May 1 – Reigning Supreme

[Christ] has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.

1 Peter 3:22

Throughout both the Old and New Testaments, the right hand of God is affirmed as the place of preeminence, power, and authority for all eternity. That’s where Jesus went when He had accomplished His work on the cross, and that’s where He rules from today.

Romans 8:34 says, “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.” His position at the right hand of God gives Him authority over all created things.

Christ assumed His position of supremacy “after angels and authorities and powers” had been subjected to Him (1 Pet. 3:22)—that is, when Christ declared His triumph to the demons in prison. The cross and the resurrection are what subjected the angelic hosts to Him. When He ascended into heaven, He took His rightful place and is supreme over all.[1]

His Triumphant Supremacy

who is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him. (3:22)

Peter concludes this passage with a glorious final note concerning Jesus Christ’s triumphant suffering. Both the Old and New Testaments affirm the right hand as a place of prestige and power (Gen. 48:18; 1 Chron. 6:39; Pss. 16:8; 45:9; 80:17; 110:1; Mark 16:19; Acts 2:33; 5:31; Rom. 8:34; Eph. 1:20; Heb. 12:2). The right hand of God is the preeminent place of honor and authority for all eternity (Ex. 15:6; Deut. 33:2; Pss. 16:11; 18:35; 45:4; 48:10; 89:13; 98:1; 118:15–16; Matt. 26:64; Acts 7:55–56; Col. 3:1; Heb. 1:3; 8:1; Rev. 5:7; cf. Rev. 2:1). That is where Christ went after He finished His work of redemption, and that is where He rules from today.

After describing Jesus’ humility, suffering, and death, the apostle Paul confidently asserted:

For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Phil. 2:9–11)

The author of Hebrews referred to Christ’s position of supremacy several times, beginning early in the letter:

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. For to which of the angels did He ever say, “You are My Son, today I have begotten You”? And again, “I will be a Father to Him and He shall be a Son to Me”? And when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, “And let all the angels of God worship Him.” (Heb. 1:3–6; cf. Acts 5:31; 7:55–56; Rom. 8:34; Heb. 10:12; 12:2)

Having gone into heaven is a reference to Christ’s ascension, which Luke describes in the opening chapter of Acts:

He was lifted up while they were looking on, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And as they were gazing intently into the sky while He was going, behold, two men in white clothing stood beside them. They also said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:9–11)

When He ascended to heaven, “Jesus … entered as a forerunner for [believers], having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek” (Heb. 6:20). From that position as heavenly high priest, Christ continuously intercedes for believers (Heb. 7:25; 9:24).

Christ assumed His position of supremacy over angels and authorities and powers (angelic beings, including Satan and his demons; see Gen. 19:1; 28:12; Pss. 78:49; 148:2; Matt. 4:11; 13:41; 25:31; Luke 2:15; 15:10; Rom. 8:38; Eph. 3:10; 6:12; Col. 1:16; 2:18; Jude 6; Rev. 5:11; 8:2) after they had been subjected to Him by the Cross, which fact He proclaimed to the demons in prison. It shows again that He was not preaching to demons a message of salvation, since demons cannot be saved, but are damned forever: “For assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham” (Heb. 2:16).

Peter’s concluding statement to this passage and chapter emphasizes again that the Cross and the Resurrection are what subjected the fallen and rebellious angelic hosts to Jesus Christ, and saved souls from eternal judgment—the greatest triumph ever of the suffering of a righteous person. It also echoes Paul’s words to the Ephesians:

In accordance with the working of the strength of [God’s] might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. (Eph. 1:19–21; emphases added)

The word rendered had been subjected (from hupotassō, “to line up in rank under”) describes the present status of all spiritual beings in relation to Christ. He is supreme over all (Phil. 2:9–11).

Christ’s substitutionary death for sinners was an act of grace (Acts 15:11; Rom. 5:15, 17; Eph. 1:7; 2:5, 8–9; Titus 2:11; 3:7; Heb. 2:9)—triumphant, sovereign grace extended to depraved, wicked men and women who actually deserved nothing but eternal judgment from God. In his hymn “And Can It Be,” Charles Wesley wrote,

’Tis mystery all! Th’ Immortal dies!

Who can explore His strange design?

In vain the first born seraph tries

To sound the depths of love Divine!

’Tis mercy all! Let earth adore,

Let angel minds inquire no more.

It was lost human beings for whom Christ died—the lost angels could only listen in dismay to Christ’s proclamation of victory. Even the elect angels can only marvel at what they cannot fully understand (cf. 1:12). Believers should be grateful that “while [they] were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6).

Again, how mightily does the Lord God bring triumph out of the persecution of the Savior. And saints can be confident He will do the same in their persecutions. “But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place” (2 Cor. 2:14). Eventually they will be at God’s right hand in heaven (Rev. 3:21), even ruling over the angels (1 Cor. 6:3).

Believers not only look to Christ as an example of triumph in unjust suffering, they also join fully and forever in that triumph.[2]

3:22 Who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him. The Lord Jesus Christ not only arose from among the dead, but He ascended to heaven from where He had originally come. He is there today, not as an invisible, intangible spirit-being, but as a living Man in a glorified body of flesh and bones. In that body He bears eternally the wounds He received at Calvary—eloquent and everlasting tokens of His love for us.

Our Lord is at the right hand of God, the place of:

Power: Since the right hand is generally stronger than the left, it has come to be associated with power (Matt. 26:64).

Honor: Christ is “exalted to the right hand of God” (Acts 2:33; 5:31).

Rest: In virtue of His finished work Christ “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3; see also 8:1; 10:12). This rest is the rest of satisfaction and complacency, not the rest that conquers weariness.

Intercession: Paul speaks of Christ being at the right hand of God where He intercedes for us (Rom. 8:34).

Preeminence: “At His right hand in the heavenly places, (He is) far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come …” (Eph. 1:20, 21).

Dominion: In Hebrews 1:13, God the Father says to the Son, “Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” Dominion is emphasized in 1 Peter 3:22: “… at the right hand of God, with angels and authorities and powers having been made subject to Him.”

Angels and authorities and powers are doubtless intended to cover all ranks of heavenly beings. They are all servants of the risen, glorified Christ.

This then was our Lord’s experience in suffering for well-doing. Men rejected Him, both in His pre-incarnate testimony through Noah and in His First Advent as the Son of Man. He was baptized in death’s dark waters at Calvary. But God raised Him from the dead and glorified Him at His own right hand in heaven. In the eternal purposes of God, suffering had to precede glory.

This was the lesson both for Peter’s original readers and also for us. We should not be upset if we experience opposition and even persecution for doing good, for we do not deserve better treatment than our Savior had when He was on earth. We should comfort ourselves with the promise that if we suffer with Him, we shall be glorified with Him (Rom. 8:17). Furthermore, the sufferings now are not worthy to be compared with the glory that awaits us (Rom. 8:18). The afflictions are light and momentary; the glory is eternal and weighty beyond all comparison (2 Cor. 4:17).[3]

[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 138). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

[2] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2004). 1 Peter (pp. 219–221). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 2275). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.


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