He Must Reign Until – Will Christ Cease To Reign?
One of the fundamental tenets of Amillennialism – at least some circles of Amillennialism – is that Christ’s rule on the Davidic throne is a temporary thing. It is held that Christ rules for “the millennium” which is held to be the Christian age. At the end of the Christian age, Christ surrenders the throne. This is based on a mis-understanding of 1 Corinthians 15:24 where Paul said: “He must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet” and, “Then comes the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power.” This is taken to mean that at the so-called “end of time” that Jesus abdicates the throne, surrenders his reign.
There are certainly some Amillennialists who do not espouse this view. However, the idea that Christ will one day surrender his throne / kingdom / rule is nonetheless somewhat widespread. Let me document that with a few citations.
Wayne Jackson says: “Now, remember that according to verse 24, when He comes again, He will no longer be reigning, because He will have delivered the kingdom back to the Father.” (Wayne Jackson, The AD 70 Theory, (Courier Publications, Stockton, CA) 37.
Furman Kearly, another Amillennialist stated the same view in a 1978 lectureship. (Premillennialism: True or False?, Fort Worth Lectures, (Fort Worth, Winkler Publications, 1978)258 .
C. Marvin Pate comments on 1 Corinthians 15: “1 Corinthians 15:24 gives the most precise description of the exact relationship between the kingdoms of Christ and God– the interim messianic kingdom begun with the resurrection will one day give way to the eternal kingdom of God.” ©. Marvin Pate, The End of the Ages Has Come (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1995)231 –
N. T. Wright adds his voice to this view: “Messiah will reign until he hands over the kingdom to the Father.” (N. T. Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, (Vol 1, p. 481, n. 75). Wright also cites Kasemann, with seeming approval.
Not only do Amillennialists, (and some Postmillennialists*) say that Christ surrenders his throne / reign at the parousia, it is important to realize that they tie Christ’s coming to the arrival of “the age to come.” While some, like Wright and Pate believe that the “age to come” has broken in to some extent already, nonetheless, it is firmly held that “the age to come” does not come in fulness until the so-called “end of time” and / or the literal, physical coming of Christ at the end of the Christian age.
*Postmillennialists are confusing when discussing “the age to come.” For instance, Gary DeMar, Joel McDurmon and other Dominionists agree that the end of the age was in AD 70. They even tell us that “the age to come” arrived in AD 70. On Page 45f of his book, Jesus -V- Jerusalem, McDurmon says that Jesus’ “this age” was the Mosaic age. In fact, he says Jesus and Paul’s “this age” was the Mosaic age. And he says, “the age to come,” which they were anticipating is the age in which you and I are now living, the Christian age.
Of course, Dominionists then turn around and say that the Christian age has become “this age” and that we are looking for (another) “age to come.”
To add to the confusion, McDurmon and other Dominionists castigate true preterists for saying that the age to come has arrived. They claim that if the age to come has arrived, there should not be any marrying or giving in marriage, per Jesus in Luke 20. In my formal debate with Joel McDurmon (2012) he argued that if we are in the age to come, then all preterists should get divorced immediately! Oh, but wait!
Astonishingly, McDurmon not only says (See above) that we are currently already living in the age to come, (and he is married!) but, at the coming of the Lord and the full bloom of the age to come, there will in fact be families, marrying, and conjugal relations resulting in ‘lots of babies.” Do you catch the power of that blatant, fatal contradiction? On the one hand he says that if we are in the age to come, there should be no marrying. Then, he turns around and not only says that we are in the age to come, he says that after Christ’s coming at the end of the age, and the resurrection, there will be marrying. There will be sexual relations in those marriages, and, there will be “lots of babies” being produced! McDurmon has fatally impaled himself on his own argument! To say that this is self-contradictory– and fatal to Dominionism – is a huge understatement. You can read McDurmon’s comments about families and “lots of babies” in the age to come here.
Unfortunately for that Dominionism, the Bible knows nothing of their view of a yet future age to come.
But, in sum, Amillennialists, generally speaking, say that the age to come arrives at the parousia of Christ at the end of the Christian age, and, they say that at that time, Jesus surrenders his kingdom, his throne and his rule.
While a great deal could be said about this, I want to offer a few brief comments that will dispel the nation that Christ’s reign is temporary, and is (or was) supposed to end at his coming.
He Must Reign Until and the Age To Come
Look carefully at Hebrews 2:5-8:
For He has not put the world to come, of which we speak, in subjection to angels. But one testified in a certain place, saying: “What is man that You are mindful of him, Or the son of man that You take care of him? You have made him a little lower than the angels; You have crowned him with glory and honor, And set him over the works of Your hands. You have put all things in subjection under his feet.” For in that He put all in subjection under him, He left nothing that is not put under him. But now we do not yet see all things put under him.”
Notice that the writer speaks of “the age to come.” Thus, per Amillennialism, he must be speaking of the end of the Christian age when Jesus surrenders his throne.
If that is true, then notice our argument:
The age to come arrives at the parousia of Christ– at the end of the current Christian age.
God has not put “the age to come” in subjection to angels– but the Son! That is the force of his argument! Thus, Christ has been put in charge– to rule over– the age to come!
But wait! Per Amillennialism and Postmillennialism – Christ does not rule over the age to come – he surrenders his rule and his throne at his parousia. They claim that “he must reign until” demands a cessation of his rule!
He is ruling now, in “this age.” (This is problematic in the context of Hebrews 1-2, since there, the angels were in charge of “this age”! The angels were the ones through whom Torah was given, they administered the law). But, in Hebrews 2, the writer anticipates the rule of Christ in that “age to come.” (It should be noted that the “age to come” was literally “the age about to come.”
So, according to Hebrews, Christ is supposed to be ruler over the age to come! According to the text, the last enemy is destroyed, put under Christ, at the arrival of the age to come. At yet, Amillennialism and Postmillennialism has him surrendering his throne and kingdom at the very time he conquers all his enemies, the moment of his victory, Christ abdicates when he triumphs!
Hebrews 2 totally destroys the idea that the age to come arrives at some end of time. It destroys the idea that Christ surrenders his rule at his coming. Christ does not quit his throne, he sits on the throne, forever and forever, age without end! (Ephesians 3:20-21 / Revelation 11:15f).
There is much more that could be said on this, such as the indisputable fact that the Bible says the Christian age has no end, and that every single other text, outside of 1 Corinthians 15:24, when discussing the relationship between Christ and the church at his coming, clearly affirm that he:
1. Sits on the throne (Matthew 25:31f),
2. He marries the church at his coming (Ephesians 5:25f / Revelation 19).
It should be clear that “he must reign until” has nothing to do with an end to Christ’s rule.
See my discussion of these issues in my book, Like Father Like Son, On Clouds of Glory.