Oct 29, 2013

The Significance of Matthew 25:31 for Jesus' Placement on the Throne of David

Michael VlachBy Dr. Michael J. Vlach
Theological Studies

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Is Jesus on the throne of David now or will He assume it in the future? While Matt 25:31 is not the only relevant text for this issue, it is an important one. In discussions of events to come I usually do not see much attention given to Matt 25:31, but I think it is a significant verse that helps us understand the timing of Jesus' placement on the Davidic throne. For it is here that Jesus tells us when He will assume the throne. This verse reads:

"But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne."

Such words remind us of Luke 1:32-33 when the angel Gabriel told Mary the following concerning her coming Son:

"He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end."

Gabriel made it clear that Jesus was coming so he could be given the throne of David and reign over Israel. This refers directly to the Davidic Covenant promises of 2 Samuel 7. Now with Matt 25:31 Jesus addresses when He will assume that throne.

The language of Matt 25:31 is important. The word for "then" (tote) is an adverb of time and means "at that time." The term for "will sit" is kathisei and is in the future tense.

The Davidic throne is linked with two things: (1) the Son of Man coming in glory and (2) all the angels coming with Him. When those two events occur the Son of Man will then "sit upon His glorious throne." Therefore, the assumption of the glorious Davidic throne by Jesus occurs at the time of His coming in glory with His angels.

In our estimation, this is the strongest possible evidence concerning the timing of a prophetic event. Jesus is explicitly stating in a prophetic context when He will assume the Davidic throne, and it is when He comes again with the angels. Since Jesus has not returned in glory yet with all of His angels, we can know that He has not yet assumed the Davidic throne.

Matthew 19:28

A similar statement by Jesus is found in Matt 19:28 which also links His throne with other events:

"And Jesus said to them, 'Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.'"

Again we see Jesus referring to sitting upon "His glorious throne" in a future context. Here, Jesus is talking about future rewards for His disciples. Importantly, He ties it with an event called "the regeneration." Most scholars believe Jesus is speaking of the renewal of the cosmos, a glorification for creation. This renewal must be future since we have not seen a glorification of the creation yet.

When this event of cosmic renewal occurs, two other things come with it: (1) the Son of Man sitting on His glorious throne; and (2) the disciples of Jesus judging/ruling the twelve tribes of Israel. Both refer to kingdom/ruling functions. The strong implication here is that Jesus' sitting on the glorious throne of David has not occurred yet, but it will occur in the future at the time of the renewal of the world and the apostles ruling over a restored Israel.

Much debate occurs over Jesus' relationship to the Davidic throne. Our purpose here is not to go through all the positions and the reasons for each. Nor can we look at all relevant passages on this issue. In a nutshell, one side argues that Jesus is already on David's throne in Heaven while another says He will assume the Davidic throne at His second coming to earth. If we go with what Jesus is saying in Matt 25:31, the latter view is correct.