Summary: Published September 2023: What is the form of the kingdom of God during the present Christian dispensation?  Is it different from the future millennial kingdom? What are the character differences between the two?  Do you understand these differences?


In describing the return of Jesus to this world, Scripture speaks of the Son of Man coming with the clouds of heaven and receiving from the Ancient of Days dominion and glory and a kingdom.


Daniel 7:13-14 (NKLV)


13 “I was watching in the night visions,
And behold, One like the Son of Man,
Coming with the clouds of heaven!
He came to the Ancient of Days,
And they brought Him near before Him.
14 Then to Him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom,
That all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him.
His dominion is an everlasting dominion,
Which shall not pass away,
And His kingdom the one
Which shall not be destroyed.


In the New Testament Jesus Himself made these predictions.


Matthew 24:27, 30 (NKJV)

27 For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be…30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.


Matthew 25:31 (NKJV)

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.


And in Revelation, the last book of Scripture, we read this testimony in its first chapter.


Revelation 1:5, 7 (NKJV)

and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth…Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen.


Later in this introductory chapter Jesus is seen by John in a vision walking among seven golden lampstands.  He describes the Lord as “One like the Son of Man…” yet having all the features of the Ancient of Days (Rev. 1:12-18).  This description matches well with Daniel’s vision mentioned above.

It should be obvious that Scripture maintains the millennial kingdom on the earth as that of the Son of Man.  This is consistent with the Lord’s interpretation of His wheat and tares parable (Matt. 13:37-43).  “The Son of Man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness.”   This is because the Father “…has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man.” (John 5:27)  The millennium begins with the Son of Man’s judgment of the living – separating the sheep from the goats (judging the Gentile nations – Matt. 25:31-46).  The passage begins like this:


Matthew 25:31-32 (NKJV)

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. 32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.”


At the end of the millennium Jesus will judge the dead:


Revelation 20:11-15 (Darby)

11 And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled, and place was not found for them.

12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is [that] of life. And the dead were judged out of the things written in the books according to their works.

13 And the sea gave up the dead which [were] in it, and death and hades gave up the dead which [were] in them; and they were judged each according to their works:

14 and death and hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death, [even] the lake of fire.

15 And if anyone was not found written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.


Jesus is the glorified Son of Man.  This title is intimately associated with His return to this world, the establishment of His kingdom, and the judgment of the living and the dead.  He comes in the glory of God (with clouds) and sits on His throne of glory.  Jesus is the glorified Son of Man, and His millennial kingdom will be one of power and glory.  Old Testament prophecy speaks of a manifest physical kingdom, set up in power, in the hands of Israel’s Messiah, Son of David, but Immanuel (Isa. 7:14, Matt. 1:23) (Isa. 9:6-7, 11:1-5, 12:1-6).  Judgment will introduce and establish this kingdom, which is characterized by power exercised in righteousness and mercy.  Peace prevails on the earth, which will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Isa. 11:9).  Israel will be regathered and restored, after disciplinary judgment has done its necessary work.  The Jews become the center of blessing and prosperity for the earth.  The glory of the Lord will be manifest in their midst beyond anything seen in the past.  The Lord’s throne will be established in Zion, and the nations of the world will flow to it (Isa. 2:2-4, 4:2-6, Zech. 14:1-21).

However, we see many differences in Scripture when it speaks of the form the kingdom of God takes during the current Christian dispensation.  We easily observe that the King is absent, and the kingdom is invisible (not outwardly manifested in the world as His millennial kingdom will be).  In becoming children of God, believers are said to be born again.  Then they are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ.  None of these things are observable to the physical eye.  Christians walk by faith, not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).  Another significant difference is the title for Jesus used in association with the kingdom during the Christian dispensation.


Colossians 1:13 (Darby)

13 who has delivered us from the authority of darkness, and translated [us] into the kingdom of the Son of his love:


Christians have been translated by God into the kingdom of His Son – the Son of God.  The confession of faith that initiates this was first given by God the Father to Peter (Matt. 16:15-18).  After asking His disciples the question about what men say about Him, Jesus asks this question of His disciples, “But who do you say that I am?”  Peter boldly replies, “You are…the Son of the living God.”   This is the rock on which Jesus would build His church – not Peter, but his confession of faith.  Jesus is the Son of God and He gives eternal life to whoever He chooses (John 5:21, 17:2).  The title of the Son of God is also associated with the Christian gospel by both apostles Paul and John:


Romans 1:1-4 (NKJV)

Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.


1 John 4:15 (NKJV)

15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.


The difference between the two kingdoms becomes clear when we closely consider what Jesus promises to the faithful overcomer in the Laodicean church:


Revelation 3:21 (NKJV)

21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.


Here Jesus speaks of two different thrones, one current and one future.  After He was raised from the dead, He ascended into heaven and glory to sit down with His Father on His Father’s throne.  He did this as the Son of God.  No mere man could ever sit there.  It is reserved for deity.  The important understanding is that this current throne is associated with the present Christian dispensation.  That should be obvious.  And equally so, it is the future throne that He shares with us that will be associated with the future millennial dispensation.


John 17:1-5 (NKJV)

Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do. And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.


This passage is definitely Christian and must be associated with the present dispensation.  The glory Jesus had with His Father “before the world was,” refers to His deity.  But now that He has accomplished the work on the earth He was sent to do, a work in which He glorified God concerning man’s sins and sinful condition, He asks to reenter the divine glory He shared with the Father before the world was created.  Notice the passage begins, “Father…glorify Your Son…”  After Jesus was raised from the dead, He ascended into heaven to sit down on God’s throne at the right hand of His Father – this is what He meant in saying, “I overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.”  Clearly, this was the privilege and honor attributed to Jesus as the Son of God.

The Christian dispensation is characterized by Jesus presently sitting at God’s right hand in heaven.  Even though the world rejected Him, heaven has accepted Him, crowning Him with glory and honor (Heb. 2:6-9).  As Christians, during this present time (dispensation) we suffer a similar rejection by this world (John 15:18-19).  These same characteristics are the impression conveyed by the following passage:


Romans 8:16-18 (NKJV)

16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.


Notice the two distinct periods of time. The first is when we can expect to suffer as believers.  During the Christian dispensation we are walking on a path through this world.  It is through the same place that rejected and crucified our Lord.  Scripture tells us we are pilgrims and strangers here, and that we belong to heaven (Phil. 3:20).  These things characterize believers at this time.  As for the kingdom of God now? – God has delivered us from the authority of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son.  This is the present kingdom during the present dispensation, the kingdom of the Son of God sitting with His Father on His Father’s throne.  In the Revelation, the apostle says this, “I, John, both your brother and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ…”  He was presently in the kingdom of Jesus Christ.  It wasn’t one of power and glory, but rather one of tribulation and patience.  The present form the kingdom takes is not one of power and glory as predicted by the prophets of the Old Testament.  Instead it is set up in mystery (Matt. 13:11, 35), purposely hidden by God from these same prophets.

The kingdom of the Son of God, that which is associated with the present time, has this two-fold truth: it is built upon the personal profession of Jesus Christ being the Son of the living God (Matt, 16:16); it is the translation into the Son’s kingdom those who by faith in Jesus Christ are made sons of God (Col. 3:26).  Yet there are certain unfortunate realities.  The King was rejected when on the earth – not recognized by the world He created and not received by His own when He came to them (John 1:10-11).  In the meantime He is gone from the earth and has committed authority to men who act for Him in His absence.  But this left room for failure to come in by man’s unfaithfulness (Matt. 13:25, 24:48-49, 25:5, 18).  And a corrupted form of the kingdom, which was clearly predicted by the parables of the kingdom (Matt. 13:18-22, 24-30, 31-32, 33), became to God’s sight and to the eye of faith the sad result.  “Let both (wheat and tares) grow together until the harvest,” is the Lord’s directive (Matt. 13:30) — this characterizes the present Christian dispensation.  Only His return will rectify this miserable state.

The parables of the kingdom contain all its “mysteries” (Matt. 13:11, 34-35) — those revelations that were hidden from the Old Testament prophets.  Now the mysteries are revealed to faith, those only who have eyes to see and ears to hear.  The understanding of them will  make one a scribe instructed in the kingdom of heaven, who can “bring out of his treasures things new and old” (Matt. 13:52).

The passage above from Romans speaks of a future time (the millennial dispensation) when Christians will be glorified together with Christ.  It speaks of this place with Christ being fully manifested to the world (Col. 3:4, Rom. 8:19).  This involves the promise to the overcomer in Laodicea, “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne…”   This is the earthly kingdom of the Son of Man during the millennium.  It is a human throne which can be shared with others.  The heavenly saints will not return to this world to live on the earth during the millennium, but will be seated in heavenly places to reign with Him over the millennial earth (Eph. 2:6-7, Rev. 20:6, 21:9-27).