I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and, “What you see write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, the Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.” (NKJV)
John uses an interesting phrase in v. 9, where he mentions “the kingdom and patience” of our Lord. I don’t know that I ever hear or read those four words together in any discussion of “the kingdom.” In fact, when I first typed the verses to begin this post, I left out the words “and patience” myself. We’re so used to hearing about just “the Kingdom.”
John isn’t the only one who mentioned “the patience of Christ.” In 2 Thessalonians 3:5, Paul also referred to it.
Why did John use the words “and patience”? Why did the Spirit lead him to use them?
After the Lord’s resurrection, Scripture says that He was exalted to the right hand of God in heaven. I don’t know that there’s much disagreement among Christians about that’s where He is right now. The discussion centers around the idea of what He is doing there. Perhaps most Christians believe that He’s ruling from there, in what’s called His “Heavenly Session.” His Kingdom is now, in the church. It has nothing to do, except perhaps providentially or incidentally, with the rest of the world.
What does the Scripture say? Romans 4:3.
There are some eighteen references in the NT to our Lord at God’s right hand.
Matthew 26:64, Jesus said to him, “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Along with the next reference, this verse happened during one of the “trials” of our Lord before His crucifixion. The high priest had just asked Him if He were the Messiah. Among other things, Jesus answered that the High Priest would one day see Him sitting at the right hand of “the Power” and this would be irrefutable proof of who He was. He didn’t say “God” because the Jews were very careful never to say that for fear of breaking the third commandment about taking the name of the Lord in vain.
Mark 14:62, 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.”
The high priest and the others who heard the Lord were offended because they recognized that Jesus was claiming to be the One to referred to in Daniel 7:13.
Luke 20:41-44, And He said to them, “How can they say that Christ is the Son of David? Now David himself said in the book of Psalms: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool.”‘ Therefore David calls Him ‘Lord’; how is He then His Son?”
Religious officials had been questioning Jesus about various Scriptures, trying to get Him to say something that they could use against Him. When they finally quit talking, the Lord used their own Scriptures against them. Quoting Psalm 110:1, He asked, in effect, “How could David’s God be David’s Son?”
Luke 22:59, Jesus said, “Hereafter the Son of Man will sit on the right hand of the power of God.”
Like the first two references, this is a detail from the questioning of our Lord. Regardless of what His enemies do to Him, they won’t have the final word about Him.
Acts 2:33, 34, in his sermon explaining what had just happened on the Day of , Pentecost, Peter said of that One whom his listeners had crucified, “therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear. For David did not ascend into heavens, but he says himself: ‘The LORD said to my Lord, “Sit at My right hand….”‘ Another reference to Psalm 110:1.
Acts 5:31, Peter, this time speaking to the Sanhedrin and referring to that One whom they had recently murdered, “Him God exalted to His right hand to be a Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.”
Leaving aside the reference about “repentance to Israel,” Peter told the Sanhedrin that they might have crucified Jesus, but God has glorified Him.
Acts 7:55, 56, Here is the account of Stephen’s witness before the Sanhedrin. It became evident that his message would be rejected and so Luke concludes his account, But he being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” This is the only reference to Jesus standing at God’s right hand. Some have suggested that He stood in order to welcome home this first martyr of the church.
Romans 8:34, Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
We’ll have more to say about this verse later.
Ephesians 1:20, In this discussion of the greatness of His power toward us who believe, v. 19, Paul goes on to tell us that this is the same power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places. The power that raised Christ from the dead is the same power that raises us from spiritual death.
Colossians 3:1, If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
If we’ve been raised from spiritual death and made spiritually alive, then we should live like it.
Hebrews 1:3, Who [Christ] being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sin, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
That One who died on the Cross wasn’t just another criminal, but was God incarnate, and His death on the Cross was the only payment that could be made for sin, and that had to be made for sin. Afterward, He sat down. This is something the OT priest could never do; his work was never done. Christ sits, because there is nothing more that needs to be done for our redemption as far as its being paid for. There is still the work of the Spirit, applying the benefits of that death to us and bringing us to faith in the One who died for sinners.
Further, it seems to me, if the Lord is truly reigning as some believe He is, this verse should say something to the effect that “He sat down on the throne of the Majesty on high,” not that He sat down at its right hand.
Hebrews 1:13, But to which of the angels has He ever said, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool?”
Here the writer asserts the superiority of the Lord Jesus over angels, because none of them has ever gotten the promise he quotes from Psalm 110. This is in keeping with the writer’s desire in this chapter to show the superiority of the Lord over things in the OT that his readers would have held in high regard: Moses, Aaron, the priesthood, etc.
Hebrews 8:1, Now this is the main point of the things we are saying: We have such a High Priest, who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in the heavens.
We have a High Priest who isn’t dependent on an earthly lineage or earthly service, one who never ceases to be High Priest because He lives forever, and One whose work in offering a sacrifice for sin is done. Indeed, He Himself was that sacrifice, something no mere earthly priest would be or could be.
Hebrews 10:12, 13, OT priests had continual sacrifices to offer, sacrifices which could never take away sins. But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool.
Hebrews 12:2, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of God.
The Cross was no walk in the park for our Lord. For all our learning, I don’t think we understand any more of what really happened on that implement of agonizing death than an infant has of the suffering of his mother in bringing him into this world.
1 Peter 3:22, where Peter tells us that, after His resurrection, who [Jesus] has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and power having been made subject to Him.
With the possible exception of Peter’s statement, none of the verses we quoted speak of our Lord as sitting as King on the throne, and even here, His reign is over angels and other spiritual beings, cf. Ephesians 6:12. Indeed, He is never called “King” except in reference to His Second Coming.
Jesus is called “King of Kings” or some similar title in four verses: 1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 1:5; 17:14 and 19:16. Even in His own description of His judging the nations in Matthew 26, and sitting on the throne of His glory to do so, it is only after He has returned to this earth in His glory, v. 31.
Later in Revelation, we’ll see our Lord’s promise to faithful believers who are in an unfaithful church, To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne, Revelation 3:21. He made the same promise to His disciples when He was still with them, So Jesus said to them, “Assuredly I say to you that in the regeneration when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel,” Matthew 19:28, see also Luke 22:30.
Here He makes a distinction between sitting on His own throne, and sitting with His Father on His, the Father’s, throne.
I really can’t see how this might be or is “fulfilled in the church”.
Well, if He’s not ruling, then what is He doing?
Romans 8:34, Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us, emphasis added.
Paul says that Jesus is interceding for us. I expect we keep Him busy.
When the High Priest had finished sacrificing on the Day of Atonement, he took some of the blood into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled it on the Mercy Seat. This foreshadowed both the sacrifice and the intercession of our Lord. Hebrews 9:24 says, For Christ has not entered into the holy places made with hands, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us, emphasis added.
The right hand of the throne is a place of honor. We see this in Solomon’s life, when he had a throne placed at his right hand for his mother, 1 Kings 1:19. He wasn’t making her co-regent or anything like that. He was simply honoring her. For her, it became a place of intercession for Adonijah, one of Solomon’s brothers. So it is for our Lord. This world rejected, and rejects, Him; God honors him, cf. Philippians 2:5-11.
Our Lord is doing something else, as well.
Hebrews 10:12, 13 says that He is waiting: But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, from that time waiting till His enemies be made His footstool, emphasis added. The word translated “waiting” means “to expect from the hand of another.”
After the resurrection, the disciples asked Jesus, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1:6. It seems to me that this would have been an excellent time, if it were true, for the Lord to have explained to the disciples that God was done with Israel and there would be no kingdom for her. But that’s not what He said: “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority,” v. 7, emphasis added.
He simply told them that the time of the setting up of the kingdom was up to the Father. That’s true for Him, as well. It’s up to the Father.