3.1.6 - Revelation 1:6 made us kings and priests
In both NU and MT, the Greek has appointed us a kingdom (singular), priests to God. A similar difference occurs in Revelation 5:10+. The singular form (a kingdom) would be in keeping with the original calling of Israel to be “a kingdom of priests” (Ex. 19:6). Some have noted the Jewish audience of Peter’s epistle and rightly understood 1Peter 2:9 as being a reminder to his readers of the original calling of the Jews (Ex. 19:6). Yet in this book the concept is unmistakably broadened to include all those who trust in Christ, whether Jew or Gentile, from among every “tribe and tongue and people and nation” (Rev. 5:10+). Our priesthood is made possible by our “great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God” (Heb. 4:14), therefore we have complete and full access to the Father. “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16).Whether we are to be “kings and priests” or “a kingdom [of] priests,” it is clear that believers will co-rule with Christ during His coming earthly reign (Rev. 20:4-6+). This future reign will not come to pass until after Antichrist has his time on the world stage and a judgment is made in favor of the saints (Dan. 7:18+, 25-27+).1 Both now and in the future, our function is primarily priestly. That is, we are to minister to God. Here we run into an extremely important distinction which has not been adequately appreciated among many who lead God’s people. Our primary responsibility is to minister to God and not to men. Our focus is to be God-ward rather than man-ward. We are to “offer up spiritual sacrifices to God through Jesus Christ” (1Pe. 2:5). As we take care to minister to God, He will minister to men through us.The focus of our ministry is the New Covenant (2Cor. 3:6), not the Law of Moses, and is characterized by a series of contrasts and seeming contradictions (2Cor. 6:4-10). Our lives should evidence a consistency of living whether with the people of God or with unbelievers: “God intends the eventual abolition of all distinctions between holy and profane, sanctified and common (Zec. 14:20-21).”2 In one sense, there has been and will only ever be a single “kingdom of God.” This is His universal dominion over His entire creation. Yet, in another sense, God has chosen to use men as mediators of His rule during periods of history.3 The progression of the kingdom of God is revealed in stages:
The progression of the “kingdom of God” is gradually revealed. What is this kingdom in principle if it is not the sphere where God reigns? In the Scriptures we can trace for it seven distinct steps: 1. Paradise . . . (Gen. 1:31) 2. The theocracy of Israel . . . 3. The kingdom announced by the prophets . . . (1S. 7:8; Isa. 11:1-16) 4. The kingdom offered and rejected in the gospels . . . (Mat. 4:17; Luke 17:21; Luke 10:9-11) 5. The kingdom hidden in the heart . . . (John 3:3-5; Col. 1:13) 6. The thousand year reign . . . (Rev. 20:1-10+) 7. The eternal kingdom in heaven . . . (2Ti. 4:18; 2Pe. 1:10-11).4
Our rule is not contingent upon our status in the world, but upon our position in Christ:
Let men despise and contemn religion as they may, there is empire connecting with lowly discipleship, royalty with penitence, and prayers, and sublime priesthood with piety. Fishermen and taxgatherers, by listening to Jesus, presently find themselves in apostolic thrones, and ministering as priests and rulers of a dispensation, wide as the world, and lasting as time. Moses, by his faith, rises from Jethro’s sheepfold to be the prince of Israel; and Daniel, from the den of condemnation and death, to the honour and authority of empire; and Luther, from his cell, to dictate to kings and rule the ages. There is not a believer, however obscure or humble, who may not rejoice in princely blood, who does not already wield a power which the potencies of hell cannot withstand, and who is not on the way to possess eternal priesthood and dominion.5
to Him be glory and dominion
The nearest antecedent is the Son to which glory and dominion are given, literally into the ages of the ages (εἰς τοὺς αἰῶνας τῶν αἰώνων [eis tous aiōnas tōn aiōnōn] ). Yet elsewhere it is said that God will not share His glory with another (Isa. 48:11). Clearly, Jesus is God!
1 Israel will have a unique place as “priests of the Lord” (Isa. 61:5-6) during the Millennial Kingdom.
2 Richard Chenevix Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1861), Rev. 1:6.
3 For more on this topic, see [Alva J. McClain, The Greatness Of The Kingdom (Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books, 1959)] and [George H. N. Peters, The Theocratic Kingdom (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 1978, 1884)].
4 Rene Pache, The Inspiration & Authority of Scripture (Salem, WI: Sheffield Publishing Company, 1969), 106.
5 J. A. Seiss, The Apocalypse: Lectures on the Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1966), 29.
Copyright © 2004-2013 by Tony Garland
(Content generated on Sun Mar 3 18:53:33 2013)