THE KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS : 1 Timothy 6 : Bible Study


which in its own times he shall show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of Lords;

1 Timothy 6:15 ASV

The expression “King of kings and Lord of lords” occurs nowhere else in the Bible, but one so nearly like it as to be held identical is found in Revelation 19:16; and the belief here is that the word of God is always the best comment on the word of God.

The passage in Revelation leaves no doubt whatever that Jesus Christ, wearing “the garment dipped in blood,” is the KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS in that passage; and thus there is no impediment to holding the same as true here.

After all, in the Greek New Testament, Christ is called “God” no less than ten times, not including this passage.

In this post, we shall classify some of the Scriptures relating to the kingship of Jesus Christ, inquire as to his credentials for such authority, explore the extent and duration of his kingdom and examine some of the symbols under which that kingship is presented in the Bible.

1. Classification of Scriptures regarding the kingship of Jesus. From the moment of our Lord’s birth when he was acclaimed by the wise men until he was nailed up to die under an inscription that cited him as King, Jesus Christ during his earthly ministry was everywhere and always a KING. The Bible is absolutely filled with this conception.

Isaiah foretold the COMING king; John the Baptist preached the APPROACHING king; Paul proclaimed the CRUCIFIED king; and the apostle John extolled the ENTHRONED king.

There are four definite groups of Scriptures which set forth the kingship of Christ.

A. There are those that speak of him as the king of the Jews:

Wise men came from the East to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? (Matthew 2:1,2).
On the cross, “They set up over his head his accusation written, THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS” (Matthew 27:37).

The soldiers who mocked him taunted him by saying, “If thou art the King of the Jews, save thyself” (Luke 23:37).

Nathaniel hailed him thus, “Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel” (John 1:49).

B. Another class of Scriptures proclaims the universal, world-wide dominion of Christ, claiming for his kingdom all the nations of the earth and the uttermost parts of it.

The second Psalm has this:

I have set my king Upon my holy hill of Zion. I will tell of the decree: Jehovah said unto me, Thou art my son; This day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, And the uttermost part of the earth for thy possession (Psalms 2:6-8).

The prophecy of Zechariah likewise emphasized the universality of the reign of Christ, thus:

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem; behold thy king cometh unto thee; he is just and having salvation; lowly and riding upon an ass, even upon a colt, the foal of an ass. And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off; and he shall speak peace unto the nations: and his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth (Zechariah 9:9,10).

C. A third class of Scriptures mentions Jesus as the possessor of a kingdom.

Thus, in Matthew’s judgment scene, “Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come ye blessed, etc.” (Matthew 25:31-34), the King in this passage being clearly “the Son of man.” Others of this class are:

I appoint unto you a kingdom, even as my Father appointed unto me, that ye may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom (Luke 22:29,30).
Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom (Luke 23:42).

D. The fourth class stands apart, because they extol the kingship of Christ in language overwhelmingly superlative, making it seem that the very capacity of language as a vehicle of thought is strained in order to carry the significant conception of Jesus Christ as King. Some of these are:

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even forever. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this (Isaiah 9:6,7).

In addition to this are the passages here in 1 Timothy 6:15, and the passage in Revelation 19:16.

The vision of Christ in Revelation portrays him as a mighty King, indeed the mightiest of all ages, followed by the armies of heaven, crowned with many diadems, arrayed in a garment sprinkled with blood, and with the sharp sword proceeding out of his mouth. “And he has on his garment and on his thigh a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16).

Previously, John had seen a vision of the bitter forces of evil hurling their full strength against the Lord; but, he said, “The Lamb shall overcome them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings; and they also shall overcome that are with him, called and faithful and chosen” (Revelation 17:14).

Corroborating this exalted view of the kingship of Christ are the words of our Lord himself, who declared that “All authority in heaven and upon earth hath been given unto me” (Matthew 28:18).

2. What are the credentials of such a King as this? As a matter of obvious fact, Jesus Christ is King by every possible right. Hebrews 1:2,3 lists no less than seven basic credentials of King Jesus:

He is King by right of inheritance (Hebrews 1:2).
He is King by right of creation (Hebrews 1:2).

He is King by right of personal excellence (Hebrews 1:3).

He is King by virtue of identity with deity (Hebrews 1:3).

He is King by right of maintenance (Hebrews 1:3).

He is King by right of purchase (redeemed us from sin) (Hebrews 1:3).

He is King by right of office (Hebrews 1:3).

Christ has sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. His kingship is a fait accompli; he is no mere candidate for the throne. He is now ruling and shall continue to do so until all enemies are put under foot. Even this is not all.

Christ is King by right of conquest. Through death he defeated Satan (Hebrews 2:14). He conquered death, hell and the grave. Yes, Christ is King by every conceivable right which men have recognized as the basis of such authority.

Thus, we may exhaust the considerations that enter into the right of a king to rule, and in all of them, and in a thousand others unknown to us, there must be seen, invariably, the right of the King of kings and Lord of lords to rule over all men and all nations and over all things visible and invisible throughout the entirety of God’s total creation.

3. Christ is therefore King in every department of life, every department of the material creation, and in every department of the spiritual universe, and in all these things throughout all time to eternity, or until Christ shall render back the kingdom to God (1 Corinthians 15:28).

A. Christ is King of the universe. “All things” were made by him (John 1:1f). “He is before all things, and in him all things consist” (Colossians 1:17). This great King lifted up the continents from the ocean floor, hurled the suns in space, spread out the heavens above; and yet his care extends even to the smallest of his creatures, not even a sparrow falling to ground without his concern (Matthew 10:29).

B. He rules in the kingdoms of men. Nebuchadnezzar was sentenced to eat grass with the beasts of the field for seven years in order to teach him the lesson that this King exalts over the nations of men whom he will (Daniel 4:25). The dominion of this King is therefore without any limitation whatever.

4. We shall now view briefly some of the symbols by which the kingship of Jesus is emphasized in the Scriptures. These are thrones, crowns, swords and scepters.

A. Thrones. These are said to be the ancestors of all chairs. In ancient societies, only the king sat. The throne of Solomon is described in Scripture as a magnificent elevation, ascended by six steps, with a lion on each side, and also a lion on each side of the six steps, fourteen lions in all, for “the Lion of the tribe of Judah.”

Michael Feodorovich, grandfather of Peter the Great, had a great throne, ornamented with 8,000 turquoises, 1,500 rubies, and many other gems. The throne of England is a gothic chair occupied by the queen upon the occasion of the opening of Parliament.

The throne of Christ, of course, is no material device of ivory or gold. He reigns upon the throne “of his father David.” It is exalted forever in the heavens, and the enthronement is spoken of by an apostle as his resurrection from the dead (Acts 2:30,31).

The throne of Christ is established as a spiritual reality in statements like these: “He has prepared his throne for judgment” (Psalms 9:7), and “And his throne is upheld by mercy” (Proverbs 20:18). The New Testament has this: “Let us therefore draw near with boldness unto the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).

B. Crowns. Some of the most glamorous baubles on earth are such historic crowns as those of James I at Edinburgh, the iron crown of the Lombards at Monza, the crown of Victoria in the Tower of London, and the crown of St. Stephen at Vienna; but Jesus also has a crown.

True, he wore the thorn crown in his Passion, but even that is more precious than all the crowns ever fashioned from gold and jewels.

The crown of Christ is that of eternal life, the crown of righteousness, the crown of glory, the crown of omnipotence, the crown of victory over every enemy, even death, and the crown of eternal and universal authority.

These are the “many diadems” (Revelation 19:12). No earthly crown may be compared to the diadems of Christ.

C. Swords. In Revelation, the great King is portrayed with a sharp sword proceeding out of his mouth (Revelation 19:15), the sword being the word of God. During his earthly ministry, Jesus once asked for a sword, but never carried one. His true sword is spiritual, namely, his word. This is the “sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:17).

Christ needs only to speak, and it is done. By his word, he created the worlds; he came from heaven to bring the word of salvation to men; his word shall raise the dead and assemble the men of all ages to the assize of the Great Day; his word shall enter the righteous into glory and banish the wicked forever. Wherever was there a sword to be compared to the sword of Christ?

D. Scepters. The scepter is another royal symbol ascribed to the Christ. “The scepter of uprightness is the scepter of his kingdom” (Hebrews 1:8).

One may still see, here and there on earth, the scepter of some ancient monarch, and a few modem ones; and there are vestiges of this device in such things as the mace carried by the sergeant-of-arms at the opening of Parliament, and in the batons of the marshals of France.

In the book of Esther, it is the scepter of King Ahasuerus which figures prominently in the mercy extended to Esther. He extended the scepter, which had to be touched by the supplicant, before mercy could be given.

In a similar manner, God, through Christ, extends the scepter of Christ, which is his righteousness; and as many as touch shall be made whole.

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