What in the World? Matthew 19:28

David Burchard Exposition Leave a Comment

And Jesus said to them, “Truly I say to you, that you who have followed Me, in the regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”

Sometimes you’re reading through the Bible, get to a verse, and just have to say, “Huh? What in the world does that mean?”

Maybe Matthew 19:28, quoted above, is one such verse for you. I know it was for me the first many times I read it.

Below is my crack at an explanation. Before you think I’m intelligent, I’m just communicating agreement with the man, the myth, the legend, John Gill.

What we have in this verse is a promise from Jesus. We can break it up into 3 parts.

Part 1: Who? To whom does Jesus make this promise?

Part 2: When? When are they to do what Jesus promises?

Part 3: What? What job does Jesus promise to give them?

Part 1: Who? To whom does Jesus make this promise?

Jesus makes the promise to his 12 apostles specifically. This is for them, not for all Christians. Why do I say that? Well, firstly, he is speaking to them. Secondly, there are only 12 thrones to be sat upon, a number that just so happens to coincide with the number of men to whom he is speaking. Judas pulls a Judas later but is replaced by our favorite, ugly preacher man, Paul.

This is a promise to the apostles.

Part 2: When? When are the apostles to do what Jesus promises?

There are two time references in the verse that explain one another, “in the regeneration” and “when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne”.

It is my contention that “in the regeneration” is the new world order of new life in Christ established when Jesus rose from the grave, ascended on high, and sat down on his glorious throne to rule and reign. It’s the time when the old age ends and the new covenant age begins, when Christ begins his millennial rule (oh yeah, I went there…because why not).

So, when are the apostles supposed to do the job Jesus promises them? They’ll get final instructions after the resurrection, in the 40-day window. He’ll rise before their very eyes. And, upon the church’s public baptism of the Spirit at Pentecost, they’ll get busy.

Part 3: What? What does Jesus promise they’ll get to do for him?

The apostles will sit on 12 thrones, meaning they will be given authority. And the authority they have is to judge the 12 tribes of Israel. Where in the Bible do we see the 12 apostles judging the 12 tribes of Israel? This is precisely what we see them doing in their earthly ministries, as they lay the foundation for the church, as Jesus brings an end to Israel and establishes his church.

Israel has rejected its King. Israel has rejected it’s Messiah. So God rejects Israel as his national people. Christ’s apostles pronounce covenantal judgment upon rebellious, hard-hearted Israel.

We see this in New Testament events:

Peter condemns the Jews for crucifying Christ.

The apostles speak in tongues at Pentecost as a sign of covenantal judgment upon Israel.

Paul leaves the synagogues where Christ is rejected and crosses the street to preach to the Gentiles who will hear.

We see this in New Testament epistles:

Paul pronounces the condemnation of God upon the Jews in Romans 2 and Romans 11, making clear that Jews are in the exact same boat of judgment as Gentiles, needing the exact same grace as Gentiles if they would be saved.

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