In the first chapter of Ephesians a problem arises that is raised both by Dispensationalists and Covenantalists. Classical Dispensationalists believe that Christ’s reign is wholly in the future, while Progressive Dispensationalists believe He is reigning right now and will have a reign that will be fully culminated in the millennium. Covenantalists who are Amillenial believe that Christ is reigning right now and that there is no future culmination on earth.
“….These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:19b-23)
Both “seated” (καθίσας) and “put in subjection” (ὑπέταξεν) are in the Aorist aspect and therefore undefined action. So that doesn’t help us much in seeking an answer.
But note that Christ is seated in the “heavenly places” not on earth. Also, there is a future aspect of Christ’s reign, for it is, “not only in this age but also in the one to come.”
If we look in Acts 2 and Peter’s sermon, we gain some insight through his use of the Old Testament in regards to Christ’s reign. If you want the whole context, read Acts 2:14-40 but I will just go through some of what he said.
“Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. And so, because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne,” (Acts 2:29-30)
The issue here is that in Peter’s mind, the throne of Jesus is the throne of David. An Israelite would see Christ on David’s throne. This is important.
“For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: ‘The Lord said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.’’ Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:34-36)
Based on the Psalm Peter quotes, it seems there is some waiting going on (it is Psalm 110) before the full culmination of the reign, but Peter also states that Jesus is both Lord (denoting rule) and Christ (the Messiah) and is both of these right now.
The author of Hebrews has some interesting insight into this discussion.
“but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet.” (Hebrews 10:12-13)
It seems clear in his mind that while Christ is sitting at the right hand of God, he is waiting for an ultimate culmination.
And finally Revelation 3:21
“He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (Revelation 3:21)
There are two thrones in this passage. One is God the Father’s, the other is Jesus’.
So is Jesus reigning?
Is it possible for a king to reign and yet not everyone be fully subjected to him?
Will there be an ultimate culmination of Christ’s reign.
Yes, I believe there will be – and that He will sit on the Davidic throne in Jerusalem before the end of the world, before the creation of the new heaven and earth.