Answer: Christ’s earthly kingdom begins after Jesus returns to complete and glorify his church and destroy this present evil world. The apostle Paul describes the gathering of the church in 1 Thess. 4:16-17 (NASB): “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: (17) Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” After Jesus returns, he raises his disciples that have been developed during the gospel age and have been resting in death [dead in Christ] and he raises to spiritual life the remaining members of the church as they die.
At the same time Jesus is destroying this present evil world – the selfish, man-made institutions of this world. “Out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.” Rev. 19:15 (NASB) He [Jesus] “shall break them [nations] with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.” (Psa. 2:9 NASB)
This destruction is described by the apostle Peter in 2 Peter 3:10 (NASB): “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up.” “Heavens” and “earth” are used symbolically to describe the man’s spiritual [religious] and earthly [financial, political, social] organizations which will be destroyed because they are selfish and out of harmony with.
Then Jesus will establish his kingdom – “new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.” (2 Peter 3:13 NASB) The spiritual phase of this kingdom [heavens] will be Christ and the church, this kingdom’s spiritual government. As the New Jerusalem, this kingdom will come down from God out of heaven to rule over the earth. “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. (2) And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. (3) And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them.'” (Rev. 21:1-3)
As this kingdom comes down from heaven, it extends its rule over the entire earth. The prophet Isaiah describes this as “Now it will come about that In the last days The mountain of the house of the LORD [Christ’s kingdom] Will be established as the chief of the mountains, And will be raised above the hills; And all the nations will stream to it.” (Isa. 2:2 NASB) When this occurs, the blessing of all mankind promised by Abraham will begin. (Gen. 12:1-3; 22:16-18) Under this kingdom, “He [God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Rev. 21:4 NASB)
Jesus described the initiation of his earthly kingdom in Matt. 25:31-32 (NASB): “When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels [completed church] with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: (32) And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.” Sitting on the throne of Christ’s glory, Christ and the church will judge mankind in righteous during his 1000-year kingdom granting everlasting life to the sheep [obedient of mankind] and everlasting destruction to the goats [disobedient of mankind].
For additional information please see our related booklets and videos below.
Christ’s 1000 Year Kingdom
God’s Promised Blessings to All Nations
The Times of Restitution of All Things
Kingdom of God
Bright Hope for the World
Way of Holiness
Peace Through Christ’s Kingdom
A River of Water of Life
After Armageddon God’s Kingdom