If one asked most practicing Jehovah’s Witnesses the question, “When did Jesus become King?”, most would immediately reply “1914”.[i] That would then be the end of the conversation. However, there is a possibility that we could assist them to reappraise this view by approaching the question from a different starting point, by asking the question “Have you ever thought about how you could prove to others that Jesus became King in 1914?”
First, we need to find some common ground. So initially we could ask the question, “What scriptures establish that there would be a King whose rule would be without end?”
A Kingdom Without End
Here is a Scriptural train of thought that will bring us to the conclusion that God’s word speaks of the establishment of an eternal kingdom.
- Genesis 49:10 records Jacob’s deathbed prophesies about his sons where he states that “the sceptre will not turn aside from Judah, neither the commander’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh[ii] comes; and to him the obedience of the peoples will belong.”
- In the time of Zedekiah the last King of Judah, Ezekiel was inspired to prophesy that the rulership would be removed from Zedekiah and “it will certainly become no one’s until he comes who has the legal right, and I must give it to him”. (Ezekiel 21:26, 27). This one would have to be a descendant in the line of David from the tribe of Judah.
- History shows that no Jewish King sat on the throne of Judah or Israel from the time of Zedekiah onwards. There were rulers, or governors, but no King. The Maccabees and the Hasmonean dynasty were rulers, high priests, governors, usually as vassals of the Seleucid Empire. Latter individuals did claim kingship, but it was not recognized by the Jews in general as they were not descendants in the line of King David. This brings us up to the time the angel appeared to Mary who would become the mother of Jesus.
- It may help to show your audience the following reference which agrees with the conclusions made above. (w11 8/15 p9 par 6)
Who Was Given the Legal Right and When?
- In Luke 1:26-33 Luke recorded that Jesus was born “to a virgin (Mary) promised in marriage to a man named Joseph of David’s house.” The angel told Mary: “give birth to a son, and you are to call his name Jesus. This one will be great and will be called Son on the Most High; and Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father and he will rule as king over the house of Jacob forever, and there will be no end of his kingdom.” (bold ours) (w11 8/15 p9 par 6)
Therefore, at his birth, Jesus was not yet king. But we have established that it was promised that Jesus would be the awaited King and given the legal right, and more importantly, he would rule forever.
Up to this point, your audience should be agreeing with you as there is nothing controversial here from the standpoint of JW theology. It is important to introduce the genealogical proof that this King would be Jesus. The reason being that there are implications important to our end goal.
- Matthew 1:1-16 shows the genealogy of Jesus from Abraham, through David and Solomon to Joseph (his legal father)[iii] giving him his legal right.
- Luke 3:23-38 shows the genealogy of Jesus through his mother Mary, back through Nathan, David, Adam to God himself, showing his natural and divine descent.
- Most importantly, these genealogies were taken from the official records held at the temple in Jerusalem. These genealogies were destroyed in 70 CE. Therefore, after this date no one could prove legally that they descended from the line of David.[iv] (it-1 p915 Genealogy of Jesus Christ par 7)
So this raises further questions that need to be answered:
- Who had the legal right and lived before 70 CE?
- When was it that someone was given the legal right by Jehovah God?
Who Had the Legal Right and Lived Before 70 CE?
- According to Luke 1 (previously mentioned), it was Jesus who would be given the throne (legal right) of David, but as of approximately 2 BCE, before Mary became pregnant by Holy Spirit. The throne had not yet been given to Jesus. We know this because the angel spoke in the future tense.
- As mentioned before, after the destruction of the genealogies with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE no one could establish their legal right to be the promised King and Messiah, not even Jesus.
Again, your audience should have no issue with these points, but this is where it starts to get interesting, so take it slowly, point by point, and let the implications sink in.
These two key points narrow down the event to
- (1) that it would be Jesus who would be made King and
- (2) the timeframe would be sometime between 2 BCE and 70 CE. If he was appointed King after this time it would no longer be possible to legally prove he had the legal right.
When Was the Legal Right Confirmed by Jehovah God?
We then need to examine what were the relevant significant events during Jesus’ lifetime between 2 BCE and 70 CE. They were:
- Jesus birth.
- Jesus baptism by John and anointing with Holy Spirit by God.
- Jesus triumphal entry into Jerusalem days before his death.
- Jesus questioning by Pontius Pilate.
- Jesus death and resurrection.
Let us take these events one by one.
Jesus Birth: In normal practice of hereditary Kingship, the legal right is inherited at birth, provided they are born to parents who can pass on that legal right. This would indicate that Jesus was given the legal right at birth. The Insight book (it-1 p320) states “With respect to the kings of Israel, the birthright seems to have carried with it the right of succession to the throne. (2 Chronicles 21:1-3)”
Jesus Baptism and Anointing: However, inheriting the legal right at birth is a different event from actually taking office as King. Becoming King depends on the death of all predecessors with the legal right. With Jesus the last King, Zedekiah had died some 585 years before. Furthermore with a child/youth/minor it was common practice to appoint a regent[v] who would effectively rule in the child’s stead until the youth comes of age as an adult. Through the ages, this time period has varied, however, in Roman times it seems men had to be at least 25 years old before they got complete control of their lives in a legal sense. In addition Kings are usually anointed at the beginning of their rule, not years in advance.
With this background, it would make sense that Jehovah would appoint Jesus as King when he was an adult, thereby confirming the legal right that had been granted to him. A child king would stand little chance of being given the respect required. The first important event to take place in Jesus adult life was when he got baptised at age 30 and was anointed by God. (Luke 3:23)
John 1:32-34 discusses Jesus’ baptism and anointing, and John identifies Jesus as the Son of God. The account says:
“John also bore witness, saying: “I viewed the spirit coming down as a dove out of heaven, and it remained upon him. 33 Even I did not know him, but the very One who sent me to baptize in water said to me, ‘Whoever it is upon whom you see the spirit coming down and remaining, this is the one that baptizes in holy spirit.’ 34 And I have seen [it], and I have borne witness that this one is the Son of God.” (John 1:32-34)
Was Jesus Appointed as King in 29 CE at his Baptism?
At this stage your audience may have started making noises of disagreement. But this is the time you play your trump card.
They may be surprised at what they find. This is the first reference that is shown.
In part this reference says “(It-2 p. 59 para 8 Jesus Christ) Jesus’ anointing with holy spirit appointed and commissioned him to carry out his ministry of preaching and teaching (Lu 4:16-21) and also to serve as God’s Prophet. (Ac 3:22-26) But, over and above this, it appointed and commissioned him as Jehovah’s promised King, the heir to David’s throne (Lu 1:32, 33, 69; Heb 1:8, 9) and to an everlasting Kingdom. For that reason he could later tell Pharisees: “The kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Lu 17:20, 21) Similarly, Jesus was anointed to act as God’s High Priest, not as a descendant of Aaron, but after the likeness of King-Priest Melchizedek.
What evidence is there to support this conclusion?
Jesus Acknowledged as King
It was not long afterward as recorded in John 1:49 that Nathaniel said to Jesus “Rabbi, you are the Son of God, you are King of Israel.” So, this would appear to indicate that Jesus was now King, especially as Jesus did not correct Nathaniel. It should be noted that Jesus usually gently corrected the disciples and others when they were wrong about something, such as striving for position, or calling him good teacher. (Matthew 19:16, 17) Yet Jesus did not correct him.
Later in Luke 17:20, 21, Jesus said to the Pharisees who were asking him about “when the kingdom of God was coming”, “The kingdom of God is not coming with striking observableness.…For look! The kingdom of God is in your midst”.[vi]
Had Jesus and the Kingdom of God come with striking observableness? No. He had been quietly baptized, and gradually ramped up the preaching and teaching work, and display of miracles.
This is in stark contrast to when Jesus comes in power and glory. Luke 21:26-27 reminds us that all men “will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. This is the time that the parallel account in Matthew 24:30, 31 additionally records “And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven and then all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation.” (See God’s Kingdom Rules p226 para 10) [viii]
We should also not forget the account of his triumphal entry into Jerusalem close to the Passover of 33 CE. Shortly before his death when he rode into Jerusalem, the account in Matthew 21:5 records “Tell the daughter of Zion: ‘Look! Your king is coming to you, mild-tempered and mounted on a donkey, yes, on a colt, the offspring of a beast of burden.’”. Luke writes that the crowd were saying: “Blessed is the one coming as the King in Jehovah’s name! Peace in heaven, and glory in the heights above!” (Luke 19:38).
The account in John states, “So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, and they began to shout: “Save, we pray you! Blessed is the one who comes in Jehovah’s name, the King of Israel!” (John 12:13-15).
This was therefore acknowledgement that Jesus was now legally King although not necessarily exercising the full power of a King.
Jesus’ Questioning by Pontius Pilate
When before Pilate, John’s record shows Jesus’ reply to Pilate’s question: “Are you King of the Jews?”
“Jesus answered: “My Kingdom is no part of this world. If my Kingdom were part of this world, my attendants would have fought that I should not be handed over to the Jews. But as it is, my Kingdom is not from this source.” 37 So Pilate said to him: “Well, then, are you a king?” Jesus answered: “You yourself are saying that I am a king. For this I have been born and for this I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth”. (John 18:36-37)
What was Jesus saying here? The inference of Jesus’ reply is that either he had been already appointed King, or was to be appointed very shortly, as he said “for this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world”. So part of his purpose in coming to the earth had to be to claim that legal right. Additionally he answered that his “Kingdom is no part of this world”, speaking in the present, rather than future tense.(See Jy 292-293 para 1,2) [ix]
We need to briefly review an event late in Jesus’ ministry. After telling his disciples he would die and be resurrected, he said in Matthew 16:28: “Truly I say to you that there are some of those standing here that will not taste death at all until first they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom”.
Matthew 17:1-10 goes on to record that “Six days later Jesus took Peter and James and John his brother along and brought them up into a lofty mountain by themselves.” Jesus was then “transfigured before them, and his face shone as the sun and his outer garments became brilliant as the light.” This was a privileged glimpse of Jesus coming in his kingdom power at a future time.
Jesus Put to death and Resurrected
According to Jesus’ own words that happened a few days after his conversation with Pilate. On the day of his resurrection as Matthew 28:18 confirms: “[the resurrected] Jesus approached and spoke to them [the disciples], saying: “All authority has been given me in heaven and on the earth.” So clearly Jehovah had given him power and authority since his death and resurrection. He now had all authority by the time he first saw his disciples after his resurrection.
Romans 1:3, 4 confirms how this event took place when the Apostle Paul wrote that Jesus “who sprang from the seed of David according to the flesh, but who with power was declared God’s Son according to the spirit of holiness by means of resurrection from the dead – yes Jesus Christ our Lord,“ indicating Jesus was given power immediately upon his resurrection.
This future time is alluded to in the events recorded in Matthew 24:29-31. First, there would be tribulation. This would then be followed by all on earth noticing that “the sign of the Son of man will appear [be visible] in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in lamentation, and they will see [properly – physically see] the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
When Would Jesus Come in Power and Glory?
There is no scriptural record of Jesus exercising his power in a noticeable manner in the first century. He assisted the Christian congregation to grow, but there was no great display of power. There has also been no historical record of Jesus exercising his power and showing his glory since then. (This did not happen in 1874 or 1914 or 1925 or 1975.)
Therefore, we have to conclude that this must be a time in the future. The next major event to occur according to Bible Prophecy is Armageddon and the events immediately prior to it.
- Matthew 4:8-11 shows Jesus accepted Satan as being the God (or king) of the world at that time. (See also 2 Corinthians 4:4)
- Revelation 11:15-18 and Revelation 12:7-10 show Jesus as taking and exercising his power to deal with the world and Satan the Devil.
- Revelation 11:15-18 records a change in the state of mankind’s affairs as “the kingdom of the world did become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ”.
- This ties in with the events of Revelation 12:7-10 where Satan is thrown down to earth for a short time to be followed by the events in Revelation 20:1-3. Here Satan is bound for a thousand years and hurled into the abyss.
As these events include the time of judging the dead and “bringing to ruin those ruining the earth”, they must still lie in our future.
Revelation 17:14 confirms this powerful action of the glorified Christ when talking about the ten kings (of the earth) and the wild beast saying, “These will battle with the Lamb, but because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, the Lamb will conquer them.”
When was the ‘Final Part of the Days’ and what effect does this have on when Jesus became King?
The phrase “final part of the days” is mentioned in Daniel 2:28, Daniel 10:14, Isaiah 2:2, Micah 4:1, Ezekiel 38:16, Hosea 3:4,5, and Jeremiah 23:20,21; 30:24; 48:47; 49:39.
Speaking to Daniel in chapter 10 verse 14, the angel said: “And I have come to cause you to discern what will befall your people in the final part of the days”. In saying “your people”, who was the angel referring to? Was he not referring to Daniel’s own people, the Israelites? When did the nation of Israel cease to exist? Was it not with the destruction of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem by the Romans between 66 CE and 73 CE?
So ask your audience, what must the ‘Final Part of the Days’ refer to?
Surely the final part of the days must logically refer to the first century leading up to this destruction and scattering of the remnants of the Jewish people.
The indication from the Scriptures considered is that:
- Jesus gained the legal right to be King at birth, (approximately October 2 BCE) [WT agrees]
- Jesus was anointed and appointed King at his baptism by his Father, (29 CE) [WT agrees]
- Jesus received his power upon his resurrection and sat at the right hand of his Father (33 CE) [WT agrees]
- Jesus is sitting at God’s right hand until he comes in glory and exercises his power at Armageddon. (Future Date) [WT agrees]
- Jesus did not become King in 1914 CE. There is no scriptural evidence to support this. [WT disagrees]
Scriptures that support the above conclusions include: Matthew 2:2; 21:5; 25:31-33; 27:11-12, 37; 28:18; Mark 15:2, 26; Luke 1:32, 33; 19:38; 23:3, 38; John 1:32-34, 49; 12:13-15; 18:33 ,37; 19:19; Acts 2:36; 1 Corinthians 15:23, 25; Colossians 1:13; 1 Timothy 6:14,15; Revelation 17:14; 19:16
[i] Witnesses believe Christ became King in the heavens in early October of 1914.
[iii] Joseph was Jesus’ father to those who either were not aware of or did not accept his origin being from the heavens.
[vi] It-2 p. 59 para 8 Jesus Christ Jesus’ anointing with holy spirit appointed and commissioned him to carry out his ministry of preaching and teaching (Lu 4:16-21) and also to serve as God’s Prophet. (Ac 3:22-26) But, over and above this, it appointed and commissioned him as Jehovah’s promised King, the heir to David’s throne (Lu 1:32, 33, 69; Heb 1:8, 9) and to an everlasting Kingdom. For that reason he could later tell Pharisees: “The kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Lu 17:20, 21) Similarly, Jesus was anointed to act as God’s High Priest, not as a descendant of Aaron, but after the likeness of King-Priest Melchizedek.
[vii] “While Jesus taught and performed miracles that clearly identified him as the promised King of that Kingdom, the Pharisees, lacking clean hearts and genuine faith, simply became more opposed. They doubted Jesus’ credentials and claims. So he laid the facts before them: The Kingdom, represented by its designated King, was ‘in their midst.’ He did not ask that they look inside themselves.* Jesus and his disciples were standing before them. “God’s kingdom is here with you,” he said.—Luke 17:21, Contemporary English Version.”
[viii] “Pronouncement of judgment. All enemies of God’s Kingdom will then be forced to witness an event that will intensify their agony. Jesus states: “They will see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory.” (Mark 13:26) This supernatural display of power will signal that Jesus has come to pronounce judgment. In another part of this same prophecy about the last days, Jesus gives more details about the judgment that will be pronounced at this time. We find that information in the parable of the sheep and the goats. (Read Matthew 25:31-33, 46.) Loyal supporters of God’s Kingdom will be judged as “sheep” and will “lift up [their] heads,” realizing that their “deliverance is getting near.” (Luke 21:28) However, Kingdom opposers will be judged as “goats” and will “beat themselves in grief,” realizing that “everlasting cutting-off” awaits them.—Matt. 24:30; Rev. 1:7.”
[ix] “Pilate does not leave the issue at that. He asks: “Well, then, are you a king?” Jesus lets Pilate know that he has drawn the right conclusion, answering: “You yourself are saying that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is on the side of the truth listens to my voice.”—John 18:37.”