The Believers’ Two Reigns
All the believers will
reign with Christ in
eternity, but what
about the Millennium?
Revelation 22:5 tells us:
They shall reign forever and ever.
The “they” here is us; this verse is speaking of the eternal destiny of all the believers in Christ. What a glorious future we have; praise the Lord! Regardless of our circumstances today or how discouraged we may be now, this should be a real encouragement for all of us: one day, we shall reign with Christ!
Of course, this past week the queen of England passed away, a truly historic event. Elizabeth seems to have been a dear sister in the Lord, and as many have remarked, she was also the longest-serving monarch in the history of England, reigning for an incredible 70 years.
Eventually, however, even the lowliest believer in Christ will reign with the Lord, not for 70 years, but for all eternity! And we will not be arrayed in earthly silver and gold and jewels, which, impressive as they are today, must soon pass away; rather, we shall be arrayed with the infinitely greater splendor of the eternal life; how much greater will our glory be than that of any earthly monarch!
Yet, the book of Revelation also tells us of another period during which the believers will reign:
And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.
— Revelation 20:4
The reigning of the believers mentioned previously will be “forever and ever,” but the reigning mentioned here will be for “a thousand years.” So, this refers to reigning with Christ during the 1,000 years of the Millennium, the final age before eternity begins.
And unlike our eternal reigning with Christ, this reign of 1,000 years will not be for all the believers in Christ, but only for the overcomers. This is according to the Lord’s promise earlier in Revelation to the overcomers in Laodicea:
“To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”
— Revelation 3:21
So, we will not reign with Christ for the thousand years based simply on our initial believing in Him, but because we overcome. The Lord explained this in another promise to the overcomers by saying that the one who “keeps His works until the end” shall shepherd the nations with “a rod of iron” (Rev. 2:26-27).
Thus, an overcomer is one who “keeps His works until the end.” Such ones will reign with Christ for the 1,000 years, while those who do not overcome will lose that reward. But, they will still reign with the Lord after that, in eternity. (For more on this topic, seeon the parable of the minas in Luke 19.)
The Lord also promised thrones to His twelve apostles (with Judas later being replaced by Matthias) “in the regeneration,” because they had left all for His sake:
Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?”
Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
— Matthew 19:27-28 ; cf. Luke 22:29-30
The Apostle Paul also sought the reward of reigning with Christ during the Millennium. In fact, he feared he might still be “disqualified” from receiving this reward, even after faithfully serving the Lord for many years:
Everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.
— 1 Corinthians 9:25-27
In the last century G. H. Pember stated it this way:
[The Lord] Himself has warned us to hold fast that which we have, that no one take our crown (Rev. 3:11). For while the life is a free and inalienable gift, when once bestowed, the crown is conditional, and may be lost. We have no promise that we shall reign with Christ [during the Millennium] if we merely believe on Him; but only if we suffer, or endure, with Him.
— Great Prophecies, Volume 2, pages vi-vii; 1909
This prospect of gaining the reward and reigning with Christ during the 1,000 years, as well as the possibility of losing that reward, should be a strong incentive and warning to the believers in Christ today, as it was to the early apostles, for us to forsake all to follow Christ. For,
If we endure,
We shall also reign with Him.
If we deny Him,
He also will deny us.
— 2 Timothy 2:12
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— 10 September 2022 —