Bible Q&A

I need some help with the scripture in Matthew 19:27 - 30. Will you please explain to me what and when you think this is talking about? The apostles sitting on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel?

Good question!

27  Then Peter answered and said to him, “See, we have left all and followed you. Therefore what shall we have?”
28  So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the son of Man sits on the throne of his glory, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
29  And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life.
30  But many who are first will be last, and the last first.

It all depends of course on when "the regeneration" was, (or is) and when Jesus sat (or will sit) on his throne in glory.
Since we know that Jesus began sitting on his throne of glory on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:33-36, the giving of the Holy Spirit being the proof of it, the regeneration is sometime during that time or thereafter. (cp. Heb.8:1; 12:2)
The time we assign the regeneration will determine it's nature. Then again, the nature that we assign the regeneration will determine its time.
The problem is that this phrase "the regeneration" is used only once in the scriptures, right here.
1.  We could say that the regeneration refers to the time when people would begin to be regenerated. That could be when a person is born again and/or it could be when a person is resurrected from the grave. Both are seen here when Jesus said in Jno.5

25  Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.
26  For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son to have life in himself,
27  and has given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the son of Man.
28  Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear his voice
29  and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.
30  I can of myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and my judgment is righteous, because I do not seek my own will but the will of the Father who sent me. 

By the dead hearing and living in v.25 I take it to mean being born again, which is the moral and spiritual basis upon which someone can later hear his voice and come out of Sheol (the grave) in the resurrection in v.28-29. Notice this also involves a judgement which would fit the question we have before us.
If the regeneration is the time when people would be saved, again it would start on the day of Pentecost when people began receiving the washing of regeneration or baptism. (Tit.3:5-6) Those who heard then lived. Jesus said that you must be born again to enter or even see the kingdom of God. (Jno. 3:3-5). So this fits the regeneration.
I was taught long ago that the disciples judged the twelve tribes of Israel by Jesus giving the keys of the kingdom to them, and whatever they bound on earth (whose soever sins they retained) would have already been bound in heaven, and whatever they loosed on earth (whose soever sins they forgave) would have already been loosed in heaven. (Mt.18:18-20) And therefore a judgement in principle was being meted out to the people of Israel during the 40 years of longsuffering before the end during which the gospel was being proclaimed to that generation. I have no argument with this.
It is my understanding that those who were in the graves came forth after the close of the Jewish nation when Jesus returned with his kingdom and took vengeance on his enemies and had all things put under his feet. Then all those who had died during the ages past B.C. could finally come out of Sheol/Hades, the holding tank (compare those under the altar, Rev.6:9-11), and receive their rewards, some good and some bad.
For this event the writers use the words "restitution of all things" (Acts 3:21) and "the time of reformation" (Heb. 9:10). So it seems that the resurrection is never referred to by the word "regeneration", which is understandable since the resurrection involves ALL who are in the graves, regenerated or not.
2.  It is not that easy. We have Matt.25:31-32

31  “When the son of Man comes in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then he will sit on the throne of his glory.
32  All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.

This, in context, is referring to the end of the age when judgement first begins at the house of God and then gets meted out to all nations, the house of God meaning his servants in the kingdom at that time (the virgins and those with his goods, the talents in the context preceding). "All nations" (ethne)  is different from "all the tribes (phulai) of the land" from Matt. 24:30 which is there referring to Jews. Here it is everyone. So we are looking at the judgement and resurrection at the end of the age
THIS is when he comes and sits on the throne of his glory.
So, I'm thinking that even though he uses the term "regeneration" in Mt.19:28, which in every place refers to Christians being born again, he puts it in the substantive and calls it THE regeneration, at which point we could conclude that he is referring to the same time period as the other two terms of "times of restitution" and "time of reformation", since it is in the context of his coming with his angels and sitting on his throne.
3.  So I am still impressed with the nature of spiritual things being referred to as "the time is coming and now is", a different perspective of time than we have being that our experience is linear. Run a concordance on that phrase for some insights.
To harmonize the two viewpoints, the regeneration could be "coming", in that it would culminate and be perfected at the end of the age when Jesus would come in the glory of his father with all the holy angels, taking vengeance on those who would not have him to reign over them and then sitting on his throne of glory and meting out judgement to everyone who had died up to that time. (Dan.12)
Then again the regeneration could be "now is" in that from Heaven's standpoint, Jesus sat down at the right hand of God and began reigning on the day of Pentecost and those who gladly received his word were baptized for the remission of sins, and so were regenerated. (Acts 2:38-47; Tit.3:5-6)

It is the same dilemma that we have with the coming of the kingdom. It obviously started on the day of Pentecost because Jesus then began reigning as king and people were being translated into the kingdom (Col.1:13). But then Jesus came again with the kingdom that he had received from the Ancient of Days and destroyed Jerusalem and then sat on his throne with the twelve and judged all nations in or around AD 70. (Mk. 8:34-9:1; cp. Matt. 16:24-28)
For me, I really don't have a problem with seeing the principle of the ending in the present, and therefore the appreciation of the fact before the finale. I suspect that this is the perspective that Jesus always had, what Paul refers to as the mind of Christ. (1Cor. 2:16 in context)
However, for an interpretation of Mat.19:27-30, I would lean more toward the coming of Jesus at the end of the age, the perfected realization of the finale - the wrapping up of all the affairs of the Old Testament, and the bringing in of the everlasting kingdom in its completeness.

So, to try to be clear, the short answer is that I believe (at this point), that the Apostles were used in the judgment at the last day to judge those who were resurrected from the dead and had been held in Sheol/Hades until Jesus had died for the sins of the world and when those with faith in God could then take advantage of his sacrifice. That would be all the dead of the world who had died before Jesus came again in his Kingdom. Remember Paul said to the Corinthians, "Don't you know that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?"

Of course Paul was writing some time in the AD 60's and therefore refers to something yet future to those living then. I believe and it is obvious to the diligent student of the New Covenant letters and the sayings of Jesus, that the coming or Parousia of Jesus, the end of the Age, the Resurrection from the dead and the Great White Throne judgement, all happened some time AFTER the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70,(Mt. 24:29; Mk. 13:24; Lk. 21:24-25) and before some of those who were contemporaries of Jesus had died in that current generation. (Mt. 16.28; Mk. 9:1-2; Lk. 9:27), (Mt. 24:34: Mk. 13:30; Lk. 21:32).

That's a lot to study and discuss. A fairly good book to help you start your investigation is Bamboozled Believers   be Michael Biehler that I recommend.

Hope this helps you.
Larry White