King of Kings

… which in its own times he will show, who is the blessed and only Ruler, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 1 Timothy 6:[15]

The Greek word for ‘king’ is basileus {βασιλεύς – G935}, meaning ‘one who reigns’. It occurs over a hundred times in the New Testament, mostly in reference to historical kings, like king Herod (Mat 2:1), and king Agrippa (Act 26:27). The corresponding Hebrew word for ‘king’ is melek {מלך – H4428}, also meaning ‘one who reigns’; and basileus is often used to translate melek in the Septuagint translation. Melek occurs nearly two thousand times in the Old Testament and is applied to both Hebrew and heathen rulers.

But Israel did not even have a king for many years after leaving Egypt. Moses had predicted that the Israelites would ask for a king (Deu 17:14-20), but when it actually happened (1Sa 8:4-6), it is clear that this was a sinful request:

1Sa 8:[7] Yahweh said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they tell you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me, that I should not be king over them.

The true king of Israel was supposed to be God himself. But the Israelites were not happy with that situation, and demanded a human king for themselves. God complied with their request anyway, and gave them Saul the son of Kish for a king (1Sa 10:1). But it soon became clear that Saul would not be faithful to God, so God appointed another king for Israel, David the son of Jesse (1Sa 16:1-13):

2Sa 23:[5] For is not my house so with God? For He has made an everlasting covenant with me, ordered in all things, and sure; for all my salvation, and all my desire, will He not make it grow?

Psa 89:[3] “I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David, my servant, [4] ‘I will establish your seed forever, and build up your throne to all generations.’” Selah.

Isa 55:[3] Turn your ear, and come to me; hear, and your soul shall live: and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.

Jer 33:[20] Thus says Yahweh: If you can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, so that there shall not be day and night in their season; [21] then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne; and with the Levites the priests, my ministers.

With the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians (2Ki 25:1-21), it seemed like the promise to David of an everlasting kingship was at an end. Though his lineage would continue (Mat 1:12), they would never again truly be kings in the land of Judah. David’s descendants would only be governors, vassals of foreign kings (Hag 1:1). So the Jews began to look for another king, a descendant of David, who would rise up, and fulfill all the promises God had made to Israel through the house of David. This hope was eventually realized in the person of Jesus Christ, who was often referred to as ‘the Son of David’:

Mat 21:[9] The multitudes who went before him, and who followed kept shouting, “Hosanna to the son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!”

Luk 18:[38] He cried out, “Jesus, you son of David, have mercy on me!” [39] Those who led the way rebuked him, that he should be quiet; but he cried out all the more, “You son of David, have mercy on me!”

Act 13:[34] “Concerning that he raised him up from the dead, now no more to return to corruption, he has spoken thus: ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings of David.

Since Jesus was ‘the Son of David’, it shows that he was heir to the promises given to David, and therefore, the rightful King of Israel.

But First Timothy 6:15 doesn’t refer to God as merely a king, but ‘the King of kings’. This phrase was first applied by God, through the prophet Ezekiel, to king Nebuchadnezzar:

Eze 26:[7] For thus says the Lord Yahweh: Behold, I will bring on Tyre Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, king of kings, from the north, with horses, and with chariots, and with horsemen, and a company, and many people.

Nebuchadnezzar wasn’t merely a king, he was an emperor, king over a multitude of other kings. God is described as being king over all other kings, especially in the book of Revelation:

Rev 17:[14] These will war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, for he is Lord of lords, and King of kings, and those who are with him are called, chosen, and faithful.”

Rev 19:[16] He has on his garment and on his thigh a name written, “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.”

In the book of Revelation, God reveals himself as the ultimate judge of the world, and is enthroned as the king over all other kings. This is the final summation of all things at the end of the world:

Jesus Christ will return from Heaven as He promised, the dead will be resurrected, and the whole world will be judged, all at God’s appointed time. [Psa 96:13; Dan 7:9-14; Dan 12:1-2; Mat 16:27; Mat 25:31-46; Mar 4:22; 13:24-27; Joh 5:28-29; Act 1:11; Act 17:31; Act 24:15; 1Co 15:23-25; 2Co 5:10; 1Th 4:15-17; 2Th 1:7-10; 2Ti 4:1; Heb 9:27-28; 2Pe 3:10-12; Rev 1:7-8; Rev 20:11-13] The Christian Confession of Faith, VII.A

Let’s look at some of the verses the Confession appeals to:

Psa 96:[13] before Yahweh; for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, the peoples with his truth.

Dan 7:[13] I saw in the night visions, and behold, there came with the clouds of the sky one like a son of man, and he came even to the ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. [14] There was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

Mat 16:[27] For the Son of Man will come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will render to everyone according to his deeds.

Mar 13:[24] But in those days, after that oppression, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, [25] the stars will be falling from the sky, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. [26] Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. [27] Then he will send out his angels, and will gather together his chosen ones from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the sky.

Act 17:[31] because he has appointed a day in which he will judge the world in righteousness by the man whom he has ordained; of which he has given assurance to all men, in that he has raised him from the dead.”

2Pe 3:[10] But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fervent heat, and the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. [11] Therefore since all these things will be destroyed like this, what kind of people ought you to be in holy living and godliness, [12] looking for and earnestly desiring the coming of the day of God, which will cause the burning heavens to be dissolved, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?

Rev 20:[11] I saw a great white throne, and him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. There was found no place for them. [12] I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and they opened books. Another book was opened, which is the book of life. The dead were judged out of the things which were written in the books, according to their works. [13] The sea gave up the dead who were in it. Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them. They were judged, each one according to his works.

The book of Revelation is full of strange, terrible, and wonderful imagery, that isn’t always easy to understand. The most important thing to remember through it all, is that God is the King of Kings, and is fully capable of protecting and delivering his people, and causing them to persevere to the end. Of course, this does not mean that there will never be persecution of his people, sometimes intense persecution, even to death. But it does mean that God is capable of preserving them in faithfulness, and belief of the Gospel. Just as it is God who regenerates a person, and causes that person to believe the Gospel, so it is God who preserves that person and causes him or her to persevere in belief of the Gospel:

When God saves a person, He preserves that person from ever returning to a state of lostness and from ever being punished in hell. [Psa 31:23; Psa 37:24,28; Psa 55:22; Psa 66:9; Psa 121:3-8; Pro 2:7-8; Jer 32:39-40; Joh 6:40; Joh 10:28-29; Rom 8:30-39; Eph 1:13-14; Phi 1:6; 2Th 3:3; 2Ti 1:12; 2Ti 4:18; 1Pe 1:3-5; Jud 1:24] The Christian Confession of Faith, V.D.1

Here are some of the verses that show God’s preservation of his people:

Psa 31:[23] Oh love Yahweh, all you his saints! Yahweh preserves the faithful, and fully recompenses him who behaves arrogantly.

Psa 55:[22] Cast your burden on Yahweh, and he will sustain you.
He will never allow the righteous to be moved.

Jer 32:[39] and I will give them one heart and one way, that they may fear me forever, for their good, and of their children after them: [40] and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from following them, to do them good; and I will put my fear in their hearts, that they may not depart from me.

Joh 6:[40] This is the will of the one who sent me, that everyone who sees the Son, and believes in him, should have eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Rom 8:[30] Whom he predestined, those he also called. Whom he called, those he also justified. Whom he justified, those he also glorified. [31] What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? [32] He who didn’t spare his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how would he not also with him freely give us all things? [33] Who could bring a charge against God’s chosen ones? It is God who justifies. [34] Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, yes rather, who was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. [35] Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Could oppression, or anguish, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? [36] Even as it is written, “For your sake we are killed all day long. We were accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”*x1 [37] No, in all these things, we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. [38] For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, [39] nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Php 1:[6] being confident of this very thing, that he who began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

1Pe 1:[3] Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to his great mercy became our father again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, [4] to an incorruptible and undefiled inheritance that doesn’t fade away, reserved in Heaven for you, [5] who by the power of God are guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

This doctrine also does not mean that those who believe the Gospel will never sin, sometimes grievously. But it does mean that their lives will not be characterized by those sins, and those sins will never be ones that demonstrate a lack of belief in the Gospel:

There are sins that God, in His sovereign preserving grace, keeps His people from committing. Any sin that God says proves lostness is, by definition, a sin that a believer cannot commit, even temporarily. These include believing in a false gospel, confessing belief in a false gospel, and speaking peace to one who brings a false gospel. [Jer 8:11; Mat 7:18; Mat 24:24; Mar 16:16; Luk 6:45; Rom 10:3; Gal 1:8-10; 1Jo 1:8,10; 1Jo 2:22-23; 2 Joh 1:9-11] The Christian Confession of Faith, V.D.2

Here are some of the verses that show this doctrine:

Mat 7:[18] A good tree can’t produce evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree produce good fruit.

Rom 10:[3] For being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own righteousness, they didn’t subject themselves to the righteousness of God.

2Jo 1:[9] Whoever transgresses and doesn’t remain in the teaching of Christ, doesn’t have God. He who remains in the teaching, the same has both the Father and the Son. [10] If anyone comes to you, and doesn’t bring this teaching, don’t receive him into your house, and don’t welcome him, [11] for he who welcomes him participates in his evil works.

But it may be objected that some people appear to believe the true Gospel, but then fall away; does this prove that those who are regenerate can become unregenerate?

Those who have professed belief in the gospel but later show themselves to be unregenerate did not lose their salvation. Instead, they show that they were never saved. [Joh 6:64-65; Heb 6:4-6; 1Jo 2:19] The Christian Confession of Faith, V.D.3

Here are some of the verses:

Joh 6: [64] But there are some of you who don’t believe.” For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who didn’t believe, and who it was who would betray him. [65] He said, “For this cause have I said to you that no one can come to me, unless it is given to him by my Father.”

Heb 6:[4] For concerning those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, [5] and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, [6] and then fell away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify the Son of God for themselves again, and put him to open shame.

1Jo 2:[19] They went out from us, but they didn’t belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have continued with us. But they left, that they might be revealed that none of them belong to us.

God, who is the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, preserves his people in a life that is characterized by pursuit of holiness, and a belief in the Gospel. In his Sovereign power, he keeps them in a regenerate state, believing the Gospel throughout their entire lives. They may therefore rest assured in the knowledge that their salvation is secure, being not in their own hands, but in his. Hallelujah!

11 Yea, all the mighty kings on earth
before him down shall fall;
And all the nations of the world
do service to him shall.
12 For he the needy shall preserve,
when he to him doth call;
The poor also, and him that hath
no help of man at all.
(Psalm 72, The Psalms of David in Metre)

See Also:


The Almighty

The Sovereignty of God and Human Responsibility