Christian Symbol:  The Hand

What does this Christian symbol mean? 

The hand is intended to symbolize the first person of the Trinity, often referred to as God the Father. Many traditions refuse to depict God the Father in an effort to comply with ​Exodus 20.4-6. Instead, these traditions will often substitute words (such as in the Trinity Shield) or other symbols like the hand, found here. (for counter examples of this, see the Tau Cross). When a nimbus with a cross appears behind the hand, it is an indication that it signifies God the Father.

There is often significance to the posture of the fingers as well. When the index and middle fingers are extended, and the ring finger and pinky folded (as seen on this page), it is a posture of benediction. It thus signifies not only the presence of God, but blessing as well.

It is worth noting that the hand is almost always a right hand. Sorry lefties.

Where can I find this Christian symbol?

The hand is a somewhat rare symbol. As mentioned above, Christians have traditionally been averse to depicting the first Person of the Trinity, and  this aversion seems to extend even to the hand. 

Nonetheless, the hand is most frequently seen extending down from above, sometimes from clouds. Any time you might expect to find a depiction of God the Father, look for the hand as a stand-in.

​Related Pages:

Free Bible Study on the Hand:

Read the following passages:
​Psalm 118.15-19
Psalm 138
​Romans 8.31-39

What do these passages say about the Right hand of God? Why do you think the authors chose to use the imagery of God's hand? Have you ever heard anyone talk about seeing "the hand of God" at work?

​Next, read Numbers 6.22-26.
Have you heard this blessing before? Why do you think the hand of God is usually depicted in a posture of blessing? Why do you think this author refers to God's face instead of hand? Which image resonates more deeply with you?

How to preach with the Christian Symbol of the hand:

As with any symbol of any person of the Trinity, the hand is a good opportunity to preach your Trinitarian theology. It could easily be combined with images like the lamb,  the dove, and the Trinity shield to form a cohesive four-part series. 

When would the symbol of the hand fit in the liturgical calendar?

This symbol can be used in a variety of ways, but it fits best in ordinary time, as during Christmas we tend to focus on Jesus, and during Pentecost we tend to focus on the Holy Spirit.