But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. (Eph. 2:6)
We can all recall a time when we had a seating assignment. Perhaps in schooling, at work, or around the dinner table, a particular chair may come to be known as your seat. We tend to size up the quality of our assigned seat by factors such as visibility, the ambience, and, above all, the surrounding company. If we’re off to a concert or sporting event, our first question may well be “Do we have good seats?” We intuitively recognize that where we sit and (more importantly) whom it is that we sit next to play no small role in our experience. Thus, as Christians, we do well to pause and ask the question, “Do we have good seats?”
Christians possess the most awesome of all assigned seats. How so? In this passage from Ephesians, Paul has just outlined the dreadful truth that mankind is dead in trespasses, in step with the age of this world, and by nature children of wrath. Far from making us victims, such realties are fully congruent with the desires of the corrupted heart and the passions of the flesh. Should we be offered a new and higher seat, we would resolutely decline, preferring instead our positions of autonomy.
But just as the tidal wave of despair is about to break, Paul interjects that great gospel conjunction “but,” as in “but God” (Eph. 2:4). How bleak our condition . . . but God . . . How ceaseless the diagnosis of death . . . but God . . . How settled in our seats of wrath . . . but God . . . For it was precisely in our state of death that God made us alive; namely by making us alive together with Christ (Eph. 2:5).
As an overflowing benefit of our life in Christ, Christians receive a novel assigned seat that postures us in the age to come. We have the best seat in all the cosmos: a seat in the heavenlies. Above all, we are seated with Christ Jesus. Since the believer is in Christ, then wherever Christ is seated, Christians are necessarily seated with Him.
Where, then, is Christ seated? As Hebrews tells us, it was “when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God” (Heb. 10:12). This act of “sitting down” crowns the truth that the Lord Jesus fully accomplished all the work that His Father gave to Him. To be a priest was to be “on your feet,” as it were, for a priest’s work was never done. To “take a seat” was not in the priest’s job description, as “every priest stands daily” (Heb. 10:11). The repeated sacrifices that could “never take away sins” required perpetual standing for the priests of old. But Christ’s single sacrifice was singularly perfect. That Christ lived, died, was buried, resurrected, ascended, and only then granted a seat at the “right hand of majesty” sets forth the irrefutable truth that His sacrifice was the “once for all” offering. Every reason to stand has been eliminated, and therefore “heaven must receive him” (Acts 3:21).
Sitting also signifies ruling authority. A court is in session only when the judge sits down (hence the Latin word session—“to sit”). Christ received His throne as the coronated King, having received the name above all names. All judgment is committed to Him. The covenant promise to establish David’s throne has been fulfilled (2 Sam. 7), and Yahweh’s promise of old that a Son shall “sit at my right hand” has been realized (Ps. 110:1). There is no enthronement for partial victories. Since He has received all authority in heaven and on earth, His reign to make all enemies His footstool is in session. He is seated with His rod of iron and scepter of righteousness, and the principalities and powers are put to open shame as the spoils of war go to the risen King.
Herein lies the inseparable connection that Christians receive their heavenly seat only because the Lord Jesus Himself is first granted His seat (Eph. 1:20). We sit because He first sat down. In this sense, Christ’s session is uniquely majestic, a seat reserved only for the God-man, in whom the Father fully delights and honors. He occupies first chair, you might say, a throne of unparalleled glory where He is worshipped “day and night” without end. It is not for us to sit at the right hand of Majesty and yet, as Christ is our Head, He is seated there for us.
How, then, do we come to share in this royal seating assignment? Such a seat is impossible to access as we are, but all things are possible with God. That we are raised with Christ (Eph. 2:6) returns us to the glorious truth that the resurrection of Christ is our heavenly transport to our new seat. So inseparable is Christ’s resurrection from our own resurrection that the church confesses that because Christ has been raised, we too have been raised with Him (cf. Col. 3:1). While resurrection certainly awaits a final consummation, it is also a present reality. By way of Spirit-wrought union with Christ, the Christian has already been resurrected and seated with Him. As much as our seat is our heavenly hope, it is our present position as well. As Calvin comments on this verse, Paul writes “as if those blessings were presently in our possession, he states that we have received them. . . . It is as if we had been brought from the deepest hell to heaven itself.”
So let’s ask once more, “Do we have good seats?” As Hannah said, God “raises up the poor from the dust; he lifts the needy from the ash heap to make them sit with princes and inherit a seat of honor” (1 Sam. 2:8). How much more, then, has God raised us up to sit with the Prince of Peace? We sometimes speak of setting someone up for success or putting them in a position to win. God has done far more—He has stationed us next to the risen Christ. He has set us up for so great a salvation. We see the Trinity in full harmony as it is the Father who seats us with His Son by the power of the Holy Spirit. What a gracious God who bestows upon His children the best seat of all in His heavenly house.
Sitting shapes life. A rocking chair next to grandpa may suddenly transport a child to a realm of great stories or a flood of wisdom (or ideally both). Therefore, it is of no small importance in the Scriptures. To presumptively take a seat at the head of the table, for instance, is foolish. To sit in the seat of scoffers is heavily warned against (Ps. 1:1). To sit with someone is to commune and fellowship with them, even to sympathize with them (cf. Job 2:13). The higher the seat, the grander the nobility (Prov. 9:14). Perhaps most of all, to be able to sit down with a king is the greatest of honors. Think of the ending of the book of 2 Kings. Just as it seems all is lost and despite his faithlessness, Jehoiachin is “graciously freed” from prison and the king of Babylon “spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat above the seats of the kings who were with him in Babylon” (2 Kings 25:28). It is incalculable what an undeserved honor this was for Jehoiachin.
And yet, Christian, your seat is far better and higher. For you have been graciously freed from the worst of prisons and have been given a seat far above all earthly realms—a seat with the Lord Jesus Himself.
The reality of our assigned seat is truth for life. As you battle against the principalities and powers, stand firm knowing that your Savior sits enthroned. If the present darkness seems to be advancing, know that the Lord is laughing, for His Son is seated upon Zion. When the hindrances of sin befall you, be assured yet again of full atonement by the only One qualified to sit down. Cling to the comfort of your Great High Priest, whose posture is one of perfect intercession. The King is on the throne, and He must reign until all His enemies are put underfoot. And there you are, with a reserved seat next to your King, for Satan will soon be crushed under your foot.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on August 31, 2022.