Hello everyone. Tonight we’re going to continue our look through the book of Acts. Now what I’m going to get into tonight I believe does have some eschatological significance, but I will not be discussing eschatology tonight due to my stance on not discussing secondary issues. (And yes, I’m somehow going to pull that off when I get to the book of Revelation.) We’re going to be covering the reaction to Stephen’s prayer in Acts 7 and we have two parts to look at on this one. Tonight we’ll be looking at Acts 7:54-56.
54When they heard this, they were furious and gnashed their teeth at him. 55But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56“Look,” he said, “I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
I’ve heard this one from both Mormons and JWs. In fact, I’m dialoguing with someone now who is stressing that God is seen as separate and distinct from Jesus in the NT. I wonder what the problem with this is. God when spoken of of YHWH in the NT often refers to the Father and of course the Father is distinct from the Son. Whatever could be the problem?
Tonight’s verse is along those lines with the JWs. The Jehovah’s Witnesses will point to a passage like this with the clear anthropomorphisms and state that based on that passage, it is obvious that Jesus cannot be God since he is on the right hand of God.
The Mormons, on the other hand, will use this to point to God being in a body since it speaks of the right hand of God. I believe this is a vision however. Those interested can consider what vision this might be a reference to because I believe the case is strong that Stephen has in mind a certain OT vision. Consider it some fun for you the readers to try to figure out which one it could be. Since that is the case, I do not believe a vision is meant to give us a literal picture but to paint an image of something in a way we can understand.
Now moving back to the JWs, when we go to the text, the text does indeed say that Jesus is standing at the right hand of God to which I say “Yeah. He is. Your point?” There is a consistent problem with JWs and other cultists that when they want to deny the deity of Christ, they do not go to passages that speak of ontology. They go to passages that speak of function and argue an ontology from there. If you want to know who Jesus is, the best place to go is to passages that speak of his ontology. Now you later figure out his function in relation to that or how Jesus can submit to the Father and be ontologically equal to him, but you don’t draw the ontology from the function.
Furthermore, since God usually refers to the Father, what else do we expect? The Arian still comes with the assumption that God is one person only and only one person can be in the divine identity. Well if that’s true, then Jesus is definitely out, but that’s the assumption and it has yet to be proven. You should not approach the text with that assumption. Approach the text and see what it says and then make your ideas fit the text instead of making the text fit your ideas.
Tonight, we’ve answered the objection. Tomorrow, we’ll give the argument in this passage for who Jesus is.