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§ 37. The Regal Office.

To Him, who announced to the world God’s gracious purpose of redemption, and who Himself accomplishes the redemption, the dominion over the world is committed; and, in exercising this dominion, He performs a regal function. This regal dignity belongs to Christ, as God, from eternity; but from the moment of His incarnation His humanity also participated in it. [1] Yet, as long as He tarried here upon earth, He did not exercise this regal dominion in its full extent; but rather, as long as He was in the state of humiliation, refrained, for the most part, from its use and exercise, and not until the time of His exaltation did He enter upon the complete exercise of this, His regal dominion. [2] Inasmuch as Christ is thus King and Lord of the world, His dominion extends over everything that is in the world and belongs to it; and there appertains to Him not only the preservation and government of the world in general, but also the preservation and government of the Church in particular. At the same time, this His dominion extends not only over the present, but equally also over the future world. This kingdom of Christ is, in itself, only one, and embraces the whole world, the present and the future, with all that it contains. Yet this one kingdom can also be distinguished as a threefold one, in the same sense in which we distinguish at present the world and the Church, and in which we distinguish the citizens of this and of the future life, of heaven and of earth. Accordingly, the world and the Church, in this life, are regarded as each a special kingdom, over which Christ rules; and those who are in the life to come constitute the third kingdom. This threefold kingdom is designated as the kingdom of power, of grace, and of glory. The first is called the Kingdom of Power, because it is the kingdom in which Christ exercises His divine power by governing and upholding the world; the second is called the Kingdom of Grace, because in this Christ operates through His saving grace; the third is called the Kingdom of Glory, because He therein unfolds, in all its perfection, His divine glory before the eyes of all who are there assembled. [3]


The regal office is accordingly defined as, “The theanthropic function of Christ, whereby He divinely controls and governs, according to both natures the divine and the human (and the latter, as exalted to the Right Hand of Majesty), all creatures whatever, in the kingdom of power, grace, and glory, by infinite majesty and power: as to the divinity, by virtue of eternal generation; as to the assumed humanity, by virtue of the personal union belonging to Him.” (QUEN., III, 264.) [4]

To the Kingdom of Power (“in which Christ powerfully rules over this universe, and upholds it and providentially governs it”) belong all creatures in the world, visible and invisible; [5] Christ’s dominion extends over them all, and all must be subject unto Him. By Him everything is upheld and governed. [6]

To the Kingdom of Grace (“in which Christ collects the Church Militant upon earth, governs it, furnishes it with spiritual gifts, preserves and defends it, to the praise of the divine name, to the destruction of Satan’s kingdom, and the salvation of believers,” Jer. 23:5; 33:15; Zech. 9:9; HOLL., 763) belong those who believe in Christ, the members of His Church. To enlarge this Church, and to bestow upon its members all the blessings of the Gospel, is the regal function which Christ exercises in this kingdom, [7] and the Word and Sacraments are the means which He uses for that purpose. [8] This kingdom will, it is true, come to an end in this world, but only by passing over into the kingdom of glory. [9]

To the Kingdom of Glory, finally (“in which Christ most gloriously rules the Church Triumphant in heaven, and fills it with eternal felicity, to the praise of the divine name and the eternal refreshment of the saved,” Matt. 25:34; John 17:24; HOLL., 763), belong all the inhabitants of heaven, the good angels and redeemed men. They behold the Lord in His glory, as He shows Himself to the dead, when He awakens them to life. [10] This glory of the Lord begins with the time of His ascension to heaven, but will not be perfectly unfolded until, after the final judgment, believers also will enter into the kingdom of His glory, to share with Him its possession. Matt. 25:34. [11]

[1] QUEN. (III, 260): “Just as Christ, in His prophetic and 372sacerdotal offices, acts and works according to both natures, so also, according to both natures, in this regal office He acts and performs His part; for He rules over all creatures, not only as God, according to His divinity, but also as man, according to His exalted humanity.” The Holy Scriptures speak of a regal dignity in Ps. 2:6; 20:9; 45:1, 3, 5; 47:7; Heb. 2:7, 8; Ps. 8:6; 97; 5; 2 Sam. 23:3; 1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 17:14; 19:16.

QUEN. further remarks (III, 261): “One in number is that regal power which Christ, according to His divine nature, has, and according to His human nature, possesses. Only the mode of having it varies; for what, according to His divinity, He has by eternal generation from eternity, that, according to His humanity, through and because of the personal union, He has received in time, and fully exercises now in the state of exaltation.” His power to rule, even according to His human nature, is evident from Ps. 8:6; Jer. 23:5; John 17:5.

[2] HOLL. (764): “Christ immediately, in His very conception, was anointed to a regal dignity, and, during His visible intercourse upon the earth, possessed the power to rule, and sometimes exercised it according to His pleasure. But, in the state of humiliation, He voluntarily refrained from the most full and uninterrupted employment of His rule.” Christ, therefore, “during that time in which He visibly dwelt on this earth, was a true King. Luke 2:11; 19:35; Mark 14:61. There is an antithesis of the Socinians, who say that Christ, before His resurrection, was not actually a King; although they do not deny that before His death, He was described as a King.” (HOLL., 764.) QUEN. (III, 264): “A distinction must, therefore, be made here between the appointment to this regal office and the refraining from the full administration and use of the same. Christ, as man, was King and Lord even in the womb (Luke 1:43), in the manger (Luke 2:11), in bonds (John 18:37), on the cross (Luke 23:42); and yet did not actually exercise that dominion.” That Christ also possessed regal power in the state of humiliation, the Dogmaticians regard as proved by His performing miracles.

[3] HUTT. and HFRFFR. still account, as belonging to the regal office, only His dominion over believers; and GRH., who was contemporaneous with them, was the first to include under the regal office all the relations in which Christ is Lord and King, and in this they were imitated by all the later Dogmaticians. Of course, no doctrinal difference was hereby intended. The faith of the Church always was, that Christ was Lord and King of the world. Thus we have it stated, e.g., by CHMN. (De duab. naturis, 205): 373“Scripture clearly affirms that to Christ, even according to His humanity, as Lord, all things have been made subject, not only in the Church, but all things in general; . . . and distinct and express mention is made of the beasts of the field, the fowls of the air, the fish of the sea, and all the works of God’s hands, whether they be in heaven, or on earth, or under the earth, even of the enemies of Christ, and, therefore, the devil and death itself, as being in this subjection.” The difference is only this, that GRH. was the first to introduce the method of arranging under one head all that is to be said concerning the dominion of Christ.

As to the division itself. GRH. (III, 578): “The kingdom of Christ is considered either in this or in the future life. In this life, it is called the kingdom of power or grace; . . . in the life to come, it is called the kingdom of glory.” BR. (498): “The regal office of Christ is threefold, according to the diverse nature of those whom He regards as His subjects, and governs diversely. For although, if you regard the words themselves, the kingdom of grace, as well as that of glory, may seem to be comprised under the kingdom of power, as both truly depend upon divine power imparted to the human nature of Christ, yet the usus loquendi requires it to be named the kingdom of grace, with respect to the spiritual blessings which are conferred in this world, and the kingdom of glory, with respect to the glory of the future world; while the kingdom of power signifies a universal government.” QUEN. (III, 264): “Some say that Christ reigns in the world by power, in the Church by grace, in heaven by glory, and in hell by justice.” In regard to the last, HOLL. observes (763): “You say, that ‘also a fourth kingdom of Christ is mentioned, viz., the kingdom of justice over the wicked angels and condemned men. Reply: We refer the kingdom of justice to the kingdom of power.” On the other hand, BR. (501): “Some, referring both (the kingdom of glory and the kingdom of justice) to the same kingdom of glory, say that the glorifying of the elect belongs by itself to the former; but the condemnation of the wicked . . . they refer to the latter in the manner in which under other circumstances opposites are wont to be referred to the same faculty.”

The threefold division is, accordingly, not to be understood as if there were three separate kingdoms over which Christ rules, but the reason of the division lies (1) partly in the different divine influences which Christ exerts. The same persons who are in the kingdom of grace are also in the kingdom of power; but in the one kingdom the divine saving grace, and in the other the divine power, is exercised; (2) partly in the difference of the places in which they 374are found, over which Christ rules, viz., in the one case upon earth, and in the other in heaven.

QUEN. (III, 264): “The kingdom of grace includes, or rather presupposes, the kingdom of power; for the kingdom of power is required for the kingdom of grace, or the Church, which in this world is to be established, ruled, etc., through the ministry of the Spirit by means of the Word and Sacraments.”

[4] GRH. (III, 578): “The regal office is that according to which Christ as the God-man governs all things in heaven and earth, and especially protects His Church against enemies.” On the other hand, HFRFFR. (353) (see note 3): “The regal office is that according to which, to the end of the world, through the ministry of the Word, He collects His citizens, and, having furnished them with eminent gifts, vigorously defends them against enemies (in whose midst He rules), and at length crowns them with eternal glory and honor.”

[5] QUEN. (III, 265): “The object or matter with which this government is occupied comprises all the works of God in general, or all creatures, visible, invisible, corporeal, incorporeal, animate, inanimate, rational, irrational. Ps. 8:6, 7, 8; 1 Cor. 15:27, 28; Heb. 2:7, 8; Eph. 1:21, 22; 1 Pet. 3:22.”

[6] GRH. (III, 578): “The kingdom of power is the general dominion over all things, or the governing of heaven and earth, Ps. 8:6; Dan. 7:14; Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:21; the subjugation of all creatures, 1 Cor. 15:27; Eph. 1:20; Heb. 2:8; dominion in the midst of His enemies, whom He suppresses, restrains, and punishes, Ps. 2:9; 110:2; 1 Cor. 15:25.”

[7] HOLL. (763): “The subjects, in this kingdom of grace, are all believing men, who constitute the Church Militant. The regal acts are the collecting, governing, adorning, and preservation of the Church, His defense of it against the enemies of grace, and His ruling in their midst. John 3:5; 17:17; Eph. 5:26; Tit. 3:5; Matt. 28:20.” When QUEN. (III, 268), on the other hand, says: “The object of the kingdom of grace, according to the antecedent will, comprises all men universally, but the godly and believing especially,” he means to say only that participation in the blessings of the Church is intended for, and sincerely offered to all men, and, therefore, does not contradict the statement of HOLL.

[8] QUEN. (III, 267): “The Word and Sacraments are the instrumental cause, for it pleased the King in Zion, Ps. 2:6, to act here ordinarily in no other way than by the Word and Sacraments, and by these means to collect, increase, and preserve on this earth a Church for Himself. Matt. 4:23; 9:35; 24:14.”


[9] QUEN. (III, 270): “The end of the world will indeed terminate the mode of the kingdom of grace, but not the essence of the kingdom. That which is said in 1 Cor. 15:24, concerning the giving up of this kingdom, is to be understood, not as applying to the government itself, but only to the mode of governing, and the form and quality of the government; because Christ will govern no longer through means, namely, through the word and Sacraments, through the cross and among enemies, but, all enemies being put down, the last enemy, viz., death, being destroyed, and the wicked being cast into hell, He will deliver the kingdom to God the Father, i.e., He will hand over the captive enemies and establish the elect, among whom He hold His spiritual kingdom. Therefore there will be a triumphal handing over of subjugated enemies, and a presentation of liberated believer. By this act of handing over, Christ will not lay aside the administration of His spiritual and heavenly kingdom, but will then only enter upon another mode of ruling.” QUEN. then quotes approvingly Dorschaeus: “This handling over will be not actus depositionis, sed propositionis. Christ will not at the consummation, lay down the kingdom, which, up to the consummation, He has governed in grace and in glory; but He will present it to God the Father for His inspection and glory. Just as a general, after having destroyed all his enemies, presents to the king, who through him has waged the war, the victorious and triumphant army, the saved citizens, and the free people, and tenders them to him, that he may judge and approve his deeds, and nevertheless does not lay down the power which he had over the army; so, much more, when the world is ended, and all enemies have been suppressed, shall Christ, as the Son, place His immaculate (Eph. 5:27) ecclesiastical army in the presence of God the Father, before His tribunal, Rom. 14:10, and shall say: ‘These are they who are not defiled, who have followed me, the Lamb, whithersoever I have gone, who are the first fruits to Thee, O God, the Father, and to me the Lamb, Rev. 14:4.’”

[10] HOLL. (763): “The subjects in this kingdom of glory are both good angels and glorified men (who in faith continue in the kingdom of grace to the end. Matt. 24:13; Rev. 2:10). The regal acts are: the raising to life of the believing dead, their solemn introduction into life eternal, Matt. 25:34; Luke 22:29, 30, and the most happy and glorious rule over them.”

[11] QUEN. (III, 273): “Christ, the king of glory, indeed, even as a man, immediately from His first conception, was the possessor of all glory, but did not actually rule gloriously until after His exaltation, when His sufferings were finished. This very kingdom 376of glory will truly receive its final completion in the general resurrection of the dead, the assembling of all of the elect, and their translation to the possession of the heavenly inheritance, and thence will endure to eternity.”


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