3


"Revelation 16:5 NU-Text and M-Text read who was, the Holy One" (see footnote c) Thus the contrast between this passage and the others in Revelation may be due a scribal error. It may not be easy to discern if a portion was left out of some manuscripts or added in to others.

You can compare various English translations which reflect the variation of manuscripts.

In either case, rather than trying to communicate something specific about Him coming, the use of Who was, who is, and who is to come may simply be a translation or interpretation of the divine name YHWH from the origina language into Greek: He-Who-Was/Is/Is to come:

According to one Jewish tradition, the Tetragrammaton is related to the causative form, the imperfect state, of the Hebrew verb הוה (ha·wah, “to be, to become”), meaning “He will cause to become” (usually understood as “He causes to become”).

Another tradition regards the name as coming from three different verb forms sharing the same root YWH, the words HYH haya (היה): “He was”; HWH howê (הוה): “He is”; and YHYH yihiyê (יהיה): “He will be”. This would therefore show that God is timeless and self-existent. Other interpretations include the name as meaning “I am the One Who Is.” This can be seen in the O. T. biblical account of the “burning bush” commanding Moses to tell the sons of Israel that “I AM (אהיה) has sent you,” (Exodus 3:13–14). Some suggest, “I AM the One I AM” [אהיה אשר אהיה]. This may also fit the interpretation as “He Causes to Become.”]1


The permissive and active will of God

This question may also enter the realm of the Sovereignty of God. God always reigns and has never not reigned, "I The Lord Omnipotent Reigneth." For God to be God He must reign and be in control of all things. As we see in the Book of Job, Satan must ask the permission of God.

The notes on Job 2 from the 1599 Geneva Bible (GNV) state:

Satan hath permission to afflict Job.  His wife tempteth him to forsake God.  His three friends visit him. to afflict the sons of men.! in Jobs case the Lord permitted Satan to severely afflict Job. If this is an example of Gods relationship to creation in general, then we must consider the permissive will of God to the extent that scripture reveals everywhere that God is always in control, despite appearances.

The relationship between God and Satan is depicted as a war. Yet the scripture reveals a greater truth, when one looks deeper. Our conception of war, considers two parties opposed. Yet God clearly reveals that He is in control of His enemy, the Devil, to such an extent that "He works all things together for good".

Isaiah 45:7

"I form the light and create darkness, I make peace and I create evil(calamity); I am the Lord, Who does all these things."

Now we know that God can not sin, nor even look upon sin:

Habakkuk 1:13

(NKJV) You are of purer eyes than to behold evil, And cannot look on wickedness. Why do You look on those who deal treacherously, And hold Your tongue when the wicked devours A person more righteous than he?

Yet He declares His rule over all things. We must understand therefore that God permits sin and evil according to His eternal purpose. "The creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but of because of the will of Him who subjected it" (Romans 8:20).

1 Corinthians 15:24-28

"Then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death. For He has put all things in subjection under His feet. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.

Notice the certainty of Gods word. He reigns and will abolish all His enemies.

If it can be established that nothing happens without either the active or passive will of God then we can conclude that GOD IS always ruling in His creation. We would in fact expect nothing less of God. For God to be God He must be in control at all times. An earthly king we can understand has conflicts which are out of his control, but to consider the Unborn Eternal God, on a level with Earthly Kings, is to misunderstand the scriptures and the very nature of the Almighty and all powerful One.

When we read that God has taken His great power and begun to rule, we should only take this in the sense that God is revealing the true nature of His person, in that He extends to us a clear and visible form of His rule. In other words, what is true of God, i.e that He always rules, will be seen to be true. Now "Truly you are a God who hides Himself, Oh God of Israel Savior" (Isaiah 45:15).

"Begun to rule" indicates a revealing of the will and power of God. He will in effect show creation His power. Their will be no doubt any longer, it will be plain to see! Gods rule will be revealed for all to see. It will not be hidden any longer but plain to see, He will be seen to begin to rule, but the truth is, He always has ruled and nothing is out of His control. Likewise to say that, God comes, is for our benefit so we can understand, as He is always here and only the eye of faith perceives His true power. He will come, but He is here now. The issue, is the question of our perception, not of God's position (For I the Lord do not change) and there will come a time when we will see all things clearly, not because God has changed but because we have. "He has taken His great power and begun to rule" must leave the emphasis on the creatures perception of the Creator, not on the power or rule of God. For His rule is constant and over all things, "for of him and through Him and to him are all things"! It is our perception of Him that changes and not His power. He will be seen to rule and therefore our eyes will be opened.

The change is not in Gods position of power, but in ours and our view of Him. "For I the LORD do not change" (Malachi 3:6).

Revelation 19:6

And I heard as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.

Romans 13:1 (NASB)

Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.

The question is does He reign now fully and completely, or not? If you say 'not fully', how do you explain the verse above? Is God omnipotent? What does omnipotent mean?


In part, the phrase you who are and who were is "missing" the phrase and are to come because in the context of Revelation 16, the theme is God's wrath and God's punishment, which are concerned primarily with the past and the present, not the future (although most of the book's content is obviously set in the future).

In this chapter, what triggers God's punishment is the sinful behavior of those who took the mark of the beast on their foreheads and hands and worshiped him. From John's perspective, this behavior has already occurred, and the Almighty is about to punish the guilty.

The actions of the angels who pour out the seven bowls of God's wrath are described in what sounds like the present tense, as the apostle John "watches" these actions taking place before his eyes--in real time, as it were. The punishments, then, are in the present.

Furthermore, and perhaps more important, John recorded in writing the things he saw and heard. The angel, for whatever reason, did not include the words and are to come, and John therefore recorded the angel's words exactly as he heard them.

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