The Right Hand of God
The term, right hand of God is an anthropomorphic expression. The use of this anthropomorphism occurs 60 times in Scripture (39 times in the OT; 21 times in the NT). Hebrew Idiom behind this language denotes power and strength. Let us take note of the Old Testament visions of God at this time. In Genesis 28.13-16, Jacob saw “the LORD…” (a theophany, as all OT visions are). 1 Kings 22.19 and 2 Chron. 18.18, Micaiah said, “I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing by him on his right hand and on his left;” noticeably absent is Son or the Spirit. Throughout the entire Old Testament and Deuterocanon, there is only mention of “the LORD,” as a single Deity (numerical singleness, not unified). In Isa. 6.1, only “the LORD” is seen. Ezk. 1.26-28, 2.1. Ezekiel saw “the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.”
The Greek δεξιός (dexios) means the ‘right’, indicating a direction. Usually, the word ‘hand’ is supplied, and not unjustly. The issue is, what is meant by ‘the right hand’ and is their a particular emphases on the action (sitting, standing, at or by). In Acts 2.33, we read “τη δεξια ουν του θεου υψωθεις την τε επαγγελιαν του αγιου πνευματος λαβων παρα του πατρος εξεχεεν τουτο ο νυν υμεις βλεπετε και ακουετε.” The phrase “τη δεξια ουν του θεου” is translated in the KJV as ‘by the right hand of God’ with the margin note reading ‘at.’ This translation makes it the instrumental case, while the ‘at’ translation refers to the locative case. Robertson suggests that it only makes sense in the dative case, which reads ‘to the right hand of God.’ The issue here is that depending on the translation, a different theology can develop. For example, if Christ was exalted to the right hand, then a form of dynamic Monarchianism could develop. The proper method is translating this verse as ‘at the right hand of God,’ which still allows the idiom to come out. The same can be said for Acts 5.31. In Acts 7.55-56, Stephen saw Christ ‘on’ the right hand of God. (εκ δεξιων εστωτα του θεου)(See Col 3.1 which reads εν δεξια του θεου )
We read in the much discussed Hebrews 1.3, ‘εν δεξια της μεγαλωσυνης εν υψηλοις. Simply, after word of God had been fulfilled, with the price of redemption was paid, Christ resumed His glory and dignity, fully and without separation; he assumed the glory that He had before the Incarnation without distinction Christ is here pictured as the King (Prophet and Priest also) Messiah seated on the throne of God as God.
John says the following about Christ: “But though He had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on Him, that the saying of Isaiah the Prophet, might be fulfilled, which he spoke: The Lord, who has believed our report and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’” (John 12.37-38) echoing the Song of the Suffering Servant in Isaiah. The “Arm” of the Lord denotes the “power” of the Lord. A thorough study of this term and it’s usage in the Bible, will reflect a similarity in the meanings and usage of the words: power, might, strength, hand, right side and arm, when referring to this designation of Christ. Christ, as is often done in the Gospels, attributes a prophecy in the Old Testament to Himself.
A question that is begged relates to the issue of ‘co-equality’ and power. In Matthew 28:18, Christ tells His disciples that He has been given all power in heaven and in earth. If Christ is the Almighty, the ruler of both heaven an earth, and He alone sits on the throne, then where does the Father and the Spirit stand in relation to him? Throughout the final book of the New Testament, we find references to a throne in heaven and only one sitting on that throne. We find no mention, when John describes the throne room, of either the Son or Spirit standing in conjunction with God on the throne. In 3.21, Christ says that He has taken His seat on the throne of the Father. (The vision of which is easily understood of the Incarnation is seen as providing a temporary difference between the Father and His Word.) Throughout the remaining verses, we see but one sitting on the throne.
In 2nd Temple Judaism, it was common to use idioms to express God, thus we have the development of Throne, Majesty and other words to describe God without saying God. We have to be careful in understanding the phrase literally. Since the right hand (or side) is a place of honour, to literally say that Christ is at the right hand of God, is to demote the deity of Christ and bring about the adoptionist doctrine of the Arians. We also will see that a contradiction in scripture exists between the phrases ‘at the right hand’ and ‘on the throne’. To understand this phrase in a completely idiom free translation, we would generally read that Christ is on the throne.
The Roman Road: Jesus is God
Before we move to the profession of faith found in Romans 10, let us first examine chapter 9, verse 5, where Paul writes, “Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.” (KJV) The NET reads, “To them belong the patriarchs, and from them, by human descent, came the Christ, who is God over all, blessed forever! Amen.” The NRSV has “to them belong the patriarchs, and from them, according to the flesh, comes the Messiah, who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen.” There is doctrine here decided by the correct placement of commas.
Paul, in the original Greek wrote, “ων οι πατερες και εξ ων ο χριστος το κατα σαρκα ο ων επι παντων θεος ευλογητος εις τους αιωνας αμην.” Vincent, noting the difference that arises by punctuation notes, “Authorities differ as to the punctuation; some placing a colon, and others a comma after flesh. This difference indicates the difference in the interpretation; some rendering as concerning the flesh Christ came. God who is over all be blessed for ever; thus making the words God, etc., a doxology: others, with the comma, the Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever; i.e., Christ is God.” Robertson writes, “A clear statement of the deity of Christ following the remark about his humanity. This is the natural and the obvious way of punctuating the sentence. To make a full stop after sarka (or colon) and start a new sentence for the doxology is very abrupt and awkward. See note on Acts 20:28 and note on Titus 2:13 for Paul’s use of theos applied to Jesus Christ,” clearly indicating that He believes that Paul applied the θεος to Christ in this instance.
Several commentators have stated that the closing phrase should be a separate sentence (God who is blessed forever), however, in scriptural doxologies the word “Blessed” precedes the name of God on whom the blessing is invoked.
To understand our profession in 10.9 of Romans, we have to read further to verse 13, where Paul quotes Joel 2:32, which reads, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.” (KJV). Here, the word for LORD in Hebrew is יהוה, the Tetragammon, which is commonly understood to be the proper name of God in the Old Testament.
Would Paul use a theological drenched title in two different ways, especially in such a short distance from one another?
In verse 13, we understand the LORD to be the God of the Old Testament, so therefore we must understand Paul to mean in verse 9 to the God of the Old Testament as well. The construction of the passage leads us to translate the phrase found in the KJV as ‘profess the Lord Jesus’ to profess that ‘Jesus is Lord.’. With the understanding that the ‘Lord’ in verse 13 is the same ‘Lord’ in verse 9, in order to be saved, we must profess with our my mouth that Jesus is God.