THE KINGDOM DELIVERED UP TO GOD, THE FATHER (Chapter 4)
As we have pointed out, the proponents of the Postmillennial view hold that the Bible teaches a twofold kingdom of heaven. We are told that the Bible and the prophecies are not really speaking of the eschatological-consummated kingdom when it speaks of Christ’s kingship, but rather of a kingdom which is limited to time, which begins in this present history and ends in its close. Christ’s reign is not really eternal. The Bible is interested in and teaches that the kingdom of heaven will be manifested here on earth as a glorious kingdom; all nations shall be “Christianized” by the power of the Holy Spirit through the preaching of the gospel, and, therefore, the world is getting better and better. The end of the ages here is then characterized as the “golden age” of the church. To be sure, this does not mean that such who are “Christianized” are then reborn children of God, who can see the kingdom of heaven; nevertheless they are a much better world of unbelievers because they are thus come under the influence of the gospel.
In Chapter VII, page 38 of his The Millenium, Dr. Boettner writes under the caption “The World Is Growing Better.” I will quote the first paragraph:
The redemption of the world is a long, slow process, extending through the centuries, yet surely approaching an appointed goal. We live in a day of advancing victory, although there are many apparent set-backs. As seen from the human viewpoint it often looks as though the forces of evil are about to gain the upper hand. Periods of spiritual advance and prosperity alternate with periods of spiritual decline and depression. But as one age succeeds another there is progress. Looking back across nearly two thousand years that have passed since the coming of Christ we can see that there has indeed been marvelous progress. This process ultimately will be completed, and before Christ comes again we shall see a Christianized world. This does not mean that all sin will be eradicated. There will always be some tares in the wheat until the time of harvest—and the harvest, the Lord tells us, is the end of the world. Even the righteous fall, sometimes grievously, into temptation and sin. But it does mean that Christian principles of life and conduct are to become the accepted standards in public and private life.
Rather boastfully some Postmillennialists speak of this view as being an “Eschatology Of Victory,” that is, of the victory of the Gospel, so that literally nations are saved, and not merely the “elect out of every nation, tongue, tribe and people” (Rev. 7:9) who “have come out of the great tribulation,” of the battle of the ages, and who have washed their clothes “in the blood of the Lamb.” It is alleged by some Postmillennialists that the Amillennialists are guilty of neglecting many passages of Scripture.
The Postmillennialists make a plausible case out of I Corinthians 15:24, where we read, “Then (shall be) the end when He (Christ) shall have delivered the kingdom to God, even the Father, when He shall have abolished all principalities, all authorities and power.”
Now what the Postmillennialist must do is not merely quote this passage without proper and careful exegesis, and simply “conclude” that Paul is here teaching that Christ’s “kingship” ends here, because the work in the perfecting of the kingdom is here completed by Him, as the Mediator, Jesus, God in the flesh. It ill behooves us to make this demand of these advocates, and not give careful exegesis ourselves. Scripture must be interpreted in the light of Scripture.
Let us now look at the text and context carefully.
I do have a confessional and doctrinal bias. I hold that the Scriptures teach that Christ is an eternal King, that is, His kingship continues in the “age” to come! We believe that I Corinthians 15:24-29 does not teach that Christ will not be King in glory in the ages to come; that “God will be all in all” does not become manifest in this glory apart from the glorified Christ. We could quote many passages here to substantiate this position, but we will come to these in subsequent Chapters of this study.
Let us then notice the following facets in the text:
1. That what Christ will do in delivering up the Kingdom to the Father will be in the time of the end of the world, called the harvest (Matt. 13:39). That this will be the consummation of the ages; that this is simply called the “end,” that is, it is the intended end, the telos. History here on earth ends when Christ as the firstfruits of them that sleep in Jesus shall then bring in the full harvest in the resurrection of all who are saved in the “one man” Jesus Christ. Each is manifested in his own rank and order: first the Savior, then they who are of Him, and then the end (I Cor. 15:23). It is noteworthy that through this chapter Paul speaks of Jesus as being “Christ,” that is, the Anointed One of God, Who is appointed and qualified to be the chief prophet, the only high priest, and the eternal king. For the name “Christ” as official title see verse, 3, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 22, 23, 24. Now, will the eternal Son in the flesh lose His “office” in the ages to come, where “God shall be all in all,” so that He will not be the King of glory? Does He abdicate His throne in “the ages to come”? (For these “ages” see Ephesians 2:7 and Hebrews 2:5-8.) Will He cease there to be crowned with glory and honor for the sake of His sufferings, by which He brings many sons to glory? These are, indeed, pressing questions. They call for an answer.
2. We should now try to establish from the text what is the meaning and the implication of the verb “to deliver up.” The text says that Christ shall in His—parousia “deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father.” To begin we should notice that the term denotes, in Scripture, an official, legal transaction. See Romans 3:32where the verb refers to God’s official and judicial “delivering up” of His Son to the death of the Cross, making Him a curse. He made Him sin for us (Gal. 3:13-14; II Cor. 5:20-21). It is also used of the judicial procedure of the wicked Jews and of Pilate in delivering up the apostles to the counsels to have them executed and persecuted ( ). Keeping this in mind we see in this verb here the official act of the risen and glorified Christ, where He presents the finished work in history, the triumph of the seed of the Woman over the seed of the Serpent, even over death and hell. This is the great moment of the triumph of Christ in delivering the perfect, completed kingdom in which the perfected and resurrected saints shall be eternally citizens, to the Father. He has here finished the work which He was to do in the dispensation of the fulness of times. All things are here indeed gathered under one Head, Christ, both in heaven and on earth, even in Him (Eph. 1:10). What a triumphant moment of the LORD of lords and the KING of kings ( ; Rev. 19:11-16). To “deliver up” is a far cry from an abdication of the throne. In later chapters we shall take a closer look at the Kingdom of which Daniel and the Gospels say it shall “have no end.” All other priests were but priests for a time, and the priesthood of Aaron too was put away for the better priesthood in Christ, Who by God’s word of oath is a King-Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, whereas He is the Son of God (Hebrews 7:3).
3. In close connection with the foregoing “delivering up of the kingdom to the Father,” we should notice the implication of the next clause, “when He shall have abolished all principalities, all authority and power.” The KJV translates the verb “katargeesei” by the verb “put down.” There is exegetical bias in that translation. It presupposes that Paul is speaking here exclusivelyof the “enemies” of Christ and His church, as these have been successfully and entirely conquered, and as these lay prostrate at Jesus’ feet, under His majestic sceptre. It may seriously be doubted, however, that this translation is the proper one. We prefer the translation which reads “abolished.” The verb here in question is translated in other parts of Scripture by the KJV as “abolish” (II Cor. 3:13; Eph. 2:15; II Tim. 1:10). When God abolished the glory of the Old Testament as this was reflected on the face of Moses this was a legal act at Calvary. He brought in the greater glory of Christ, wherein we are transformed by the Spirit from glory unto glory (II Cor. 3:18). This was setting aside certain Old Testament ordinances. These God abrogated, that is, He annulled them by His legal authority, by the later enactment in Christ Jesus. We have the same legal act of God’s abrogation taught us in Ephesians 2:15 which speaks of the “law in ordinances” which were abolished at the Cross. These Old Testament ordinances are no more binding in the church. The Old Testament Passover is no longer to be kept in the Church since our Passover has been slain at Calvary, and now that Christ has become our peace, binding the saints in the Old Testament dispensation, with the saints “out of all nations.”
Without quoting more instances we believe that we have established that the verb here in I Corinthians 15:24b can very well be translated “abolished” and not “put down.” Should we have suggested the proper translation, then, we are in a position to understand also what Paul is referring to, when he speaks of “all authority and power” and “all principalities.” Is he here referring to “all” Christ’s enemies and nothing more? We believe not. We must bear in mind that in this present dispensation Christ has instituted offices, means of grace, sacraments, discipline for the perfecting of the saints till we all arrive, come to, attain to the “unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto the perfect (adult) man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13). When the end comes, that objective has been attained in the church by Christ. Indeed then we shall be the “fulness of Him (Christ) that filleth all in all.” When that point in history is attained and all the elect shall have been brought to repentance, then the preaching, the offices will no longer be needed. They shall have served God’s purpose. They were the means of grace to the end that the entire church would be saved; they were the key power of the Kingdom of heaven which excluded the wicked and unbelievers, and which opened the Kingdom of God to the faithful and the penitent.
The term “all principalities” should not be overlooked. Nor should we fail to, observe the adjective “all” with “authority and dominion.” All that was necessary both in civil authority (Rom. 13:1-7) and the authority and dominion of men in the church on earth shall be forever abrogated in Christ’s Parousia. These were all means to subject all things under Christ’s feet. Thus God put all things under Christ’s feet, as David speaks of the “LORD” saying to “my Lord” sit on my right hand till I shall have subdued all thy enemies under thy feet. But when this objective has been reached then all the principalities, all the authority and dominion can be abrogated by Christ. Once by His death the Old Testament ordinances were abolished, and now by His second return with the clouds of heaven to make all things new, the New Testament ordinances are abolished, so that God in Christ may reign over all things in a more direct and glorious way. It will be the perfection of the Theocracy of God in His Kingdom. Such is the “Eschatology Of Victory.” Then we will have a new situation. John says, “And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple (naos) of it” (Rev. 21:22).