by Shawn Brasseaux
The short answer is that all saints will reign with Christ during the 1000 years. However, as we will hopefully be able to demonstrate, they will not all reign with Him in the same place.
SOME FOUNDATIONAL MATERIAL
Genesis 1:1 says, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Furthermore, God created governments in the heaven and in the earth. Read Colossians 1:16 KJV: “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:” The “all things” are offices of governments: all of these governments are to bring Jesus Christ glory and honor.
God the Father has one “eternal purpose”—to make His Son Jesus Christ the Head/Ruler of these earthly and heavenly governments (Ephesians 1:9,10; Philippians 2:9-11). Colossians 1:18,19 KJV say: “that in all things he [Jesus Christ] might have the preeminence [leadership, headship]. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;” The whole purpose of creation was God the Father wanted to make His Son Jesus Christ the possessor and ruler of heaven and earth. Genesis 14:19 uses the term “the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth:”
Unfortunately, Lucifer (Satan) wanted to “be like the most High” (Isaiah 14:14). Satan wanted to be the “most High God” of Genesis 14:19. He wanted to usurp God’s authority in heaven and in earth. Today, Satan has polluted and usurped both realms, the heaven (Ephesians 6:12) and the earth (2 Corinthians 4:4). God must restore the heaven and the earth (and their governments) to the Headship of Christ (overthrowing Satan’s power in both realms).
Colossians 1:20 KJV says: “And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” Again, the words “all things” refer to verse 16—“thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers.” That is, offices of governments.
Through Christ’s finished crosswork on Calvary, God will restore the governments of the heaven and the earth to Himself. God will use two agencies to restore His authority—the nation Israel will establish God’s authority in the earth, and we the Church the Body of Christ will establish God’s authority in the heaven.
When we “rightly divide the word of truth,” we give to Israel what belongs to Israel. We only take the passages that apply to us (the Church the Body of Christ) in this the Dispensation of Grace. There are two operating programs in God’s Word, the prophetic program (Acts 3:21) and the mystery program (Romans 16:25,26). Obviously, there are two grand hopes: one for the prophetic program (Israel’s earthly kingdom) and one for the mystery program (our heavenly kingdom).
THE EARTHLY KINGDOM, ISRAEL’S HOPE
Okay, now we can answer the question: Who will reign with Christ during the 1000 years?
Throughout the Old Testament, a believer’s hope was to die and return to earth in a resurrected body in order to dwell in a literal, physical, visible, earthly kingdom and restore God’s authority in the earth. The oldest book in the Bible, Job, says in chapter 19: “25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: 26 And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God:”
No one had a hope of dying and going to heaven in the Old Testament. Instead, they hoped to return to earth to inherit an earthly kingdom with God ruling and reigning over them. So, from Genesis chapter 12 (Abraham, the father of Israel) to Acts chapter 9, the Bible focuses on God’s purpose and plan for restoring the earth: creating the nation Israel and making them “a kingdom of priests” in the earth (Exodus 19:5,6; Isaiah 61:6; Daniel 2:44; 1 Peter 2:9; Revelation 1:6; Revelation 5:10; et al.). This kingdom is the 1000-year kingdom (also known as “the millennial reign of Christ”). From these passages we see that believers in the Old Testament period will inherit the earthly 1000-year kingdom. But, that is only part of the answer to our question….
When we come to Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry, we learn that that 1000-year kingdom is still the issue. Consider Matthew 19:27,28 KJV: “Then answered Peter and said unto him, Behold, we have forsaken all, and followed thee; what shall we have therefore? And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
So, the twelve apostles will also inherit Israel’s kingdom. All believers of Christ’s earthly ministry will inherit Israel’s 1000-year kingdom too. Jesus said to His Jewish followers in His earthly ministry, “But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you. Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom” (Luke 12:31,32). There is more….
Revelation 20:4 provides further information about who will rule with Christ during the 1000-year kingdom in the earth: “And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”
This verse occurs right after the seven-year Tribulation period. Those who become believers during the Tribulation (not us, we have been raptured out before the seven years) will endure intense persecution. Some will die by beheading for rejecting the mark of the beast (a religious mark). Those believers of the Tribulation period will inherit the earthly 1000-year kingdom too (because the Tribulation period is part of the Old Testament timeline).
So, putting this all together, let us look at Matthew 25:34, which will occur just before the 1000-year kingdom is set up. “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:” (Matthew 25:34). Notice that God had planned that earthly kingdom “from the foundation of the world”—that earthly kingdom was God’s purpose ever since He put Adam on the earth. It was that kingdom He was forming with Israel through the Old Testament, the Four Gospels, and the early Acts period.
Who will be ruling and reigning with Christ during the 1000-year reign on earth? Every believer from the Old Testament, from Adam to the last person saved in Israel’s Tribulation. They will inherit Israel’s kingdom, and they will rule with Christ in the earth. This includes the twelve apostles, the believers of Christ’s earthly ministry, and all believers from the Tribulation period. This does NOT include us, members of the Church the Body of Christ, because we will not inherit Israel’s promise of the earthly kingdom.
BUT, THERE IS STILL MORE! We too (the Church the Body of Christ) will be ruling with Christ during that 1000-year period, just not on the earth!
THE HEAVENLY KINGDOM, OUR HOPE
From Genesis to Acts chapter 9, remember that the Bible focuses on God’s restoration of the earth. However, remember earlier that we discussed that Satan has polluted the governments of the earth and the heaven. The heaven needs to be restored.
Throughout the Old Testament, God spoke about using Israel to restore His authority in the earth. But, God never spoke about restoring the heaven until we come to the Apostle Paul’s salvation in Acts chapter 9. From Paul’s epistles we learn that God will use us, the Church the Body of Christ, to restore His authority in the heaven (2 Corinthians 5:1; Ephesians 2:6,7; Colossians 3:1-3; et al.).
We will not be on the earth during the 1000-year reign of Christ, but we will still reign with Him during that 1000-year period… in the heaven!
The glorified physical bodies we will receive at the rapture will equip us to live in the heaven (see 1 Corinthians 15:47-55; 2 Corinthians 5:1-8; Philippians 3:20,21). We will be reigning with Christ too, but we will be reigning in the heaven because we as members of the Body of Christ have a hope in heaven, not earth (2 Corinthians 5:1; Ephesians 1:3; Colossians 3:1-4; 2 Timothy 4:18; et al.).
So, considering all that, we understand the following:
- All saints of all time will be ruling with Christ during the 1000-year-reign, but they will be serving in two different realms/spheres. Israel will be on the earth and us the Church the Body of Christ in the heaven.
- ISRAEL ON THE EARTH—The nation Israel is God’s earthly people and they are promised an earthly hope / kingdom in the earth (Genesis 13:16; Genesis 17:8; Deuteronomy 4:38; 2 Samuel 7:23-25). Believing Israel—called the “little flock” in Luke 12:32—will inherit the earthly kingdom promised in the Old Testament. This includes all Old Testament believers, all believers of Christ’s earthly ministry, and all those believers from the seven-year Tribulation.
- BODY OF CHRIST IN THE HEAVEN—Us, the Church the Body of Christ, will inherit the heavenly kingdom. Recall that we (the Church the Body of Christ) are God’s heavenly people, promised a heavenly hope / kingdom in the heaven (2 Corinthians 5:1; Ephesians 1:3; Ephesians 2:6,7; Colossians 3:1-4; 2 Timothy 4:18). Just as Israel will reclaim the earth for God’s glory, overthrowing Satan’s power here, we as members of the Body of Christ will take over the heaven for God’s glory, overthrowing Satan’s power there! Ephesians 2:6,7 explain: “And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: that in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.”
Remember that we are not given Israel’s promises (the earthly kingdom). We as members of the Church the Body of Christ have a promise of our own—the heavenly kingdom!