Seated at God’s Right Hand
“[God] raised [Christ] from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places… . He put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”- Ephesians 1:20–23
Our study of Christ’s ascension to heaven has thus far emphasized the critical nature of this event to our Savior coming into His kingdom. In line with the prophecy of Daniel 7:13–14, Jesus predicted that He would return to the immediate presence of His Father and receive the kingdom that was appointed for Him upon the completion of His earthly ministry (Matt. 24:29–30). Christ’s reception of His kingdom is closely connected to several other events besides His ascension, one of which is the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. The fall of the temple and priesthood was a visible, historical confirmation that the Messiah had come and, as the final High Priest, inaugurated a new covenant through the shedding of His blood (Heb. 9:1–10:18).
In addition to Jesus’ ascension and Jerusalem’s destruction, the session, or seating, of Christ at the Father’s right hand is also a part of His coming into His kingdom. Since the gospel tells us about the kingdom of God, we must understand the enthronement of our King. Consequently, in the Apostles’ Creed we confess that Jesus is “seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.” The Heidelberg Catechism examines this aspect of our confession in question and answer 50.
God’s right hand is the place of “highest favor with God the Father” (WLC, Q&A 54), and the phrase is used throughout Scripture to indicate His power and sovereignty (Ex. 15:6; Isa. 48:13). To say that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father is to say, as John Calvin explains, that “Christ was invested with lordship over heaven and earth, and solemnly entered into possession of the government committed to him — and that he not only entered into possession once for all, but continues in it, until he shall come down on Judgment Day” (Institutes 2.16.15).
In sitting at the right hand of God, Jesus sits on the “throne of his father David” (Luke 1:26–33). He is the Messiah of Israel, “the highest of the kings of the earth” and the fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to keep the offspring of David on the throne forever. (Ps. 89:19–37). We are not waiting for Jesus to enter into His messianic reign, He enjoys it now. All of His enemies are being put under His feet as His gospel is preached and His kingdom expands (1 Cor. 15:20–28).
Even now, Jesus is seated on the throne of His father David at the right hand of God. This means that He is ruler over all and that the kings of the earth rule only according to His sovereign permission. As such, Christ alone is worthy of our highest allegiance, and it is to Him that we must render obedience, even if it means, at times, defying the rulers of this world. Jesus’ kingdom alone is eternal, and His rule is above all others.
Passages for Further Study
1 Peter 3:18–22