Jesus as Reigning King


Foretelling of the Kingdom

The coming of the kingdom seems to be the main point of focus for the ministry of John the Baptist, Jesus, and His disciples.
Matthew 3:1–2 KJV 1900
In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
Matthew 4:17 KJV 1900
From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.
By pure definition, a kingdom represents a monarchy form of government, in which a king, or other authority head, rules over the populace. The announcement of a coming kingdom, therefore, can automatically be understood to include that a king, or another authority figure, will reign in the said kingdom.

Arrival of the Kingdom

By pinpointing the arrival of the kingdom, we should thus be able to pinpoint the arrival of its accompanying king.
The kingdom arrived on the Day of Pentecost following the ascension of Jesus. Jesus not only declared it to be “at hand,” but also stated that it would appear during the lifetimes of some of those with Him.
Mark 9:1 KJV 1900
And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.
As Jesus states here, when the kingdom did come, it would come with power. Therefore, the key to determining the kingdom’s arrival is determining the arrival of the power. Jesus stated that the apostles would receive the power when the Holy Spirit came upon them.
Acts 1:8 KJV 1900
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
The Holy Spirit came upon the apostles on the Day of Pentecost after the ascension of Jesus.
Acts 2:1–4 KJV 1900
And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
So, the power would come when the Holy Spirit gave the apostles power, and whenever the power came, the kingdom would come, too. The Holy Spirit gave power to the apostles in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost; therefore, that is when the power came, and that is when the kingdom arrived, too.

Jesus Taking the Role of King

The examination of the role of Jesus within the new kingdom should be prefaced by His role before the kingdom. While living on earth, Jesus took on the role of the executor of the plan of God.
Ephesians 1:3–5 KJV 1900
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,
While on earth, Jesus submitted himself to the will and the plan of the Father.
John 6:38 KJV 1900
For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
After His resurrection, however, the authority seems to shift.
Matthew 28:18 ASV 1901
And Jesus came to them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth.
This declaration of having “all authority” shows that He was no longer submitting to the will of the Father, but rather had the authority to dictate what “the will” would now be. This proclamation does not deny the unity and harmony of the persons of the Godhead taught in Scripture, but it rather shows a change in roles. God, the Father, had the salvation plan in mind, and Jesus submitted to it. However, redemption did not automatically occur at the death of Jesus on the cross. If it had, the New Testament might easily end after the Gospel accounts. Instead, the evangelism to, and the obedience of people around the earth were to follow. Since the sacrifice of Jesus for salvation was sufficient the first time it was done, Jesus would now continue working, but would simply do so in a different way and within a different role.
Peter declares the role of Jesus in His speech on the Day of Pentecost.
Acts 2:36 KJV 1900
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Jesus was, of course, the Christ while He was on Earth. However, now He is the exalted Lord and Christ in Heaven. Now He is the reigning Lord and Christ.
Several things show Jesus as King from the words of the Book of Acts and during the time of the Book of Acts. These include the ideas of Lord, the Davidic King, the Prince, the “Son,” and the exercising of the rule.
This act of making Jesus “Lord” is the same as making Him King. If Jesus has “all authority” then He is the divine ruler of all, including the kingdom which now exists. The ruler of a kingdom is called the “king.”
Acts 2:33 KJV 1900
Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
The right hand position is a position of authority.
On the Day of Pentecost, Peter references Psalm 110.
Psalm 110:1 KJV 1900
The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, Until I make thine enemies thy footstool.
However, the context of Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 is not a mere recitation of Old Testament passages. It is a connection between the passages of the past and the events of the day. After all, Peter has connected Joel 2:28-32 to the current outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the opportunity for salvation.
Acts 2:16 KJV 1900
But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
The passage of the past that states “my Lord” is now being connected to Jesus.
Acts 2:36 KJV 1900
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
The one that now sits at the right hand of God and reigns as Lord is Jesus.
The idea of a kingly rule is further validated by continuing to read the prophetic passage in Psalm 110:2.
Psalm 110:2 KJV 1900
The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: Rule thou in the midst of thine enemies.
Davidic King
Peter’s speech on Pentecost in Acts 2 not only references a Psalm of David, but also the King David.
Acts 2:30 KJV 1900
Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
He references the promise to King David that someone of his lineage would sit on his throne. The one to sit on the Davidic throne would be the “Christ.” David is dead and buried and has logically seen corruption.
Acts 2:29 KJV 1900
Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.
But Peter continues through his progression by stating that the Christ would not be left in Hades nor see corruption.
Acts 2:31 ASV 1901
he foreseeing this spake of the resurrection of the Christ, that neither was he left unto Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption.
Then Peter links Jesus to the fulfillment of this by stating that He was not left in the tomb, but rather has been exalted.
Acts 2:32–33 KJV 1900
This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
He further states that God has made Jesus “both Lord and Christ.”
Acts 2:36 KJV 1900
Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
Since Jesus is the Christ, as seen by His resurrection, then He is the fulfillment of the prophecy to sit on the Davidic throne. The one who would sit on the throne of a king would naturally be a king.
Peter’s accusation describes Jesus as a “Prince.”
Acts 3:14–15 KJV 1900
But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.
He and other apostles made another reference to Jesus as Prince.
Acts 5:30–31 KJV 1900
The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
While our modern parlance might think of a “prince” as royal, yet more subordinate, the use of this term in the Bible may not be so weak. Easton’s Bible Dictionary gives its definition of the word “prince” as
“the title generally applied to the chief men of the state.” M. G. Easton, Easton’s Bible Dictionary (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1893).
The Messiah is also called “the Prince” in Daniel.
Daniel 9:25 KJV 1900
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
Therefore, the Prince in question might be seen more as the chief of a state, or as the king of a kingdom. Since “the Prince” is also the Messiah, and the Messiah is the Christ, and the Christ was to sit on the Davidic throne, then the same Prince would be the one to sit on the Davidic throne, thus making Him a King. By declaring Jesus a Prince, Peter and the other apostles are declaring Jesus a King.
There is a connection made between the one that would be the son of God and the one that would be king.
Psalm 2:6–7 KJV 1900
Yet have I set my king Upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; This day have I begotten thee.
Notice also 2 Samuel.
2 Samuel 7:12–16 KJV 1900
And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.
The one on the right hand of God can also be seen as king. The idea of Jesus being at the right hand of God was seen in Acts 2:33 and is repeated later in Hebrews.
Hebrews 1:3–5 KJV 1900
Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
This passage also reiterates the idea that God will be to Him a Father, and He will be to God a Son, echoing the kingship and son reference of 2 Sam. 7:13-14. Therefore, the one at the right hand of God is also the one who is to be a Son to God the Father (Heb. 1:3-5). The one who is to be a Son to God to God the Father is to be a king (2 Sam. 7:13-14). Since Peter declares that Jesus is at the right hand of God (Acts 2:33), he is, therefore, declaring that Jesus is King.
Exercising of Rule
Even though prophecy and proclamation may state that Jesus is King, further evidence can be shown that Jesus is ruling. A king that exercises his authority is shown to be king.
One way that Jesus exercised His kingly authority is through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 2:32–33 KJV 1900
This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
After stating that Jesus had been resurrected (Acts 2:32), Peter states that He has been exalted by the right hand of God (Acts 2:33), He received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father (Acts 2:33), and has poured out the miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33). In other words, Peter states the one who has been exalted as King has received the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit from the Father and is now exercising authority in His current position by pouring out the miraculous power for people to “see and hear” (Acts 2:33).
Not only has the kingdom arrived, but so has the King, and He is showing it through His action of the miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
It is possible to have people continue the work of someone else even if the originator is not dead. That is the case with the apostles and Jesus. Luke’s record in Luke is about what Jesus began to “do and teach” (Acts 1:1). Luke’s record in Acts is of what the apostles began to “do and teach.” But, the apostles are not entirely working solo. Jesus is still in operation with them. Jesus is even involved in the conversion history of the Apostle Paul. (Acts 9:4-6). Later, He intervenes with comfort for him (Acts 18:9-10). The Holy Spirit is revealing and confirming the word to the apostles, but it was Jesus who sent Him (John 14:26). When the Holy Spirit does speak, it will be what He hears from Jesus.
John 16:13–14 KJV 1900
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you.
Keeping in mind that the Holy Spirit speaks what He hears from Jesus, we can see Jesus directing action through the Holy Spirit. How many examples then of Holy Spirit-related events might also be interpreted in the light of a directing King? In other words, the Holy Spirit was working in the 1st century, but under whose authority and reign?
Keeping in mind that Jesus has “all authority” (Matt. 28:18), then we must conclude that these and other actions are being done under the authority and kingship of Jesus. They are extensions of His rule.

Jesus Fulfilling the Role of King

In what ways did Jesus fulfill His role as King?
Outpouring of the Holy Spirit
Fulfilling the Plan of God and Ending the Reign of Evil
1 Corinthians 15:24–28 KJV 1900
Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power. For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death. For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith, all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
Paul provides strong evidence for the kingship of Jesus by stating that He must reign until he has put the enemies under his feet. The verb translated “he hath put” (v. 25) is in the subjunctive leading us to believe that it has not yet been fully accomplished. Therefore, the it is necessary for the reign of Jesus to continue until that future event occurs.
Part of that future fulfillment of God’s plan also appears to be the deliverance of the kingdom to God. Who better would be authorized to deliver a kingdom than the King Himself?
Mission of the Gospel
As already alluded to, Jesus was involved in the lives and the work of the apostles after His ascension, either directly or indirectly through the Holy Spirit. Therefore, we may say that the King was involved in the proclamation of the Gospel.
Acts 1:8 KJV 1900
But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
Authorizing Acts
Many things were done in Acts “in the name of Jesus.” That phrase means “by the authority of,” or “with the authority of.” As Jesus reigns as King, it is natural then that we see many things being carried out with His authority. Keep in mind that this is not the authority being issued by an inanimate document or a dead dynasty, but rather by a living king. Therefore, Jesus is fulfilling His role as king by authorizing acts to be carried out with His authority.
Preaching, exorcism, healing, and baptism were done in the name of Jesus.
Acts 3:6 KJV 1900
Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
The work of a Christian today can still be done “in the name of Jesus,” provided it matches the written words in the Bible, which have preserved the King’s teachings and commands.
When Jesus appeared to Saul on the road to Damascus, He not only made Himself present to Saul but also made it clear that He had been present through His disciples all along.
Acts 9:4–5 KJV 1900
And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.
Obviously, Saul had been persecuting the disciples of Jesus, but Jesus made a direct correlation between Himself and the disciples so much so that Jesus accused Saul of persecuting Him personally. The idea we get is that Jesus is not only present and active from Heaven, but He is present and active through the work of His disciples.
The worship of the disciples, both past and present, also indicates a presence with Jesus and an activity of His.
Luke 22:29–30 KJV 1900
And I appoint unto you a kingdom, as my Father hath appointed unto me; That ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom, and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
A strong example of Jesus and a disciple is Stephen.
After speaking (Acts 7:2-53), he looked up into heaven and saw Jesus standing on the right hand of God.
Acts 7:55–56 KJV 1900
But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God, And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
Stephen was being unjustly killed for speaking the words of God, he asked God to receive his spirit, and he asked God not to lay the sin to their charge, just as Jesus did.
Stephen’s example is a good illustration of taking up your cross (Matthew 16:24). As Stephen’s last bit of life re-enacts the last bit of Jesus’ pre-resurrection life, it demonstrates that Jesus is alive and present in the lives of His disciples and still can be as we continue to follow His example.
John Suggit suggested that this example from Scripture is an expression of Jesus’ crown (stephanos) and kingship and Stephen’s (Stephanos) participation in that kingship.
“…at Stephen’s stoning his vision of the risen Son of Man (ό υιός τοῦ άνθρώπου) standing at God’s right hand (Acts 7:55) becomes the vivid expression of the βασιλεία of Christ with his στέφανος by which the disciples acknowledge their participation in Christ’s kingship as exemplified in Στέφανος.” - John N. Suggit, “Jesus’s True Crown,” Neotestamentica 50.3, (2016) Special Edition: 127-128.


Part of the beauty of Christology is the fact that it is multi-faceted. Therefore, we do not have to see Christ as only “the Good Shepherd,” or as only “Son of God,” or as only “the Reigning King.” He is all things at once.
However, the Book of Acts seems to indicate a beginning for the Reigning King Christology. At the ascension, Jesus goes to the right hand of God. The angels promise that He will return again. As it has been suggested, these make nice bookends to the last days in which we now live.
And as Jesus has been given all authority and is now on the heavenly throne, this King “must reign” (1 Cor. 15:25) until the end when He shall deliver the kingdom up (1 Cor 15:24). The Book of Acts tells of the beginning of the kingdom and the Reigning King, Jesus the Christ!
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