Thursday, 12 November 2020
And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.” Revelation 5:10
This verse continues and completes the doxology sang by the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders concerning the triumph of the Lamb. In it, there are several significant differences between source texts. Placed side by side, they read –
“And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.” NKJV
“You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will reign on the earth.” Holman
The latter text certainly fits what is being presented far better. The living creatures and elders are in heaven. Therefore, to say “we” makes no sense, unless they are taken as representing the people of God as a whole. If so, then “we” instead of “they” can be allowed.
Further, the previous verse said, “Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” Therefore, to say “they” instead of “we” again makes the most sense. Finally, instead of “kings and priests,” it reads “a kingdom and priests.” Again, as Christ is the King, and as His people are given the priestly duty of sharing the gospel, this makes by far the most sense. It is, therefore, from this perspective that this verse should probably be considered.
And so, with that understood, they first sing forth, “You made them a kingdom and priests to our God.” It is reflective of the words of Revelation 1:6 –
“and made us a kingdom, priests to His God and Father–the glory and dominion are His forever and ever. Amen.” Holman
As noted in the commentary of verse 1:6, that verse (and indeed countless other verses also), as well as this verse, are misused by hyperdispensationalists in their claim that there are two gospels – one to the Jews and one to the Gentiles. They claim that the kingdom belongs to the Jews, as do the priestly services. Such claims are false.
The idea of being part of a kingdom permeates Paul’s writings, the term “kingdom” being applied to believers almost fifteen times. It would be rather stupid to have a kingdom without a King. Further, the idea of being priests is not limited to the Jewish people and a Jewish kingdom. Paul uses the term in the book of Romans, saying –
“But I have written very boldly to you on some points so as to remind you again, because of the grace that was given me from God, 16 to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles, ministering as a priest the gospel of God, so that my offering of the Gentiles may become acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:15, 16 (NASB)
Paul shows that preaching the gospel is a priestly duty in the New Covenant. He then says this to those at Corinth –
“Do you not know that those who minister the holy things eat of the things of the temple, and those who serve at the altar partake of the offerings of the altar? 14 Even so the Lord has commanded that those who preach the gospel should live from the gospel.” 1 Corinthians 9:13
Again, Paul directly equates preachers of the gospel to the priests who ministered in the temple under the Old Covenant, demonstrating that they were only types of what would come in the New Covenant. Thus, this is speaking of all in the church who are a part of the kingdom of Christ and who share the gospel as priest. This is in service to God. Understanding that, the doxology finishes with, “and they will reign on the earth.”
The verb is in the future tense. However, Vincent’s Word Studies says, “Read βασιλεύουσιν they reign. Their reigning is not future, but present.” This makes complete sense. The kingdom of God that is being referred to is not an earthly kingdom, but a spiritual one. Even now this kingdom reigns. This does not, however, negate a literal kingdom in the millennium where Israel will be exalted above the nations.
However, the spiritual kingdom spoken of in the epistles is referred to both in the sense of here and now, and also in the future. Paul speaks of it as “right now” in verses such as Romans 14:17. He refers to it as a future reality in verses such as 1 Corinthians 15:50.
Life application: Care must be taken when evaluating differences in verses from various source texts. Without taking the whole counsel of God into consideration, false doctrines – such as hyperdispensationalism – are an inevitable result. Always be ready to consider variations with an open mind when they are supported by Scripture elsewhere.
In the end, let us trust that the differences that do exist can be explained, and let us trust that the word we have is sufficient for all matters of doctrine and understanding the greater plan of redemption that is found in the pages of Scripture.
What a wonderful Lord! What a wonderful Savior! You brought us out of the chains of sin and condemnation, and You have freed us to be Your servants. But even more, You have given us the right to serve You in Your kingdom – even now – if we will just step forward and participate. We stand up and praise You, O God. Thank You for the precious gift of Jesus Christ our Lord! Amen.