There is a principle in Biblical Hermeneutics which defines the first place a particular word, idea, or phrase occurs in the Bible as the primary defining parameter. One of the constructs of the Bible in demonstrating its supernatural structure, is that it was engineered in this manner.
If we wanted to find the Bible’s definition of love, the first place we find this word is in Genesis chapter 22, where Abraham is described as loving his only son, Isaac. God tells Abraham to take Isaac up to the top of the mountain in Israel where the Temple will be built some day, and offer Isaac to the Lord as a sacrifice.
“Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” Then He said, “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” ~Genesis 22:1-2
Although God had told Abraham that this son would be the first of a long line of descendants who will lead to the Messiah, Abraham decides to trust God and take Isaac up to the mountain without knowing the final outcome. It is certain the Abraham wondered how Isaac was going to be the first in this long line, if he died that day on the mountain. We learn later that Abraham believed that God was able to raise his only son, in order to fulfill the promise that He made to Abraham. I essence, Abraham believe in the resurrection of an only Son as the way that God would fulfill all of His promises to the world.
“It was by faith that Abraham offered Isaac as a sacrifice when God was testing him. Abraham, who had received God’s promises, was ready to sacrifice his only son, Isaac, even though God had told him, “Isaac is the son through whom your descendants will be counted.” Abraham reasoned that if Isaac died, God was able to bring him back to life again.” ~Hebrews 11:17-19
This is exactly what took place when Jesus, God’s only Son, was take to this same mountain in Israel, and offered for the sins of the whole world. God was showing us that He was going to fulfill His promise to send us a Savior so that every person could have heaven, if they would only trust in Jesus, who later came to die for us.
What is the chance that the Christian Gospel of Jesus’ death and resurrection, could be found in the Hebrew scriptures? None, unless God had supernaturally engineered this entire true story in a way that it would later be found as a prequel in the Old Testament for this event that is recorded in the New Testament.
This first place where God shows us what real love means, is in the offering of Abraham’s only son in Genesis 22. It was by giving the world Jesus, that God, the Father, showed us His love and desire to redeem us back to Himself.
“This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.” ~1 John 4:10
This. brief exercise demonstrates the supernatural construction of the entire Bible, as the way that God would reveal Himself to the world. The principle of the “first mentioned,” here, where we see what real love is, proves that God designed the entire Bible with a specific purpose; to prove He exists, and that His love for us is infinite and immeasurable.
This principle is also important in seeking to understand who the Messiah will be, and whether Jesus meets the strict criteria the Bible establishes for any candidate who will be certified as the true Messiah.
The term, “at the right hand,” began early in the Old Testament as a defining characteristic for the future Messiah. Starting with Joseph in the book of Genesis, the aging patriarch took his right hand and laid it upon the younger son, Ephraim, as a sign that he would receive the blessing of his father, not the firstborn, Manasseh.
It was traditional that the firstborn would receive a special blessing from the father, and not the younger son. God knowing ahead of time the character of these two sons, inspired Joseph to lay his right hand on the younger son, Ephraim.
“And Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near him. Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands knowingly, for Manasseh was the firstborn.” ~Genesis 48:13-14
From this place in the Old Testament, onward, the right hand was significant as a place of honor, power, and rulership. This principle is further developed in the Old Testament as an attribute of the coming Messiah. Only the Messiah could sit at the Right Hand of God, in the Kingdom that would some day come to earth and last forever.
The Jews of the first century understood this, and when Jesus applied the right of the Messiah to sit at God’s right hand to Himself, the Pharisees and leaders of Israel were indignant. These men who were the teachers of God’s Law, knew what Jesus meant when He told them that they would see Him, “sitting at God’s right hand:”
“Again the high priest asked Jesus, saying to Him, “Are You the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?” Jesus said, “I am. And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.” ~Mark 14:61-64
We learn several important principles from this exchange between Jesus and the leaders of Israel:
- The Pharisees, and the high priest, understood the words, sitting at the right hand of God,” as a specific term that could only be applied to the Messiah.
- These leaders of Israel understood from the scriptures that the Messiah would be the Son of God, Adonai living in the body of a man (Psalms 110:1).
- When Jesus said that they would see Him in the future sitting at the right hand of God, the position of absolute power as the Messiah, they knew He was claiming to be Adionai, the Son of God, and the One for whom this prophecy was written, the Messiah.
- The high priest signified his understanding of what Jesus said by tearing his priestly garments and proclaiming “blasphemy,” against what Jesus had claimed for himself.
- These leaders of Israel didn’t believe Jesus was the Messiah; they thought that He was just an ordinary man, and not the One who the scriptures predicted.
- It was because Jesus did claim to be Adonai, the Son of God, the Messiah, they condemned Him to death on the cross.
This exchange between Jesus and the leaders of Israel, is recorded in all three of the Synoptic Gospels: Matthew 22:44, Mark 12:36 and 14:62, and Luke 20:42.
The question of whether Jesus ever clearly stated that He is God, is answered in these three places of the Synoptic Gospels. Why is this important? Critics of the New Testament, and atheists who dispute the text written about Jesus, say that He never claimed to be God in the Synoptic Gospels; only in the Gospel of John do we find that Jesus claimed to be God.
The entire Old Testament stated in the scriptures of the prophets, that the Messiah would be the Son of God, living in the body of a man who was a descendant of David. When David wrote Psalms 110, it was with the intent of defining his future descendant as Adonai living in a human body.
When Jesus arrived and asked the Pharisees what they thought David meant when He wrote in Psalms 110, that “Yahweh said to Adonai, sit at the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies,” he was describing the Messiah.
Jesus asked these leaders of Israel “Since David called the Messiah, “my Lord, How can the Messiah be His Son?”
The Pharisees understood this scripture because they had read, studied, and taught it to the Jews for centuries. They knew that Yahweh was saying to Adonai (the Messiah), that He would be a descendant of David, a man. They refused to believe that Jesus was the One described by David, though He had met every requirement set forth by the prophets who predicted the Messiah.
All The Writers Of The New Testament Believed That Jesus Now Sits “At God’s Right Hand”
When we examine the testimony of the men who wrote the New Testament, we quickly learn that these are honest men. They tell us they didn’t believe that Jesus was God or Messiah, until after they saw Him alive three days after being brutally crucified.
“For even his brothers didn’t believe in him.” ~John 7:5
Although Jesus was methodically fulfilling all 400 of the Messianic Prophecies written by the Old Testament prophets for the Messiah, the disciple of Jesus didn’t realize this until after He was crucified and risen from the dead.
“His disciples didn’t understand at the time that this was a fulfillment of prophecy. But after Jesus entered into his glory, they remembered what had happened and realized that these things had been written about him.” ~John 12:16
When Jesus appeared to the twelve after He had risen, it was then that they began to retrace their steps with Jesus, and realized that from the beginning He has been purposely ordering every part of His life so that He would precisely fulfill all 400 of the Messianic Prophecies written by the prophets.
After Jesus had risen He met two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and then all twelve together at once. He told them that everything He had been doing was for the purpose of fulfilling what the prophets had written. Jesus said that the prophets also wrote in the Old Testament that the men who saw the Messiah, would write their testimony about what they saw and heard, and send it to the far reaches of the world so everyone would know.
On The Road To Emmaus:
“Then Jesus said to them, “You foolish people! You find it so hard to believe all that the prophets wrote in the Scriptures. Wasn’t it clearly predicted that the Messiah would have to suffer all these things before entering his glory?” Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” ~Luke 24:25-27
The Disciples Gathered Together:
“Then Jesus said, “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations, beginning in Jerusalem: ‘There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things.” ~Luke 24:44-48
After Jesus had returned to heaven these men quickly began to assemble their remembrance of all that Jesus had said and done, and write their testimony in letters to be sent to the Christian churches in Asia Minor. Just before Jesus was crucified He told these men that after He was raised from the dead and returned to heaven, He would send them the Holy Spirit who would never leave them. It would be the Holy Spirit who would enable these men who had seen and heard Jesus, to “remember” all that they had seen Jesus do and say, and write their testimony for the world:
“I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” ~John 14:25-26
As the book of Acts begins, we see Jesus giving His final instructions to the men who were with Him since the beginning of His public ministry—commanding these men to take their testimony about Him to all the nations. They could not accomplish this massive feat of communication except by writing letters to the Christian churches, and instructing them to copy and send them out to all the nations.
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” ~Acts 1:8
John writes: “It was the Lord’s Day, and I was worshiping in the Spirit. Suddenly, I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet blast. It said, “Write in a book everything you see, and send it to the seven churches in the cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.” ~Revelation 1:10-11
Jesus said to John: “Write down what you have seen—both the things that are now happening and the things that will happen.” ~Revelation 1:19
When these men were brought before the leaders of Israel and questioned about their testimony of Jesus, they repeatedly stated that Jesus was now at “the right hand of God,” evidence that Jesus had fulfilled the words of the Old Testament prophets:
Peter During The Feast Of Pentecost:
“God raised Jesus from the dead, and we are all witnesses of this. Now he is exalted to the place of highest honor in heaven, at God’s right hand. And the Father, as he had promised, gave him the Holy Spirit to pour out upon us, just as you see and hear today. For David himself never ascended into heaven, yet he said (Quoting Psalms 110), ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit in the place of honor at my right hand until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.”’ “So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” ~Acts 2:32-36
Peter Before The Leaders Of Israel
“But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by hanging him on a cross. Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand as Prince and Savior. He did this so the people of Israel would repent of their sins and be forgiven. We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey him.” ~Acts 5:29-32
Stephen Before The Leaders Of Israel
“The Jewish leaders were infuriated by Stephen’s accusation, and they shook their fists at him in rage. But Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed steadily into heaven and saw the glory of God, and he saw Jesus standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand. And he told them, “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!” ~Acts 7:54-56
Paul In The Book Of Romans
“Who then will condemn us? No one—for Christ Jesus died for us and was raised to life for us, and he is sitting in the place of honor at God’s right hand, pleading for us.” ~Romans 8:34
Paul Writing To The Christians At Ephesus
“I also pray that you will understand the incredible greatness of God’s power for us who believe him. This is the same mighty power that raised Christ from the dead and seated him in the place of honor at God’s right hand in the heavenly realms. Now he is far above any ruler or authority or power or leader or anything else—not only in this world but also in the world to come.” ~Ephesians 1:19-21
Paul Writing To The Hebrew Christians
“And God never said to any of the angels, “Sit in the place of honor at my right hand
until I humble your enemies, making them a footstool under your feet.” ~Hebrews 1:13
Only the Messiah, the Son of God, can sit at God’s Right Hand; Only Jesus has been given this great honor because of His death for all sins on the cross, and His resurrection from the dead, never to die again.
The reason that atheists and critics of the Bible seek to impeach the New Testament today, is that Jesus did claim to be God. He proved this by the miracles He performed, and His resurrection from the dead. It is the Old Testament prophecies that predicted a Messiah exactly like Jesus, and the historical, eyewitness record of the New Testament, documenting that Jesus fulfilled all 400 of the Messianic Prophecies, that proves God exists in Jesus. We have 24,593 extant manuscript copies of these events today from the historical record, that proves all the testimony about Jesus is true.
 The basis of all claims in opposition to New Testament reliability is predicated upon two ideas:
- Jesus did not claim to be God.
- He was made God by the Gospel writers.
In the opening statement of his book, “How Jesus Became God,” Atheist New Testament scholar, Bart Ehrman, makes the following observation:
“JESUS WAS A LOWER-CLASS Jewish preacher from the backwaters of rural Galilee who was condemned for illegal activities and crucified for crimes against the state. Yet not long after his death, his followers were claiming that he was a divine being. Eventually they went even further, declaring that he was none other than God, Lord of heaven and earth. And so the question: How did a crucified peasant come to be thought of as the Lord who created all things? How did Jesus become God?”
From: Ehrman, Bart D.. How Jesus Became God: The Exaltation of a Jewish Preacher from Galilee (p.1). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.
From this premise that Jesus was nothing more than a crucified peasant, Ehrman expresses his opinion that Jesus cannot be God. The entire book is dedicated to the principle that Jesus never claimed to be God Himself, it was the writers of the four Gospels who made Him God.
Here is the problem with Ehrman’s hypothesis: These ideas are not supported by the evidence of history, nor the text of the 24,593 extant copies of the New Testament we have today.
See the publication: “Why Jesus Is God,” by Robert Clifton Robinson, Teach The Word Publishing, February 8, 2018, Amazon Kindle Edition.
Categories: Jesus born to die, Jesus Cross and Wisdom, Jesus is God, Jesus is the Messiah, New Testament Manuscripts, Robert Clifton Robinson, Salvation through Jesus, Secular Sources for Jesus, Sitting at God's Right Hand, The Claims of Jesus, The Four Gospels, The Historical Crucifixion of Jesus, The Historical Jesus, The Historicity of Jesus