On this page: In this bible study, it shall be demonstrated that the phrase "the right hand" refers generically to a mighty action or deed that has been done. This phrase shall then be applied to Jesus Christ and His testimony. Thus it shall be seen that when the Bible says that Christ stands "on the right hand of the Father," it does not indicate the presence of two different people or "persons," but that Christ (and therefore His actions) are the mightiest of all deeds that God has performed.
In the Old Testament, although the Hebrew word for "hand" literally meant "hand," that is commonly not how that word was used. In context, the word "hand" (or any reference to the hand) oftentimes was used to mean something else. For instance, the word "hand" is used to mean something like "having power over," or, "having dominion over." Examples of this can be found at Genesis 16:4-6, Genesis 31:29, Genesis 32:11, Genesis 39:1-6, Exodus 3:7-8, and so on. However, this particular idiomatic meaning of the word "hand" is of little interest to this particular Bible study, and will not be pursued any further.
Another way that the word "hand" is used in scripture is to mean either "the actions of" or "the power of." This use of the word "hand" is of more interest to this Bible study.
When speaking to the Burning Bush, God gave Moses instructions to tell Pharaoah to "Let my People Go." God continued speaking to Moses, and explained to him how this was going to happen. In this explanation, God said:
EXODUS 3:19 ¶ And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand.
EXODUS 3:20 And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go.
This reference to God's hand refers to either God's power ("I will show them my power, and smite Egypt...") or to God's actions ("Then I will take action, and smite Egypt..."). Never is there any record of a giant hand literally reaching down from Heaven into Egypt. This use of the word "hand" is an idiom.
Later, just before the first of the ten plagues of Egypt began, God said:
EXODUS 7:2 Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land.
EXODUS 7:3 And I will harden Pharaoh's heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt.
EXODUS 7:4 But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments.
EXODUS 7:5 And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them.
This use of the word "hand" is a reference to the power of God ("that I may lay my hand upon Egypt... and bring forth my people...by great judgements").
Later still, Pharaoh was warned beforehand about one of the plagues with which God would smite Egypt:
EXODUS 9:1 Then the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh, and tell him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.
EXODUS 9:2 For if thou refuse to let them go, and wilt hold them still,
EXODUS 9:3 Behold, the hand of the LORD is upon thy cattle which is in the field, upon the horses, upon the asses, upon the camels, upon the oxen, and upon the sheep: there shall be a very grievous murrain.
EXODUS 9:4 And the LORD shall sever between the cattle of Israel and the cattle of Egypt: and there shall nothing die of all that is the children's of Israel.
The reference to "the hand of the LORD" plainly refers to the power of God. And in another plague:
EXODUS 9:12 And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken unto Moses.
EXODUS 9:13 ¶ And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.
EXODUS 9:14 For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth.
EXODUS 9:15 For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth.
EXODUS 9:16 And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth.
Again, this reference to God's hand is a reference to the power of God!
Before the last of the ten plagues, God said to Moses:
EXODUS 11:1 And the LORD said unto Moses, Yet will I bring one plague more upon Pharaoh, and upon Egypt; afterwards he will let you go hence: when he shall let you go, he shall surely thrust you out hence altogether.
God fulfilled this after the final plague—the plague of the death of the firstborn (Exodus 12:29-30), for Pharaoh said:
EXODUS 12:31 ¶ And he called for Moses and Aaron by night, and said, Rise up, and get you forth from among my people, both ye and the children of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as ye have said.
EXODUS 12:32 Also take your flocks and your herds, as ye have said, and be gone; and bless me also.
EXODUS 12:33 And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men.
EXODUS 12:34 And the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneadingtroughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders.
The Children of Israel could not even wait for their bread to rise, because the Egyptians "sent them out of the land in haste." This was in fulfillment of what God said at the beginning, before the first of the plagues, when He said:
EXODUS 6:1 Then the LORD said unto Moses, Now shalt thou see what I will do to Pharaoh: for with a strong hand shall he let them go, and with a strong hand shall he drive them out of his land.
This reference to "a strong hand" of Pharaoh is a reference to the forcefulness (or in this case, urgency) with which the Egyptians were to expel the children of Israel from Egypt (Exodus 12:33).
When God killed all of the firstborn of Egypt, He gave instructions for the Passover, and for the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12, Exodus 13:1-16). When giving these instructions, He said:
EXODUS 13:3 ¶ And Moses said unto the people, Remember this day, in which ye came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out from this place: there shall no leavened bread be eaten.
Again, the phrase "by strength of hand" refers to God's might, and to the mighty deed that God has done. In the instructions for the Feast of Unleavened Bread, God continued:
EXODUS 13:9 And it shall be for a sign unto thee upon thine hand, and for a memorial between thine eyes, that the LORD's law may be in thy mouth: for with a strong hand hath the LORD brought thee out of Egypt.
EXODUS 13:14 ¶ And it shall be when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, What is this? that thou shalt say unto him, By strength of hand the LORD brought us out from Egypt, from the house of bondage:
EXODUS 13:16 And it shall be for a token upon thine hand, and for frontlets between thine eyes: for by strength of hand the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt.
All of this was to commemorate God's deliverance of the children of Israel from the "hand" of Pharaoh, and from slavery in Egypt.
The children of Israel left Egypt, and departed toward Mount Sinai, as God instructed. The Egyptians pursued after them with their armies and chariots. God parted the Red Sea, and allowed the children of Israel to pass through, but the Egyptians, in pursuit, also entered into the breach. God then collapsed the breach, and drowned the Egyptian army. After God did this, Moses and the children of Israel sang, in Exodus 15, with celebration and thanks to God. This song included several references to the "right hand" of God:
EXODUS 15:6 Thy right hand, O LORD, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, O LORD, hath dashed in pieces the enemy.
Later in the same song, they sang:
EXODUS 15:11 Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?
EXODUS 15:12 Thou stretchedst out thy right hand, the earth swallowed them.
EXODUS 15:13 Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation.
These references to the right hand of God refer to the strength of God! About four hundred years (or so) later, King David also wrote a song in which he remembered this:
PSALM 98:1 O sing unto the LORD a new song; for he hath done marvellous things: his right hand, and his holy arm, hath gotten him the victory.
Again, referring to the strength that God has shown.
In the Old Testament, it was common that references to the "hand" meant "having power over," or "having dominion over," one group or another. But the phrase "hand," also meant either the strength of, power of, or the might of either God, or of whatever king may have been spoken of. The phrase "the right hand" was almost always a reference to might. This is the context established by the Law of Moses, and it was almost always in this context that this phrase was used in the New Testament as well. Consider:
ACTS 12:1 Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church.
ACTS 12:2 And he killed James the brother of John with the sword.
(In this particular segment of scripture, Herod arrested Peter, and had him imprisoned. God then sent an angel to release Peter from prison.) Such a reference to the king's hand was also used by Peter, for he said:
ACTS 12:11 And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews.
Since ancient times, such a reference to "the hand," refers to actions taken by a king. The phrase "the right hand of..." refers to the might and power of kings. (Is not God the King of kings?)
Jesus Christ both knew and understood the scriptures (Luke 2:41-49). When He was on trial before the chief priests and the elders of the people, He made reference to the right hand of God. He said:
MATTHEW 26:64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
The book of Mark also records this, saying:
MARK 14:62 And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
And finally, lest anyone should think that the word "power" in Matthew 26:64 and Mark 14:62 refers to God Himself, the gospel of Luke records Jesus' answer to the High Priest in a way which clarifies this:
LUKE 22:67 Art thou the Christ? tell us. And he said unto them, If I tell you, ye will not believe:
LUKE 22:68 And if I also ask you, ye will not answer me, nor let me go.
LUKE 22:69 Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.
Such references to the "right hand of God" were in use long before the time of Christ. During His trial, Jesus deliberately referred to this when He answered the High Priest. The phrase "...on the right hand of the Father..." does not mean that someone or something is on the right side of, (i.e., situated next to) the Father. This phrase, particularly when it is applied to Jesus Christ, refers to the strength of God, or rather, to the mighty thing that God has done.
Since the Creation, the most significant action ever taken by God was the sacrifice of the Christ on the cross (and His subsequent resurrection). All salvation is derived from this—it was a mighty act indeed! The New Testament fittingly describes Christ as "sitting on the right hand of the Father." This description is a statement about the importance, and the might demonstrated by God in fulfilling His word.
It does not, in any way, imply the presence of two objects.