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St. Thomas Aquinas
Summa Theologica

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  • Aquin.: SMT TP Prologue Para. 1/3 - THIRD PART (TP) OF THE SUMMA THEOLOGICA (QQ[1]-90)
      • Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF CHRIST'S SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE FATHER (FOUR ARTICLES)
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Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] Out. Para. 1/1 - OF CHRIST'S SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE FATHER (FOUR ARTICLES)

WE have now to consider Christ's sitting at the right hand of the
Father, concerning which there are four points of inquiry:

(1) Whether Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father?

(2) Whether this belongs to Him according to the Divine Nature?

(3) Whether it belongs to Him according to His human nature?

(4) Whether it is something proper to Christ?


Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[1] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether it is fitting that Christ should sit at the right hand of God the
Father?

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[1] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem unfitting that Christ should sit at the right hand
of God the Father. For right and left are differences of bodily position.
But nothing corporeal can be applied to God, since "God is a spirit," as
we read in Jn. 4:24. Therefore it seems that Christ does not sit at the
right hand of the Father.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[1] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, if anyone sits at another's right hand, then the latter
is seated on his left. Consequently, if Christ sits at the right hand of
the Father, it follows that the Father is seated on the left of the Son;
which is unseemly.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[1] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, sitting and standing savor of opposition. But Stephen
(Acts 7:55) said: "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man
standing on the right hand of God." Therefore it seems that Christ does
not sit at the right hand of the Father.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[1] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written in the last chapter of Mark (16:19): "The
Lord Jesus, after He had spoken to them, was taken up to heaven, and
sitteth on the right hand of God."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[1] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, The word "sitting" may have a twofold meaning; namely,
"abiding" as in Lk. 24:49: "Sit [Douay: 'Stay'] you in the city": and
royal or judiciary "power," as in Prov. 20:8: "The king, that sitteth on
the throne of judgment, scattereth away all evil with his look." Now in
either sense it belongs to Christ to sit at the Father's right hand.
First of all inasmuch as He abides eternally unchangeable in the Father's
bliss, which is termed His right hand, according to Ps. 15:11: "At Thy
right hand are delights even to the end." Hence Augustine says (De Symb.
i): "'Sitteth at the right hand of the Father': To sit means to dwell,
just as we say of any man: 'He sat in that country for three years':
Believe, then, that Christ dwells so at the right hand of the Father: for
He is happy, and the Father's right hand is the name for His bliss."
Secondly, Christ is said to sit at the right hand of the Father inasmuch
as He reigns together with the Father, and has judiciary power from Him;
just as he who sits at the king's right hand helps him in ruling and
judging. Hence Augustine says (De Symb. ii): "By the expression 'right
hand,' understand the power which this Man, chosen of God, received, that
He might come to judge, who before had come to be judged."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[1] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: As Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iv): "We do not speak of
the Father's right hand as of a place, for how can a place be designated
by His right hand, who Himself is beyond all place? Right and left belong
to things definable by limit. But we style, as the Father's right hand,
the glory and honor of the Godhead."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[1] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: The argument holds good if sitting at the right hand be
taken corporeally. Hence Augustine says (De Symb. i): "If we accept it in
a carnal sense that Christ sits at the Father's right hand, then the
Father will be on the left. But there" - that is, in eternal bliss, "it
is all right hand, since no misery is there."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[1] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: As Gregory says in a Homily on the Ascension (Hom. xxix in
Evang.), "it is the judge's place to sit, while to stand is the place of
the combatant or helper. Consequently, Stephen in his toil of combat saw
Him standing whom He had as his helper. But Mark describes Him as seated
after the Ascension, because after the glory of His Ascension He will at
the end be seen as judge."


Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[2] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether it belongs to Christ as God to sit at the right hand of the
Father?

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[2] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that it does not belong to Christ as God to sit at
the right hand of the Father. For, as God, Christ is the Father's right
hand. But it does not appear to be the same thing to be the right hand of
anyone and to sit on his right hand. Therefore, as God, Christ does not
sit at the right hand of the Father.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[2] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, in the last chapter of Mark (16:19) it is said that "the
Lord Jesus was taken up into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of
God." But it was not as God that Christ was taken up to heaven. Therefore
neither does He, as God, sit at the right hand of God.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[2] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, Christ as God is the equal of the Father and of the Holy
Ghost. Consequently, if Christ sits as God at the right hand of the
Father, with equal reason the Holy Ghost sits at the right hand of the
Father and of the Son, and the Father Himself on the right hand of the
Son; which no one is found to say.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[2] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Damascene says (De Fide Orth. iv): that "what we style
as the Father's right hand, is the glory and honor of the Godhead,
wherein the Son of God existed before ages as God and as consubstantial
with the Father."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[2] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, As may be gathered from what has been said (A[1]) three
things can be understood under the expression "right hand." First of all,
as Damascene takes it, "the glory of the Godhead": secondly, according to
Augustine "the beatitude of the Father": thirdly, according to the same
authority, "judiciary power." Now as we observed (A[1]) "sitting denotes"
either abiding, or royal or judiciary dignity. Hence, to sit on the right
hand of the Father is nothing else than to share in the glory of the
Godhead with the Father, and to possess beatitude and judiciary power,
and that unchangeably and royally. But this belongs to the Son as God.
Hence it is manifest that Christ as God sits at the right hand of the
Father; yet so that this preposition "at," which is a transitive one,
implies merely personal distinction and order of origin, but not degree
of nature or dignity, for there is no such thing in the Divine Persons,
as was shown in the FP, Q[42], AA[3],4.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[2] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: The Son of God is called the Father's "right hand" by
appropriation, just as He is called the "Power" of the Father (1 Cor.
1:24). But "right hand of the Father," in its three meanings given above,
is something common to the three Persons.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[2] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Christ as man is exalted to Divine honor; and this is
signified in the aforesaid sitting; nevertheless such honor belongs to
Him as God, not through any assumption, but through His origin from
eternity.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[2] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: In no way can it be said that the Father is seated at the
right hand of the Son or of the Holy Ghost; because the Son and the Holy
Ghost derive their origin from the Father, and not conversely. The Holy
Ghost, however, can be said properly to sit at the right hand of the
Father or of the Son, in the aforesaid sense, although by a kind of
appropriation it is attributed to the Son, to whom equality is
appropriated; thus Augustine says (De Doctr. Christ. i) that "in the
Father there is unity, in the Son equality, in the Holy Ghost the
connection of unity with equality."


Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[3] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether it belongs to Christ as man to sit at the right hand of the
Father?

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[3] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that it does not belong to Christ as man to sit at
the right hand of the Father, because, as Damascene says (De Fide Orth.
iv): "What we call the Father's right hand is the glory and honor of the
Godhead." But the glory and honor of the Godhead do not belong to Christ
as man. Consequently, it seems that Christ as man does not sit at the
right hand of the Father.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[3] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, to sit on the ruler's right hand seems to exclude
subjection, because one so sitting seems in a measure to be reigning with
him. But Christ as man is "subject unto" the Father, as is said in 1
Cor. 15:28. Therefore it seems that Christ as man does not sit at the
Father's right hand.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[3] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, on Rm. 8:34: "Who is at the right hand of God," the
gloss adds: "that is, equal to the Father in that honor, whereby God is
the Father: or, on the right hand of the Father, that is, in the mightier
gifts of God." And on Heb. 1:3: "sitteth on the right hand of the majesty
on high," the gloss adds, "that is, in equality with the Father over all
things, both in place and dignity." But equality with God does not belong
to Christ as man; for in this respect Christ Himself says (Jn. 14:28):
"The Father is greater than I." Consequently, it appears unseemly for
Christ as man to sit on the Father's right hand.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[3] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Symb. ii): "By the expression 'right
hand' understand the power which this Man, chosen of God, received, that
He might come as judge, who before had come to be judged."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[3] Body Para. 1/2

I answer that, As stated above (A[2]), by the expression "right hand" is
understood either the glory of His Godhead, or His eternal beatitude, or
His judicial and royal power. Now this preposition "at" signifies a kind
of approach to the right hand; thus denoting something in common, and yet
with a distinction, as already observed (De Symb. ii). And this can be in
three ways: first of all, by something common in nature, and a
distinction in person; and thus Christ as the Son of God, sits at the
right hand of the Father, because He has the same Nature as the Father:
hence these things belong to the Son essentially, just as to the Father;
and this is to be in equality with the Father. Secondly, according to the
grace of union, which, on the contrary, implies distinction of nature,
and unity of person. According to this, Christ as man is the Son of God,
and consequently sits at the Father's right hand; yet so that the
expression "as" does not denote condition of nature, but unity of
suppositum, as explained above (Q[16], AA[10],11). Thirdly, the said
approach can be understood according to habitual grace, which is more
fully in Christ than in all other creatures, so much so that human nature
in Christ is more blessed than all other creatures, and possesses over
all other creatures royal and judiciary power.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[3] Body Para. 2/2

So, then, if "as" denote condition of nature, then Christ, as God, sits
"at the Father's right hand," that is, "in equality with the Father"; but
as man, He sits "at the right hand of the Father," that is, "in the
Father's mightier gifts beyond all other creatures," that is to say, "in
greater beatitude," and "exercising judiciary power." But if "as" denote
unity of person, thus again as man, He sits at the Father's right hand
"as to equality of honor," inasmuch as with the same honor we venerate
the Son of God with His assumed nature, as was said above (Q[25], A[1]).

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[3] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Christ's humanity according to the conditions of His nature
has not the glory or honor of the Godhead, which it has nevertheless by
reason of the Person with whom it is united. Hence Damascene adds in the
passage quoted: "In which," that is, in the glory of the Godhead, "the
Son of God existing before ages, as God and consubstantial with the
Father, sits in His conglorified flesh; for, under one adoration the one
hypostasis, together with His flesh, is adored by every creature."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[3] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Christ as man is subject to the Father, if "as" denote the
condition of nature: in which respect it does not belong to Him as man to
sit at the Father's right hand, by reason of their mutual equality. But
it does thus belong to Him to sit at the right hand of the Father,
according as is thereby denoted the excellence of beatitude and His
judiciary power over every creature.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[3] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: It does not belong to Christ's human nature to be in
equality with the Father, but only to the Person who assumed it; but it
does belong even to the assumed human nature to share in God's mightier
gifts, in so far as it implies exaltation above other creatures.


Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[4] Thes. Para. 1/1

Whether it is proper to Christ to sit at the right hand of the Father?

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[4] Obj. 1 Para. 1/1

OBJ 1: It would seem that it is not proper to Christ to sit at the right
hand of the Father, because the Apostle says (Eph. 2:4,6): "God . . .
hath raised us up together, and hath made us sit together in the heavenly
places through Christ Jesus." But to be raised up is not proper to
Christ. Therefore for like reason neither is it proper to Him to sit "on
the right hand" of God "on high" (Heb. 1:3).

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[4] Obj. 2 Para. 1/1

OBJ 2: Further, as Augustine says (De Symb. i): "For Christ to sit at
the right hand of the Father, is to dwell in His beatitude." But many
more share in this. Therefore it does not appear to be proper to Christ
to sit at the right hand of the Father.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[4] Obj. 3 Para. 1/1

OBJ 3: Further, Christ Himself says (Apoc. 3:21): "To him that shall
overcome, I will give to sit with Me in My throne: as I also have
overcome, and am set down with My Father in His throne." But it is by
sitting on His Father's throne that Christ is seated at His right hand.
Therefore others who overcome likewise, sit at the Father's right hand.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[4] Obj. 4 Para. 1/1

OBJ 4: Further, the Lord says (Mt. 20:23): "To sit on My right or left
hand, is not Mine to give to you, but to them for whom it is prepared by
My Father." But no purpose would be served by saying this, unless it was
prepared for some. Consequently, to sit at the right hand is not proper
to Christ.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[4] OTC Para. 1/1

On the contrary, It is written (Heb. 1:13): "To which of the angels said
He at any time: Sit thou on My right hand, i.e. 'in My mightier gifts,'"
or "'as my equal in the Godhead'"? [*The comment is from the gloss of
Peter Lombard] as if to answer: "To none." But angels are higher than
other creatures. Therefore, much less does it belong to anyone save
Christ to sit at the Father's right hand.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[4] Body Para. 1/1

I answer that, As stated above (A[3]), Christ is said to sit at the
Father's right hand inasmuch as He is on equality with the Father in
respect of His Divine Nature, while in respect of His humanity, He excels
all creatures in the possession of Divine gifts. But each of these
belongs exclusively to Christ. Consequently, it belongs to no one else,
angel or man, but to Christ alone, to sit at the right hand of the Father.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[4] R.O. 1 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 1: Since Christ is our Head, then what was bestowed on Christ
is bestowed on us through Him. And on this account, since He is already
raised up, the Apostle says that God has, so to speak, "raised us up
together with Him," still we ourselves are not raised up yet, but are to
be raised up, according to Rm. 8:11: "He who raised up Jesus from the
dead, shall quicken also your mortal bodies": and after the same manner
of speech the Apostle adds that "He has made us to sit together with Him,
in the heavenly places"; namely, for the very reason that Christ our Head
sits there.

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[4] R.O. 2 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 2: Since the right hand is the Divine beatitude, then "to sit
on the right hand" does not mean simply to be in beatitude, but to
possess beatitude with a kind of dominative power, as a property and part
of one's nature. This belongs to Christ alone, and to no other creature.
Yet it can be said that every saint in bliss is placed on God's right
hand; hence it is written (Mt. 25:33): "He shall set the sheep on His
right hand."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[4] R.O. 3 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 3: By the "throne" is meant the judiciary power which Christ
has from the Father: and in this sense He is said "to sit in the Father's
throne." But other saints have it from Christ; and in this respect they
are said "to sit on Christ's throne"; according to Mt. 19:28: "You also
shall sit upon twelve seats, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."

Aquin.: SMT TP Q[58] A[4] R.O. 4 Para. 1/1

Reply OBJ 4: As Chrysostom says (Hom. lxv in Matth.), "that place," to
wit, sitting at the right hand, "is closed not only to all men, but
likewise to angels: for, Paul declares it to be the prerogative of
Christ, saying: 'To which of the angels said He at any time: Sit on My
right hand?'" Our Lord therefore "replied not as though some were going
to sit there one day, but condescending to the supplication of the
questioners; since more than others they sought this one thing alone, to
stand nigh to Him." Still it can be said that the sons of Zebedee sought
for higher excellence in sharing His judiciary power; hence they did not
ask to sit on the Father's right hand or left, but on Christ's.





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