The Right Hand of God
The phrase “the right hand of God” appears in both the old and new Testament and being a strong graphic image, communicates strongly certain attribute of God. Since the image is clearly designed to provide insight into some attributes of God, let’s provide an exhaustive coverage of the meaning and usage of this phrase.
The suggestion has often been made, that these images imply the existence of different physical or essential persons in the Godhead. This idea is false and based on the preconception of trinitarian, binitarian, or tritheistic notions. Please carefully explore the scripture references, and examine the true revelation of the Holy Bible.
Peter preaching at Jerusalem …
“This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses, Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted … For David is not ascended into the heavens, but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my LORD sit thou on my right hand until I make thine foes thy footstool” (Acts 2:32-34)… quotes Psalm 110: “The LORD said unto my LORD sit thou on my right hand until I make thine foes thy footstool”.
Despite any other interpretation, Peter reveals the exaltation of the name of Jesus Christ. (see Philippians 2:9-11) Stephen, near death by the stoning of convicted Jews peers into heaven and Luke reports …
“But he being full of the Holy Ghost looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing on the right hand1 of God And said, behold I see the heavens open and the Son of man standing on the right hand1 of God” (Acts 7:55-56)
Please read through these references …
Isa 40:5 “And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken it.”
Psalm 16:8 “I have set Jehovah always before me: for He is at my right hand; [therefor] I shall not be shaken”
Psalm 77:10 “And I said this is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High”.
Isa 48:13 “Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens: when I call unto them, they stand up together”
Isa 62:8 “The LORD has sworn by his right hand, and by the arm of his strength, Surely I will no more give thy corn to be meat for thine enemies: and the sons of the stranger shall not drink thy wine, for the which thou hast labored”
Isaiah 59:16 “And He saw that there was no man and wondered that there was no intercessor, and therefor his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness did sustain him”
Ex 15:6 “Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.”
Consider this wonderful preview of the savior to come …
Psalm 80:17 “Let thine hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man who thou madest strong for thyself”
Psalm 98:1 “O sing unto the LORD a new song: for He hath done marvelous things. His right hand, and his holy arm, have gotten him the victory”
Psalm 44:3 “For they got not the land in possession by their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but thy right hand, and thine arm and the light of thy countenance, because thou hadst a favor unto them.”
Psalm 20:6 “Now I know that the LORD saveth his anointed; he will hear him from his holy heaven by the saving strength of his right hand.”
Matthew 26:64 “Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: Nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”
Mark 16:19 “So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand1 of God”.
Acts 5:31 “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a prince and a savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins”
Hebrews 10:12 “But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God:”
Romans 8:34 “Who is he that condemneth ? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand1 of God, who also maketh intercession for us.”
Hebrews 8:1 “NOW of the thins which we have spoken this is the sum: we have such a high priest, who is set on the right hand1 of the throne of the majesty in the heavens;”
1 Peter 3:22 “Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand1 of God: Angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him.”
Hebrews 1:3 “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when He had by himself purged our sins and sat down on the right hand of the majesty on high”
Revelation 5:1 “And I saw in the right hand1 of Him that sat upon the throne a book written within an on the back side, sealed with seven seals”
1. Does the LORD (Jehovah-God) have a physical right hand1 , which defeated the Egyptians, imparted deliverance to Israel, brought salvation …etc ?
2. Is Jesus standing (as in Acts 7) or sitting (as in Hebrews 1:3) ?
3. How many thrones are required to contain the Most High ? See Rev 4:1-5, and Rev 5:1-7
4. Is there complete victory for the people of the LORD (Israel), or is His righthand restrained ?
1. Jesus has all power and authority (Matt 26:64, 28:18)
2. The revealed Glory of God is Jesus Christ
3. In part, the authority of God declared in Jesus Christ, is authority to judge (by the Law, and Gospel .. i.e. The Word). In this light review Revelation 4&5.
4. The issue of being “seated” is not related to the physical posture of God.
The Greek term DEXIOS (which has been footnoted1) in the above examples) is used about 52 times in the New Testament. It is in fact an indication of relationship, or orientation, and is translated idiomatically into “right hand” almost universally in the New Testament, although the term ceir (cheir) which literally translates to “hand” does not appear in any of the references to the “right hand of God” listed above, including those of Revelation 5. It is most often used figuratively, as in Acts 5:31. It should no be considered apart from it’s Old Testament origin.
The Old Testament references cited above exclusively derive from the Hebrew term “yamin” which, just like it’s Greek counterpart refers to the right side, the opposite of the left side. Again, the respective Hebrew term for hand, or arm (yad) does not appear in conjunction with right” in the original language. However, God does frequently refer to his operations and sovereign activities as being carried out by his
hand, or arm, for example:
“And it shall be when thine son asketh thee in time to come, sayingWhat is this ? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage” Exodus 7:15
The actual references in the Old Testament to the figure of the “right hand” number in the hundreds.
Interestingly, the term right is used in Ecclesiastes: ” wise man’s heart is at his right hand, but a fools heart is at his left” – Eccl 10:2
Looking deeper into other references to the hand,
a. It is considered to be responsible for action. In Matthew 18:8 Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire.
b. It is authoritative. The honor and dominion of the person is symbolized by his hand. From Joshua 11:8 …
“And the LORD delivered them into the hand of Israel.” We might add that the Bible repeatedly pictures leprosy, a disease epitomizing sin wherein fingers, hands, feet and other extremities are desensitized and finally lost, as attacking the hand as in Exodus 4:6.
It is in with these facts in mind that we must consider the combining of the terms “right” and “hand” (or arm). The right is a place of honor and exaltation, the place that the Living God now occupies before the
race of Adam, having purged our sins while revealing “the power of God unto salvation”, in the person of Jesus Christ. The hand is the instrument of action, and the member of power. Looking back now unto
the days of the prophets from where only dimly did the light of hope enter the soul, consider that condition and then the faith of David in Psalm 77:10 …
“And I said this is my infirmity: but I will remember the years of the right hand of the most High”.
All hope in those days was focused upon whatever lay beyond the gruesome smoke and horror of that flaming brazen altar, but the prophet gave some insight into that hope: “Now I know that the LORD saveth his anointed; he will hear him from his holy heaven by the saving strength of his right hand.” -Psalm 20:6
Upon the rending of the Temple veil, the situation changed completely and forever, Praise the Lord! When the conquest was complete, Jesus pronounced from His place of glorification, “It is finished”. As a triumphant Prince, returning from the ultimate victory, his position in eternity was forever established as enlightened by Hebrews 10:12 …
“But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down on the right hand of God:”
Articulately, the writer identifies the seated deity as a man! The work of salvation had been done, Jesus Christ, the God-Man has proven the power of Salvation, and is himself that power to every applicant. As
John tells us …
“But as many as received him, to them he gave the power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name. ” John 1:12
To further elaborate, sons of the only begotten, through the rebirth of the water and the Spirit. Again, it is a man seated upon the throne of the universe! He is no pretender unto the throne of the human heart, having received exaltation by Eternal God, and before all men. We can say with confidence that God underwent a transformation to bring salvation according to 1 Timothy 3:16. He, the Savior, is displayed before the world without a flaw, being the express image of God (Heb 1:3).
As the peace of God settled Stephen, passing unto his promise, He saw precisely what the prophet predicted …”And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken it.” Isa 40:5
Notice that it is recorded that Stephen saw only one identity or bodily presence in the phrase from Acts 7:55 – “the glory of God and Jesus”. Nowhere is it indicated that “the glory of God” is other that the very person of Jesus Christ. In Acts 7:56, we see Jesus standing in the place of power. The word “standing” is translated from the Greek “Isthmi” (histemi), which as in English is used figuratively to indicate “established” or “appointed”. Thus there is no contradiction between Hebrews 8:1 and Acts 7:56, and noting this we should also admit that neither verse provides any information regarding a location of Jesus an a imagined separate Father God in heaven.
How appropriate for the Holy Ghost to move Peter to declare Psalm 110, insofar as this one-time-only event is the public record of the most awesome work of God ever witnessed by mankind!
“This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses, Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted … For David is not ascended into the heavens, but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my LORD sit thou on my right hand until I make thine foes thy footstool” (Acts 2:32-34)
Having “de-fused” the error of language shortcomings, let us feast on the true revelation of the wonderful face of the Everlasting Father, the Lord Jesus Christ.
– Mark W. Bassett
1 The greek term dexiou (dexios) –