Question from a reader:
If we are all co-heirs with Christ, then who are we going to be ruling over on the New Earth? Otherwise wouldn’t we all just be equal brothers and sisters?
Answer from Randy Alcorn:
Who will we rule? Other people. Angels. If God wishes, he may create new beings for us to rule. Who will rule over us? Other people. There will be a social hierarchy of government, but there’s no indication of a relational hierarchy. In other words, the apostle Paul will be in a position of greater leadership than most of us, but that doesn’t mean he’ll be inaccessible. There will be no pride, envy, boasting, or anything sin-related. Our differences will be a manifestation of God’s creativity. As we’re different in race, nationality, gender, personality, gifting, and passions, so we’ll be different in positions of service.
All of us will have some responsibility in which we serve God. Scripture teaches that our service for him now on Earth will be evaluated to help determine how we’ll serve him on the New Earth. The humble servant will be put in charge of much, whereas the one who lords it over others in the present world will have power taken away: “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Luke 14:11). If we serve faithfully on the present Earth, God will give us permanent management positions on the New Earth. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much” (Luke 16:10). The Owner has his eye on us—if we prove faithful, he’ll be pleased to entrust more to us.
We’ve been conditioned to associate governing with self-promoting arrogance, corruption, inequality, and inefficiency. But these are perversions, not inherent properties of leadership. Ruling involves responsibility—perhaps that’s why some people don’t look forward to it. Some people live in anticipation of retirement, when responsibilities will be removed. Why would they want to take on an eternal task of governing? But what they think they want now and what they’ll really want as resurrected beings—with strong bodies and minds in a society untouched by sin—may be quite different.
Imagine responsibility, service, and leadership that’s pure joy. The responsibility that God will entrust to us as a reward can only be good for us, and we’ll find delight in it. To rule on the New Earth will be to enable, equip, and guide, offering wisdom and encouragement to those under our authority. We’ve so often seen leadership twisted that we’ve lost a biblical view of what ruling, or exercising dominion, really means. God, ruler of the universe, is living proof that ruling can and should be good.