What is the significance of the right hand of God?
In ancient times, a person with high or highest rank stood to the king's right side. Even today, a person may be called someone's "right hand man" or "wingman" when he or she serves as the closest person to another leader. An example of this can be found in Genesis 48:13-14 where Jacob blessed the child who would receive a greater blessing with his right hand. The right hand of God likewise relates to this concept of someone being right next to God, acknowledging both authority and closeness to Him.
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While God the Father does not consist of a physical body like humans do, the right hand of God is often used figuratively in Scripture. In the Old Testament, the phrase is used to refer to the coming Messiah. For example, Psalm 110:1 predicts, "The LORD says to my Lord: 'Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool'" (also quoted in Matthew 22:44). Psalm 118:16 adds, "the right hand of the LORD exalts, the right hand of the LORD does valiantly!"
In the New Testament, we find additional expressions of this phrase in reference to Jesus Christ. Ephesians 1:20-21 notes, "…that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come." Romans 8:34 teaches, "Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us."
In fact, many times the New Testament writers use "the right hand of God" to express where Jesus is now. Mark 16:19 shares, "So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God." Acts 2:33 shares a portion of Peter's sermon on Pentecost that includes, "Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing." The first martyr Stephen was said to have looked into the sky and saw Jesus standing at the right hand of God (Acts 7:55). Colossians 3:1 also notes that Jesus is seated at the right hand of God.
Hebrews 10:12-13 describes this right hand of God as a place of honor and exaltation for Jesus, sharing, "But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet." This location gives Him reign over all powers: "Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him" (1 Peter 3:21-22).
The right hand of God, therefore, is a reference to both a place of proximity to God the Father and a position of power above all other powers. Jesus the Messiah exists at this right hand of God today, perfectly reigning with God the Father and God the Spirit in community and power.
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