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THEOLOGY > Future > The Millennium > Rule of Christ 


Twice in Rev. 20 reference is made to the resurrected saints and their reign with Christ: “They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years” (v. 4), and “they will reign with him for a thousand years” (v. 6). If believers are going to reign with Christ, then He must rule. In the description of His coming in Rev. 19, the prediction is made that He will “strike down the nations, and He will rule them with a rod of iron” (v. 15). In the future, according to the Scriptures, the earthly rule of Christ will come to reality. Predictions are made in other texts that a kingdom will be established and that Christ will rule, and believers will rule with Him:

Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your heritage, and the ends of the earth Your possession. You shall break them with a rod of iron and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel (Ps. 2:8-9);

May all kings fall down before Him , all nations serve Him . . . may people be blessed in Him, all nations call Him blessed (Ps. 72:11, 17);

It shall come to pass in the latter days . . . He shall judge between the nations . . . and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore (Isa. 2:2, 4; see: Mic. 4:1-5);

And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed, nor shall the kingdom be left to another people. It shall break in pieces all these kingdoms and bring them to an end, and it shall stand forever (Dan. 2:44);

And to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him; His kingdom is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom one that shall not be destroyed (Dan. 7:14);

But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom and possess the kingdom forever, forever and ever . . . and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom (Dan. 7:18, 22);

And the kingdom and the dominion and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people of the saints of the most high; their kingdom shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey them (Dan. 7:27);

Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on the twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matt. 19:28);

And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end (Lu. 1:32-33);

Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him [David] that He would set One of his descendants of his throne (Acts 2:30);

Do you not know that the saints will judge the world (I Cor. 6:2);

If we have died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him (II Tim. 2:11-12);

The one who conquers and who keeps My works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron (Rev. 2:26);

The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with Me on My throne, as I also conquered and sat down with My Father on His throne (Rev. 3:21);

You have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth (Rev. 5:10);

She gave birth to a male child, One who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron (Rev. 12:5);

They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years . . . they will reign with him for a thousand years (Rev. 20:4, 6);

His servants will worship Him . . . they will reign forever and ever (Rev. 22:5).

These texts are more than sufficient to establish the fact that the Scriptures do speak of a future kingdom—the rule of Christ—and that believers will participate in His rule. Three questions immediately arise with reference to believers: Who will reign with Him, when will they reign, and what will be the nature of their participation?

First, who will reign with Him? The answers are several: apostles (Matt. 19:28); martyrs (Rev. 20:4; and believers (I Cor. 6:2). To relate these three answers to some eschatological chronology, thereby interweaving all of the verses that discuss this issue is not simple. In fact it is questionable whether it can be done. And even more questionable whether it should be done.

Second, when will they reign? Does the affirmation of reigning with Him speak of the Millennium, eternity, or both? Will all of the above groups that are mentioned begin their reign at the same time? Will their reigns overlap? For instance, will the martyrs, saints from the Tribulation, rule during the Millennium, and then both they and the other groups reign during eternity? These are not easy questions to answer, especially if the position is taken that only saints from the Tribulation will be raised in the first resurrection (see: The First Resurrection)?

Third, the precise nature of the participation with Christ is not delineated in Scripture. Will there be specific assignments, perhaps over territory or over people? Will there be precise questions to answer and decisions to make? Or does the fact that believers will reign with Christ simply mean that believers will be a part of His rule; the believers will be with Him, adoring Him, and companioning with Him in His rule? Is the believer’s rule with Christ to be understood in a very literal sense, or is it to be understood in some spiritually suggestive sense? There are no definitive answers.

It would seem wise simply to affirm that believers will not issue judgments affecting people and events but that they will accompany Christ in His judgments, supporting and praising Him for His righteous acts.  In other words the believer will be identified with Christ in His judgment.

The rule of Christ is synonymous with the Kingdom. The most fundamental feature of the Kingdom is that it speaks of rule; implied in the rule is the idea of realm—the people who are ruled—and the idea of Ruler—the One who rules. Additionally, the rule of Christ is multidimensional: future and present, heavenly and earthly, eternal and temporal, invisible and visible, spiritual and literal; it transcends history and yet is a part of history. While all of these combinations overlap, the best concept is that of spiritual and literal.

The rule of Christ is both; His Kingdom is both spiritual and literal. It is spiritual in that it is the continuation of the Davidic rule but in and through the Son of David, the Lord Jesus Christ; those who are identified with Him are part of the Kingdom—in relationship to Israel, therefore, there is continuity and discontinuity. Also, the Kingdom is literal in that there will be a historical manifestation of it on the earth; the One who died on earth will rule on earth.

The earthly rule is visible demonstration of the invisible rule that He currently exercises; the Lord is “enthroned forever” (Ps. 102:12). At no time has He not ruled; at no time will He not rule. He rules over the nations, and He rules over the Church. He rules over the lost; He rules over the saved; He rules over the evil angels; and He rules over the good angels (see: God is Sovereign).

But His current and continuous rule is unseen and, therefore, denied by the populace. With His return (Rev. 19) and the destruction of Antichrist and his forces (see: The Antichrist), the Lord will set up a visible, earthly rule that will merge into eternity—it will never end. And its reality cannot be denied by anyone, for all the world will know that the Lord reigns in Jerusalem, and over the whole earth (see: Old Testament Anticipation).

The rule of Christ will be a rule within history. It will be as much a part of history as the Incarnation and Atonement were a part of history. Christ has entered history once, to be born and die. Why can He not enter history again, to rule and reign? Why do believers who affirm the historical nature of Christ’s birth and death have difficulty affirming His historical rule on earth? Why should the text be so spiritualized in the last book of the Bible that it is nearly devoid of historical reality, merely teaching lessons rather than unveiling the future? The text does not transcend history, nor is it contrary to history, but in apocalyptic signs and symbols predicts history.

The Millennial rule is about Christ not about the Church; though in some sense the believer will share with Him, and is even said to rule with Him, the rule is His. It is about the Lord, not the followers of the Lord. Some affirm that the glory of the Millennium is the glory of the Church triumphant, but the Millennial glory is the glory of Christ, the glory of His rule. It is about His triumph! The rule of Christ is the hope of man, even lost man.

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