Will Jesus Physically Reign on Earth?
Premillennialists think that Jesus will reign physically and bodily on earth during a literal future utopian millennium―from a rebuilt temple. There is a myriad of reasons why their exegesis is mistaken.
Jesus clearly taught that his kingdom is NOT a worldly kingdom (John 18:36; Romans 14:17), rather, it is a spiritual kingdom (Luke 17:21). The kingdom began in the first century (Matthew 16:27-28; Mark 1:15; Colossians 1:13) and is here now.
There is no mention in Revelation the Jesus will reign ON EARTH. Does Jesus have to be physically on earth to reign? Jesus has been reigning FROM HEAVEN since the writer of Hebrews penned his letter (Hebrews 8:1-4). The writer disavows any need for Jesus to physically be on earth again.
Jesus’ reign has no end and does not begin or end with a literal future millennium (2 Samuel 7:13; 1 Chronicles 17:11-12; Isaiah 9:7; Ezekiel 37:26; Daniel 2:44; 4:3, 34; 7:14, 18, 27; Luke 1:31-33; Ephesians 1:21; 2:7; 3:21; Colossians 1:13-20; Hebrews 1:1-12; 5:6; 6:20; 7:16-28; Revelation 11:15).
The New Covenant is eternal (Hebrews 13:20) and does not begin or end with a literal future millennium.
The gospel is eternal (Revelation 5:13; 14:6) and does not begin or end with a literal future millennium.
The temple has been replaced by Jesus as the focus of our faith (Revelation 21:22). In John 2:19, Jesus says, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Of course, Jesus was speaking of rebuilding a temple—not of stone and nails, but of living stones (1 Peter 2:5).
Even after God provides all this clear evidence that His temple is a spiritual one, many Christians are waiting for the Jews to receive a construction permit to rebuild a physical temple on the site where a Muslim mosque now sits. However, there is no prophecy, promise, or commandment in the Bible that says the physical temple would ever be rebuilt after the Romans razed it nearly 2,000 years ago.
Let’s examine some “proof texts” sometimes offered by premillennialists:
Psalm 2:6-9—Premillennialists say that this verse teaches that the Messiah will reign over “the very ends of the earth” from Mount Zion in Jerusalem. We should be careful when interpreting the Psalms as strictly literal. Remember Psalm 23: “He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters, etc.” These words are figurative language about God’s care and goodness. Likewise, Psalm 2 does not demand a reign of Jesus literally on earth. Since the above passages show that Jesus is ruling now from heaven over the very ends of the earth, we should understand that Psalm 2 in terms of Hebraic expression of Jerusalem being the center of the Jewish religion and thought.
Isaiah 2:1-4—Premillennialists teach that this passage says that “in the latter days the Messiah will reign from Mount Zion in Jerusalem.” There are 16 passages in the New Testament about the last days/end times, and the culmination of none of them can be placed outside of the first century (examples include: Acts 2:17-21; 1 Corinthians 10:11; Hebrews 1:2; 1 Peter 4:7, 17; 1 John 2:17-18).
Ezekiel 37:24-28—Premillennialists simply ASSUME that “bring them to their own land” (37:21) is about a perpetual land promise to Israel. But Deuteronomy 28 makes it clear that the land promises were conditional. Jesus clearly taught that because Israel was unfaithful, He was giving the kingdom to another group, namely the church (Matthew 21:33-46; 22:1-14, 23:29-24:2, 26:64, etc.)
Daniel 7—This passage says that the Messiah will be given dominion over the earth, and premillennialists merely, again, ASSUME that means a literal, physical kingdom. They think that Jesus’ kingdom will only arrive in a future millennial reign. Daniel 7:24-27 and Daniel 12:1-13 make it clear that Christ’s kingdom began with his First Advent and instituted to its fullest in AD 70 when Jerusalem was destroyed, the power of the holy people was shattered, and the sacrifices for sin ended forever—ushering in the new covenant in forever.
Revelation 19:15-16—This passage is about Jesus assuming the role of King of Kings. It is inconceivable how a professing Christian could say that Jesus in not NOW King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. Satan has been defeated Matthew 12:28-29; Romans 16:20; Revelation 12:12; 20:7-10; etc. Regarding Revelation, there are over thirty passages that demand that its fulfillment was imminent (examples Revelation 1:1-3; 22:6-20), and culminated with the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
See my article “Why ‘In Like Manner’ of Acts 1 Did Not Imply a Bodily Return of Jesus”:
See also this article by Gary DeMar: