What does it mean that the Son is at the right hand of God? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.
For the first time in our study, we’re getting into some repetition, I have already written blog posts on the usages of God and the Father. I plan on looking at Almighty next, but for now, we’re going to look at the phrase “The Right Hand.”
Too often in our day and age, one of the worst mistakes we make with the Bible is this idea that the Bible must always be interpreted literally. Now properly understood, it should be, for literal really means according to the intent of the author. Today, we take it to mean that the text must always be read in a straight-forward sense. I have lost track of the number of times someone says “Why isn’t the Bible clear?” It’s as if ancient authors should have written a text with only 21st century people in mind and using their idioms and expressions.
Yet when this happens, too many people apostasize from the faith, especially when this is connected with a stringent form of Inerrancy. A passage like the one we’re using is an example of this. Granted, that the Apostles’ Creed is not Scripture, but the terminology that we are using in this part does indeed come out of Scripture. So what does it mean to say that Jesus is seated at the right hand.
Let’s clear with the nonsense interpretation first. It does not mean that God has a literal physical body. As we know from Scripture, God is Spirit. Of course, He could appear in a physical form if He wanted to, but He is not dependent on it. Even God the Son is still fully deity before the incarnation. The physical body was not a change to His nature but was rather an addition to the person of the Son that played no role in changing Him.
By the way, this also explains a favorite argument of Jehovah’s Witnesses and others that Jesus could not be fully God because Jesus died on the cross and God doesn’t die. The problem is these people do not know what die means. They assume it means to cease to exist, but it rather means that an immaterial aspect of man, be it soul or spirit, leaves the body. Jesus never ceased to exist, but He did experience being separated from his body. That was death.
So what does it mean? The right hand is a position of favor. To say that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God means that He’s at the favored place and in fact, it’s from that place that He will rule. The most quoted verse of the OT in the NT is Psalm 110:1. This one has Jesus seated at the right hand while His enemies are made a footstool for His feet. Right now, Jesus is seated there and is ruling by His Father.
The main idea to get from this is that the text does not refer to a location, as if God is literally seated on a throne and Jesus is seated at His right. What it is saying is that Jesus is in a position of favor in relation to the Father as we can see from a text like Philippians 2:5-11.
This is good news for us today. Jesus is Lord and is seated at the throne. When we say that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God, that means Jesus who walked on this Earth so long ago is today the ruling authority in this world, and as we will see later on, will return some day.