Category: Jesus, Word: SON OF MAN

November 27, 2015 | by: Kendell Easley, prepared by Dave Maniquis | 0 Comments

Posted in: 52 Words


I saw One like a son of man coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was escorted before Him. He was given authority to rule, and glory, and a kingdom… His kingdom is one that will not be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14)

DEFINITION: A phrase occurring in both Testaments, “son of Man” was Jesus’ favorite title for Himself. In the Old Testament it usually meant “human being,” but in Daniel 7 He was a mysterious messianic figure. Jesus used this title as an alternative to calling Himself the Messiah.

In Hebrew, “son of man” (ben adam) meant an individual member of the species “mankind.” (Adam means “man.”) The Lord called Ezekiel “son of man” many times, emphasizing his mere humanity. The Israelite king was likewise the “son of man” whom God made strong for Himself (Ps. 80:17). Daniel 7:13-14 is different, for no mere human could be so magnificent. Jesus understood this “son of man” to be a prophecy about Himself as Messiah. He alluded to Daniel’s Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and glory in His Olivet Discourse about His return (Matt. 24:30). He also quoted Daniel 7:13 at His trial (Matt. 26:64) to answer the high priest about whether He was the Messiah. Long ago the great preacher Augustine wrote, “The son of God became the Son of Man so that the sons of men might be made sons of God.”

The Gospels contain more than 80 instances in which Jesus used “Son of Man” to refer to Himself. In doing so, He was proclaiming that He fulfilled Daniel 7. Neither His enemies nor His disciples, however, seemed to grasp what He was doing. Thus, no one in the Gospels ever addressed Him by that title even though he rarely called Himself anything else. Evidently the term “Christ” was preferred by the early believers. The only New Testament passages in which “Son of Man” appears outside the Gospels are Acts 7:56 and Revelation 1:13; 14:14.

Sometimes Jesus used “Son of Man” as a simple substitute for the pronoun “I” (Matt. 11:19; Lk. 9:58). “Son of Man” sayings, however, occur in a number of places in which Jesus was emphasizing particular aspects of His identity as the Messiah:

  • He who would suffer and die (Mk. 9:12,31; 10:33; 14:21,41)
  • He who would give His life as a ransom for many (Matt. 20:28)
  • He who would be raised from the dead (Matt. 17:9)
  • He who will return to earth in great splendor (Lk. 17:24; 18:8)
  • He who can forgive sins and interpret the law (Lk. 5:16; 6:5; 19:20)
  • He who will judge mankind (Matt. 13:41; 25:31-32)

Two passages show with great clarity that Jesus used “son of Man” to refer to His true humanity, His messiahship, and His deity all at once. The first is in His encounter with Nicodemus, in which His heavenly origin, His being lifted up, and His being the object of faith for eternal life are affirmed (Jn. 3:13-14). The second is Peter’s confession about who the Son of Man is: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:16).

REFLECTION: How important is it to understand that for Jesus “son of Man” meant more than “human being?” Why do you suppose the Epistles never used “Son of Man” as a title for Jesus?

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, You are the heavenly Son of Man whom Daniel foresaw. Not only did You humble Yourself and become man, You knew Yourself to be the messiah, the Lord from heaven. Thank You for coming as the Son of Man to seek and save what was lost. Amen.


Dave Maniquis

Dave Maniquis is a Teaching Elder at Restoration Church. He holds a BA in History from Rutgers University and an MA in Biblical Studies from Reformed Theological Seminary. He enjoyed a 23-year career in the U.S. Government, working and traveling extensively in Western and Eastern Europe. He has been a Christian for most of his adult life and has been involved in church planting, overseas as well as here in Port Orange, teaching the Bible and speaking into others’ lives with the Gospel. He is married to Maureen and they have two wonderful sons, Dylan and Evan.


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