Question: Is Jesus the King for all of us or only for Israel?
Dr. White’s Answer:
First, let’s take a look at the Scripture.
- At the beginning of Jesus’ life, He was called King of the Jews.
“Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:2, KJV 1900)
- At the beginning of Jesus’ ministry, He was called the King of Israel.
“Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.” (John 1:49, KJV 1900)
- At the crucifixion, Jesus was called King of the Jews.
“Then said the chief priests of the Jews to Pilate, Write not, The King of the Jews; but that he said, I am King of the Jews.” (John 19:21, KJV 1900)
- Paul praises Jesus as the King eternal.
“Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honour and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:17, KJV 1900)
- Paul said that Jesus will someday be presented as King of kings.
“That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords;” (1 Timothy 6:14–15, KJV 1900)
- John revealed that Jesus would be King of kings at the Second Coming.
“And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” (Revelation 19:16, KJV 1900)
From this, we can determine that Jesus has a role as King of the Jews that will be expanded to King of kings.
Someday, Jesus will restore the Kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6) and will sit on the throne of David. When He does that kingdom will break in pieces and shatter all the others (Dan. 2:40).
But what about today?
Today, I don’t see how we can rightly and literally call Jesus King of anything.
- He is not King of Israel. The modern nation of Israel has a Prime Minister and a Parliament, but no King. If the nation adopted a monarchy today, it would not offer Jesus the throne.
- He is not King of any other nation. Even the United Kingdom, in which the Monarch is supreme governor of the church, there isn’t even a way to spiritualize enough to make Jesus the King of the UK government.
The truth is, Jesus has no throne (He is at the right hand of the throne of His Father). He has no realm, no palace, no administration, no recognition as sovereign. He certainly has not broken in pieces and shattered all other Kingdoms, as promised in Daniel 2.
When “King Michael” of Romania died in 2017, he wasn’t King of anything, and hadn’t been since 1947. Even if people called him King, he wasn’t. He had no throne, no palace, no realm, no court, no authority.
As a stickler for words, I personally don’t see any reason why we should call Jesus King today. What is He King of?
- You can argue that He is King of your life or King of your heart, but that is just semantics and there is never this kind of language of kingship in the Bible.
- You can argue that He is King of all things, but that ignores the clear fact that He has none of the signs or symbols of Kingship. What you mean is that “God is sovereign,” but what you are saying is, “Jesus is King.” I think you should be precise in your words.
- You can argue that He should be King (and I agree) and that He will be King (and I also agree). But that doesn’t change reality today.
In the end, I don’t feel any need to spiritualize the Kingship of Jesus Christ. I want to keep King for what it actually means: the sovereign ruler of a realm. Jesus will be the sovereign ruler of the realm of Israel (in its full measure). He will be this King when the Jewish nation cries out to Him, saying, “blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (Matt. 23:39).
Until then, Jesus is can be seen in a parable which Jesus gave…
“He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return.” (Luke 19:12, KJV 1900)
Jesus has left us. He will return to earth someday. When He does, He will be King.
Will He be King of the Jews? Yes, primarily so. As King of the Jews, He will break in pieces and shatter all others, and thus will be King of Kings and Lord of lords!
–and that will be a great day.
This answer based on Ask the Theologian, March 20, 2018.