The Thousand Year Reign

In John 18:36 Jesus said "My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence". Jesus plainly declares that His kingdom is not a worldly kingdom.

Many first century Jews did not understand this concept. They believed the Messiah would establish an earthly kingdom centered in Jerusalem. This mistaken idea is reflected in situations like Luke 19:11 where Jesus spoke the parable of the pounds "because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear" The Jews thought the kingdom would be manifest in a physical, immediate way. Jesus gave the parable of the pounds in order to deny this and show the spiritual nature of the kingdom.

This same misunderstanding is evident in Luke 17:20 where the Pharisees asked "when the kingdom of God should come". Jesus responded to them in verses 20-21 by saying "The kingdom of God cometh not with observation: Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you." From what Jesus has said, it ought to be clear to all that his kingdom is spiritual in nature.

In spite of this truth, many today are making a mistake similar to that of the first century Jews in expecting an earthly kingdom. Many believe that prior to the end of time Christ will establish a 1,000 year earthly kingdom centered in Jerusalem. This error is based largely on a misunderstanding of Revelation 20:1-10. However, this passage says nothing of an earthly kingdom, or of a 1,000-year reign of Christ.

To this point note Revelation 20:4 where the Bible says "And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshiped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and THEY lived and reigned WITH CHRIST a thousand years." The 1,000-year reign discussed here is not of Christ but of martyred saints. This was a group of Christians who had been beheaded for the cause of Christ. This reign is not something promised to EVERY Christian of EVERY age but rather speaks specifically to their situation! Therefore, the idea of Christ reigning on earth for a thousand years is not found in this or any other passage.

Rather than teaching a 1,000-year reign of Christ, the Bible teaches his reign is eternal. In II Peter 1:11 the Bible says, "For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the EVERLASTING KINGDOM of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." Peter said the kingdom of Christ is an everlasting kingdom.

Additionally, since this "1000-year reign" doctrine holds the reign of Christ is at the end of time, it suggests His reign is yet future. But Jesus taught the kingdom was established in the first century. In Mark 9:1 He said, "Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power." This statement can lead to only three possible conclusions. Either Jesus lied and the kingdom is yet future; or some of those people are still living today and the kingdom is yet future; or Jesus told the truth, the Jews of His generation died at a natural age, and the kingdom was established in their time.

Not only does Mark 9:1 teach a first century kingdom but Paul also taught it. In Colossians 1:13 Paul said "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath TRANSLATED US INTO THE KINGDOM of his dear Son": Paul considered himself a citizen of Christ s kingdom. He connected his deliverance from sin with membership in that kingdom. How could Paul be part of a kingdom that had not yet been established? Surely the kingdom was established in the first century.

With all this evidence, should the faithful expect a future establishment of the kingdom of Jesus here on earth for 1,000 years? Certainly not! Jesus said "My kingdom is not of this world", and "There be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come. " Peter said the kingdom of Jesus is an "everlasting kingdom"! To expect a future, physical, 1,000-year kingdom is to deny all these plain statements of scripture.

What then is the kingdom of Christ? It has already been shown that it is a spiritual, eternal body, established sometime in the first century. To learn more specifically what the kingdom is, consider Matthew 16:18-19 where Jesus said "... upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven..." As Jesus spoke of the promise to build his church, he referred to this spiritual institution as the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, the church is the kingdom of Christ.

This kingdom was established shortly after the resurrection of Jesus on the day of Pentecost. First mention of the church as being currently existent is found in Acts 2:47 where the Bible says "Praising God, and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to THE CHURCH daily such as should be saved." This is record of the events on the day of Pentecost, shortly after Christ s death. We know the kingdom was to come in that generation, and we know the church is that kingdom. Now we can see with the establishment of the church in that generation, the expectations of the kingdom of God are realized in the church.

It is important to properly understand the kingdom of God. The Jews misunderstood the kingdom and this, along with other factors, led to their rejection of Jesus. If you fail to understand Christ s kingdom, this might cause you to reject His kingdom rule through the church and decline entrance into that kingdom. Are you a part of Christ s kingdom today? If not, you need to be. You, like Paul, need to be delivered from the power of sin and be placed by God into his everlasting kingdom.