Reigning with the Lamb

Disciples reign with Jesus as priests that render service in his Tabernacle and mediate his light in the world

The present reign of Jesus is based on his past death and resurrection because of which his disciples also reign with him. But like him, their elevation to rule over the earth is paradoxical - it is characterized by self-sacrificial service and perseverance in testimony, and the outpouring of his lifeblood has consecrated them as “priests” to God.

Priestly service IS what it means to reign with the “Lamb,” and this role echoes the original mission given by Yahweh to Israel at Mount Sinai - You will be for me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation” - (Exodus 19:6).

(Revelation 1:5-6) – “Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. Unto him who loves us and loosed us from our sins by his blood; and he made us a kingdom, priests for his God and Father.”


In the Greek text of the passage from Revelation, “kingdom” is set in apposition to “priests” - the latter term defines the former. This is a priestly kingdom, therefore, its members execute their royal duties ASpriests.” There is one group in view, not two; “priestly kings,” not “priests” and “kings.”

Jesus is the glorious “Son of Man,” a high priestly figure who serves in the sanctuary and walks amongseven golden lampstands.” This picture reflects the ancient Tabernacle that featured a seven-branched lampstand. And he is clothed with the full-length linen robe of the high priest that is held together by a “golden girdle.”

In this sanctuary, Jesus tends the seven “lampstands,” trimming their wicks and replenishing oil as needed. And the “golden lampstands” represent the “seven churches of Asia” that he oversees from the heavenly Tabernacle – (Revelation 1:12-20).

To the saint who “overcomes,” this Son of Man promises to “grant him to sit down with me in my throne, just as I also overcame and sat down with my Father in his throne.” But to rise to such a high honor, the disciple must “overcome” in the same manner that he did; that is, just as he became the “faithful witness” who loved us and “loosed us from our sins by his blood.”

Saints do not attain regal status by conquering their persecutors or enslaving other men, but by overcoming sin, and Satan, persevering in tribulation, and bearing faithful testimony to the larger world – (Revelation 3:21).


In the vision of the throne at the center of the universe, only the “slain Lamb” is found “worthy” to open the “sealed scroll.” Though he is the “lion of the tribe of Judah,” he fulfills that role as the sacrificial “Lamb.” This understanding is confirmed by the myriad of voices raised in his praise:

  • Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain and purchased unto God with your blood men from every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation,  and made them unto our God a kingdom and priests; and they reign upon the earth…Worthy is the Lamb that has been slain to receive the power, and riches, and wisdom, and might, and honor, and glory, and blessing.” – (Revelation 5:9-12).

Once again, the call of ancient Israel is applied to the people redeemed by the “Lamb,” the men and women purchased by his blood who are constituted a “kingdom and priests.” Therefore, “they are reigning on the earth.”

And as priestly kings, they bear testimony and reflect his light on the earth.

In the vision of the “innumerable multitude,” John sees men “clothed in white robes” coming out of the “Great Tribulation” who have washed their robes and made them white “in the blood of the Lamb.” They are standing before the “Lamb” in the sanctuary, and “He that sits on the throne shall spread his tabernacle over them.”


The “white robes” worn by the saints are based on the garments worn by Aaron and his sons when they were installed as priests in the original Tabernacle. Thus, once more, overcoming saints are pictured as priests at worship, only in the Greater Tabernacle established by the “Lamb”– (Leviticus 8:6-7, Revelation 7:9-17).

This priestly company is “rendering divine service” before the throne. This translates the Greek verb latreuô, the same verb applied to the service of the Levitical priests in the ancient Greek version of Leviticus, the Septuagint. And here, present-tense verbs are used – these priests are “SERVING him day and night” in the sanctuary.

The priestly role of the saints becomes clearer when John “measures” the “sanctuary,” the “altar,” and “those who were rendering divine service” in it (latreuô), that is, the priests conducting their duties before the “altar.”

After he “measures” the “sanctuary,” the entire “holy city” is handed over to the nations and “trampled underfoot forty-two months” – (Revelation 11:1-2).

This same reality is found in the vision of the “Beast from the sea.” It is given a “mouth speaking great things” with which it “slanders the tabernacle, those that dwell in the heaven.” In the Greek clause, there is no conjunction between “tabernacle” and “they who tabernacle.” The two terms are in apposition and the latter defines the former.

This understanding is confirmed by the next verse - “it was given to it to make war with the saints, and to overcome them.” The “Beast” wages war on the priestly company that stands “rendering divine service” (latreuô).

This is in deliberate contrast to the “inhabitants of the earth” that “render homage” (proskeneô) to the “Beast” – (Revelation 13:4-7).


The “kingdom of priests” is presented once more at the start of the “thousand years.” After Satan is bound in the “Abyss,” judgment is given to the martyrs who die for the “testimony of Jesus and the word of God, and such as did not render homage to the beast.”

They “lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years… Over these, the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and reign with him a thousand years.” They qualify to reign with him because they willingly give their lives in service to the “Lamb.”

Thus, Jesus is a priestly figure in the book of Revelation. His sacrifice redeems men, and he now reigns as their high priest. In turn, his lifeblood consecrates them as “priests” who serve and reign with him on the earth. And they are summoned to rule in the same manner that he did – through sacrificial priestly service on behalf of others.



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