Questions From Readers
● Psalm 110:1 speaks of Christ sitting at Jehovah’s right hand, but Ps 110 verse 5 refers to Jehovah as being at Christ’s right hand, “Lord” there meaning Jehovah, according to the book What Has Religion Done for Mankind? page 100. If Christ is at Jehovah’s right hand, would that not mean that Jehovah is at Christ’s left?—R. C., Australia.
Psalm 110 views Jehovah as speaking to Christ, Jehovah being referred to in the third person and Christ in the second person. Ps 110 Verse 1 (AS) reads: “Jehovah saith unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand.” Ps 110 Verse 5 states: “The Lord at thy right hand will strike through kings in the day of his wrath.” “Thou” and “thy” refer to Christ, so “Lord” in Ps 110 verse 5 refers to the Lord Jehovah. Hence the psalm does first speak of Christ as at Jehovah’s right hand, then later refers to Jehovah as being at Christ’s right hand.
However, being at the right hand does not necessarily mean literal location, any more than do Jesus’ illustrative words mean the sheep are now literally always located at his right and the goats literally at the left. It is no more literal than is the sitting position mentioned at Psalm 110:1. Jesus did not literally sit from the time of his resurrection and ascension to heaven until 1914, when he stood up as the enthroned King. The sitting position merely meant that he was inactive as far as assuming the kingly duties is concerned. Also, the right-hand position is not necessarily to be viewed as literal, but symbolical. The right side indicates the place of preference, of excellence, of favor and approval. The left-hand position, as in the illustration of the sheep and goats, is the side of disapproval and disfavor. Ecclesiastes 10:2 expresses the sense, when it says: “A wise man’s heart is at his right hand; but a fool’s heart at his left.” Or, “The wise man’s mind makes for his success; the fool’s mind makes for his failure.” (AT) Here the right represents success, the left failure. It would be absurd to try to apply this text to the literal heart position, for it is to the left, whether the person is wise or a fool. Following this rule of excellence of the right hand, the aged Jacob laid his right hand upon Joseph’s younger son Ephraim and gave him the superior farewell blessing, while he laid his left hand upon the older boy Manasseh and gave him an inferior blessing. (Gen. 48:14-20) In harmony with this, Christ Jesus himself is prophetically pictured as saying to his heavenly Father: “In thy presence is fulness of joy; in thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.”—Ps. 16:11, AS.
Therefore, when we do not try to take a literal view of matters there is no difficulty in Jehovah and Christ’s being at each other’s right hand, as shown at Psalm 110:1, 5. Each has the position of preference and excellence with the other.
● At Romans 7:9 Paul talks as though he once lived before the law covenant existed, and that he was living when it started. Since that was centuries before his lifetime, how are Paul’s words to be understood?—D. S., United States.
Paul’s argument is that the law, by making sin known, made the sinfulness of men manifest. It convicted them as being sinners, and sin merited death. So the law brought sin to life and made those under the law deserving of death. An imperfect man, unable to keep the law perfectly, was convicted as a sinner and worthy of death. It is in this setting that Paul wrote, at Romans 7:9 (NW): “I was once alive apart from law; but when the commandment arrived, sin came to life again, but I died.” Before the law was given he speaks of himself as alive, but when the law came into effect it brought sin to life and it convicted him to death.
But how could this be true in the case of the apostle Paul? The law covenant went into effect fifteen centuries before he was born. He was not “alive apart from law” or living when the law arrived. However, Paul was a fleshly descendant of Abraham, to whom God said: “In thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 22:18) Abraham was God’s friend and was justified in God’s sight because of his faith. While yet unborn in the loins of Abraham, Paul had a hope of life through faith. But 330 years after Abraham died, the law covenant was added to the divine promise made to Abraham. This law covenant made it plainly appear that Abraham’s fleshly descendants, the twelve tribes of Israel, were sinners and transgressors. Paul was born under this law covenant, and he being unable to justify himself to life by the works of the law covenant, his hope of life by it died.
So he lived apart from the law, before its arrival, only in the figurative sense of being in the loins of his forefather Abraham. This is the same as when the Bible speaks of Levi paying tithes to Melchizedek, though Levi did not live until long after the time of Melchizedek. But Levi’s forefather Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek on one occasion, and hence Paul wrote: “And, if I may use the expression, through Abraham even Levi who receives tithes has paid tithes, for he was still in the loins of his forefather when Melchizedek met him [and received tithes from Abraham].” (Heb. 7:9, 10, NW) Thus the Bible itself provides the sense in which Paul lived apart from the law or before its arrival.—See The Watchtower, November 1, 1945, page 332.