Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the 1901 American Standard Version.
By this time, if you’ve been following along in this series, you should have little doubt that the New Testament does not teach that there will be an earthly millennial kingdom prior to the Eternal Kingdom of Revelation 21 & 22. This passage in Romans 8 reveals the same.
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward. 19 For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to vanity, not of its own will, but by reason of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. 23 And not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for our adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward.
ESV — 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
“the glory that is to be revealed to us.”
As verse 23 confirms, Paul primarily has in view the glorification of our bodies, that is, our Resurrection. However, as we shall see, Paul also has the glorification of all creation in mind, where all creation is set free from corruption.
Paul’s point is, whatever we may be suffering in the present, will be long past someday. One day we’ll receive our glorified bodies and dwell in the Eternal Kingdom of the New Heaven and New Earth (Rev 21:1-2).
19 For the earnest expectation of the creation waiteth for the revealing of the sons of God.
What does creation wait for? It waits for the “revealing of the sons of God.” When does that take place? At the return of Christ, when we’re resurrected and Jesus separates believers from unbelievers at the Judgment. What also happens at that time? We go into the Eternal Kingdom of the New Heaven and New Earth. In other words, those who belong to God will be revealed as such at that time.
But why does creation wait for this time of “revealing?” Because at that time all of creation itself will experience its own “glorification” or renewal. As Revelation 20:1-2 and 2 Peter 3:7-13 tells us, all of creation will be renewed, without the effects of sin.
When sin came into the world, through Adam and Eve, sin affected not only humans, but all of creation. Sin corrupted not only humanity, but all of God’s creation. Therefore, just as humanity and the rest of creation was corrupted together, we shall we be renewed together, at the same time, as verse 21 and 22 confirms:
21 that the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the liberty of the glory of the children of God.
NLT — 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.
Paul links the freedom from corruption of creation to the freedom from corruption (vs. 23) of the children of God. They experience their “glorious freedom” together.
22 For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now.
All of creation, which includes mankind, “groans and travails” in pain together.
23 And not only so, but ourselves also, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for our adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
“But ourselves also,” because humanity is a part of creation. As believers, who “have the first-fruits of the Spirit,” we groan and wait for the “redemption of our bodies” (the Resurrection), just as the rest of creation awaits their own renewal.
The corruption of creation and the corruption of humanity (through sin) is inseparably linked. Likewise, the renewal (glorification) of our bodies and the renewal of creation is also inseparably linked. We groan together and we wait for our renewal together.
The glorification of our bodies (resurrection) occurs at the time of Christ’s return, as Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 15:
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.
That the resurrection of our bodies and the renewing of creation take place at the same time, seems obvious. I don’t know how one can reasonably come to any other conclusion. Both occur at the time of Christ’s return.
That being true, how then, can there be a millennial kingdom prior to the Eternal Kingdom of the New Heaven and New Earth (the renewal of creation) of Revelation 21:1-2?:
1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away; and the sea is no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband.
Note that this occurs immediately following The Judgment (Rev 20:11-15), which, also occurs at the time of Christ’s return.
Premillennialists place a 1000 year kingdom between the return of Christ and the Eternal Kingdom. But how can that be when all of creation will be renewed at the time of Christ’s coming? Which includes the Resurrection and the Judgment. The millennial kingdom that premillennialists teach, is a kingdom of this present earth, full of people of this present age – still under the effects of sin, still in corruption. It simply doesn’t fit. Everything is renewed at the time of Christ’s return.
Throughout this series, there hasn’t been even the hint of a millennial kingdom that would take place prior to the Eternal Kingdom. None of the passages we’ve looked at even allow for one.