The promise . . . is an extension of the promise Christ made to the Twelve while on earth that they would not only eat and drink with Him in His kingdom, but also sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel (cf. Mat. 19:28; Luke 22:29-30). Paul expanded the promise to include all Christians as rulers and the broadened domain of the world, not just Israel (cf. 1Cor. 6:2).2Jesus clarifies a point which is often confused today: He is not now sitting on His throne, but is seated at the right hand of the Father on the Father’s throne.
There is a most important dispensational teaching in this verse. There are those who think that the Church is the kingdom and that there is to be no literal kingdom on earth. Here the Lord says that at the present time He is not upon His own throne.3Jesus taught that there would be a delay in the coming of His kingdom (Mat. 6:10; Luke 11:2; 19:11-15; Acts 1:6-7). Its arrival is yet future and will be indicated by signs (Luke 21:31). It occurs after the Antichrist has his day (Dan. 7:11-14+, 21-22+, 25-27+; Rev. 19:20+), after the seventh angel sounds his trumpet (Rev. 11:15-17+), after Satan is cast down (Rev. 12:10+), when Christ returns to judge the sheep and the goats (Mat. 25:31; 2Ti. 4:1), in the regeneration when the apostles will rule over the tribes of Israel (Mat. 19:28; Luke 22:29-30) and believers co-rule (Rev. 20:4-6+), when He drinks wine and eats the Passover again with His followers (Mat. 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:16-18).
This passage, in harmony with Luke 1:32, 33; Mat. 19:28; Acts 2:30, 34, 35; 15:14-16, is conclusive that Christ is not now seated upon His own throne. The Davidic Covenant, and the promises of God through the prophets and the Angel Gabriel concerning the Messianic kingdom await fulfilment.4
Several factors indicate that David’s throne is separate and distinct from God’s throne in heaven. First, several descendants of David have sat on his throne, but only one of his descendants ever sits on the right hand of God’s throne in heaven. That descendant is Jesus Christ (Ps. 110:1; Heb. 8:1; 12:2). Second, David’s throne was not established before his lifetime (2S. 7:16-17). By contrast, since God has always ruled over His creation, His throne in heaven was established long before David’s throne (Ps. 93:1-2). Third, since God’s throne in heaven was established long before David’s throne and since God’s throne was established forever (Lam. 5:19), then it was not necessary for God to promise to establish David’s throne forever (2S. 7:16) if they are the same throne. Fourth, David’s throne was on the earth, not in heaven. David and his descendants who sat on his throne exercised an earthly, ruling authority. They never exercised ruling authority in or from heaven. By contrast, as noted earlier, the Bible indicates that God’s throne is in heaven. Fifth, the Bible’s consistent description of David’s throne indicates that it belongs to David. When God talked to David about his throne, God referred to it as “thy throne” (2S. 7:16; Ps. 89:4; 132:12). When God mentioned David’s throne to others, He referred to it as “his throne” (Ps. 89:29; Jer. 33:21), “David’s throne” (Jer. 13:13), and “the throne of David” (Jer. 17:25; 22:2, 4; 22:30). By contrast, the Scriptures’ consistent description of the throne in heaven indicates that it belongs to God the Father. 5According to Trench, this is a greater position than the role given to the apostles over the tribes of Israel (Mat. 19:28).6 He is currently seated to the right hand of the Father on the Father’s throne. In the Millennium, He will take up his throne (Mat. 25:31). In the eternal state, it appears the two thrones become synonymous (1Cor. 15:24-25; Rev. 22:1+, 3+).as I also overcame
This, the grandest and crowning promise, is placed at the end of all the seven addresses, to gather all in one. It also forms the link to the next part of the book, where the Lamb is introduced seated on His Father’s throne (Rev. 4:2+, 3+).7
1 Henry Morris, The Revelation Record (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 1983), Rev. 3:21.
2 Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 1-7 (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1992), 325.
3 Donald Grey Barnhouse, Revelation (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1971), 84.
4 C. I. Scofield, The Scofield Study Bible (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2002, 1909), Rev. 3:21.
5 Renald Showers, Israel My Glory, January/February 2001, 30.
6 Richard Chenevix Trench, Commentary on the Epistles to the Seven Churches in Asia (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 1861).
7 A. R. Fausset, “The Revelation of St. John the Divine,” in Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset, and David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1997, 1877), Rev. 3:21.