The Extent of Christ’s Mediatorial Dominion

There is no doctrine in all of Scripture more forgotten than the Mediatorial Dominion of Christ. Rarely is it ever chosen to be taught in Bible studies or devotionals. The doctrine is so neglected that we’ve forgotten what it means for Jesus to be king. What exactly do we mean when we sing on Sunday morning, “rejoice, the Lord is king,” or “crown him with many crowns”? What exactly is Jesus king of, and how far does his dominion extend? When asked this question, many Christians are quick to reduce the extent of Christ’s reign to strictly the church. We are often told he rules the hearts and minds of his people. While this is certainly true, it is incomplete. The extent of Christ’s Mediatorial Dominion reaches over all of creation, both visible and invisible. It includes all creatures both heavenly and earthly. His reign is both comprehensive and universal in that it includes all things, and not limited to the church only.

As Abraham Kuyper rightly states— “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”[1]. William Symington who pioneered in systematizing this subject said, “No doctrine in Scripture is supported by clearer or more abundant EVIDENCE than the universality of Christ’s mediatorial supremacy.”[2] Rock star, Elvis Presley expressed that Christ’s kingship outranked his own fame and popularity even over the realm of entertainment. During the 1974 Fantasy Concert in Memphis he addressed his fans and told them “I can’t accept this kingship thing because to me there is only one king—Christ.”

What is Christ’s mediatorial dominion? 

The term “Mediatorial Dominion” was first popularized by the Scottish covenanters of the 18th and 19th centuries and is meant to denote a special power and authority that was given to Christ as mediator. This dominion is “mediatorial” because Christ possesses it as the one who works reconciliation (or mediates) between fallen man and the perfect God of Scripture. Since Christ’s mediation is accomplished through the incarnation (God becoming flesh), we must associate the Mediatorial Dominion as that which has been given to Jesus as the God-man (Matt 11:27; 28:18; John 17:2; Heb 1:2).  

The term “dominion” as well as “mediatorial” is also appropriate because it conveys the idea of a sovereign lord exercising power to rule or control that which is under their authority. The term is steadily disappearing in common vernacular. Modern Bible translations use the word much less than the older ones, and so, the lack of everyday use of the word warrants a definition.

In order to properly define “dominion,” we must consult a fellow christian man, Noah Webster. He defines “dominion” as: The Sovereign or supreme authority; the power of governing and controlling.[3] A more explicitly biblical definition offered by the James Hastings Bible Dictionary conveys the same idea: “Dominion – Lordship, or the possession and exercise of the power to rule.”[4] Dominion is the combination of both de jury and de facto authority; the right to rule as well as the ability to rule.

And so, when speaking of Christ’s dominion, we are speaking of the simultaneous out-working of both Christ’s authority and divine power. It refers to that universal Ἐξουσία (power to rule) Jesus obtained from God at his ascension (Dan 7:13-14; Matt 28:18), thus, Christ’s Mediatorial Dominion refers to his power to rule over that which has been placed under his authority as the mediator between God and man; the sacrificial lamb who came to take away the sin of the world to reunite us with God the Father.

Why exactly is there disagreement concerning the extent of Christ’s dominion? After all, isn’t he God, and doesn’t God possess ultimate sovereignty over all creation? He certainly does! However, Christ’s Mediatorial Dominion should be distinguished from God’s sovereignty over creation.

The disputation over the extent of Christ’s reign is not over whether he has ultimate sovereignty over creation as God. The vast majority of Christianity agrees on this, for Scripture plainly states, “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein,” (Psa 24:1). God also claims for Himself that, “…Whatever is under the whole heaven is mine” (Job 41:11). Even in Abraham’s day God was called, “Possessor of heaven and earth” (Gen 14:19).

No one is questioning God’s omnipotence and ownership over the earth he created (Col 1:15-17); rather, what is in question is the extent of the power and authority that was given to Jesus as the Word who became flesh, and not merely as the eternal logos. That is why we must make a distinction between the sovereignty of God and the Mediatorial Dominion that was given to Christ as the God-man or sacrificial lamb. 

Christ’s Mediatorial Dominion is Universal

The extent of Christ’s dominion is universal and not just limited to the church. God has appointed Christ heir of all things (Heb 1:2) and subjected all things under his feet (Psa 8:6; Eph 1:22; Matt 11:27; 28:18). There is nothing outside his domain. Christ is said to be king of—

The heavenly realm. We read that God has exalted him “Far above all rule and power and dominion…” (Eph 1:21), terms understood to be referring to angelic forces, whether good or evil. God has made the name of Jesus superior to the angels (Heb 1:4). Peter speaks of Christ as one “who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him (1 Pet 3:22). As Christians, we can take comfort in the fact that Christ now commands the angels to do his biding for our good and protection (Psa 78:49; 91:11; 103:20; Heb 1:14), and restrains the fallen angels (Matt 12:28; Luke 11:20) until the time of their judgement (Matt 8:29; Jude 6). 

The church. No territory of Christ’s dominion is more clearly stated than his royal headship over the Christian church. It is stated that, as a husband is the head of his wife, Christ is the head of the church (Eph 5:23). He is the head of the body, which is the church (Col 1:18). More plainly stated, He is the King of the saints (Rev 15:3Textus Receptus). Every church member must obey Jesus’ every command if they are to call him “Lord” (Luke 6:46). Likewise, church leaders must function within the bounds of their office as explicitly stated in Scripture; not to exceed or fall short of their delegated responsibility to Christ and his church.  

Earthly political leaders. Jesus is called the King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Tim 6:15; Rev 17:14; 19:16), titles which convey not only that his kingly office is superior in righteousness and justice, but also in authority and power. For it is also said that Jesus is ruler of the kings of the earth (Rev 5:1). He has direct authority and power over them. The dominion Christ holds over earthly kings is so serious that the Scriptures give warning to those in political positions:  

“Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (Psa 2:10-12).

Here we see a sanction given to earthly kings for failure to serve and obey the Son, which is stated here to be suffering under Christ’s wrath. The consequences for not adhering to the divine threat has already been put into effect. Evidence for this is seen in the prayer of the believers of Acts chapter 4 where they apply this very psalm to Herod and Pontius Pilot (4:25-28), both of whom failed to give homage to the Christ, but instead plotted against him which resulted in his crucifixion. Had they “kissed the Son,” so to speak, and recognized Jesus as the King of kings, they may not have perished the way they did under the reign of Emperor Gaius who stripped Herod Antipas of his tetrarchy and had him exiled, and ordered Pontius Pilot to commit suicide.[5] The toppling of these two political figures should not be thought of as random historical events; but rather their dreadful outcome along with the fall of modern earthly rulers such as: Gaddafi, Hussein, Hitler, Mussolini, and Pol Pot should be credited to the iron rod of Christ (Psa 2:9) and his divine intervention in the affairs of godless political leaders.

Christ’s authority over earthly kings should have a tremendous impact on how Christians think of civil government. We should recognize first and foremost that Jesus ranks higher than any person holding political office and that they are responsible to serve and obey him as their king. Political parties and affiliations should conform to Christ’s law-word as the supreme governing principle. Where nation’s legislation, declarations or constitutions deviate, Christians must advocate and work toward seeing them align with Christ’s will over his subjects.

Christ’s Mediatorial Dominion is Victorious 

Christ’s Mediatorial Dominion is victoriously conquering its enemies. From the time Jesus first began to rule, it is assumed that his dominion will be met with hostile opposition (Gen 3:15; Psa 110:2). Yet, we are assured that he will eventually be declared triumphant and victorious over all his foes. The premier passage that teaches this is Psalm 110:1:

The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”

The New Testament authors cite this passage more than any other OT scripture. It is quoted over twenty times in the NT (Matt. 22:44; 26:64; Mark 12:36; 14:62; 16:19; Luke 20:42-44; 22:69; Acts 2:34-35; Rom. 8:34; 1 Cor. 15:25; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3, 13; 5:6; 7:17, 21; 8:1; 10:12-13; 12:2). The verse simply teaches that the LORD (God the father) tells David’s Lord (God the Son) to occupy an enthroned position at the Father’s right hand until Christ’s adversaries are conquered. It proclaims that Christ’s enemies are a present reality, but they will not be a future one. Christ will defeat all his enemies from the first to the last and will not step off his throne until the task is complete. He has destroyed his first enemy which is the one who has the power of death, namely, the devil (Heb 2:14), and will not stop conquering until he defeats his last enemy which is physical death itself (1 Cor 15:26) and every foe in between.

Christ’s Mediatorial Dominion has begun

The New Testament speaks of Christ’s reign as something that has already begun. Jesus is said to be head over all things in this age (Eph 1:21). When speaking of himself, Jesus says in his priestly prayer to the Father, “you have given him authority over all flesh” (John 17:2). Jesus elsewhere states that “All things have been handed over to me by my Father…” (Matt 11:27). He also says to the apostles right before his ascension, “all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matt 28:18). Peter says of him, “God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” (Acts 2:36). These passages speak of the establishment of Christ’s universal lordship in the past tense. Hence, his reign has begun. 

Christ was given his kingly authority as a reward for enduring the cross. It is because of Jesus’ humiliation and death on the cross that God has, therefore, “highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name” (Phil 2:9). The author of Hebrews says that Jesus was “crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone” (Heb 2:9). 

Conclusion

Christ’s Mediatorial Dominion is comprehensive, victorious, and it has already begun. The doctrine inescapably impacts our views on how we should conduct evangelism, apologetics, church ministry, politics, law, family life, business, economics, medicine, and art and entertainment for the reason that everything we experience in our day to day lives fall under the dominion of Lord Jesus. Every area of life belongs to the King of kings, and for that reason, Christians should want and work to see the increase of his government see no bounds or end (Isa 9:7).


References:

[1] Kuyper, Abraham, and James D. Bratt. Abraham Kuyper: a Centennial Reader. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998.

[2] Symington, William. Messiah the Prince: the Mediatorial Dominion of Jesus Christ. Pittsburgh, PA: Crown & Covenant Publications, 2012.

 [3] Webster, Noah. “Webster’s Dictionary 1828 – Dominion.” Websters Dictionary 1828. Accessed May 11, 2019. http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/Dominion.

[4] Hastings, James. Entry for ‘Dominion’. Hastings’ Dictionary of the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/hdb/d/dominion.html. 1909.

[5] Eusebius of Caesarea, circa 313-326 A.D. Ecclesiastical History, book two, chapter 7.

Published by Ben Moore

Hi, I'm Ben Moore, a Christian worldview writer. This site is committed to seeing Christ's kingdom permeate throughout all of life, including the social institutions that God has designed; family, church, and civil government. While Christian churches have been focused on applying the Bible to the heart of the individual, its application to society is often neglected, lost, or even rejected. The content of this site predominately speaks into these issues and wants to discover how God's word applies beyond the life of the individual Christian and to the public square.

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