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This concept seems to show up in a few places:

Psalms 110:1 (NIV)
The LORD says to my lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.”

Ephesians 1:19-20 (NIV)
...and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms...

Romans 8:34 (NIV)
Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.

Clearly, undeniably Jesus is at the "right hand of God". But what does that mean or signify? Would being at the left hand of God be a bad thing?

Scope: I'm specifically seeking a mainstream Protestant exegesis of this text, although I suspect the understanding will be universal across all denominations and doctrines (although I could be wrong).

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3 Answers 3

up vote 8 down vote accepted

It simply means that Christ is uniquely special to God and has his authority.

To sit at the right hand of an earthly king was a place of honor, denoting special trust, authority from, and relationship with the king. It was something that was understood without needing explanation at the time.

If you were to sit at the right hand of the King meant that you acted with his authority. Those who came to you would treat you with respect and obedience, as if you were the king yourself.

It's one of the many demonstrations in the Bible, which is not readily understood by us in our time that made perfect sense to the culture as it was then.

There's an article that explains it a bit differently, with more detail here: http://www.letusreason.org/onenes10.htm

This is an excerpt:

To sit at ones right hand means a place of authority, it was a place of honor it meant dignity and rulership. Throughout the O.T there is used what are called anthropomorphism to describe God in some function or characteristic. this is figurative language describing a certain characteristic of God it is describing his divine actions from a human view point.

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The term at the right hand of God points to his exalted position he now is active on. There is numerous things that need to be considered to understand this phrase. The phrase right hand is a metaphor, God exercises his authority by his right hand.

Right after Peter writes of the resurrection he says 1 Pt.3:22 Who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having made subject to him". If he is God the Father then they are already subjected to him, If he is only a man, then the ruling of the universe is in a humans hands. So it is as in Mt.28:18 all authority was given to him in both heaven and earth. This is something he did not have as he came to earth in a state of humility Phil.2:5-8.

There are several other ways of stating the same basic thing here: http://biblemeanings.info/Words/Body/Right_hand.htm

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Also note Matthew 20:21, where the mother of two of the disciples asks Jesus, “Grant that these two sons of mine may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on the left, in Your kingdom.”.

I think the most important point in these passages is the idea that the person is sitting next to God, clearly a place of high honor. Just like if today you were invited to a formal dinner or whatever, and told that you would be sitting next to the president or the pope or Snooki or some such important person, you would surely take this as a great honor.

As others note, sitting at the king or whoever's right is more prestigious in most cultures than sitting at his left. But both are pretty high up there.

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"Right" in many cultures signify more importantly than the "Left". This is probably associated with the population of right handed is more than the left handed. Hence, people use right hand to do important things more than their left hand. "Right hand man" also means the trusted one, or the most important one.

In my culture (Indonesia), it's consider rude to do something with left hand. i.e passing an object (such as money) to somebody else using left hand is considered as an insult; and eating with left hand is disgusting for some people. This habit is based on the habit that we use our left hand to clean, so it's not good.

from wikipedia

The Latin word sinistra originally meant "left" but took on meanings of "evil" or "unlucky" by the Classical Latin era

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protected by El'endia Starman Nov 1 '13 at 15:31

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