The Coming Kingdom 0671 Corinthians 15:23-28 • Dr. Andy Woods • April 24, 2019 • The Coming Kingdom
Dr. Andy Woods
The Coming Kingdom
4-24-19 1 Corinthians 15:23-28 Lesson 67
Let’s take our Bibles and open them to 1 Corinthians, chapter 15, and verses 23-28. Let me kind of give you a reminder of what we’re doing. We’re in chapter 19 of the book that I wrote, called The Coming Kingdom. If you didn’t get one please see me afterwards and we want to give a copy to everyone that’s taking this class. And what the book is, is it’s a biblical… my book is not the important book, the important book is the Bible, but my book sort of topically organizes what the Bible teaches concerning the kingdom.
What we’ve taught is that the idea that the kingdom, and we developed this very carefully, Genesis through Revelation, the kingdom was offered to first century Israel, at that point rejected, and at that point postponed. So, the current program of God is wonderful but it doesn’t represent the kingdom; that’s how we taught this. And in the final section of the book we’ll talk about why this issue really is important but for the time being what we’re getting into is if the kingdom is indeed postponed then why do so many people, really going back to the fourth century, believe that we are currently in the kingdom? Well, a lot of it has to do with passages that are taken out of context, so that’s basically what we’re doing, we’re taking these passages that people use and putting them back into context. And I hope in the process that you’re learning beyond just knowledge about the kingdom, it’s basically how to do Bible study because the methodology that we’re using here to come to a right understanding of the kingdom, you know, you could use with any biblical doctrine you research.
So, we’ve looked at alleged Kingdom Now passages from Christ’s ministry, alleged Kingdom Now passages from the Book of Acts, we spent a lot of time in the Book of Acts. And now we’ve been looking at alleged Kingdom Now passages in the writings of the Apostle Paul. So, the passage that we started last time is 1 Corinthians 15:23-28. Do you all recall that?
But just by way of review here’s what these verses say. Paul’s talking about resurrection and I love what we’re doing with this right before and after Resurrection Sunday. 1 Corinthians 15, as you probably know, is Paul’s resurrection chapter. But he says there in verses 23-28 “But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming,  then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.  For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. The last enemy that will be abolished is death.  For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him.  When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.”
So before you can really talk about passages are being abused you have to figure out what is the passage saying. And so last week we spent the whole time talking about what this is actually saying. And I don’t want to reteach the whole thing that we did last week, I’ll just kind of give you the fly-by. It says,  “But each in his own order:” and so the idea there is the resurrection program for the righteous is not going to happen all at once. It’s going to happen in phases. So the very first phase is “Christ the first fruits,” that’s a reference to Christ’s bodily resurrection from the dead which we celebrated last week. I think Paul analogizes it to firstfruits because firstfruits in Israel’s harvest cycle guaranteed the rest of the harvest. So, when the firstfruits came in that was kind of a happy time because you knew that the general harvest would come in as well.
And so, in the same way Christ’s resurrection guarantees everybody else’s resurrection on this chain that he’s describing. So, Christ is resurrected first, we celebrated that Sunday, and then it says, “those who are Christ’s at His coming,” now it moves from the first coming of Christ to the second coming of Christ, a distance of at least two thousand years. And he mentions the return of Christ. Now this is not the rapture, the rapture He’s going to begin to deal with in verses 50-58. The rapture is kind of a mystery, a new truth. He’s not dealing with that at this point. He’s talking about the resurrection of the Old Testament saints and tribulation martyrs, non-church age saints. In other words, when Christ returns at the end of the tribulation period.
So, Christ is raised, then Christ will return in the second advent at the end of the seven-year tribulation period to start His kingdom, which will last a thousand years. And then it talks about “those who are Christ’s at His coming.” Now that’s the resurrection of non-church age saints, Old Testament saints, people that were believers before the church age started, and tribulation martyrs, people that get saved after the church age ends. So that’s a tremendous resurrection, you’ll find it in Daniel 12:2, Revelation 20:4-5, and it’s a reference there or a record there to those people that are resurrected at that time upon Christ’s second advent.
[Daniel 12:2, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but others to shame and everlasting contempt.” Revelation 20:4-5, “Then I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was given to them. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony of Jesus and because of the word of God, and those who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received the mark on their forehead and on their hand; and they came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.  The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were completed. This is the first resurrection.”]
So if you look at our chart here you’ll see a tribulation period that lasts seven years; you’ll see the second advent of Christ, ask you keep moving to the right you’ll see the thousand year kingdom. And right when that kingdom starts or maybe just before it starts you’ve got that resurrection of Old Testament saints and tribulation martyrs. Then you go to verse 24 and it says, “then comes the end,” the end of what? The end of His thousand-year kingdom. So, what just happened at the end of verse 23 but before you get to verse 24 is a thousand-year gap between the second advent of Christ and the end of the thousand year kingdom.
And I tried to show you last week that that interpretation is grammatically workable when you study how Paul uses the same Greek phrases earlier in the chapter. The way he uses the same Greek phrases earlier in the chapter demonstrates there can be a time gap and so I’m thinking that I’m seeing a time gap here at the end of verse 23 into verse 24. So now we’re all of a sudden flashing forward to the very end of the thousand-year millennial kingdom. And then what’s going to happen? The thousand-year kingdom is going to merge into the eternal state; the Son’s kingdom is going to become the Father’s kingdom and it’s sort of you’re moving from Revelation 20, the thousand year kingdom, into Revelation 21 and 22, the eternal state.
Well when that merger happens what will take place? He (that’s Jesus) will hand over the kingdom,” now what kingdom? The kingdom He’s been ruling for a thousand years, “He will hand over the kingdom to God and Father when He has abolished all rule, authority and power,” that’s what verse 24 is talking about. [1 Corinthians 15:24, “then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power.”] And when that takes place we’re going to have, verse 26, the last enemy that will be abolished is death.
In other words when this transpires death will become a thing of the past; death, as we’ve talked about, exists in a very limited sense in the thousand-year kingdom. Isaiah 65:20. [Isaiah 65:20, “No longer will there be in it an infant who lives but a few days, Or an old man who does not live out his days; For the youth will die at the age of one hundred And the one who does not reach the age of one hundred Will be thought accursed.”]
But once the eternal state kicks in death will be something that’s just in our remembrance and you’ll see a reference to that in Revelation 21:4. [Revelation 21:4, “and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”]
Verse 28 says, “When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.” So once the Son takes His kingdom and turns it over to God the Father and the eternal state begins then everything will be in subjection to God the Father. So, Paul’s sort of laying out kind of a chronology here and he’s explaining “each in his own order.”
Then you go down to verse 25 and it says, [1 Corinthians 15:25] “For He must reign” and that’s really the debate on this, when is that reigning going to start? Well, if you follow everything that’s been unfolded in these verses what you see is the reigning is actually not going to start until the end of verse 23, we have Christ at His coming.” [Verse 23, “But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming.”]
So you have Christ at His coming, second advent, then the reigning starts. Do you follow? Because what people are doing is they’re putting the cart before the horse, as I’ll show you some quotes, they’re putting the reigning before the coming of Christ. And that’s not paying attention to the chronology of the passage.
So Jesus is going to come back in the second advent, He is going to resurrect Old Testament saints and tribulational martyrs and before He turns His kingdom over to the Father there’s going to be a reign that will last a thousand years. And verse 25 is a description of that reign through the use of a Psalm, he’s quoting there, Psalm 110:1-2. Particularly verse 1 but the last time I checked verse 2 goes with verse 1. Amen. “The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.’  The LORD will stretch forth your strong scepter” now where’s this rule going to take place? What does it say, from where? “From Zion.” That means Jerusalem, on the earth, “saying, “Rule in the midst of Your enemies.” And so what’s happening in verse 25 is that psalm is being alluded to, describing the earthly reign of Christ subsequent to His second advent. So, it’s at that point in time Jesus will actually rule this world from Jerusalem in fulfillment of Psalm 110:1-2.
In the meantime, where is Jesus currently? It’s right there in the Psalm, at the “right hand” of the Father. Is He there forever? No, He’s not, because of which word, “until.” He’s in a temporary position, certainly of honor and glory, at the Father’s right hand but He’s not there forever. One of these days His enemies will be made His footstool and He will rule from Zion. And that’s what verse 25 is talking about and that’s when Psalm 110:1-2 are going to be fulfilled.
Then as you jump down to verse 27 Paul uses a second psalm to explain this one-thousand-year reign. Verse 27 says, “For He has put all things in subjection under His feet.” Verse 25 was a citation from Psalm 110; verse 27 in fact if you look at it in your Bible this is the way it reads in the NASB, it’s all in caps, indicating it’s a direct quote. So, in verse 27 what Psalm is he quoting? Anybody know? Psalm 8. You say what’s the big deal about Psalm 8? Everything,
Psalm 8 is huge. Here God says, [Psalm 8:4] “What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?  Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty!  You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,” that underlined section there is what Paul is quoting verbatim. So, Psalm 8 really is the story of how God is going to restore everything that was lost in Eden. So, what was the original pattern in Eden? God was going to rule over our forbearers, Adam and Eve, and they were going to govern creation for God. And you’ll see that right there in Genesis 1:26-28, “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” And then down in verse 28 God tells them again, our forbearers, Adam and Eve,  “… 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.”
So, this is the design of God from the beginning. God rules over our forbearers and they govern creation for God. And when you understand this you understand why Satan took the form of a talking snake in Genesis 3. He’s trying to get them to listen to creation and rebel against God instead of govern it for God. And so, Satan took this design and perverted it. And this is how Satan was able to assert his authority over the earth, which really never was given to him, it was originally given to Adam and Eve. And when Satan twisted this and perverted it he became the unlawful usurper over planet earth.
So, Psalm 8, when you go back and study it, it’s how the original design is going to be restored. God, the next time around, is not going to rule over the first Adam, He’s going to rule over the last Adam. Who would that be? Jesus. God the Father will rule over God the Son; God the Son is going to govern this earth for who? For God! So essentially Psalm 8 is a prediction of how what was lost in Genesis 1 and 2 is going to be restored. And how can that be restored unless God becomes a man. So that’s the reason that Paul, in verse 27, is quoting Psalm 8. And what Paul is saying is from the time period of Christ’s second advent until the time period when the Son will take the kingdoms of this world that He has been governing for a thousand years, and turning them over to God the Father and the millennial kingdom will merge into the eternal state. Until that time comes there’s going to be a thousand-year reign of Christ and during that thousand-year reign of Christ you’re going to have two Psalms fulfilled, Psalm 110:1-2 and Psalm 8:4-6.
[Psalm 110:1-2, “The LORD said to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”  The LORD will extend Your mighty scepter from Zion: “Rule in the midst of your enemies.” Psalm 8:4-6, “What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?  Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty!  You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,”]
So far so good? And then what’s going to happen? Well, it says in verse 27, when he says “all things are put under subjection” it is evident that He is accepted who put all things in subjection to Him. And what does that mean? It means when these psalms were fulfilled and Jesus is ruling this planet everything is going to be under His authority except who? God the Father, who granted Christ the authority to begin with. So He’s going to rule over everything except God the Father. And that’s what verse 27 is speaking of. [1 Corinthians 15:27, “For He has put all things in subjection under His feet.”]
And then once this era of kingdom authority is asserted, once it reaches its conclusion the He (that’s Jesus) will hand over the kingdom to the God and Father when He has abolished all rule, all authority and all power. And at that point, verse 26, death will become a thing of the past and all things will be subjected to God the Father, including God the Son.
So, I hope I didn’t confuse you on that, it’s one of the most interesting (to my mind) paragraphs in the whole Bible describing the future. And what’s the bottom line to the whole thing? When you study this chronology very carefully what you’re going to see is that reign is not going to start until Jesus Christ comes back. That’s what this “after that then” construction is talking about. So the reign that starts to get described down in verse 25 and verse 27 what Paul is saying is don’t expect it until Jesus returns at His second advent at the end of the tribulation period.
So, this is one of the reasons why we at Sugar Land Bible Church are what you call premillennial. You say what in the world does that mean? Premillennial is related to when Christ returns relative to the kingdom. “Pre” means He comes back before the kingdom; now if I were a postmillennialist I would say that He comes back when? After the kingdom. But that’s not what the chronology of the passage reveals. In other words, we’re not expecting the kingdom, we’re not expecting the reign of Christ that’s described here, we’re not expecting the fulfillment of Psalm 110, or Psalm 8, until Jesus returns and rules this world for a thousand years. So that is what the passage means. You guys all with me so far. That’s a lot of information to take in on a Wednesday evening.
Now let’s talk about how this passage has been perverted by Kingdom Now theologians. Here is a citation from Craig Blaising, who is one of the progenitors of the new movement at Dallas Seminary called progressive dispensationalism where they’re basically teaching that the reign of Christ is something that’s happening now in an already sense.
And notice what Craig Blaising says. He says, “An intermediate kingdom” not that’s important because they believe in what’s already not yet, we’re in the kingdom now in part but the complete picture won’t come till later whereas our view is the kingdom is completely and totally future. He says, “An intermediate kingdom,” the already part of it, “may be implied from Paul’s delineation of the historical stages of the resurrection in” our paragraph, “1 Corinthians 15:20–28. In verses 23–24, Paul marks off three stages of resurrection: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, then comes the end… The reign of Christ which precedes the final and everlasting revelation of the eschatological kingdom covers whatever time elapses between the second and third stages of resurrection.” Well what does he mean by that? Here’s the key point. “That reign may in fact extend back to the first stage, that of Christ’s resurrection,” see what he’s basically arguing here is the reign of Christ started with the resurrection of Christ. And then he says “since we have seen that Paul repeatedly speaks of Christ’s present reign using the language of Psalm 110:1 (which language is also used here in 1 Corinthians 15:25).”
So, what he’s saying is when Paul gets to the subject of the reign, “He must reign until” his point is that reign actually started with the first coming of Christ. And that’s not at all the way we taught it; we’ve said that the reign of Christ is very clear that it begins when? With the second advent of Christ. “For He must reign until He has put all enemies under His feet.” That’s the battle there. Does that reign start with the first coming of Christ or with the second coming of Christ? Verse 27, “For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET,” does that start with the first coming of Christ or the second coming of Christ. We’ve tried to say it starts with the second coming of Christ; they’re saying it starts with the first coming of Christ. But you at least see what they’re trying to do.
So, having said all that what are the three major problems with what Kingdom Now theologians are doing with this passage. I just wanted to share with you three major problems with what is transpiring.
Number one, the Parameter’s of Christ’s reign should be defined by” what? Any guesses? “the context, in other words, I don’t think I’m free to just come into verse 25 and verse 27 and interpret those any way I want to interpret them when prior verses I’ve already given the parameter. Do you follow? Because in the prior verses we have a parameter, don’t we? “For He must reign until He has put all things under His feet,” verse 27, “For He has put all things in subjection under His feet,” when is that going to occur? Well, when you back up to verse 23 and 24 it tells you, “after that those who are Christ’s at His coming.  “then comes the end,” or the end of the kingdom, it’s very clear that the kingdom is not going to start until after Jesus bodily returns, see that in verses 23 and 24? So, since that’s the case why in the world would I think I can go to verse 25 and verse 27 and start the reign of Christ wherever I want to start it? What I think he’s doing is he’s just using his own theology to absorb what the text actually says. So, it’s like he’s coming at the text with this Kingdom Now mentality already and he’s trying to make the text fit his theology, pre-existing theology, rather than getting his theology from the text. See the difference?
So whatever views you hold on anything you should get it from the actual biblical text and the problem with us, as stubborn sinful people, Yours truly included in that, I have the same sin nature everybody else has, is we come to the Bible with certain ideas of how things ought to be and the great temptation is to try to make the Bible fit our preexisting world view or our preexisting theology when in reality it ought to be the opposite. Right? We ought to come to the Bible with a humble and a teachable spirit and if I don’t have a Kingdom Now understanding of these passages then maybe I ought to correct my Kingdom Now understanding rather than force the Bible into my preconceived framework. Are you with me on that?
So I think that’s what the first problem with Craig Blaising and his interpretation of these verses; he’s really not paying attention to the parameters that have already been established in verses 23 and 24 concerning when the reigning of verse 25 and verse 27 is supposed to start. [1 Corinthians 15:25, “He has abolished all rule and all authority and power,”  “For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him.”]
The second major problem, I think, with what Craig Blaising is doing here is he is abusing Psalm 110:1-2 and Psalm 8:4-6. [Psalm 110:1-2, “The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”  The LORD will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, “Rule in the midst of Your enemies.” Psalm 8:4-6, “What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?  Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty!  You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet.”]
Why? Because as we’ve developed those two Psalms are not talking about some kind of distant rule or Christ from heaven but rather they’re talking very clearly about Christ’s reign on this earth. And you see what’s happening when Blaising forces verse 25 and verse 27 into the present he’s basically taking Psalm 110 and Psalm 8 which Paul quotes here out of context because when you actually go back and read and study Psalm 110 and Psalm 8, as we’ve been looking at, it’s very clear these are not talking about Jesus reigning from some distant place in heaven. This is what progressive dispensationalism believes, they think Jesus is in heaven now reigning from David’s throne. That’s not what Psalm 8 and that’s not what Psalm 110 are talking about; they’re talking about His direct (not indirect) His direct earthly reign on planet earth.
Verse 25 is a citation from Psalm 110, “For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet,” where is that reign going to be executed according to Psalm 110? From where? Verse 2, Zion, not heaven, Zion which is Jerusalem. I was just in Jerusalem a week, two, what was it, three, four weeks ago, a month ago, whenever it was, I guess longer than that, I’m doing a series on my trip and that series has gone seven weeks so I had to have been there beyond seven weeks ago, but whenever I was there I can guarantee you that place is about as godless as any place on planet earth. It’s a wonderful place to visit, it’s a wonderful place to see all of the artifacts and geography concerning the Bible but they have their gay rights parades just like we have here. And I can guarantee you that Jesus was not in Jerusalem reigning from David’s throne. The nation of Israel, although I love the nation of Israel, are currently in a state of unbelief. They are primarily an atheistic nation and that’s not going to be the case when Psalm 110 is fulfilled because he is going to be ruling in the midst of His enemies from Zion; that is not happening now. Unless you don’t mind changing the meaning of Psalm 110:1-2 which is what the Craig Blaising interpretation here is doing.
Also in verse 27 is a citation of Psalm 8. Psalm 8, you’ll recall that we just talked about is about the restoration of what? What was lost where, in Genesis 1? Where was Adam and Eve prior to sin, where were they, what were they ruling in Genesis 1? They were on this earth reigning over it! That’s what was lost. If Psalm 8 is a restoration of what was lost how can Jesus’ absence, where He’s not reigning on this earth but is in heaven, how can someone say that Psalm 8 is being fulfilled right now in any sense? That’s a complete impossibility; you have to wrench Psalm 8 totally from its original context to make that fit your theology. So when Psalm 8 is fulfilled God the Father is going to rule over the last Adam, Jesus Christ is going to rule this world not somewhere in heaven but this world for God, exactly what God had originally bequeathed or given to Adam and Eve. So very clearly Psalm 8 is not being fulfilled today, Psalm 110 is not being fulfilled today unless you want to wrench those verses from their original context.
Now Michael Vlach, a writer whose very good on this subject, let me quote him a little bit here. He basically says what I just said and maybe better yet, I said what he already said. He says, “With 15:25 Paul says, “He must reign until He has put all his enemies under His feet” (25). The “must” means it is necessary that Jesus reigns. Paul’s wording in verse 25 is a reference to Psalm 110:1–2, which states: “The Lord says to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.’ The Lord will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying, ‘Rule in the midst of Your enemies.’” The allusion to Psalm 110:1–2 is evidence that the “reign” of Jesus is a future earthly reign. The context of Psalm 110 is David’s Lord, the Messiah, sitting at the right hand of God for a session” that’s how to understand what Jesus is doing now, it’s the present session of Christ where He’s functioning not as King but as High Priest after the order of Melchizedek. That’s the proper understanding of what Jesus is doing, not confusing it with the Davidic reign which is what progressive dispensationalism is doing. “Sitting at the right hand of God for a session in heaven “until”, a very important verse, “until He begins His earthly reign over His enemies from “Zion” in Jerusalem.” [Michael J. Vlach, Premillennialism: Why There Must Be a Future Earthly Kingdom of Jesus (Los Angeles, CA: Theological Studies, 2015), 99-101.]
In reference to Psalm 110:1, the author of Hebrews says that Jesus is “waiting” at the right hand of the Father (see Hebrews 10:12–13). When the heavenly session from the Father’s throne is over, God installs His Messiah on earth to reign over it from Jerusalem. From our current historical perspective, Jesus is currently at the right hand of God the Father but this will be followed by a reign upon the earth. Thus, Jesus “must” reign from earth because Psalm 110 says this must happen. . .. Jesus the Son and Messiah must have a sustained reign in” watch this, “in the realm where the first Adam” what? “failed.” [Michael J. Vlach, Premillennialism: Why There Must Be a Future Earthly Kingdom of Jesus (Los Angeles, CA: Theological Studies, 2015), 99-101.]
That’s Psalm 8, that’s what Psalm 8 is talking about. Jesus has to succeed where the first Adam failed. The first Adam failed where? Up on Mars somewhere? No, on this earth! And so that’s why there has to be a point in human history where what was lost gets restored. Do you follow that?
These Psalms we kind of just rush through them but these Psalms are just absolutely rich particularly Psalm 8, in communicating that point. With verse 27 Paul quotes Psalm 8, where “He has put all things in subjection under His feet.” [1 Corinthians 15:27, “For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, “All things are put in subjection,” it is evident that He is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him.’” Psalm 8:10, “You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet.” ]
The use of Psalm 8 is further evidence that Paul is thinking of a future earthly reign of Jesus. Psalm 8 explains and expands upon Genesis 1:26-28 which is a description of what our forbearers had before sin entered the picture. [Genesis 1:26-28, “Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  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.”]
And it’s true that God created man to rule successfully over the earth. The last Adam, Jesus, must succeed from and over the realm where the first Adam failed, the earth. The last Adam’s destiny is not to rule from heaven in a spiritual kingdom. He is to rule from and over the earth just like the first Adam was supposed to do. But unlike Adam Jesus will succeed; that’s what Psalm 8 is about.
[Psalm 8, “O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth, who have displayed Your splendor above the heavens!  From the mouth of infants and nursing babes You have established strength because of Your adversaries, to make the enemy and the revengeful cease.  When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained;  What is man that You take thought of him, and the son of man that You care for him?  Yet You have made him a little lower than God, and You crown him with glory and majesty!  You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet,  All sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,  The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea, whatever passes through the paths of the seas.  O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth!”]
Those who place Jesus’ kingdom reign in this age from heaven over the spiritual kingdom,” this is what Craig Blaising is doing, “are not giving justice to an important part of God’s kingdom program—which is for man to reign over the earth as God originally tasked him to do. Jesus as the ultimate Man and representative of mankind will fulfill this task. A spiritual reign from heaven does not complete what God requires in Genesis 1:26–28 and Psalm 8. God expects a successful reign over the earth and Jesus the Son will accomplish this task. Then He will hand the kingdom over to the Father.” [Michael J. Vlach, Premillennialism: Why There Must Be a Future Earthly Kingdom of Jesus (Los Angeles, CA: Theological Studies, 2015), 99-101.]
Then what will happen? Look at the last sentence, after a thousand years, now it doesn’t say a thousand years in 1 Corinthians 15, I get the thousand year figure from Revelation 20, After that successful reign which the Book of Revelation tells us will last a thousand years in which Psalm 8 and Psalm 110 will be literally fulfilled, once Jesus succeeds then the last Adam succeeds where the first Adam failed. Then He’s going to take His kingdom at the end and turn it over to who? God the Father, and the Son’s kingdom will become the Father’s kingdom, the millennial kingdom will merge into the eternal state. Revelation 20 will become Revelation 21 and22 and then death will become what? A thing of the past.
So, what is the problem with this idea that Jesus is reigning today from verse 25 and verse 27 of 1 Corinthians 15? [1 Corinthians 15:25, “For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.”  For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET.”] A, it ignores the concept of the passage because the prior verses tell you when the reign starts. Number two, it’s taking the Psalms that will be fulfilled in Christ’s millennial reign and twisting them beyond their original meaning, because those Psalms are very clear that they will be fulfilled on the earth And then there’s one other third thing that the Craig Blaising interpretation is doing, and let me give you this one very quickly, it’s ignoring the rest of the book because the rest of the book, when it talks about the kingdom always puts it in the what? Not the present tense but what? The future.
This is something to understand even if your mind is numb and you don’t really understand what I’m talking with the kingdom at least take away this principle from tonight: If you come up with an interpretation of something in the Bible, a verse, or a chapter and that interpretation is out of harmony with the rest of the book, if that interpretation is out of harmony with what the rest of the book reveals on a certain topic then you might want to ask the Lord if you’ve got the right interpretation because the Bible, particularly within the same book, everything has to internally correlate with each other because God can’t lie.
So many times, in my Christian life, I’ve come up with an interpretation of something that I can’t find any other Scriptural support for it when the Scripture comments on that same issue. And I have to be humble as a Bible reader and say well, you know, maybe I don’t have this right, and go back to prayer and humble study and you ask the Lord for correction because you see, the Bible is inerrant. My interpretations of it are not necessarily inerrant because I’m just a fallen creature like everybody else and I can make mistakes.
So we are always in this process of growth that we’re in, this process of progressive sanctification, always having to go back to the Word and the Lord is constantly adjusting our eyesight, our vision. It’s like going to the optometrist or ophthalmologist, whatever they call them where they have you look at that chart, can you see the E, usually you can see the E because it’s the big thing at the top of the chart, and they go down, can you see this, can you see that, and you get down to about the fourth row which you used to be able to look at and you can’t see the fourth row any more so they take your prescription and they start to adjust it. That’s kind of the process that we’re all in with progressive sanctification. We’re always having our views refined on things because the Bible is inerrant but my interpretation of it may not necessarily be right. So, if I’ve got a view of something that doesn’t fit with the rest of the book then that’s kind of a clue that I need a new prescription, right?
So the third problem with what Blaising is doing here is he’s ignoring (in my opinion) everything the rest of 1 Corinthians reveals about the coming kingdom. Go back to 1 Corinthians 4:5, chapter 4 comes before chapter 15, right? So far so good? So whatever I’m doing with chapter 15 has to line up with chapter 4. So what does chapter 4 reveal about the kingdom? Paul says, “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” [1 Corinthians 4:5]
That’s talking about a future coming of Christ where He’s going to disclose the motives of people’s hearts. Is that taking place right now? What do you think? That’s taking place in the future; that’s talking about something that’s going to take place in the future kingdom and it’s very clear that that’s not going to happen. Look at verse 5, “until the Lord” what? “comes.”
Now notice what the Corinthians were doing. Paul sarcastically says to them in verse 8, “You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and indeed, I wish that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you.” You know, us lowly apostles. They were basically acting like kingdom now theologians, the Corinthians, acting like they were already reigning, acting like they were already in the kingdom, acting like they were already rich. And what does Paul do when they begin to talk that way? He sarcastically rebukes them because it’s quite obvious Paul says that you’re not in the kingdom, the kingdom is future.
And then we go to chapter 6 of 1 Corinthians, now chapter 6 comes before chapter 15, right. Do you follow what I’m doing here? Is the Bible study method a logical principle? I’m not just going to 1 Corinthians 15 and coming up with some interpretation, I’m making sure that interpretation of the kingdom is in harmony with what earlier chapters of the same book, by the same author, reveal about the kingdom.
What does Paul say about the kingdom in 1 Corinthians 6:2, “Or do you now 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” what’s the next word? “will” future, right, “will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?” Paul says you can’t figure out little squabbles amongst yourselves, don’t you know who you are? Don’t you know who your identity is? Don’t you know that we will judge the angels? Now are we judging angels today? Has anybody judged an angel this week? [Laughter] I mean, this is obviously something future.
Michael Vlach again says, “As shown the grammar of 1 Corinthians 15:20-28 indicates a future reign of Jesus after His second coming to the earth. Yet the context of 1 Corinthians also strengthens this understanding. Paul viewed the kingdom reign as future in 1 Corinthians 4 and 1 Corinthians 6.” That’s what I just showed you. “With 1 Corinthians 4:8 he chided the Corinthians for thinking they were already reigning when they were not. There Paul said “I wish that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you”. And in 1 Corinthian 6:2–3 he stated that the kingdom reign of the saints involves judging angels, something that clearly was not happening in the present. So even before we arrive at 1 Corinthians 15 Paul already indicated that the kingdom is future.” [Michael J. Vlach, Premillennialism: Why There Must Be a Future Earthly Kingdom of Jesus (Los Angeles, CA: Theological Studies, 2015), 103.]
Now if I’m coming up with an interpretation of verse 25 and verse 27 that says His reign is now that’s out of harmony with what chapter 6 says and chapter 4 says, then it’s time to rethink my interpretation of those verses. That’s Michael Vlach’s point.
“As 1 Corinthians 4:8 and 6:2–3 reveal, a close connection exists between the kingdom reign of Messiah and the reign of those who belong to Messiah. So if Paul clearly places the kingdom reign of the saints in the future (which he does) in 1 Corinthians 4:8 and 1 Corinthians 6:2–3, this makes it likely that the kingdom of the Son described in 1 Corinthians 15:20–28 is future as well. What Paul revealed earlier in 1 Corinthians helps inform what he is claiming later. Hence, both grammar and context indicate a futuristic understanding of Jesus’ reign in 1 Corinthians 15.” [Michael J. Vlach, Premillennialism: Why There Must Be a Future Earthly Kingdom of Jesus (Los Angeles, CA: Theological Studies, 2015), 103.]
When you go to 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 it says, “Or do you not know that the unrighteous” what’s the next word, “will,” future right, “not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,  nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers,” what’s the next word, “will inherit the kingdom of God.” What he’s saying there is don’t act like unbelievers because the unbelievers aren’t getting in. In so teaching he’s putting the kingdom in the future.
How about verse 50 of 1 Corinthians 15. “Now I say this, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” See, this is why we need to be changed; “we will not all sleep, but we will be changed.” [1 Corinthians 15:51, “Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed.”] And I think that should be on our nursery wall of the church. We will not all sleep but we will be changed. See the young mothers here in the front got the joke, everybody else is… is it 8:00 yet? Laughter.
So very clearly, I have to have a resurrected body before I enter the kingdom. Now am I in a resurrected body now? You guys have really hurt my feelings, I don’t look resurrected to you? Maybe in my 20’s I did. Well, turnabout is fair play, you guys don’t look all that resurrected either. So the reality of the situation is if I have to have a resurrected body to enter the kingdom and I’m not in a resurrected body yet then the kingdom is future. See, you’re going to come up with a present kingdom in verse 25 and verse 27, yet just a few verses later, verse 50 it talks about a future kingdom? That’s such a contradictory interpretation of the Bible.
And so what I’m trying to show you is how to look at things in context but also in terms of the big picture of the book. Here’s one of the mistakes people make when they interpret the Bible: they get very myopic, and they micromanage Greek words to such a point that they study the names on the leaves of the trees so intently that they forget what the forest looks like. Has that ever happened to anybody? I know I’ve been that way, I get so into some little detail that I forget the big picture.
Are the details important? Yes! Should you micromanage Greek words? Yes! We believe in verbal plenary inspiration where the Bible is inspired to the smallest stroke of the pen. You can do all of that but at the same time don’t lose sight of the forest. Do you follow? So even if you don’t even get what I’m talking about here about the kingdom at least you’re picking up a basic Bible study method. You have to become a student of the details that you’re working with but as you’re working in those details you have to sort of be able to step back and see the big picture of something. And what you’ll discover is people are either big picture people or they’re little detail people when I think God is calling us to be both. Amen! And that’s how you protect yourself from coming up with aberrant unbiblical ideas.
So, verse 25 and verse 27 are being used today to teach that Jesus is now reigning. Why is that a problem? It ignores the parameters of Christ’s reign, which are defined a few verses later in the immediate context. That’s the first problem. In other words, verses 23 and 24 give you the parameters of the reign of Christ as explained in verse 25 and verse 27.
Craig Blaising is just looking at verse 25 and 27, he’s not paying attention to verse23 and 24 which gives the parameters of the reign, which is after Jesus returns.
Number 2, he’s taking the verses that Paul uses to describe Christ’s reign, two Psalms, both deal with the earthly reign of Christ, and he’s twisting those psalms beyond what they’re saying, and he’s making it sound like those psalms can rally be understood as some kind of distant reign of Jesus from heaven when as we’ve tried to explain both of those psalms are dealing with a direct reign of Jesus on the earth.
And then number 3, Craig Blaising is not paying attention to the whole context of 1 Corinthians in which every time that book talks about the kingdom it always places it where? Future! And in fact, Paul dogpiles on the Corinthians in chapter 4 and verse 8 for thinking that they’re in the kingdom. [1 Corinthians 4:8, “You are already filled, you have already become rich, you have become kings without us; and indeed, I wish that you had become kings so that we also might reign with you.”] If Paul is going to get on their case for thinking they’re in the kingdom in verse 8 why would I come up with an interpretation of 1 Corinthians 15:25 and verse 27 which says we’re in the kingdom now?
Anyway, those are the three major problems with what they’re doing with 1 Corinthians 15
So next week or the next time I’m with you Romans 14:17 we’ll be looking at which says, “for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” Kingdom now theologians love that verse because it uses the present tense “is” making it seem like the kingdom is here and then after all, the kingdom is not eating or drinking, so all you people that think there’s going to be some kind of earthly reign, forget all that, it’s all spiritual. It’s all happening in your heart right now. And when you look at that verse it kind of reads that way, doesn’t it? But a text without a context is a proof text or a pretext to support a pre-existing theology. And so we’ll deal with that next time.