The Everlasting Reign
“Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father … . For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet” (vv. 24–25).- 1 Corinthians 15:20–28
Hezekiah and the other righteous kings of Israel and Judah were imperfect men, and they could not guarantee the monarchy in Israel would be established forever. Their failure to trust God perfectly (2 Kings 20:12–19), along with the idolatry of the more wicked kings, reveals the Lord’s justice in giving His people to Babylon and removing the glory David’s throne once enjoyed (chap. 24–25).
Yet those who understood God’s promises knew the monarchy would not suffer defeat forever. Faithful children of Israel like Mary, Zechariah, Simeon, and Anna understood in the first century that there was to be a day when the Davidic monarchy would be restored and a new king would sit at God’s right hand (Luke 1:46–56, 67–80; 2:22–38). This king, of course, is Christ Jesus who ascended into heaven after His resurrection to take His place on David’s throne (Acts 2:29–33). Paul describes the reign of our great King in 1 Corinthians 15.
Christ’s resurrection is the starting point for this reign (v. 20), for without conquering death Jesus could not sit on David’s throne. Describing the Savior’s resurrection as a first fruits of the dead, Paul transforms Jewish expectations of the resurrection within a thoroughly biblical framework. Based on passages like Daniel 12:1–2, first-century Jews expected all people to be resurrected at once, but that is not how God has worked out His plan. He has graciously sent His Son at the right time, raising Him as a pledge that His people will inherit life everlasting in resurrected bodies at the last day. Just as the Jewish offering of the first fruits confirmed the harvest to come (Lev. 23:9–14), so too does the resurrection of Jesus confirm the resurrection of all the dead (1 Cor. 15:21–23).
King Jesus, the last monarch to sit on David’s throne, has begun His reign — an invisible reign until all His enemies are put under His feet (vv. 24–28). His return will then make His reign visible as His people rejoice. Isaac Watts captures something of this joy in his hymn “Jesus Shall Reign”: “Blessings abound where’er he reigns; the pris’ner leaps to lose his chains, the weary find eternal rest, and all the sons of want are blest.” May we look forward with great eagerness to that final day when our Savior’s gracious rule will be visible to all people.
Even as the world seems to get darker and darker we can be sure of one thing — that Jesus is on His throne and nothing is happening apart from His kingly authority. His sovereign reign allows us to trust Him in even the most difficult circumstances of life and gives us hope that our troubles are not ultimately in vain. Let us be encouraged by these words and press on, confident in the sovereign reign of the Savior.
Passages for Further Study