Kingdom of Christ Now — [1 Corinthians 15]

 

All Scriptures are taken from the 1901 American Standard Version unless otherwise noted.

 

Introduction

One of the most important passages of Scripture in determining whether or not there is an end of time millennial kingdom, is 1 Corinthians 15. In this chapter, Paul not only reveals what the Kingdom of Christ is, but also the timing of it. And as you’ll see, what he teaches here doesn’t allow for the type of kingdom that Premillennialism teaches.

 

1 Corinthians 15 is known as the “Resurrection Chapter” of the Bible. Paul provides us with more detail about the Resurrection than anywhere else in God’s Word. Within this chapter there are two passages that are key to our study at hand:

 

1 Corinthians 15:21-26

21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; then they that are Christ’s, at his coming. 24 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. 25 For he must reign, till he hath put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be abolished is death.

 

23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; then they that are Christ’s, at his coming.

 

Here Paul reveals the timing of the Resurrection, that we will be raised “at His coming,” when He returns in “great power and glory” (Mark 13:26) to judge the world and to receive His people.

 

24 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.

 

Now Paul reveals the timing of His coming: in “the end, when he shall deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father.” More specifically still: when he shall have abolished all rule and all authority and power.”

 

25 For he must reign, till he hath put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be abolished is death.

 

In these two verses Paul further reveals that the timing of Christ’s coming is when He puts all his enemies under His feet, and when He destroys “death.” Note also, that Christ reigns up until that time. That is, He rules upon His throne in His Kingdom during, and up until the time all is accomplished mentioned in all of these verses.

However, at this point, the nature of Christ’s Kingdom is still not entirely clear. In order to determine that, we must go to our next passage within this chapter:

 

1 Corinthians 15:50-54

50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We all shall not sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

 

50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

 

Here Paul mentions the “kingdom of God,” and that “flesh and blood cannot inherit” this kingdom. Which kingdom is he talking about? First of all, it can’t be the spiritual Kingdom of God, because we as Christians are already in that kingdom, which we entered upon our faith in Christ. He has to be referring to a future kingdom that we will enter into — which occurs at the time of our resurrection.

Furthermore, Paul can’t be talking about a “1000 kingdom” of this present earth, because Paul says that “flesh and blood cannot inherit” this kingdom. The millennial kingdom of Premillennialism has citizens who are of “flesh and blood.” In other words, human beings such as you and I are today.

This kingdom will be identified shortly as we tie in the first passage we looked at with this one.

 

51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We all shall not sleep, but we shall all be changed,

 

In reference to the Resurrection, Paul says that “we all shall not sleep.” Meaning, at the time of the Resurrection, there will be people who have not died. But whether we are dead or alive at this time, “we shall all be changed.” We shall all be given a glorious, immortal body.

 

52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.

 

When the Resurrection-trumpet sounds, those who are dead will be raised first.

 

54 But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

 

Then immediately following, those who are still alive “will be changed” into their glorious bodies, and as 1 Thessalonians 4 reveals, they will be raised up, or caught up, to meet the Lord in the air:

 

(1 Thes 4:16-17) – 16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven, with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first; 17 then we that are alive, that are left, shall together with them be caught up in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

 

What we have described here is both the Resurrection and what is known as the Rapture. Those who are dead will be resurrected, and those who are still alive will be changed and Raptured. Both occur at this same event. In other words, the Rapture is part of the Resurrection, not a separate event.

Now we need to tie all this together to determine which kingdom Paul is talking about in verse 50, and where this kingdom fits within the plan of God. The key to this is the last part of verse 54:

 

“…..then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.”

 

Before we discuss this, we need to tie this into verses 25 and 26:

 

25 For he must reign, till he hath put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy that shall be abolished is death.

 

Paul reveals that Jesus will reign in His kingdom up until the time that all of His enemies are destroyed, which includes “death.” When is death destroyed? It’s at the Resurrection. There is no more death after the Resurrection. The Resurrection ends all sin and death.

When is the Resurrection? It’s at the time of Christ’s return, “at His coming” (vs. 23).

What else happens at the time of Christ’s return? He delivers up His Kingdom to His Father. The Kingdom of Christ of verse 24 leads into the Kingdom of God of verse 50.

Which kingdom is that? Since the Resurrection happens at that time, and since death is destroyed at that time, the Kingdom of God of verse 50 has to be the Eternal Kingdom of the New Heaven and New Earth of Rev 21 & 22 (Rev 21:1-3), when the New Jerusalem comes down from Heaven (symbolic of Heaven merging with the New Earth).

 

What other event occurs when death is destroyed? It’s the Judgment:

 

(Rev 20:14-15) – 14 And death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, even the lake of fire. 15 And if any was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire. [Please read Rev 20:11-15]

 

The Great White Throne Judgment leads right into the Eternal Kingdom described in the very next chapter of Revelation.

Follow me on this. If Jesus must reign in His kingdom up to the time that death has been destroyed, and if that occurs at the time of the Resurrection (both saved and unsaved) and the Judgement, and all of His enemies have been destroyed at that time, and if we go directly into the Eternal Kingdom at that time, then CHRIST MUST BE RULING NOW.

 

Conclusion

What Paul reveals in this chapter leaves absolutely no room for a 1000 year kingdom on this present earth. It simply does not allow for it.

When one takes an honest, unbiased look at what Paul teaches in this chapter, being faithful to the proper rules of interpretation, I don’t believe there’s any other reasonable conclusion one can possibly come to.

The Kingdom of Christ is NOW. Therefore, the Kingdom of Christ has to be His Church, which is a spiritual kingdom (Col 1:13; Rev 1:6; Rev 1:9; Rev 5:10), and He is ruling His people upon His throne at the right hand of His Father NOW, as the following Scriptures plainly state:

 

(Lu 22:69) – 69 But from henceforth shall the Son of man be seated at the right hand of the power of God.

(Eph 1:20-23) – 20 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. (ESV)

(Col 2:9-10,15) – 9 For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority…….15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him. (ESV)

(Acts 2:34-35) – 34 For David ascended not into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, 35 Till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet.”

(He 1:13) – 13 But of which of the angels hath he said at any time, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I make thine enemies the footstool of thy feet?”

(He 12:2) – 2 looking unto Jesus the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising shame, and hath sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

(1 Pe 3:22) – 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him. (ESV)

 

Summary

To summarize, what Paul reveals to us here in this chapter is that Jesus is on His throne right now, ruling in His kingdom the Church, which is a spiritual kingdom – and that He will return at the end of that reign to put an end to all rule and authority, to destroy all of His enemies (including death), to resurrect/rapture His people (and the unsaved), to judge mankind at the Great White Throne Judgment, and to deliver His kingdom to the Father.

It’s at that time that we are ushered into the Eternal Kingdom of the “New Heaven and New Earth and the New Jerusalem” (Rev 21:1-3; 2 Pe 1:11), and the unsaved into everlasting punishment (Rev 20:14-15). All these events happen at the same time. Or rather, they are different components of the same event. All of God’s plan for mankind culminates at the return of Christ. It’s the return of Christ that brings everything together and to a final end — which leads to our new beginning.

 

The premillennial interpretation of end time events is very confused:

 

More than one resurrection (before and after the “millennial kingdom”); more than one judgment (before and after the “millennial kingdom”); sin and death still exists in an earthly kingdom, which is still this current world (how can that truly be the Kingdom of Christ?); where we revert back to animal sacrifices (!!!), reverting back to a physical temple (which the spiritual temple, the Church, replaced); where glorified saints (in their resurrected bodies) dwell with sinners of “flesh and blood” (saved and unsaved); where Christ leaves His glorious throne in Heaven to sit upon an earthly throne and rules over an earth where all people of every kind dwell together (glorified saints, believing sinners, unbelieving sinners) — even though Jesus said His Kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36); where people are still dying (where do believers go if all the glorified saints are on earth?!).

As one can see, Premillennialism is an interpretation that is at great odds with what Paul reveals in this chapter, and throughout the New Testament. Too many questions without adequate answers.

To read more about premillennial confusion, I recommend reading the following article by Sam Storms:

 

Problems With Premillennialism

 

I also recommend San Storms book, “Kingdom Come.” He does a great job of exposing the severe weaknesses of Premillennialism. The problems of Premillennialism are monumental. His chapter on this subject is worth the price of the book alone. That chapter and the above article by themselves, should convince anyone that the biblical conflicts of Premillennialism are just too great to overcome…..IMHO.