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Reigning Over Whom?|
Q. In the future over what or whom will we rule with Christ? I wonder what we will rule given that we have to suffer to become more like Him in order to reign effectively. In other words, what kind of beings would need us to rule over them with Christ like qualities that we develop through suffering now? (H.D.)
Good question! While the Bible does not go into great detail, there are a few brief answers and hints from the Bible and church scholars that do seem to give us sufficient information or clues. Let's take a look at what they say:
Reigning Our Heavenly Occupation
First, we do know that reigning with Christ is our future occupation and we are involved in on-the-job training here on earth today. There are many references. So let's just list a few:
In 2 Timothy 2:12 we read, "If we endure, we will also reign with Him…" (See also Daniel 7:18-22; 1 Cor. 6:2; Luke 19:17, 19-26).
In the book of Revelation we read we will be "priests of God and of Christ" and we will "reign with him for a thousand years" …"over the nations" (Rev. 20:6; 2:26).
"Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end" (Isaiah 9:7).
"Then the sovereignty, the dominion and the greatness of all the kingdoms under the whole heaven will be given to the people of the saints of the Highest One…" (Daniel 7:27).
John MacArthur - Governing Earth and Angels
The apostle Paul tells us we will judge the world and angels (1 Corinthians 6:2-3). Pastor John MacArthur explains that to "judge" can also be translated to "govern." So we will be governing men on earth and angels from the heavenly realm during the Millennium (after the Tribulation period).
Those We May Rule
During the Millennium or 1,000 year earthly Kingdom, we may rule over:
1. Resurrected Old Testament saints who were not part of the Hall of Faith listed in Hebrews chapter 11.
2. Possibly resurrected church saints who did not endure or become overcomers (2 Tim. 2:12; Rev. chapters 2-3).
3. Resurrected tribulation saints.
4. Unbelieving adults and children who are Tribulation survivors.
5. Angels (1 Cor. 6:3).
(Note that the Millennium precedes our traditional view of "heaven" described in Revelation chapter 21).
Professor Randy Alcorn's New Worlds
Bible teacher Randy Alcorn emphasizes this fascinating verse:
"Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end" (Isa. 9:7).
Alcorn theorizes there are basically two ways a government can increase.
One is to expand into previously ungoverned territories. Another is to create new territories. This could suggest new planets to govern or new realms under Christ's rulership, or perhaps even new creatures to inhabit new worlds!
(Alcorn 2004, 224).
Moody Church Scholar - Erwin Lutzer's Cosmos
Famous Moody Church scholar and author Erwin Lutzer says,
The discovery of the immensity of the universe does not diminish but actually magnifies man's role in the cosmos. For if Christ is to rule over all things and we are to reign with Him, then we will be ruling over all the galaxies, affirming Christ's Lordship over the whole universe.
(Lutzer 1998, 157)
Dallas Theological Seminary Scholar - Joseph Dillow's Galaxies
Using texts such as Psalm 8:4-6 and Hebrews 2:6-8, Dallas Theological Seminary scholar Joseph Dillow points out that several verses give us a glimpse into the future kingdom.
…this future kingdom embraces the entire created order. One day mankind will conquer the galaxies! While it is true that one purpose of the heavens was to 'declare the glory of God,' it seems that they were also created to be placed in subjection to man. …Instead of merely being destined to rule a small planet, mankind has been chosen to subdue something far greater, the vast cosmos itself. No challenge could be greater than to be placed over all the works of God's hands!
Dillow's last statement merits attention. This is because by reading Psalm 8 we understand the Psalmist declares that all of the magnificent creation - including the moon and the stars - are the work of God's fingers. Man, although insignificant today, is destined to rule over the works of God's hands! (see Psalm 8:3-6).
That would include future mankind reigning over the cosmos itself. The apostle John declares, "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth" (Rev. 21:1). That is what we will eventually rule.
Suffering Produces Kingdom Leadership Traits
To that end we need to develop certain character traits - Kingdom leadership qualities - in order to rule effectively. After all, the final goal for all Christians is to gain Christ like qualities such that we may rule with Christ over the universe. We will become "partakers" or "companions" of Christ if we hold fast (Heb. 3:14). We will become "metochoi" or servant kings once we have endured suffering (Dillow 1990, 569).
Peter tells us we must be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for we were called for the very purpose that we might inherit a blessing (1 Pet. 3:8-9, ESV).
The apostle Paul says we are to "rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character"…(Romans 5:3-4, NASB).
Ministry of Reconciliation and Christ's Lordship
We, the church, have been given a ministry of reconciliation to God (2 Cor. 5:18-21). We know that rulers and authorities in the heavenly places are learning about "the manifold wisdom of God" demonstrated through us - the church (Eph. 3:9-10). We also know that all things will ultimately be brought under the headship of Christ (Heb. 2:8).
It may be that this combined ministry of reconciliation, teaching the manifold wisdom of God, and bringing all things under the lordship of Christ extends beyond our earthly sphere into the galaxies themselves. Only God knows. But, we can be sure we have a glorious, magnificent future filled with awe and wonder in service to Christ.
"…so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:10 NKJV).
Alcorn, Randy. 2004. Heaven. Carol Stream, ILL: Tyndale.
Dillow, Joseph C. 1990. The reign of the servant kings. Hayesville, NC: Schoettle.
Lutzer, Erwin W. 1998. Your eternal reward. Chicago: Moody.
MacArthur Study Bible, NKJV. 1997. Nashville, TN: Nelson.
Authors Valorie Emilio holds an MA in History from UCLA specializing in Christian origins. Ken received his MA in Biblical Studies from Louisiana Baptist University.
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