[Table of Contents]
Robert H. Boll|
The Kingdom of God, 3rd Edition, Revised (2000)
About Questions and Difficulties
When raising questions concerning the Millennium or any prophetic subject (concerning any subject of Divine revelation, for that matter) we must distinguish between the "What" and the "How." "What has the Lord spoken?" is always a legitimate question, and finds its complete answer; but Nicodemus' question, "How can these things be?" may sometimes go begging. A revelation of the future may involve difficulties--and invariably does. Sometimes the whole matter seems inconceivable or impossible. But a man is never so foolish as when he sets himself to refute or "explain away" God's word because he cannot see how it could be just as it says. I believe that that is at the bottom of most so-called "spiritual interpretation"; for it generally represents an effort to bring the word of prophecy within the scope of our little notions and comprehension of things. Just that was the force of the Sadducees' argument against the resurrection. The Lord swept aside their small objections with His great answer: "Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, neither the power of God"; which is still the answer to all human objections against the plain meaning of God's word. Men are so wise in their own conceits, they feel so sure that they know how everything must be, that they can in no wise bend their minds to receive any truth which does not fit into their little scheme; and often they look with scorn and enmity upon any teaching that does not accord with their idea. This is what blinded the Jew against the Lord Jesus Christ.
And can such antagonists raise questions? Yea more than a dozen wise men can answer. But after all the questions and difficulties have been raised, and answered, or gone unanswered, as the case may be, the Word of God still stands, and God will fulfill all He has promised to the last letter.
One might imagine a controversy before Christ came, like some of the disputes which are in vogue today. Maybe some good Rabbi Simeon who in the simplicity of his heart knows nothing better than to believe what God predicted would contend that the Christ who should come would be the God-man--that He would be born of a virgin, of the seed of David; that he would be David's Lord, and would sit down on God's right hand, a Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek; that He would not only be the glorious Messiah, Ruler of all, but also a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, despised and rejected of men; that He would die at the hands of his enemies, but rise from the dead; that a new dispensation would ensue, and old ordinance and ceremonial be accomplished, and that the Gentiles should share in the blessing of this Christ--what a storm of protest and opposition would raise! What unanswerable questions they would ask; what insuperable impossibilities they could raise; what cogent counter-arguments they could make; what disproving syllogisms they could invent! How absurd, how insane, how heretical, how wicked, they would say was Rabbi Simeon's teaching! Does he really think that unto us a child should be born who really was "mighty God, everlasting Father"--a child, helpless, unconscious, needful of nursing and tending? How could that be? What a wild literalism! Anyone can see that this is "highly figurative." And how could this Great One be despised and wounded and killed? And raised from the dead? Ah, what speculation! And the ordinances which the Law declares to be "forever"--are  they going to be abolished? And a priest of another order than Aaron's shall officiate? And Gentiles shall come in under that new dispensation? To all of which good Rabbi Simeon could only answer that so the Scriptures say. It was indeed "The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize Jesus, yet in condemning him they fulfilled the words of the prophets that are read every Sabbath" (Acts 13:27). "O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken!"
In discussing then these questions concerning prophecy we do well to keep this in mind. Let us endeavor to seek out what the scriptures really say rather than try to prove this or that cannot be because it does not harmonize with our understanding of things. Let us ask "what," rather than "how." If we can see how--well and good; but whether or not the what always counts more than all else.
Questions and Criticisms
Many questions have been asked, and criticisms have been passed upon some of the things set forth in this book. Some of these came through the "question-box"; some were raised privately, some publicly; some gathered from articles on the kingdom and related themes that appeared from time to time in religious papers.
In one way and another the writer thinks he has heard most, if not all, the arguments that are being urged against these positions; and to his judgment none so far have seemed very weighty.
Some of the strongest points and most relevant questions we will take up.
The following questions, covering the main points of criticism, appeared under the head "What the Editor Believes," in the Word and Work as far back as April, 1919.
"We receive inquiries from time to time as to whether the Editor believes, teaches, advocates, one or another of strange doctrines which have been credited to him. It is very kind and fair of these inquirers to come directly to us; for, granting we are honest, we can tell better what we believe, and state it more accurately than others can do it for us. We will take up some of the chief questions, and state formally and publicly our views and attitude on the points touched."
Answer--I oppose every single distinctive doctrine of Russell's.
Answer--Not so much as one distinctive doctrine of Adventism. The Adventist view as to the kingdom, the millennium, and their whole system of interpreting prophecy, I repudiate.
Answer--I believe in many chances while a man lives, but not in any chance after death. 
Answer--No. No man knows that day or that hour. We do not know whether it will be today or tomorrow, or next year, or in our life-time. But His coming is always imminent--that is, "always to be looked for"--especially in these days.
Answer--I believe that Jesus will come in His resurrection body. He arose in the body which was laid in the tomb, although transformed, glorified, immortalized. His resurrection body is distinguished from "spirit," in that it had "flesh and bones." It could be seen and handled. "Behold My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself. Handle Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have" (Luke 24:39 NKJ). On the question whether the blood was also present in this glorified body, I neither affirm nor deny. I take my stand simply on the statement of Luke 24:39. I believe that Jesus will come the same Jesus as He went up (Acts 1:11). "The Lord himself" shall descend (1 Thessalonians 4:16. "Look at my hands and my feet that it is I myself" Luke 24:39).
Answer--A "throne," in the Bible and in common usage stands for government rule and authority. The "rod" is the sceptre, again a common expression denoting the exercise of royal power. A sceptre of iron is a strong and strict rule. The "literal Jerusalem" will be transformed and renewed, and the cloud of glory--the token of God's presence--which once led Israel in the wilderness and rested upon the Tabernacle, will be over her as a canopy. The impression that Jesus Christ will have His residence in Jerusalem under ordinary human conditions is too absurd to deserve a serious answer. Jerusalem will be His glorious resting-place, and the center of His world-government in the age to come (Isaiah 11:10; 4:4, 5; Psalm 132:13, 14).
Answer--I do. See Colossians 1:13. I have never taught otherwise.
Answer--There is no kingdom of God on the earth now, save the church. All that are in the church are in the kingdom. The church is, as David Lipscomb expressed it (G. A., May 21, 1903), "the kingdom in its present stage." It is therefore not merely the vestibule of the kingdom.
To show how "the keys of the kingdom" can admit a man into the church; and how the man who is in the church is in the kingdom. while yet the church is not all there will be of God's kingdom, I have sometimes used the illustration of a man's opening a meeting house--how, after entering the vestibule I was indeed in the meeting house, while yet the "vestibule" is not the same thing as the "meeting house," nor co-extensive with it. A man cannot be in the  vestibule without being in the meeting house; a man cannot be in the church without being in the kingdom. But to the kingdom in its future stage the church bears a much more important relation than a "vestibule." The church is not merely the subjects of it, but co-rulers with Christ over the nations. She is His Bride and shares His throne (2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 2:26, 27; 3:21).
Answer--I believe that all the word of God should be taught. We have no authority for drawing a line through the word of God and distinguishing between "essentials" on the one side and "non-essentials" on the other. We never know what part of God's word may prove essential to move a sinner to be saved (Jeremiah 26:3) or to help a Christian in a time of need. No servant of God has the right to discard or suppress or discredit any part of God's teaching, or to demand his fellow-servant to do so.
These points of doctrine involve no congregational practice, and there is nothing in them that should raise a barrier between brethren who differ concerning them. They are subject for probable brotherly investigation and discussion.
Answer--Yes, the entire nation then living. They will be greatly reduced, and refined through the fires of the Great Tribulation through which they shall have passed (Zechariah 13:9) and the Lord will have purged all the rebels out from among them (Ezekiel 20:37, 38). The remnant of Israel shall be a holy people, forgiven, regenerated, converted, cleansed (Romans 11:26).
Answer--Both Russellism and Adventism hold the doctrine of "conditional immortality"--soul-sleeping, annihilation of the wicked., etc. In Russell's scheme that is fundamental.
Russellism provides for a chance after death. It teaches that Christ was not in existence during the three days He lay in the tomb; that His body was not raised; that He is now a "spirit-being," and came back as such in 1874, and has been here ever since.
These and all other distinctive doctrines of Russell's are wholly opposed to the teaching of the word of God.
Adventism believes in no restoration of the nation of Israel, in no millennium on the earth, no kingdom-reign here below during the 1,000 years.
Neither Russellism nor Adventism holds that the Kingdom is at all in existence before Christ's coming; whereas Colossians 1:13 (and other passages) emphatically teach the opposite.
Answer--May I ask in return--if Christ now occupies the throne of David how can that throne be "for ever" if at His coming Christ delivers up the kingdom to the Father? The same answer will serve for both questions. 
When a thing is given to anyone for ever, the nature of the thing limits the time. For example Philemon was to have his slave Onesimus back "for ever" (Philemon 15)--which means, of course, as long as Onesimus lived; as long as there was any Onesimus no one else should have him. Philemon's or Onesimus' demise would terminate the arrangement. So, if in the "new heaven and new earth" there were no more occasion for the throne of David, (I do not say that such will be the case) that would not nullify the fact that He had it granted to Him for ever.
Nevertheless Christ reigns on for ever and ever, even after the work of restoration is completed and He has surrendered the kingdom to God, even the Father. For He must reign till every enemy is put under His feet; and after that He continues to reign with His saints under the Father's suzerainty, for ever and ever. The "eternal kingdom" of which the Bible speaks is also "the kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." (2 Peter 1:11; Revelation 22:5).
Answer--The prophecy of Zechariah says that Christ should be "a priest upon his throne" (Zechariah 6:13). Now if the throne of David is on the earth how can Christ occupy it? For "if he were on earth he would not be a priest at all" (Hebrews 8:4). But the statement of this latter passage, as the context shows, refers not to the location of Christ's Person at any special time, but rather to the sphere and nature of His priesthood, namely, that it is of the heavenly order, not of the earthly. "If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already men who offer the gifts described by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven" (Hebrews 8:4, 5). The reason, then, why the Lord Jesus "would not be a priest at all" if He were on the earth is that that position (the sphere of earthly priesthood) was already filled; for, by the Law's appointment, there were those already installed who were performing that service, namely, the sons of Levi of the family of Aaron. But "our Lord descended from Judah, and regard to that tribe Moses said nothing about priests" (Hebrews 7:14). The Lord Jesus was not a highpriest of the Aaronic order, but a "priest for ever in the order of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 7:17).
This then is what is meant by the expression "if he were on the earth." If the sphere of His ministration were of an early sort there would be no legal room for it. He is our heavenly Priest.
But it does not follow from that, that His Person is confined to the precincts of heaven; or that He would lose the office and power of His priesthood if at any time He descended from heaven. While the nature of His priesthood demanded His ascension and entrance into the heavenly sanctuary, it is not to be inferred that when He leaves heaven (as one day He will, Acts 1:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:16) he thereby forfeits His rank and place as God's Highpriest. He is a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. The one function which required His personal presence in the heavenly sanctuary was performed once for all (Hebrews 9:12) after which he sat down (Hebrews 10:11-14).
Nor will His ministry of intercession necessarily be abrogated by His descent, or His free access to God be barred thereby. Just as Melchizedek, the prototype, was not a minister of any earthly sanctuary, but was a heavenly priest though stationed here below; just as we ourselves who are "a royal priesthood," though on the earth, yet not of an  earthly order like Aaron's, have even now access into the Holiest (Hebrews 10:19)--thus, and much more so, whether He be personally present in heaven or whether He come to the earth, the Lord Jesus Christ has evermore direct access to and communion with the Father.
The Lord Jesus Christ holds now the throne of universal sovereignty at the right hand of God. At His Coming He will claim and occupy that special throne also, which He inherited by virtue of His descent from His father David. In either case He is a "priest upon his throne."
Answer--No. It says the "faithful witness" is in the sky.
Answer--The question where those nations come from is secondary. If once it is established that there will be nations here, and that Christ's redeemed ones shall reign over them, the question how they could be there is of no great consequence. Our chief responsibility is to set forth the "what"; the "how" can be left with God; lest in attempting to explain how a thing declared in God's word could be, one might even lay himself open to the charge of "speculating." But some go so far as to deny or devise some theory to "explain away" a declared fact and that for no better reason than that they cannot see how it would be. And that is worse than "speculating."
But that there will be nations here is plainly taught. Take but the statement of Revelation 2:26, 27, which occurs not in the midst of a symbolic vision, but in a sober message from the Lord to a church, "To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations. He will rule them with an iron sceptre; he will dash them to pieces like pottery, just as I have received authority from my Father." Clearly He speaks to the church; He makes a promise of ruling the nations with a rod of iron; the promise to be fulfilled when they have overcome and have kept his works to the end--the nature of the "end" in view being seen in the preceding verse, "Hold on to what you have until I come." Evidently after the coming of the Lord those Christians whom He has adjudged faithful will rule over "the nations" with Him. Therefore all men are not removed or destroyed at His coming. Besides those "who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus" (2 Thessalonians 1:8) whom He will destroy in flaming fire, on the one hand; and those righteous who are caught up on the other, there are men, sufficient in number to constitute nations, who are not reckoned as belonging to either class; God neither holds them responsible as willful rebels, nor are they among the saints. Such nations of men still living would come under that Rule. It would be easy to point out other scriptures that show nations left after the sweeping world-judgments of the Day of the Lord (as Jeremiah 31:35-37; Isaiah 66:16-21; Zechariah 14:16; Daniel 7:27; Revelation 20:7, 8, etc.,) but this is sufficient.
Answer--Read the whole passage where the statement occurs (1 Corinthians 6:1-6). It speaks of court-trials, of actual judging, of tribunals, and rendering of decision, verdict, and sentence. In view of the fact that the saints are destined to judge the world and even angels, ought they not (the apostle argues) to be able to judge matters that come up among themselves in this life?
Answer--In our ignorance of conditions and circumstances we often imagine a difficulty where none exists. It is so in this case. At the coming in His glory and power Christ first of all destroys the Beast; the head of the last world-power, and his armies will fall before the sword of the Lord's mouth--which is the catastrophe represented by Daniel 2:35. Thus by a righteous act of power He is actual Master of all the world. But He is the King of Israel. The "throne of David" which He occupies is the throne over Israel--the restored and exalted nation. Through her the word of the glorious King will go out into all the world; and nation after nation will come from afar to declare its subservience and allegiance to the King of Israel, and to bow in submission to Him and to Israel, His nation through which light and blessing rule from sea to sea, and from the River unto the ends of the earth (Psalm 72:8-11). From far and near the remnants of the nations, now fully aware of their need, will seek His face and accept His rule and sovereignty. If any refused, their need and loss would soon bring them to their knees (Zechariah 14:17). "For the nation or kingdom that will nor serve you will perish; it will be utterly ruined" (Isaiah 60:12). Thus God (in the Person of His Son) "Then it will be known to the ends of the earth that God rules in Jacob" (Psalm 59:13). Christ then, having descended and having taken His rightful throne over Israel, extends his regal authority through them over all the earth.
Answer--There can never be any salvation for anyone, anywhere, any time except by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, and obedience to the gospel. Whatever changes that new era may bring, there can never be any altering of this fundamental and essential truth.
Answer--We must distinguish between government--the exercise of authority in maintenance of law and order--and salvation. The former must be enforced; the latter is ever a matter of individual choice and acceptance, in personal faith, obedience, love. With Satan bound (Revelation 20:1-3) the veil that has hid the light of the gospel will be lifted (2 Corinthians 4:4) and multitudes will humbly and gladly accept the free gift of God's grace.
Answer--If Satan were the only source and author of human sin, all sin would of course cease when Satan is bound and imprisoned. But that is not the case. Satan indeed tempts, deceives, blinds men into sin; but a man sins when he suffers himself to be drawn and enticed by his own lust, (James 1:14, 15). Although there will be far less inducement  for such a thing there is evidence that there will be some sin even in the millennium (Isaiah 26:10, 65:20; Malachi 3:5). But it will meet with swift recompense. The quick success of Satan's work at the end of the millennium, indicates the inward condition of many hearts (Revelation 20:7-10).
Answer--2 Samuel 7:12 and 1 Chronicles 17:11 declare that the reign of Christ would be after David had been gathered to his fathers; but does not warrant the conclusion that David must remain dead while that reign is going on.
Answer--The judgment of Matthew 25:31-46 is nowhere called the "general judgment." There is not one word said about any resurrected dead being in it, but simply the "nations." The point they are judged on is their treatment of Christ's brethren, by which is not meant any and everybody, but those who are Christ's own. Such a standard of judgment, moreover, would not be applicable to the vast number of nations in former ages and heathen lands. Furthermore, in this judgment Christians are not among those who are being judged, for they are already with their Lord, past all judgment (Colossians 3:4) and are themselves associated with the Lord in His judging (1 Corinthians 6:2). Moreover Israel is not in this judgment; for it is "the nations" that are here judged before the King; which term is elsewhere translated "Gentiles," and always means the nations as distinguished from Israel, who are "not reckoned among the nations" (Numbers 23:11). This, therefore, is far from being a "general judgment."
Answer--I myself have wished to obtain the definition of the "eternal Kingdom," of which some critics speak. Some seem to think that it is a state of bliss in heaven which always has been and always will be, and to which, sure enough, the Church would be but a sort of "vestibule." Some seem to have other, more or less, undefined ideas concerning it. Peter specially designates that eternal kingdom as being the "Kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ." Accordingly it would mean that glorious reign which will be inaugurated on the earth at His coming, of which He will surrender the sovereignty to God, even the Father, when his redemptive, restorative work is completely finished; and which will continue to be His under the Father's suzerainty "for ever and ever" (1 Corinthians 15:24-26; Revelation 22:5). Into this glory and sovereignty we shall be permitted to enter with Him at His coming (Acts 14:22; Romans 6:16; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 2:26, 27). 
[Table of Contents]
Robert H. Boll|
The Kingdom of God, 3rd Edition, Revised (2000)