The reign of Jesus began with his exaltation to the messianic throne after his Death and Resurrection – Psalms 110:1.
The New Testament links the enthronement of Jesus to his death and resurrection, using key messianic texts from the Hebrew Bible. He achieved the authority to rule because of his faithful obedience unto death. God vindicated His Son by raising him from the dead and seating him “at His right hand,” where he now reigns supreme over all things.
Two passages from the Psalms figure prominently in the New Testament in describing his present reign:
- (Psalm 2:4-8) – “He that is sitting in the heavens will laugh, My Lord will mock at them. Then will he speak to them in his anger, and in his wrath confound them. Yet I have installed my king on Zion, my holy mountain. Let me tell of a decree, Yahweh has said to me: You are My son. I, this day, have begotten you. Ask of me and let me give nations as your inheritance and as your possession the ends of the earth” – (Hebrews 1:1-14, Revelation 1:4-6, 12:1-5).
- (Psalms 110:1) – “The declaration of Yahweh to my Lord: Sit at my right hand until I make your foes your footstool.”
The Psalmist foresaw the reign of the Messiah commencing upon his arrival before Yahweh and his enthronement, and this is how the New Testament applies these prophecies.
Jesus confirmed his status as the Messiah by alluding to the Psalm in his testimony to the high priest, which he combined with a passage from the book of Daniel:
- (Matthew 26:63-65) – “And the high priest said to him, I adjure you by the living God, tell us whether you are the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus said to him, You have said; nevertheless, I say to you, henceforth, you will see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
- (Daniel 7:13) – “I saw in the night-visions, and behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”
The high priest understood all too well what Jesus said, and that is why he “rent his garments, saying: He has spoken blasphemy!” Not only did Jesus identify himself as the Messiah, but he also asserted his right to reign from the messianic throne.
In his sermon on the Day of Pentecost, Peter cited Psalm 110 to confirm what God had accomplished only a few weeks earlier in Jesus:
- (Acts 2:32-36) – “This Jesus did God raise up, whereof we all are witnesses. Being therefore by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured forth this, which you see and hear. For David ascended not into the heavens: but he said himself: The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Till I make your enemies the footstool of thy feet. Let all the house of Israel, therefore, know assuredly, that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”
According to his application of the Psalm, God made the crucified and resurrected Jesus both “Lord and Messiah.” Already, he was ruling from God’s “right hand.” And his right to dispense the “promise of the Father,” the Holy Spirit, was proof positive of his present sovereignty.
Years later, Peter reasserted the present reign of Jesus, once again alluding to Psalm 110. As a result of his resurrection from the dead, not only does Jesus sit at God’s “right hand,” even the hostile spiritual powers have been subjected to him:
- “He is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven; angels and authorities and powers being made subject to him.” – (1 Peter 3:22).
Likewise, the Apostle Paul presented Christ’s reign as a present reality. And since Jesus has full authority, he reigns over all the “powers and principalities” whether hostile or not:
- (Ephesians 1:17-22) – “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, would give you a Spirit of wisdom and understanding in gaining a personal knowledge of him, the eyes of your heart having been enlightened, that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints, and what the surpassing greatness of his power unto us who believe, according to the energy of the grasp of his might which he energized in the Christ when he raised him from among the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenlies, over-above all principality, authority, and power, and lordship, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the coming one, and did put all things in subjection beneath his feet” – (See also – Colossians 1:12-20, 2:10-15).
When Paul applied clauses from both Psalms to the reign of Christ, he used verbs in the past tense. And since his resurrection, Jesus had been implementing His Father’s kingdom and subjugating all His enemies, a process that will continue until his “arrival” at the end of the age:
- (1 Corinthians 15:20-26) – “But now has Christ been raised from among the dead, a first fruit of them who have fallen asleep. For since, indeed, through a man came death, through a man also comes the raising of the dead; For just as in the Adam all die, so also in the Christ shall all be made alive. But each in his own rank: Christ, the first fruit, after that, they who are Christ’s at his arrival. Afterward the end, whensoever he delivers up the kingdom to his God and Father, whensoever he shall bring to nothing all rule and all authority and power; for he must reign until he shall put all his enemies under his feet. As the last enemy, death is to be destroyed; for He put all things in subjection under his feet.”
The described sequence of events leaves no room for further subjugation and victories over enemies after his return. His “arrival” will mean nothing less than the cessation of death, and the consummation of the Kingdom, and the New Creation.
In his letter to the Philippians, Paul described how Jesus submitted to a shameful and undeserved death on a Roman cross, and that is why God exalted him:
- (Philippians 2:8-11) – “And in fashion being found as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient as far as death, yea, death upon a cross. Wherefore also, God uplifted him far on high and favored him with the name which is above every name, in order that, in the name of Jesus every knee might bow, of beings in heaven and on earth and underground, and every tongue might openly confess, that Jesus Christ is Lord for the glory of God the Father.” – (Compare Romans 14:9-11).
That he is “far above” means that, already, he possesses the highest authority. His sovereignty is not limited to heaven, restricted to the earth, or delayed until some future point.
In the book of Hebrews, both Psalms appear repeatedly to demonstrate the superiority of Jesus over the now obsolete Levitical system. For example:
- (Hebrews 1:3-5) – “Having achieved the purification of sins, he sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; having become by so much better than the angels, as he hath inherited a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels said he at any time: You are my Son; this day have I begotten you?”
- (Hebrews 5:5) – “So Christ also glorified not himself to be made a high priest, but he that said to him: You are my Son; this day have I begotten you;as he said also in another place, You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” – (Psalm 110:4. See also Hebrews 8:1, 10:12, 12:2).
Finally, in his final address to the disciples, one echoing the second Psalm, Jesus claimed to have absolute sovereignty over the cosmos – with no limitations – for “all power in heaven and on the earth has been given to me.”
It was for this reason that he sent his disciples to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom of God “to all nations.” Likewise, in Acts, he commanded them to become his “witnesses,” beginning in Jerusalem, “and in Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth” – (Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8).
In short, Jesus reigns now. His sovereignty began with his resurrection and exaltation to God’s “right hand.” Ever since, he has been subjugating all his enemies, just as Yahweh promised. He reclaims “lost territory” for the Kingdom wherever his followers preach the “gospel of the kingdom of God.” Every convert means the further subjugation of the Devil “under his feet.” Just as Yahweh promised Adam and Eve, the “seed of the woman,” Jesus, is now crushing the “head of the serpent.”
His reign in the present age must continue until he overthrows the final enemy, death. The consummation of all things will coincide with his “arrival” or parousia at the “end of the age.” And the final defeat of death will mean nothing less than the bodily resurrection and the New Creation – (1 Corinthians 15:51-57, Romans 8:18-23, 2 Peter 3:3-14).
Satan and his forces remain active in the world, but their powers have been curtailed since the exaltation of Jesus Christ. Already, all the “powers and principalities and world rulers” have been subjected to his lordship, and nothing is beyond his reach.