Is Jesus Ruling on His Throne Right Now?


Is Jesus Ruling Right NowIn 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?

Yes.

Is it possible for a king to reign and yet not everyone be fully subjected to him?

Yes.

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.

9 Responses to Is Jesus Ruling on His Throne Right Now?

  1. Ben says:

    Not really what you’re talking about, but I’ve always wondered why more people don’t believe the millennium has already happened. I mean — a thousand years of Christ’s reign on earth (in one sense or another, remember that we don’t necessarily know what form that would take) followed by a period where Satan was released again (couldn’t this be analogous to the free thought and chaos that emerged and has been steadily increasing since the renaissance?). I mean, AD 300 – AD 1300 = 1000 years, doesn’t it? Of course, people were probably expecting something more … perfect? … but since when does God do things the way we expect?

  2. nathanwells says:

    The problem with what you are saying is that we know Satan was active during the writing of the NT – and since I don’t think there is any indication of change in Christ’s reign after He ascended there would be some difficulty in saying his 1000 year reign started in AD 300. What happened in AD 300?

    “But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back some of the price of the land?” (Acts 5:3)

    “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you.” (Romans 16:20)

    “I have decided to deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of his flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” (1 Corinthians 5:5)

    “For we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, more than once—and yet Satan hindered us.” (1 Thessalonians 2:18)

    and many more…

  3. Ben says:

    Uh, Constantine was around AD 300. Think about it — Christianity is oppressed and persecuted for centuries, and then pow! Christianity is now #1 in the world. This lasts for 1000 years in which the church is more or less in charge. And then, about the time of the Renaissance, this starts to fall apart. About a thousand years later.

  4. nathanwells says:

    ah, right Constantine.

    But like I said, I see some difficulty in saying that Christ’s reign began 300 (or 330 something) years AFTER he ascended. What changed?

    Also, to me at least, it seems pretty clear that Christ would be reigning and not some other guy.

  5. Ripley says:

    Fascinating topics. I can’t help but feel ridiculous when I ask this… But I don’t think I’ve ever understood these things to be much more than trivia. Am I missing some huge life application? Does either result/belief prompt a change in lifestyle or behavior? I look at the depth to which you both uncover evidences and discuss Christ’s reign and the millennium, and I feel like maybe it should have some bearing on my life. What do you think?

    Either way, I enjoyed the read.

  6. Ben says:

    Trivial? Probably. But, just like election / free will, it could inform your view of the world and affect your actions. If you believe we’re living in the end times, maybe you shouldn’t be any different, but you might be. If you believe (as some do) that it’s up to us to work towards achieving the millennium, you would probably also have a very different view of the course of history, the best way to spend your life, in fact your whole worldview could be different.

    As to Nathan’s critique? Well, here’s the passage behind the dispute, from Rev. 20:

    “And I saw an angel coming down out of heaven, having the key to the Abyss and holding in his hand a great chain. He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil, or Satan, and bound him for a thousand years. He threw him into the Abyss, and locked and sealed it over him, to keep him from deceiving the nations anymore until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be set free for a short time.”

    This could all be figurative, and a thousand years does not necessarily mean a literal time frame, but if you take it literally, it could easily refer to the 1000 years of Christian dominance in Europe and the Middle East. The primary focal point of the passage is on “deceiving the nations” … during the thousand years, they are not deceived; afterwards, they are. 500+ years isn’t exactly a short time in our reckoning, but you never know.

  7. Tato says:

    Nathan, this came up (kind of) in my Eph 2:1-10 exegesis… of the three main verbs in the passage that reference the work of God – made alive, raised, seated… which indicate God’s work in redemption in Christ – the last one in interesting because the word “seated” or “sat down” usually always refer to ruling/a throne. So there is this interesting question of whether that has happened yet or if it is literal of figurative. I don’t think I ever came to a conclusion on that.

    Anyways, Biblical numbers are interesting… everyone talks about 7 being the number of “completion” – where does that idea even come from? Or the number 8 being a “more than enough” type of number – (7 +1)… and there is a lot about the number 10 or multiples of that… anyways, I know a lot of people take the millennium ideas as being figurative. So my question/discussion addition is, do any of you konw how these figurative meanings for numbers were derived? This whole topic is actually something that I should eventually dive into since my church’s technical stance is amillennial (whatever that really means).

  8. nathanwells says:

    Hi John :)

    I think the main outflow of Eschatology into my life is how I treat the Bible. In looking at the end times, I feel many theologians throw out the parts they have difficulty with, or “spiritualize” them. But as I come to God’s Word, I must answer the question, “Why is there a whole book dedicated to the details of the end times?”
    God thought it important, and he promises blessing in those that read:
    “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.” (Revelation 1:3)

    And when it comes to OT prophecy, much of it relates to what is said in Revelation – it is God’s Word, and therefore to study it there is much gain.

    If I look at what the prophets said, and then explain it away – what will I do with other parts of Scripture?

    I donno, that’s not really a full answer – but I guess that’s how I think through it.

    Also, in thinking about the end times more, it does affect my life, because then I am more apt to remember that Christ IS returning, and therefore live my life accordingly.

  9. nathanwells says:

    Tato,
    I believe 7 started as a number of completion because of the Genesis account. God completed creation and then rested on the seventh day – and so it became known as the symbol of completion/perfection.

    Since the creation account is found in many cultures, I would assume that is why seven has significance even outside the Bible:
    If we ask further concerning the cosmic significance of seven according to its concrete sense in the OT world of thought, a basic point is the equation VII == kis̆s̆atu “fulness,” “totality,” which is found among the Babylonians.10 As has been shown by J. Hehn,11 the same equation is true of the Hebrew שֶׁבַע, so that we have here a common Semitic phenomenon. The true foundation of the equation is the above-mentioned observation that time runs in periods of seven days. This leads to the linking of seven with a completed period, and from here it is only a step to the equation of the abstract number seven with the concept of what is total or complete.
    Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vols. 5-9 Edited by Gerhard Friedrich. Vol. 10 Compiled by Ronald Pitkin., ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey William Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich, electronic ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964-c1976), 2:628.

    Not sure if that helps – or if that’s the whole reason, but it is at least a start.

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