Anointed Prince or Crowned King?
No doctrine is more popular today than the theory of the “rapture.” Many books and not a few movies depict such a time. Briefly stated, the doctrine holds that near the end of our present age Jesus will come, raise all the righteous dead and with the living righteous catch them both up to him in the air. Below all bedlam breaks out. After seven years, the Lord will come to earth with his glorified saints, reign for 1,000 years in Jerusalem on the literal throne of David, rebuild the temple which was destroyed in A.D. 70 and reinstitute the priesthood that has not functioned for nearly 2,000 years.
At the conclusion of the 1,000 years, Satan (who was bound during those years) will be released. He will muster all hosts of wicked and wage a great battle against Jesus. The battle will be decisive in the favor of Christ for Satan and his hosts will be defeated. Then the wicked dead will be raised, the great white throne judgment will take place and eternal rewards given to the righteous and unrighteous. Different groups who hold the doctrine of premillennialism [(pre-before; millennial, 1,000, thus before the 1,000 years)], have their own varieties and shades of the doctrine but in general agree with the above stated synopsis. They all teach Jesus will return to the earth before the beginning of an earthly kingdom of God lasting for 1,000 years. The question is: Is it true? Are God’s people to look forward to a future 1,000 year earthly reign of Jesus? Is Christ today a mere “anointed prince” “waiting in the wings” for his future reign, or is Jesus now in fact the crowned King of Kings? Such questions are significant with eternal implications.
Jews in Jesus’ day were looking for a king who would establish his kingdom. One of the reasons for the large crowds who thronged both John and Jesus was that both preached the nearness of an approaching kingdom (Matthew 3:1; Mark 1:14f). Their messages were scriptural subjects: 600 years before, Daniel had interpreted the dream of Nebuchadnezzar which not only accurately projected four world-empires but also predicted that in the days of the Roman Empire a unique kingdom would be set in place. “In the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed, nor shall the sovereignty thereof be left to another people; but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms and it shall stand forever” (Daniel 2:44). Also significant but not as familiar is Daniel’s prophecy that one like unto the son of man would be given dominion, glory and a kingdom by the Ancient of Days (God) (Daniel 7:14). The prophets stirred the hopes of Israel as they spoke of him who was the offspring and root of Jesse (Isaiah 11;1, 10). Isaiah spoke of the day when the mountain of the Lord’s house would be established in the top of the mountains and exalted above the hills (Isaiah 2:2-4). In prophecy, “mountain” stands for government thus the prophet prophesied of the exalted nature of the kingdom of God.
After John’s death, Jesus continued his reference to an approaching kingdom. To one discerning scribe he said, “Thou art not far from the kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34). He commenced His parable teaching by teaching seven parables (Matthew’s account) on the nature of the kingdom (Matthew 13:11, 24, 31, 33, 44, 45, 47). He taught men that a new birth was required of one in order to enter the Kingdom (Jn. 3:3-5); warned that men must say more than “Lord, Lord” to enter it (Matthew 7:21); promised that some then living would not die until it came with power (Mark 9:1) taught disciples to pray for its coming (Matthew 6:10); and urged steadfastness for “no man, having put his hand to the plow and turning, looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God” (Luke 9:62).
Yet, if popular teaching is correct, Jesus did not do what he said he would do. According to this scenario, Jesus’ purpose was thwarted by his nation’s rejection of him and his offered kingdom. So instead, Jesus built his church, returned to heaven to await a more opportune time, and someday, very soon, he will return and accomplish what he purposed to do at his first coming.
This view puts Jesus in the role as an anointed prince but his crowning as king must wait until his coming. Is this hypothesis true: Is Jesus still waiting to be crowned as king?
Problems With The Theory
The theory of premillennialism makes stirring sermons but is frayed with many God dishonoring problems. First, there is the problem of “postponement of prophecy.” Every premillennialist agrees that Jesus came to set up a kingdom. Certainly this is what the scriptures assert. “The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand,” heralded Jesus (Mark 1:15). “But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth his son ...” (Galatians 4:4). That he did not (which reflects upon his credibility) is explained as a “postponement of prophecy.” However, premillennialists are hard pressed to explain why “postponement” does not equate failure! One of the marks of a false prophet was that his predictions did not come to pass (Deuteronomy 18:21-22). Daniel had prophesied that God would set up a kingdom in the days of the Roman Empire (Daniel 2:44). Both John and Jesus said the kingdom was near, that the time for it had come. Yet, according to premillennialists that kingdom does not yet exist. Premillennialists call this “postponement,” the Holy Spirit calls such a “slip up” the mark of a false prophet. Whom are we believe?
To “patch up” the obvious problem of Christ setting up his kingdom in the absence of the days of the Roman Empire, the premillennialist is forced to affirm that kingdom will be revived again before Jesus comes. Little wonder that in every war of any consequence, premillennialists look for some thing to “identify” the evil nation as the “revived Roman Empire.” We cannot help but wonder that since according to Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the Roman was the last of four empires, why should not the other three be revived as well?
Third, there is the problem with the theory’s re-establishment of an inferior temple and priesthood. The premillennialist looks at Zechariah’s prophecy of the man “called the Branch.” Such an one would build the temple and be priest and king (Zechariah 6:12f). They tie this to Ezekiel’s prophecy of a restored temple (Ezekiel 40-44), and argue that a literal temple is to be built in Jerusalem with the Levitical priesthood and animal sacrifices restored. We cannot but ask, why replace the perfect sacrifice with the imperfect, one which could not remove sin (Hebrews 10:4)? We have Jeremiah’s promise of a new covenant to replace the old. Shall we revert to something God found fault with and removed (Hebrews 8:6f)?
Then, there is the problem of contradiction that would exist between passages of scripture if the theory of premillennialism is true. According to them, Christ was going to set up his kingdom but was thwarted from doing so. They say the kingdom is yet to come but many New Testament passages affirm that the kingdom is here (Colossians 1:13; 1 Thessalonians 2:12; Hebrews 12:28). They say that Christ will set up his kingdom in the future but Jesus promised that some who heard him would not die until they had seen the kingdom come with power (Mark 9:1). Further, Jesus said repeatedly that he came to do his Father’s will (John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38). He declared he had accomplished the work the Father gave him to do (John 17:4). How could Jesus make such a statement to God when he failed, according to the premillennialists, to do the work he came to do? When he was on the cross, he said, “It is finished” (John 19:30). This would not be true if what premillennialists tell us is true.
There is another problem which premillennialists must cope with. In their theology the church was an “afterthought” with God, no subject of prophecy and was just something that was brought into being because the offered kingdom with its king was rejected. Yet, the Holy Spirit expressly predicted that Christ would be rejected, die and be resurrected (Isaiah 53; Psalm 16; John 2:19). Think for a moment. The angel told Mary that God would give unto Jesus the throne of his father David (Luke 1:32f). Yet shortly after his birth, when he was presented to the Lord in the temple, Simeon warned Mary and Joseph that Jesus was set for the falling and rising of many in Israel, that a sword should pierce through their own soul (Luke 2:34f). This is a clear implication of the crucifixion of Jesus even from his infancy. When Jesus cleansed the temple at the beginning of his ministry and was asked by the Jews what sign he would show them, he said, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). This again is Jesus’ reference to his death and resurrection -- all which took place precisely as Jesus predicted. John the Baptist introduced Jesus to the nation as “the lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world,” a clear implication of Jesus’ death (John 1:29).
Jesus predicted his death on many occasions, often saying, “The Son of Man goeth even as it written of him” (Matthew 26:24). The scriptures foreshadowed what happened to Jesus. It simply will not do to say that the rejection of Jesus brought about his changed purpose to build the church instead of to set up the kingdom, for from the very outset of his preaching he predicted his rejection, death and resurrection. Furthermore, the church has been in the mind of God for ages, that it exists according to the eternal purpose of God (Ephesians 3:9-11). How can the premillennialist explain a credible Christ who predicted the kingdom was at hand, that some living would not die until it came, yet all the while knowing it would be at least 2,000 years before it finally was realized?
Add to this the greatest problem of all (to my mind, at least): Calvary. Had the Jews accepted Jesus, there would have been no Calvary. That would mean that Calvary was not in the mind of God at all. The premillennialist theory opts for a 1,000 year reign of Jesus on earth without His shed blood in lieu of the permanent forgiveness for sins which his blood offers.
Examining The Proof Texts
Let us now examine some of the passages which premillennialists set forth as proof of their doctrine.
1 Thessalonians 4:15-18. This passage was designed to comfort the Thessalonians who were troubled that certain of their number might “miss out” on eternal rewards by reason of their death before Jesus came. Paul assured them that when the Lord returns the living will have no advantage over those dead saints. He said that when Christ comes “... the dead in Christ shall rise first.” From this statement is drawn the inference that Christ will first raise the righteous, then the wicked will be raised later. This explanation misses the mark and “puts words” in the apostle’s mouth. The resurrection of the wicked is not discussed in the text. There is indeed a “first” and a “second” order but the “first” is the resurrection of the righteous dead and the “second” is that the righteous living will be caught up with the resurrected dead to meet the Lord in the air. This passage offers no support to two physical resurrections: the first of the righteous, the second of the wicked.
Acts 3:20-21. In this passage Peter spake of Jesus “whom the heavens must receive until the times of restoration of all things.” Premillennialists see in this passage a reference to another “age” after our present one; an age in which Christ will return to earth and restore all things, which to the premillennialist’s mind means the kingdom of Daniel 2:44.
A look at the text will show that they have drawn an improper conclusion. Peter says all the prophets had spoken of the “time of restoration of all things.” He quotes Moses who said, “A prophet shall the Lord God raise up unto you from among your brethren like unto me; to him shall ye hearken in all things” (Deuteronomy 18:15; Acts 3:22). Question. Since in the days of restoration of all things we are to hear the prophet like unto Moses, when are we to hear him, now or later? We are to listen to the prophet in the times of restoration of all things. We are to listen to that prophet now. Now is the time of restoration of all things.
But, Peter continues by adding that “all the prophets from Samuel and them that followed after, as many as have spoken, they also told of these days,” that is, the times of restoration of all things (Acts 3:24). Notice Peter’s next words: “Ye are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham, and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Servant, sent him to bless you, in turning away everyone of your from your iniquities.” The Jews of Peter’s day were the sons of the prophets, i.e., they were the ones who would receive the blessing the prophets promised. In saying this Peter clearly asserts that the people of his day were living in the time of restoration of all things. We live in the age of restoration today. Until that is completed, Christ will remain in heaven. When it is finished, Christ will come for his chosen ones. Acts 3 does not teach there is another age after this age called “the restoration of all things.” Today is the “last days,” the “end of these days” and the “time of restoration of all things” (Acts 2:17; Hebrews 1:1).
Amos 9:11f. “In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close the breaches thereof; and I will raise up its ruins and I will build it as in the days of old, that they may possess the remnant of Edom ...” The Premillennialist looks at this prophecy as something yet to be fulfilled. Unfortunately for the doctrine, this passage is quoted by James and is said to have already been fulfilled in the spread of the gospel among the Gentiles (Acts 15:14-17). James said the prophecy has already been fulfilled.
Zechariah 6:12-13. This prophecy reads: “Thus speaketh Jehovah of hosts, saying, Behold, the man whose name is the Branch: and he shall grow up out of his place; and he shall build the temple of Jehovah, even he shall build the temple of Jehovah; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne; and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.” Premillennialists see in this a future building of the temple by Christ since it is evident that Christ did not build a literal temple. They are correct in identifying Christ with “the man whose name is the Branch;” they are correct in asserting that Christ did not build a literal temple, but they are incorrect in asserting the prophecy has not been fulfilled. Christ did build his temple, his church (Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 3:16). This passage actually denies premillennialism rather than establishing it. The man called the “Branch” would build the temple and at which time he would (1) sit and rule upon his throne (i.e. reign as king) and (2) be a priest upon his throne. David had prophesied that Christ would be a priest like Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4). There are many features of similarity between Christ and Melchizedek but one was that Melchizedek was both king and priest at the same time (Hebrews 7:1). So also is Christ. Christ is now priest (Hebrews 3:1; 4:14-15; 5:5f; 6:20, etc.). Since Christ was to be king at the same time he was priest, he is now king, for it is evident that he is our priest.
Revelation 20:1-6. Without doubt, this is the most significant passage offered by premillennialists. The passage reads, “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them; and I saw the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and such as worshipped not the beast, neither his image, and received not the mark upon their forehead and upon their hands; and they lived, and reigned with Christ a thousand years. The rest of the deed lived not until the thousand years should be finished. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: over these the second death hath no power; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.” Still, the passage is far from saying what Premillennialist try to make it say. It does not mention a physical resurrection, it mentions souls. It does not mention the second coming of Christ, the throne of David or earth: all necessary ingredients to the premillennialist scheme of things.
Revelation is a book of signs and symbols and one must exercise caution in his interpretation of the book because of the symbolism and figures there. In interpreting scripture there is one rule of interpretation which must not be ignored. One does not mix figurative and literal language together. If the passage is figurative, then the whole context must be interpreted as figurative.
If it is literal, the whole must be treated as literal. Premillennialists are hard pressed when asked whether Satan’s being bound is figurative or literal. Such teachers make the two resurrections literal: one before a literal 1,000 year reign of Christ, the second after. How then is he to explain that during this time Satan is bound with a “great chain”? Is this chain figurative or literal? All know a “spirit” being could not be chained with a “literal” chain. Since the chain must be interpreted as figurative, the whole context must likewise be so interpreted.
In Revelation five when the fifth seal is opened, John saw under the altar the souls who had been martyred for the Cause of Christ. They asked how long before their blood would be avenged and to each of them was given a white robe and they were asked to wait a little while (Rev. 6:10f). In the chapters between six and twenty, John has seen the struggle of Satan and his allies against Christ and his allies. One by one the allies of Satan have been defeated. Those with the mark of the beast, the Harlot Babylon, the earth beast and the sea beast all have been vanquished. All that remained was the dragon and he was bound (Revelation 20:1f). Now John sees the souls again but they are no longer under the altar. They are now on thrones. Their cause has triumphed. This is the message of Revelation twenty in symbolic language.
Reasons Why Premillennialism Is A False Theory
There are many scriptures that show the error of Premillennialism. Let us consider a few of them. John 6:39, 40, 44, 54. All these passages affirm that the righteous will be raised on the LAST day. We ask the premillennialists how they can get 365,000 days after the last day (an earthly reign of Christ for 1,000 years)? It cannot be done.
Premillennialists separate the resurrection of the righteous and the judgment by more than 1,000 years. The scriptures assert both occur on the same day. The righteous will be raised on the last day (John 6:40). The wicked will be judged by Christ on the last day (John 12:48). The resurrection of the righteous, the resurrection of the wicked and the judgment all transpire on the same day, the last day. In John 5:28f Jesus said, “Marvel not at this; for the hour cometh, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and that they have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.” This passage tells that all the dead, good and evil, will be raised in the same hour.
From Zechariah 6:12f we learned that Christ was to be a priest at the same time he was to be king. Christ cannot be a priest upon earth (Hebrews 8:4). Therefore Christ cannot be a king upon earth. From Jeremiah 22:28-30 we read, “Is this man Coniah a despised broken vessel? Is he a vessel wherein none delighteth? Wherefore are they cast out, he and his seed, and are cast into the land which they know not? O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of Jehovah. Thus said Jehovah, Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days; for no more shall a man of his seed prosper, sitting upon the throne of David and ruling in Judah.” “Coniah” is an abbreviation of Jeconiah, the last, lawful king of Judah. The prophet said, “Write ye this man childless.” He did not mean that Jeconiah would have no offspring for he did. Zerubbabel, who in Cyrus’ day led Jews back to Jerusalem from Babylonian captivity, was Jeconiah’s grandson (Matthew 1:12). The prophet said that Jeconiah’s “childlessness” would be that he would have none of his seed prospering, sitting upon the throne of David and ruling in Judah. Jesus was a descendant of Jeconiah (Matthew 1:1-18). He cannot reign on earth, for the prophet said he would not. His is not an earthly reign, then. It is a heavenly one.
In 1 Corinthians 15:23-28 Paul wrote, “But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; then they that are Christ's, at his coming. Then cometh the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be abolished is death....” The old Testament passage to which the apostle refers is Psalms 110:1 which said, “The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand until I make enemies thy footstool.” This passage tells us that Christ is to sit at the right hand of God (in heaven) until all his enemies are defeated, the last enemy being death. This being true, Jesus will not come back again until both wicked and righteous are raised. He will not return until ALL his enemies are vanquished, for were he to raise only the righteous when he comes then not all his enemies would have been conquered.
Jesus Set Up His Kingdom!
The prophet Daniel told that the kingdom would be set up in the days of the Romans (Daniels 2:44). Isaiah foretold that the mountain of the Lord’s house (kingdom) would begin in Jerusalem in the last days (Isaiah 2:2-4). Joel showed that in the last days God would pour out His spirit upon all flesh and that whoever called on the name of the Lord would be saved (Joel 2:28). From these prophecies we learn that the kingdom would begin during the days of the Roman Empire; it would be in the “last days;” “salvation” would be granted those who called on the name of the Lord and its beginning would be in Jerusalem. To this end Jesus straitly charged his apostles to go to Jerusalem to wait, which they did (Acts 1:4; 12, Luke 24:47). Thus on the Pentecost following Christ’s resurrection, the apostles were in God’s designated place (Acts 1:12, 2:1,5). Suddenly the Holy Spirit descended upon the apostles just as Joel had foreshown. Peter said the things which the people saw and heard were the fulfillment of what Joel had written (Acts 2:16). This was “the last days.” It was in the days of “these kings,” i.e, the Roman kingdom. It was on this day that men were told to “repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ unto the remission of your sins” (Acts 2:38). This marked “the beginning” of the church, the kingdom as Peter later spoke of this day (Acts 11:15). It was not a physical kingdom, but it was the kind of kingdom Jesus said his kingdom would be (John 18:36). Jesus brought into being exactly what God had purposed long ages past.
The major point which premillennialists miss is that the kingdom of prophecy is the church. The church and kingdom are identified as the same. Christ told Peter he would “build my church” and at the same time promised unto Peter the “keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 16:18f). Obviously the two are the same. Paul wrote to the church at Colossae and told them they had been translated into the kingdom (Colossians 1:2, 13). To the church of the Thessalonians Paul urged that they “walk worthily of God who called you into his own kingdom and glory” (1 Thessalonians 1:1, 2:12). The Hebrews came to Mount Zion and the church. In doing so, they received a kingdom which cannot be shaken (Hebrews 12:22, 28). John wrote to the seven churches of Asia and told them he was their brother in tribulation and the kingdom (Revelation 1:4, 9). The church and the kingdom are both the result of an eternal purpose of God (Matthew 25:34; Ephesians 3:10f); composed the same people, Christians; have the same head, Christ; are subject to the same law, the will of Christ; and are entered the same way, through a new birth. They are the same.
Christ was crowned king on Pentecost. He was given all authority (Matthew 28:18). All things were placed in subjection under his feet and he was made head of the church (Ephesians 1:22). He was given a name above every name, a name more excellent than angels, one in which all things in word or deed must be done and the only name in which salvation may come (Philippians 2:5-11; Hebrews 1:4; Colossians 3:17; Acts 4:12). Peter informed men at Pentecost, “Let all the house of Israel therefore know assuredly that God had made him Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom ye crucified” (Acts 2:36). He is now the “blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15). Peter identified the resurrection of Jesus with the promise of God to set one upon the throne of David (2 Samuel 7:12-14, Psalm 16:8ff, Acts 2:29-33). When Peter had testified that he and the other apostles had witnessed the resurrected Christ, he said of Him, “Being therefore by the right hand of God exalted and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he hath poured forth this which ye see and hear” (Acts 2:33). What did Jesus receive when he received the “promise of the Holy Spirit,” the Holy Spirit or the promise the Holy Spirit had given? The latter is true. The Holy Spirit had promised David God would set one upon his throne (2 Samuel 7:12-14). That was the promise Jesus received from the Holy Spirit.
Pentecost, Acts two, was Christ’s coronation day! At that time he was crowned King of kings and Lord of lords. Jesus is not just an anointed Prince; he is now the crowned King of Glory. All hail the power of Jesus’ name! When he returns, he will raise all the dead, judge them, give them their rewards according to what they have done, return the kingdom to God and himself be subjected to him that did subject all things to him that God may be all in all. Those who have washed their robes in his blood and have waited for him, will enter with him through the gates into that city. Oh, blessed day! May we all, with Paul exclaim: “Maranatha (our Lord, come)” (1 Corinthians 16:22)!