By Rev. Bobby Killmon
How do we explain best that the “right hand of God” is compatible with a Oneness view of God?
This is one of the most common mistakes made by Trinitarians reading scripture. Instead of asking how “right hand” language is used in the rest of the Bible they automatically assume that it is about space or geography. That’s because their view causes them to “see” things that are not there because it would be totally foreign to the original readers (the OT & NT saints) and writers of Scripture.
When the NT says Jesus sits or stands on the right hand of God (Acts 2:34 and others) it can’t be physical. First, because no man has seen God at any time (John 1:18; I Tim. 6:16; I John 4:12). If these verses are about disclosing a trinity, why do they only address two things, and why would Stephen ignore two of them, praying only to Jesus? (Acts 7:59-60). Verses like Acts 7:55 are misread. It does not say Stephen saw God but instead “the glory of God.” This refers to Jesus being in the place of power as Messiah, and this metaphor is not to be taken as literal geography.
A study of how the language of “right hand” is used in Scripture would quickly show this fallacy. In Psalm 16:8, David wrote, “I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” Does this mean the LORD was always bodily present at David’s right hand? But then Psalm 109:31 says the LORD “shall stand at the right hand of the poor.” Where is He standing? One of my favorites is when the Bible says Jesus cast out devils by the finger of God (Luke 11:20). Did He pull down a giant finger from heaven and punch devils out of people? No! The “right hand of God” is figurative and not physical in a bodily sense.
Many have noted a growing number of Trinitarian scholars like V. Philips Long, Bernard Ramm, and others acknowledge this, too. Ramm says, “God’s almightiness is spoken of in terms of a right arm because among men the right arm is the symbol of strength or power. Pre-eminence is spoken of as sitting at God’s right hand because in human social affairs the right hand position with reference to the host was the place of greatest honor.” That means it’s not literal.
Also, when Scripture depicts heaven with only one throne and one on the throne, is the Father sitting on the one throne and Jesus standing by it? How do we make sense of Jesus being shown as the One seated on the throne? (Rev. 4:2, 8 with 1:8, 18) Trinitarians admit this language is frustrating. James MacDonald said, “I believe the Scripture is clear when we get to heaven, we are gonna see Jesus… Jesus is the only God we will ever see. When studying Revelation last year I was struck by… the number of times I saw it almost seems in the text the Father and Son are on the same throne… I believe in God eternally existing in 3 persons. But, the more I think of it, the more I think my head is going to explode…” That’s why many are admitting Jesus on the right hand must be figurative or symbolic.
Reading second and third century philosophy into the scripture is wrong. But making sense of the way this language is used in the whole of the Bible shows Oneness right. The language of “right hand” is about Jesus the man operating as Messiah and King.