The Heir and the Joint-heirs

The New Testament uses various symbolic illustrations to describe the relationship between the universal Church and Jesus Christ. These symbolic illustrations can help us to get a better understanding of our relationship with Christ. We have looked at some of these symbolic illustrations already, and today we discuss Christ’s relationship with the universal Church as illustrated by the Heir and the joint-heirs.

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Heir and Joint-heirs

Two texts depict Christ and his universal Church as the Heir and the joint-heirs (cf. Fruchtenbaum 2005:25). The first text is Hebrews 1:1b-2: “…God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things…” Christ is the Son and Heir of all things; He inherits all things from God the Father.

The second text is Romans 8:16-17: “The Spirit himself bears with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow-heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Think on this: we come as the poorest and vilest of sinners to the cross of Christ, there we find forgiveness in Him and then, because of our relationship with Jesus Christ, the Son of God, we become Christ’s fellow-heirs. Is God not wonderful! Since believers have become adopted children of God, we have become joint-heirs with the Heir, the Lord Jesus Christ (Fruchtenbaum 2005:25). (Saints who died prior to Pentecost are also joint-heirs, but our focus in this series is on Christ and his universal Church.)

Three Applications of this Illustration

  1. Sufferings in this life will lead to glorification (cf. Romans 8:17). According to 1 Peter 1:10-11, it is first the sufferings (of Christ) and then the subsequent glories. See also 1 Corinthians 4:8. Many people today labour under the illusion that not only can they avoid suffering and persecution, but that they can now “name & claim” it. They err because they erroneously think that the kingdom has already been established in terms of the Davidic Covenant. They are wrong (cf. Matthew 22:44; Hebrews 2:5-8). Even if this were the case (but it is not!), God the Father is the Lord of heaven and earth (cf. Matthew 11:25); He is sovereign and He decides who inherits what (cf. Matthew 20:23). Can the creature dictate terms to the Creator? If you want to investigate this further, read the interesting article of Vlach (2015:29-43).
  2. Believers are destined to co-reign with Christ and as co-heirs they will exercise authority when the Messianic kingdom is established in terms of the Davidic Covenant (cf. Revelation 2:26; 3:21; 5:10). This will happen once Christ has returned to the earth (cf. Matthew 23:39; 24:29-30).
  3. The third application is that believers’ inheritance includes reward. The degree of authority in the restored Davidic kingdom depends on the rewards received. To be granted authority in the Messianic kingdom is a great honour; faithful servants of the Lord will be rewarded with more authority in the kingdom (cf. Matthew 19:28; 20:23; 25:20-23). In Matthew, this inheritance-reward is depicted as treasure (Scholtz 2015:3).

Honour and praise and glory to the Heir, the Lord Jesus Christ: great things He has done, great things He is doing and great things He will yet do!

Our next article in this series about the symbolic illustrations of the universal Church will focus on the Vine and the branches.


If you would like to read more about the Universal Church, we suggest you read the original article and source of this short series, The Universal Church, written by Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum and published in 2005 by Ariel Ministries in San Antonio.

We also made use of Reading Matthew 13 as a Prophetic Discourse: The Four Parables Presented in Private by J.J. Scholtz, which was published in 2015 by In die Skriflig 49(1), Art. #1887, 7 pages and God’s Kingdom and the Miraculous by M.J. Vlach, which was published in 2015 by The Master’s Seminary Journal 25/2: 29–43.

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