Q: Regarding 1 Corinthians 15:24-26:24 Then [comes] the end, when He delivers the kingdom to God the Father, when He puts an end to all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign till He has put all enemies under His feet. 26 The last enemy [that] will be destroyed [is] death. The Scriptures teach that Christ’s kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and of his dominion there is no end. According to Luke 1:33 “And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” In what sense, then, can he be said to deliver up his kingdom to God the Father? Are we talking here of two kingdoms?
A: This is a great question from Marlyn Loves God, who is correct in her assertion that He will reign eternally, and that He will deliver the kingdom to His Father. She understands both passages correctly, and thus asks the right questions: (1) How does He hand over the kingdom to the Father? And (2) are there two kingdoms in view?
(1) How does He hand over His kingdom to the Father?
The verb translated “hand over” is paradido, the root of which Paul uses 18 times elsewhere. In 1 Cor. 15:3, Paul uses the term to explain how he handed the gospel to the Corinthians. Notice that this was not transference, in the sense that Paul no longer had the gospel, but rather a delivering that allowed the Corinthians to be co-sharers with him in the gospel. Paul uses the same term in 11:3 and 23 with the same basic meaning. So there is precedent for the word being utilized to reference a delivering without abdicating.
In short, Jesus is not abdicating the kingdom, but providing for the Father the fulfillment of all the kingdom promises. In this sense, Jesus cashes the checks the Father writes, so to speak.
The “end” referenced in 15:24 is not the end of Jesus’ rule, but the telos – the end or completion of the age. That takes place at His coming (15:23). In other words, the moment He sits on the throne Jesus is delivering the kingdom to His Father. In so doing, He puts an end to all authority and power – meaning other than Him, of course. At the conclusion of the first thousand years of His reign, He judges all – including death (Rev. 20:14).
After defeating these enemies, He continues His reign into perpetuity (e.g., Lk. 1:33).
(2) Are there two kingdoms in view?
Short answer: No. When the Bible speaks of His “kingdom,” it is referencing one of two aspects of a single kingdom. First, God has an eternal spiritual kingdom. It is this aspect of the kingdom spoken of in Colossians 1:13, for example. Secondly, God promised (2 Sam. 7, for example) that His spiritual kingdom would come to earth and have a physical manifestation. This is the theocratic kingdom in which Jesus will one day rule over Israel (Lk. 1:33; Rev. 20, etc.). So the Bible is talking about one kingdom which is spiritual, and which will one day have a physical manifestation.
It is important to note that there is no spiritual kingdom of God on earth or in the hearts of believers – the Bible never speaks of such a thing. There is one kingdom (His eternal spiritual kingdom in the “heavenlies”), and that kingdom has a future physical manifestation (in fulfillment of the Davidic promises). This is the primary reason, I believe, that Matthew refers to the kingdom of heaven when he speaks of God’s kingdom coming to earth – it is not a new kingdom, nor a different one. It is truly, the heavenly kingdom come to earth at Christ’s second coming.
If we understand His kingdom in those terms, it simplifies things substantially, and keeps us from “already not yet” error and further from trying to install His kingdom on earth – a kingdom that only Jesus Himself can deliver. Perhaps a great many evils in church history might have been prevented if the church was more attentive to the Biblical theology of the kingdom.
Hope that helps…