Identifying “You” in Matthew 26:64

sky_1Matthew 26:64  Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

The identity of “you” in Matthew 26:64 is often believed to be one of the following:

The first is that Caiaphas’ family or ‘race’ will see this prophecy come to pass at a future date. This is the most common position used by dispensationalist teachers. The problem with this is Jesus’ language in this verse does not lend credence to this explanation at all. Jesus is very specifically speaking to Caiaphas (See Mat 26:57-58, 62-64). To stretch Jesus’ words out over hundreds or thousands of years is an offense to both the translators of the Bible and to the clearly spoken words of Jesus Christ. The only reason a person would resort to such a conclusion is to protect against a different interpretation that they feel would cause harm to what they believe. Such measures do not establish biblical Truth, but they do expose man-inspired doctrines.

The other position is to believe that Caiaphas himself witnessed Jesus’ 70 AD judgment of Jerusalem (Preterist teaching). The problem with this viewpoint is that Caiaphas was more than likely dead by 70 AD. From what I’ve read, there is no credible documentation stating Caiaphas lived much past 37 AD. That year he was removed from the High Priest position by the Syrian governor Vitellius. Helen K. Bond is a Senior Lecturer in New Testament Language, University of Edinburgh. She wrote a biography of Caiaphas after more than 10 years of studies. In it she concluded: “after eighteen years (as chief priest, Caiaphas was) rather too elderly and infirm.” This indicates his quality of life was failing 33 years before Jerusalem fell. She also said that Caiaphas “more probably” died soon after 37 AD. (Caiaphas: Friend of Rome and Judge of Jesus, p. 89)

The problem I see with both of these explanations is that they don’t address the central message Jesus was making to Caiaphas. Let’s look at what Jesus said:

Matthew 26:64
(64) Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto youHereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

The key is the word “hereafter.” Thayer’s defines “hereafter” as a “separation.” This is a reference of separating one time from another. The remainder of Jesus statement identifies the separation to which He is referring.

The choice of wording in the following translations makes the meaning of this separation time reference very clear:

(ESV) 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.”

(LITV) Jesus said to him, You said it. I tell you more. From this time you shall see the Son of Man sitting off the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of the heaven. Psa 110:1; Dan 7:13

From this we see Jesus is saying that Caiaphas will see these occurrences from that time forward. What He said would occur is the “Son of man sitting on the right hand of power,” and Him “coming in the clouds of heaven.”

Jesus sitting on the right hand of power refers to Him empowered with all authority in Heaven and in Earth (See Mat 28:18). When Jesus told the High Priest that he would see the “Son of man sitting on the right hand of power,” Caiaphas knew Jesus was saying that he would see Jesus enthroned as the One who possessed this power. This power was witnessed by Caiaphas and members of the Sanhedrin during the martyrdom of Steven.

Acts 7:56
(56) And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.

Strong’s Concordance defines “standing” as: abide, appoint, bring, continuecovenantestablish, hold up, lay, present, set (up), stanch, stand (by, forth, still, up).

So “standing” isn’t about a physical posture, but about Jesus ‘abiding’ at the “right hand of God.” The ‘right hand’ is a reference to status and power. So what Steven saw was Jesus abiding in the power of God. This heavenly vision gave Steven both comfort and confidence. Through it he saw that regardless what those men thought or did, Jesus’ New Covenant was still intact, and consequently that Jesus was still in control of all things – both in this life, and the next.

Jesus telling Caiaphas that from then on he would see the Son of man “coming in the clouds of heaven,” is explained by studying the Bible’s usage of “clouds.” This statement is mentioned in Daniel 7:13.

Daniel 7:13
(13) I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.

“Clouds” is a biblical reference to God’s glory. Clouds are found at Jesus’ Mount of Transfiguration.

Matthew 17:5
(5) While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice OUT OF THE CLOUD, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.

A cloud of glory is what Joshua got lost in when he lingered in the tabernacle of God.

Exodus 33:9-11
(9) And it came to pass, as Moses entered into the tabernacle, the cloudy pillar descended, and stood at the door of the tabernacle, and the LORD talked with Moses.
(10) And all the people saw the cloudy pillar stand at the tabernacle door: and all the people rose up and worshiped, every man in his tent door.
(11) And the LORD spoke unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend. And he turned again into the camp: but his servant Joshua, the son of Nun, a young man, departed not out of the tabernacle.

A cloud of glory is mentioned when Jesus brings judgment against a rebellious people (See Act 1:9-11; Isa 19:1; Jer 4:13; Eze 30:3, Eze 30:18-19; Nah 1:2; Zep 1:14-17; Joe 2:1-9).

The Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven, are both occurrences that speak of Jesus’ exalted status as both Lord and Christ. This is why Caiaphas became angry and accused Jesus of blasphemy when He applied them to Himself.

Jesus’ words in Matthew 26:64 makes it clear that from that time onward Caiaphas would see Him reign as the prophesied King and Messiah. As a result, this is not an unfulfilled future coming event. Instead its fulfillment is a testimony that Jesus right now has all power and glory in Heaven and in earth.


Copyright © 2009 TK Burk. All Rights Reserved.