I just finished a small Bible study on a puzzling topic: Is Jesus currently sitting or standing, and is He on a throne or not? To me this is a puzzling topic as I don’t think the Scriptures are incredibly clear on it. Let me explain.
At the end of the synoptic gospels, Jesus is making reference to the end of days:
- “Jesus said to them, “Truly, I say to you, in the new world, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”” (Matthew 19:28)
- “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.” (Matthew 25:31)
- “Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”” (Matthew 26:64)
- “And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.”” (Mark 14:62)
- “So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them, was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God.” (Mark 16:19)
- “But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God.” (Luke 22:69)
What we can deduct from these verses is that at the end, Jesus sits on a throne, and He sits at the right hand of God. Question is: can both be true? If so, it would imply there are two thrones, right?
Let’s skip to Revelation… Here we clearly see in the beginning of the book that Jesus is not on a throne and He is standing:
- “And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain” (Revelation 5:6)
- “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb” (Revelation 5:13)
- “…standing before the throne and before the Lamb […] and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”” (Revelation 7:9-10)
What about the end of Revelation? Well, in chapter 19, God is seated on the throne (v.4) and Jesus is on a white horse waging war (v.11-16). In chapter 20, there are multiple thrones and seated on them were those to whom the authority to judge was committed (v.4), and in verse 11 someone is sitting on the throne, but it is not specified who it is. In chapter 21 we can infer Jesus is on the throne, because in verse 6 He identifies Himself as the Alpha and the Omega, yet in verse 7 He uses a reference that He is the Father. This seems somewhat confusing. In chapter 22, the last chapter of the Bible, it seems to confirm that there are indeed two thrones, for verse 3 says, “but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it.”
It seems that at the beginning of Revelation, Jesus is standing and not sitting on a throne, and at the end of Revelation, Jesus is sitting on a throne next to God. The latter would indeed concur with what the synoptic gospels are saying.
So far, so good, right? So why is this such a puzzling topic then? Well, it’s because of the verse references in the epistles. In Acts 7:55-56, Stephen gazes into heaven and sees the glory of God (wow!), and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Both Romans 8:34 and 1 Peter 3:22 make reference to Jesus being at the right hand of God, but say nothing whether He is sitting or standing. Yet, Ephesians 1:20, Colossians 3:1, Hebrews 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; and 12:2, all refer to Jesus sitting down.
So, what’s confusing? Well, it could be that Stephen’s glimpse into heaven is in Stephen’s present day: Jesus is standing. But all the epistle verses talk about Jesus in the past tense and yet He is sitting down. Hebrews 1:3 makes this very clear when it says, “After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high”. This verse concurs with Ephesians 1:20, which says, “when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places” and Hebrews 10:12, which says, “But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God.”
Am I missing something here, or is this indeed confusing? Both Stephen’s glimpse and the beginning of Revelation states Jesus is standing. In the synoptic gospels, Jesus refers to Himself at the end of time and here He is seated (as He is indeed in the later chapters of Revelation), but the epistles state that Jesus is already seated at the right hand of God.
What we can say is that Jesus is currently in heaven and that He is at the right hand of the Father. Is it very important to know whether He is standing or sitting down? I don’t know. I hold fast to the promise that there are no contradictions in the Bible, so this topic forces me to study deeper.
In the mean time, what do you think?