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21 January 2019

Jesus Reigns Now

The Apostle Paul links the exaltation and enthronement of Jesus to his death and resurrection and does so consistently. Christ’s achieved the right to rule by his faithful obedience unto death. God vindicated his obedience by raising him from the dead, also exalting him to reign supreme over the Cosmos from the Divine Throne.
Already Jesus is implementing God’s kingdom and subjugating His enemies. This process continues until the end of the present age when Jesus arrives in glory and defeats the “last enemy,” death. That day will mean nothing less than resurrection from the dead and new creation.
      The sequence of events presented by Paul leaves no room for partial victories at Christ’s coming or any further interim stage after it. His arrival means nothing less than the culmination of all things.
Paul utilizes several messianic passages to portray the exaltation of Jesus, in particular, Psalms 110:1, “The declaration of Yahweh to my Lord, ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your foes your footstool” (cp. 1 Corinthians 15:24-28; Ephesians 1:22). He also echoes words from Daniel 7:13, Psalm 2:6-9 and Isaiah 45:23-25 (cp. Philippians 2:9-11).
The Old Testament promises expected the Messiah to begin his reign over the nations upon his arrival. Paul never refers to this expectation as a delayed promise; instead, he presents it as a present reality. Jesus has full authority now and therefore reigns over all powers and principalities, whether hostile or not (Colossians 1:12-20).
Paul describes how Jesus “humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, indeed, a crucified death.” God responded by highly exalting him, “giving him the name above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:8-11).
The exaltation of Christ is a present reality achieved through his past obedience (Isaiah 45:23-25). Jesus triumphed over the powers and principalities in his death and therefore now reigns at God’s right hand (Colossians 2:10-153:1).
Paul wrote to the church at Rome, “to this end Christ both died and rose, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living…As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God” (Romans 14:9-11). Once again, the apostle claims Christ’s present exaltation is based on his past obedient death.
God brought this about when He “raised Jesus from the dead and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the coming one; and he put all things under his feet…” (Ephesians 1:20-22). “Far above” means he already possesses the highest authority; his sovereignty is not limited to heaven or restricted on the earth.
Jesus reigns now (1 Corinthians 15:20-28). His sovereignty began with his resurrection and since then he has been subjugating all his enemies, just as promised in Psalm 110:1 (“he must reign until he has put all enemies under his feet”).
This reign continues until “the end” when he overthrows the final enemy, death. The consummation of this process coincides with the “arrival” of Jesus in glory. The final defeat of death results in the bodily resurrection of the righteous dead and the transformation of saints still alive at that time, as well as the New Creation (1 Corinthians 15:51-57Romans 8:19-23).
The sequence of events in 1 Corinthians 15:20-28 leaves no room for another interim stage after Christ’s arrival from heaven, a further period during which death and sin supposedly still occur.
In Paul’s understanding, Christ’s reign had not been postponed until some future event.  It began with his past exaltation to God’s right hand as a result of his faithful obedience unto death; His right to rule is based on his past death, not any yet future event.
Satanic and hostile forces remain active, but their power is curtailed; already they are subject to the universal authority of Jesus.

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