“The Right hand” Has two Meanings: Literal or Figurative
There might be more than one meaning of a word or a phrase according to its context. The expression “right hand” in general implies more than one common meaning. The “right hand” is the opposite of “left hand” that is to indicate a physical direction of somebody or something (1Kings 7:21; Mark 15:27). It can be either literal or figurative/metaphorical. “A figure of speech that represents God’s ultimate power and authority, and where the exalted Jesus Christ now sits.” (Bible Dictionary)
Let’s take an example from another word. We know the literal and common definition of the word “Horn”. But we read in Hab. 3:4 “And his brightness was as the light; he had horns coming out of his hand…” Now if we take it with its ordinary meaning it would be a total mess. Horn here is not a physical horn like a horn of a bull or a buffalo. It’s to show the power of God (See also Ps 92:10; 1Samuael 2:1).
We can see also anotherexample: We read about “the feathers” and “the wings” of God in Psalm 91:4 and also in Exodus 19:4. The feathers and wings of God in these scriptures are given to express his wonderful protection (See also Psalm 18:10).
The topic we are going to discuss on, the right hand of God, is not different from the above two clear figurative expressions about God.
Sit at the right hand of God
Colossians 3:1 says, “… where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” or Heb. 1:3 “He…sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” or Mark 14:62, “…ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power…” (Matthew 26:64). You may think that these scriptures are describing the physical position of Christ in heaven. So, if you don’t know the biblical meaning of the “right hand of God” you will develop the wrong perception of the one true God of the Bible.
You may think that there are three people sitting in heaven one next to the other which is actually contrary to the declaration of God about his identity. For instance, let us see only one chapter from the bible and listen to God. Isaiah 45:5-23
- V.5 …I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me:
- v.6 … there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else.
- v. 14 … Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God.
- v. 18 … I am the Lord; and there is none else.
- V. 21 …there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me.
- V. 22 … Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else.
So sitting at the right hand of God… at the right hand of power or at the right hand of majesty doesn’t show physical position. God already has said beside him there is no other God, no Savior none. (read more about the only one true God)
The Right Hand of God, the Power of God
God is a Spirit (John 4:24) by his Spirit his presence fills the whole universe. The Psalmist defined the one true God in Psalm 139:7 clearly. He is saying that he can never escape from God who is Spirit and also can never get away from God’s presence. If he goes up to heaven, God is there; if he goes down to the hell, God is there. If he rides the wings of the morning, if he dwells by the farthest oceans, even there God’s hand will guide him, and God’s right hand (strength or power) will support him. The right hand of such a God is not a physical or literal half a meter length hand. In Gen. 35:18 Jacob, “…his father called him Benjamin.” Benjamin means Son of right hand. It is not about the direction or physical position. Psalm 20:6, “… he will hear him from his holy heaven with the saving strength of his right hand.” The Right hand of God is not a literal /physical hand/ but a figurative expression of the authority and power of God.
The Right-Hand of God indicates God’s power and himself
In Isaiah 62:8 we read, “The Lord hath sworn by his right hand, and by the arm of his strength…” but in Isaiah 45:23 he says, “I have sworn by myself…” Then the writer of Hebrew in Chapter 6:13,14 said, “For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself…” Psalm 98:1 also tells us that “…his right hand, and his holy arm,” and one and the same. Swearing by his right hand is equivalent to swearing by himself.
Acts 5:31 “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.”
Eph. 1:20 “Which he wrought in Christ,when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:” For God, his right hand is his power- his identity.
In Isaiah 48:13 God said that he created the heaven and earth by his hand or by his right hand then, in Jeremiah 10:12 it is written that God created heaven and earth by his power, by his wisdom and by his discretion. Therefore his hand is his right hand and his right hand means his power and wisdom and discretion. The right hand of God is not a physical hand; It is not the literal hand. It is not the opposite of the left hand.
Biblical Usage – How it is used in the word of God
Psalm 109:31 followed by Psalm 110:1 “Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.” (Exodus 15:6) and in verse 12 “Thou stretchest out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them.”
Gal. 2:9 “…they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”
There is only One Throne with one who is sitting on it
In heaven, according to the Bible, there is only one throne (Ezekiel 1:26-28 and Ezekiel 10:1) and there is one king sitting on it (Ezekiel 1:28). Rev. 4:2 “And immediately I was in the spirit: and, behold, a throne was set in heaven, and one sat on the throne.”
Therefore, the God of the Bible is one (Ephesians 4:6 and 1Corintians 8:4-6) and he is alone (Deuteronomy 32:12) and beside him there is no God and no Savior (Isa. 45:21,22). The right hand of God is not to put two or three people side by side in heaven but to show what the Lord Jesus said after his resurrection in Matthew 28:19. He said that he is the possessor of all power in heaven. Therefore the right of God is to show his authority and power.
The Lord Jesus Christ
- In Mark 14:62, “…sitting on the right hand of power…”
- In Matthew 28:19, having all power in heaven and Earth
- In Colossians 1:16, being the sole creator of powers:
- In 1 Corinthians 1:24, he is the Power of God
Therefore let us say to him, “Thy right hand, O Lord, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.” (Exodus 15:6) and Rev 5:12 “Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.”
Finally, it may not be as such difficult concept to understand if we ask ourselves some questions based on the scriptures we already have seen above. How can the power of God have a physically limited space to accommodate someone next to him (see again Colossians 3:1)? How could the right hand of the Majesty on high be a physical position? Does majesty have left and right position? Majesty is an abstract noun so is power. So it is impossible to think about an abstract concept within a physical location. According to Mark 14:62, “to sit on the right hand of power” plainly shows the authority of God but not the physical direction/position on the throne of God (Matthew 26:64).
“Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty,
which art, and wast, and art to come;
because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.”
One God One Name Jesus