11.6. Millennial Reign of the Saints

As we saw above, Revelation Rev. 20:4+ mentions resurrected saints who rule and reign with Christ. Many other passages, both in the OT and NT, indicate the saints will co-rule with their Lord. Isaiah indicates a coming righteous reign where princes will rule with Messiah:

Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, and princes will rule with justice. (Isa. Isa. 32:1).1

Daniel received detailed revelation concerning the timing and reality of the rule of the saints. It does not occur until after the Beast is destroyed, just as the book of Revelation records (Rev. Rev. 19:20+). We know from Revelation Rev. 19:1+ that the Beast is destroyed at the Second Coming of Christ, therefore the reign of the saints has not yet come:

Those great beasts, which are four, are four kings which arise out of the earth. But the saints of the Most High shall receive the kingdom, and possess the kingdom forever, even forever and ever. (Dan. Dan. 7:17-18)

I was watching; and the same horn was making war against the saints, and prevailing against them, until the Ancient of Days came, and a judgment was made in favor of the saints of the Most High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom. (Dan. Dan. 7:21-22)

Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him. (Dan. Dan. 7:27)

Prior to their co-rule with Christ, they will undergo tribulation at the hands of the Beast (Rev. Rev. 13:7+, Rev. 13:15+; Rev. 15:2+; Rev. 20:4+). They are not just given a vague spiritual kingdom subject to ridicule by unbelievers who cannot tell it even exists. No! The kingdom and dominion is both spiritual and literal and there will be no question on the part of anyone concerning its reality when it arrives! In the gospels, Jesus indicated that faithful servants would be given authority over cities (Luke Luke 19:17-19). Numerous times James and John sought the position of being on the left and right of Jesus—positions of shared rulership (Mtt. Mat. 20:20 cf. Mark Mark 10:37). In the book of Revelation, Jesus said that overcomers would sit with Him on His throne, even as He then sat on His father’s throne:

To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. (Rev. Rev. 3:21+)

This particular verse is very important because it shows the high degree of authority believers will have with Jesus. It also indicates that in approximately A.D. 95, when Jesus spoke these words, He was not on His own throne! This is a very important point to understand: the throne He will be taking is the throne of David (Mtt. Mat. 25:31) and it is on earth. Although we have been made kings and priests (or a kingdom, priests to God—see commentary on Revelation 5:10), our reign is future and initially upon the earth:

And have made us kings and priests to our God; and we shall reign on the earth. (Rev. Rev. 5:10+) [emphasis added]

One of the criticisms that has been leveled against the premillennial understanding of the Millennial Kingdom is that it only lasts 1,000 years, whereas Scripture is replete with passages indicating Christ’s kingdom will be eternal.

The amillennialist sees a conflict here and insists that the eternality of Christ’s kingdom does not permit any place for a thousand year reign on earth. Calvin’s reason for rejecting the premillennial view as his concept that the thousand year reign nullified the eternal reign of Christ. Did the premillennialist limit the reign of Christ to a thousand years, his contention that “their fiction is too puerile to require or deserve refutation” would be true. However such is not the case. An important Scripture bearing on the discussion is 1 Corinthians 1Cor. 15:24-28.2

The solution to this problem is found in recognizing the transition which Paul records in 1 Corinthians 1Cor. 15:24-28. Christ rules in the millennium until the Great White Throne Judgment, when death itself is finally vanquished (Rev. Rev. 20:14+ cf. Rev. Rev. 21:4+). Then, He places His kingdom under the Father. Yet His rule continues into the eternal state, where there is a new heavens and a new earth (Rev. Rev. 21:1+) and where the saints will continue to co-rule with Him for eternity (Rev. Rev. 22:5+).

[1Cor. 1Cor. 15:24, 1Cor. 15:28] does not mean the end of our Lord’s regal activity, but rather that from here onward in the unity of the Godhead He reigns with the Father as the eternal Son. There are no longer two thrones: one His Messianic throne and the other the Father’s throne, as our Lord indicated in Revelation Rev. 3:21+. In the final Kingdom there is but one throne, and it is “the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev. Rev. 22:3+).3


Notes

1 “The princes who shall rule in justice prefigure those who will rule and reign with Christ in the coming Kingdom (Luke Luke 22:30; 2Ti. 2Ti. 2:12; Rev. Rev. 2:26-27+; Rev. 3:21+).”—Merrill F. Unger, Unger’s Commentary on the Old Testament (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2002), Isa. 32:1.

2 J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come: A Study in Biblical Eschatology (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1958), 491-492.

3 Alva J. McClain, The Greatness Of The Kingdom (Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books, 1959), 513.