by Luke Wayne
Jehovah's Witnesses teach that Jesus was not reigning as king in heaven until October of 1914. They profess that "At that time, “the appointed times of the nations” ended, and Jesus Christ was installed as God’s heavenly King." (“What does the Bible Really Teach?”, pg 217 Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, 2005) While the manner at which they arrive at the 1914 dates is demonstrably erroneous and has produced a continuous chain of false prophecies, there is still another matter to be critiqued in this teaching. The Bible is clear that Jesus was already appointed king at His first coming and has been reigning in heaven since His ascension. The apostles carried out their missionary work precisely on the basis that Jesus was already king. When Jesus issued the great commission, He told them:
"And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, 'All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age,'" (Matthew 28:18-20).
Notice that Jesus does not simply tell them to go. He tells them that He has been given all authority both in heaven and on earth, and therefore they are to go. Their whole ministry of making disciples of all nations was rooted directly in the fact that Jesus presently already ruled with all authority in heaven and on earth. Paul likewise writes of His gospel ministry that "we are ambassadors for Christ," (2 Corinthians 5:20). Ambassadors are sent by kings. The apostles preached with authority because they were commissioned and sent by Christ who possessed all authority. The Apostles went because their king sent them.
In the book of Revelation, we also read:
"John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood— and He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father—to Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen," (Revelation 1:4-7).
Notice the distinction this makes between future events that will transpire at Christ's coming and the present tense reality of who Jesus already is at the time that John wrote Revelation. John and the churches already knew Jesus to be "the ruler of the kings of the earth." That was not something Jesus would later become. That was already who He was. Jesus was reigning from heaven over all the kings of the earth at the time John wrote the book of Revelation which, last I checked, was well before October of 1914. Paul again concurs when He writes that, "He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet," (1 Corinthians 15:25).
As far back as Jesus' birth, the Magi recognized that He was already king:
"Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him," (Matthew 2:2).
In fact, the very words Christ and Messiah mean "anointed one," and in this context mean that He is the anointed king.
The Jehovah's Witness teaching that Jesus was in heaven for 2,000 years without his royal authority and only became king in the early 20th century at the onset of World War I is untenable in light of the clear New Testament teaching. Jesus came as a king and had already received all authority before He ascended into heaven. Jesus was, is, and ever will be the ruler of the kings of the earth. Jesus did not become Lord and King in the modern era. Jesus has long been the heavenly King.