If all Christians rule with Christ, who will they rule over?

A reader contacted me and asked:

On your website you state:

“Instead, the Scriptures are clear in teaching that Christ will physically come to the earth (Acts 1:9-11; 3:21, etc.), separate the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:32-33), and say to the sheep, “Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34).  Matthew 25 does not speak of two classes of believers; it speaks of two classes of persons.  These two classes consist of sheep and goats.  All of the sheep are believers who will all inherit the kingdom.  Therefore, there is only one class of believers who will rule with Christ on the earth (Revelation 5:10).”

I don’t necessarily disagree with you however I do have one question. If all the sheep are believers who will rule with Christ on earth, who will they rule over? It seems that there will only be Kings and no subjects.

Let me state from the outset that this is a question that even the Watchtower doesn’t know the answer to.  But leaving that aside, I think there are several possible answers to this question.

First, there is no denying that there will be some form of kingship where ruling and reigning will take place (Revelation 1:6, 5:10, 20:6).  What we then have to determine is what the nature of that rulership is.  And without explicit Scriptural support, we cannot assume that the subjects of this rulership includes Christians.

“‘He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS;AND HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON, AS THE VESSELS OF THE POTTER ARE BROKEN TO PIECES, as I also have received authority from My Father;” (Revelation 2:26–27, cf: Ps. 2:6-7)

Regardless of your view on the millennium, it seems undeniable that there is some sort of rulership that takes place over non-Christians.  The Watchtower takes this as referring to the anointed class sharing with Jesus the destruction of rebellious nations at Armageddon.  Even if this were the only basis for rulership mentioned in Scripture, it would provide a sufficient basis to discredit the Watchtower’s insistence that rulership must take place over other Christians.

“For if by the transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.” (Romans 5:17)

“so that, as sin reigned in death, even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 5:21)

“Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts,” (Romans 6:11–12)

These texts clearly show that reigning doesn’t necessarily indicate that human subjects are involved.  Yet, it shows explicit support of what rulership entails.

“Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? If the world is judged by you, are you not competent to constitute the smallest law courts? Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?” (1 Corinthians 6:2–3)

“and just as My Father has granted Me a kingdom, I grant you that you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (Luke 22:29–30, cf: Lk. 13:28, Mt. 8:11)

Whether these passages are referring to the judgement of non-Christians and/or Jews, they don’t necessitate a rulership of Christians over other Christians.

God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:28)

Interestingly, this word used for “rule” (רָדָה radah) is also used in Psalm 110:2 of Christ: “YHWH will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, ‘Rule in the midst of Your enemies.”  While space will not allow for a full semantic discussion of the various uses of רָדָה and how it might relate to the “ruling” and “reigning” in the Christian Scriptures, we can at least suggest that the rulership mentioned Genesis 1:28 doesn’t necessitate a ruling over other humans.

To summarize, we have listed several possibilities as to the nature of the kingship or rulership in which all Christians will have when Christ returns.  These include:

  • Authority over non-Christians
  • Reigning over sin and death
  • Judgement over non-Christians and/or Jews
  • Ruling over the earth (land, sea, animals, etc.)

Yet, the Watchtower insists that this kingship must by necessity include Christians as subjects.  To my knowledge, there is no Scriptural support for this position.  It appears to be something that is assumed due to what they think it means to be a king.  But it is important that we let Scripture determine the meaning of words rather than our assumptions.

 

37 thoughts on “If all Christians rule with Christ, who will they rule over?

  1. Mark says:

    Hi Mike,

    Thanks for the reply to my question. I did a little more research and since the “two class” system was put into place by Rutherford in the 1920’s I wonder if he was planning on the authority being over non-Christians. The main teaching of that time was that “Millions Now Living Will Never Die”. What many Witnesses don’t understand is that the millions that Rutherford was speaking of were not his followers. In his mind (at the time) the Great Crowd was going to heaven.

    The millions that would never die were non-witnesses as can be seen in this excerpt from the Proclaimers book: “[Bible Students] Understood that people then living-mankind in general-had the opportunity to survive right into the time of restitution and that they would then be educated in Jehovah’s requirements for life. If obedient, they would gradually attain to human perfection. If rebellious, they would, in time, be destroyed forever.” Proclaimers p.163

    With that view in mind the great crowd could have been kings over those on the earth. Obviously I do not agree with his views but if I had to venture a guess on his thought process on that subject, I would say that fits.

    Thanks for the quick and comprehensive reply.

  2. theapologeticfront says:

    Hi Mark-

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts! Yes, it is certainly interesting to see how things have changed. And perhaps it’s better in some cases for JW’s look to the past as opposed to the present in seeking truth. Could it be that the light was brighter back then than it is today in some respect? The faithful JW today could not consider that because the “right view” is always the present view.

  3. rotherham2 says:

    Hello Mike and Mark,

    You may not see this as relevant, but we would see it as very relevant. Acts 24:15 states that there will be a resurrection of the righteous and the unrighteous. Where are the unrighteous resurrected to in your opinion?

    If, as proposed above, that the anointed only rule over non-Christians, that idea would not fit with the statement that these unrighteous resurrected ones would be educated in Jehovah’s requirements for life. IF they respond to that education, then they are Christians, but not in heaven.

    Regards,
    Rotherham

    1. theapologeticfront says:

      Rotherham,

      I have no idea where the unrighteous are resurrected to and it really doesn’t matter because it is a resurrection to judgement (John 5:29). The end result here would obviously be a complete separation from God and Christians “outside the gates.” (Rev. 22:14-15)

      If I’ve misunderstood your objection, let me know.

  4. rotherham2 says:

    Hello Mike,

    Paul said that the resurrection of the unrighteous was a “hope”. In the Bible, the word for “hope” is always in regard to an acquisition of something good. Being resurrected to be adversely judged is not a hope for the unrighteous.

    Regards,
    Rotherham

    1. theapologeticfront says:

      Rotherham,

      I don’t see that to be the case at all. We all hope that God will bring an end to wickedness, correct? Do you not hope for that?

      Either way, your position either leaves John 5:29 as unexplained or at odds with it.

  5. rotherham2 says:

    The hope mentioned was not in regard to the end of wickedness, it was in regard to the resurrection. It was in the same sentence as the hope for the righteous. One word “hope” applies to both the “righteous and the unrighteous”. Just as the hope for the righteous is the acquisition of something good, likewise with the unrighteous.

    And as I said before, if those resurrected unrighteous ones respond to God’s plan of salvation, they must be Christian if they do, as pointed out in Mark’s post. John 5:29 is no problem for a number of reasons. One way to look at it is that the verb for “do” is in the aorist tense which has no necessity of past, present or future attached to it. It’s basically describing an action that takes place, SOMEtime. Most translators have chosen the past tense but is by no means a necessity. It could easily read, those who DO (not in relation to a particular time) good or bad. Contextually one could see this doing of good and bad as being AFTER their future resurrection.

    Tell me, what of all the millions and billions of people who have died and never knew of Jesus Christ through no fault of their own? What will happen to them? Where is their opportunity for salvation?

    Regards,
    Rotherham

    1. theapologeticfront says:

      Rotherham,

      You are vastly complicating this beyond necessity. The “hope” is, yes, the resurrection of both. And John 5:29 provides us with more details as to what that might entail: life or judgement.

      I think there is a valid discussion to be had here in this point, but it would require much detail on my part to establish a case against this “second chance” doctrine; in particular, the claims of Christ and the early church in condemning for eternity all who deny Christ in this life.

      Keep in mind too that my view in this post was not dependent on any one of the points as to what the nature of the reigning entails. That is, I’m willing to admit uncertainty on this but see a number of possible solutions. However, the Watchtower’s obviously is not one of them.

      Feel free to have the last word here as I’ll make a note to address your argument in greater detail in a post of its own.

  6. rotherham2 says:

    Those who DO bad things AFTER their resurrection in the future WILL receive a resurrection of adverse judgment. So what’s the problem with how that can be read? Plus “judgment” does not always mean an adverse judgment, but rather just a judgment as to whether something is good or bad.

    I didn’t ask about those who DENY Christ in this life, it was about those who NEVER EVEN HAD A CHOICE. Have you thought about ALL of THEM?

    You claim the WTs version of who they rule over can’t possibly be correct but you have no where demonstrated that. You must consider all that the scriptures say on the matter, not just part of it in order to get the correct view.

    There is a great deal to discuss, but I have a feeling it’s not really going to happen.

    Regards,
    Rotherham

  7. Heber J Perez says:

    Mr rotherham2

    In the first place Romans 1:18-24 clearly shows that those before Christ will be judge according to their actions. God is a perfect judge the bible is clear man only dies once and then judgment. The resurrection of the faithful ones to life cannot mean that they will have to face further judgment, so yes the WT version is faulty. Those that never had the opportunity of hearing the gospel will be judged on their works and I trust God to be a perfect judge. you have no problem accepting 7 Billion people being killed at the so called Armageddon with no future hope why would it bother you people before the Gospel was preached. I do think have thought of all things and right now Christ is reining his final action will be the final judgment for all mankind. We are not going to have another 1000 years at least not according to Act 2;28-31 or 1 Corinthians 15, which shows that at the final resurrection which is the physical resurrection the end comes and he returns the kingdom to the Father.

  8. rotherham2 says:

    Hello Mr. Perez,

    Sorry, I just caught this. The resurrection of the righteous to life is exactly that, they are not under judgment, but it is not as if they can’t individually throw away their good standing before God. We do not think that will happen, or if so, very rarely, but still a potentiality. We do not beleive in once saved always saved, even during the millennium, because the scriptures teach that Satan will be let loose at the end of the 1000 years and there will be a test upon those on the earth at that time in which many will fail and be sentenced to eternal death.

    Your view about Armageddon is a bit off. We do not preach nor teach that there will be 7 billion people die eternally at Armageddon who never have the opportunity to accept the truth. God is a righteous and fair judge and we admit that we do not know what he will do in every situation. The literature has even stated that we may be surprised to find how he handles it all which in affect, leaves the matter open for some speculation. We trust that our loving God will fairly judge and give every living soul, past, present and future, full opportunity for salvation, regardless of what that might require. What we teach is that the “wicked” will be destroyed eternally, and it is God’s choice as to who he deems as wicked. Further than that, no one can say for certain how he will handle the masses at Armageddon.

    You say that people who never heard will be judged on their works, but we are told that works can not save us, but rather faith in Jesus Christ. I beleieve you are misreading Romans. Every knee must bend and acknowledge Christ for salvation, as Phillipians says, even those under the ground will too. That can only happen via resurrection with an opportunity to do so.

    I don’t understand your points about Acts 2 and 1 Cor. that you mention so you might have to elaborate before I can comment any further.

    Regards,
    Rotherham

    1. Heber J Perez says:

      Mr Rotherham
      We are not under condemnation right now, it has nothing to do with a future resurrection to life. The resurrection will be for the redemption of our bodies for eternal life not some half way there. I believe Christ is ruling in the middle of his enemies right now not a future thing. Your theology forces a double future Judgments. Your conclusion of saved always saved is off , once a person receives the redemption of his body with immortality after eating of the tree of life “you are saved” for eternity. Then, Yes saved will mean always saved. I don’t see a semi-perfect millennial kingdom of Christ which at the end as Revelation shows there will be more wicked nations then saints in the holy City. You call that “perfect”? Christ kingdom is right now and it is bringing about the changes he deems proper with the ultimate redemption of humanity, then he returns the kingdom to the Father. His kingdom does not start by destroying all his enemies, since that will mean the “end” of his rulership not the “start” Psalm 110.
      Are David, Noah, Abraham, etc going to be resurrected to real life or just a half way salvation? Will they resurrect for eternal life as promised or just “another Watchtower chance for a future salvation”? Why would their resurrection be any different than those that did evil? Since in your opinion both will simply have to work all over again to gain salvation? Did David, or Noah, or any of the old people of God knew and had faith in Christ if they did not really knew him? So, why would they be saved, since in your theology people had to had that knowledge to be saved? It seems that they are saved in that they walked with God, Romans 1 is clear the Apostle Paul said that the Nations before Christ had “no excuse”, because God had manifested to all through Creation. God will be the ultimately judge, I believe that just like you do with the people now living.
      So, if “every knee will bow in the name of Christ(Jehovah) will the ones that died before Noah also do the same? Again, to be fair God will have to resurrect everyone? I think he will in my understanding of the Bible, but for their final judgment. Anyway, I used to believe Christ kingdom was future, but that brought more questions than answers. I would recommend some great readings that will open your eyes in my humble opinion.

  9. Heber J Perez says:

    One last point I would like to make regarding the subject matter, who will they rule over? It is simple, if Christ kingdom is now and he is ruling then he and the Christians Saints are ruling over all the nations right now. Paul, Peter, John all of them said clearly they were already seated in Thrones and were in as a present reality in the Kingdom. So, the answer is simple they are ruling with Christ right now over all the Nations bringing about through the kingdom the consummation of all things. In the eternal state there is no implication that Christians will rule over nations, since we know very little about the final state. Jehovah’s Witnesses have no problem saying Christ started ruling since 1914 (used to be 1874), so what is so hard to understand that he has been ruling when the bible clearly said he received “all” authority which was after his resurrection. I think that is more biblical then some made up date by an organization that is un-inspired.

  10. rotherham2 says:

    Hello Heber,

    There are a number of topics that have been rolled into this that I think would deserve an individual closer analysis. Some statements I agree with, some I dont’. For the sake of clarity, I think we should approach these in a more singular fashion and discuss them.
    For instance:

    The Bible will not end up supporting the notion that it is our bodies that are resurrected.

    We too believe that Christ is ruling in the midst of his enemies since about 1914 CE.

    It is the Bible that says there will be wicked people around afer the thousand years, not just us.

    The righteous, as long as they maintain that righteousness, and there is no reason to think that the wont, will be resurrected to life and will experience perfection within the thousand year reign. At what point is not stated, but as I mentioned it is the Bible that states that there will be a test for those on the earth at the end of the thousand years.

    It is the Bible that says every knee, that gets saved for eternity, must bend and acknowledge Jesus as Lord. That requires a resurrection for all of those who never even had a chance to know of him.

    The brothers of Christ are revealed to be those who will rule over the earthly subjects of God’s kingdom. There is both a heavenly destination, for the kings, priests and judges who rule with Christ for the thousand years, and also an earthly destination according to scripture.

    So there is alot to talk about and to try and juggle all of these topics at once would end up being a quagmire that no one would even be able to follow very effectively. Believe me, I’ve been there.

    If you would like to discuss these things on a more convenient board for public viewing, I could invite you to a discussion at truetheology.net. Or we could just attempt to do it here. Your choice.

    So where do you think we should begin?

    Regards,
    Rotherham

    1. Heber Perez says:

      That will be great Mr. Rotherham

      I would like you to read about 30 pages long the reasons why I dont believe Jerusalem was destroyed in 607 BC and how to explain the Bible passages that have been misunderstood. The reason is that this will give us a solid starting point, since your theology is mostly based on the date of 1914. If you can analyze it at your own time it would be great. Is there an email I can send you the file?

  11. rotherham2 says:

    Somehow they ended up in my spam folder. I’ve got them now. Thanks. Would you like to discuss them here or at truetheology.net when I have looked them over?

    Regards,
    Rotherham

      1. rotherham2 says:

        Thanks Mike,

        My only concern is visibility. Here, it’s not likely to be noticed as easily as truetheology. Plus, it’s impossible to control all the sidebars and the exchange can become quite convoluted as to its format. I can do it here if that’s the only choice we have, but truetheology is probably better for public viewing and later recall.

        Regards,
        Rotherham

      2. Heber J Perez says:

        This is a short comment I emailed Mr. Rotherham in regards to the Watchtower dishonesty. If anyone wants to read the entire article I emailed him it can be found in the following link http://4jehovah.org/why-1914-ad-and-607-bc-are-false/
        I have found many quotes that are simply misleading and this is one simple example:
        In regards to when Jerusalem was destroyed the Watchtower will quote Josephus writing in his book which I own “Against Apion” Book 1, Par 19 they will quote the following words “and removed our people entirely out of their own country, and transferred them to Babylon; When it so happened that our city was desolate DURING THE INTERVAL OF SEVENTY YEARS, until the days of Cyrus king of Persia”. They will be quick to say oh he is saying that from the time Jerusalem was destroyed until Cyrus was 70 years, but wait it does not say that it says “DURING THE INTERVAL OF SEVENTY YEARS” which interval is the question. The seventy years interval referred to here is not the same as the 70 years of the desolation of the Temple. This can be clearly shown if anyone reads the entire article.
        What they don’t want anyone to see that a couple of pages later Josephus says the following:
        Again, “Against Apion” Book 1, par 21 ( just three paragraph later) “These accounts agree with the true histories in our books; for in them it is written that Nebuchadnezzar, in the eighteenth year of his reign, LAID OUR TEMPLE DESOLATE, and so it lay in that state of obscurity for FIFTY YEARS; but that in the second year of the reign of Cyrus its foundation were laid”. Josephus clearly shows it was 50 years from the time the Temple was laid desolate until the year 537 when the foundation were laid, but the Temple did not get rebuilt until 517 BC. 587 BC-517 BC (70 years).
        This is not a single occurrence they continually lie. I cannot believe people that have so much time in their hands could need read just two pages later when they have been told this is not true. I just want you to know I have the book so no it is not some Apostate telling me these things.
        Thanks.

  12. rotherham2 says:

    Hello Heber,

    After looking it over I see that I am familiar with the arguments presented as they are pretty much the standard ones that I have dealt with extensively in the past, so whenever you are ready to begin I would like to proceed.

    Regards,
    Rotherham

  13. Heber J Perez says:

    Well, I don’t have much time right now, but it is clear without a doubt that the date of 1914 has no biblical foundation. If this is the case no Organization was chosen at that time specially an Organization that was pretty much not very different then others at the time. With that in mind, we have to re-analyze with the scripture anything that is said by such an Organization. The Watchtower has caused the death of hundreds of thousands based on false teachings such as the blood, organ transplants, etc.

    Now, going to our previous conversation my point about what Revelations says that there will be nations of wicked people at the end of the millennial kingdom is not criticizing the Bible, but the interpretation that the millennial mediatorial kingdom of Christ would be this Semi-perfect government in which neither death or sin would exist. Isaiah 65 shows people would still die during such period. Also, Psalm 110 shows Christ’s kingdom would be in the midst of his enemies. I understand that Revelation is totally correct showing that Christ kingdom would be among his enemies and it is AT THE END that he destroys all the wicked nations not at the beginning of his government. So, Revelation affirms my position instead of weakening it. I believe Christ final coming will be to put an end ones and for all to the wicked and completing his work a work which he started after he ascended to Heaven. Much of the conditions that has been applied to this millennial kingdom (which is only mentioned in Revelation/1000 is always used to show a perfect period of time not a literal number Psalm 50:10) really applies to the Eternal state. The millennial kingdom has never directly been described as a perfect condition specially when sin, death, and wicked nations are still existing and Christ has been described as ruling in the midst of his enemies not after the destruction of his enemies.

    A study of the book of Daniel will show clearly that this kingdom started after the ascension of Christ. Daniel 2 and chapter 7 are parallel. Both, culminate at the time of the Roman empire in which time as Chapter 7:13,14 Christ receives his kingdom. I have much to say, but I have to go and work 😉

  14. rotherham2 says:

    Hello Heber,

    Well, you’re jumping to conclusions before we’ve even had an attempt to discuss these things. I believe I have answers to all of your objections but like I said before, if we want clarity, we need to approach these things in a more singular fashion.

    I am a little confused. You said it was a great idea but now you seem to be saying you don’t have the time. You said you wanted to start with 1914 and now it appears you are already reverting back to a former topic, so please help me understand where and what you want to begin with.

    If we set up a discussion forum for these topics at truetheology.bet you can answer whenever you have time. There is no pressure to be johhny-on -the-spot or anything like that because believe me, I am busy too and it sometimes takes a few days to offer an effective response. i will simply be a discussion between you and I.

    Regards,
    Rotherham

    1. Heber Perez says:

      I will log into the other forum later. What I meant I did have much time today, but I am looking forward to discussing this further. I am looking forward to see how all this historical and archeological data can just be discarded.

  15. rotherham2 says:

    i will set up a separate forum on that site for us to discuss these issues. I will post your article as the format for our discussion and the also the question concerning Josephus’ reference. What would you like to use as your username?

    Regards,
    Rotherham

  16. rotherham2 says:

    Hello Heber,

    I think we are ready. Go to truetheology.net and click on the “register” link toward the upper right hand corner of the board. Fill it out and then your account will be activated.

    Regards,
    Rotherham

  17. rotherham2 says:

    Hello Heber,

    The forum we will be on you will see about half way down the board or so entitled:

    Discussion: 1914 and 607 BCE
    A discussion analyzing the correctness of 607 BCE as the fall of Jerusalem and its relevance to 1914 CE, according to Biblical and Historic evidence

  18. rotherham2 says:

    Hello Mike,

    If you would like, you could post the link to each topic as we complete them for your readers.

    Regards,
    Rotherham

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