Son of Man?


At various and numerous times in the NT, Jesus refers to Himself as the “Son of Man”–in fact, He refers to himself as the “Son of Man” far more frequently than as the “Son of God”. .I wonder why this is–or if it is just one more of those questions that we’ll have to wait to understand until we meet Jesus in person to ask and find an answer to? Obviously, Jesus was certainly a son of man—no surprise there! As a matter of fact, each of us are sons or daughters of man too–as were the apostles and every person alive when Jesus walked this earth. Jesus had a human mother, so to me, there’s no special claim in referring to Himself as the “Son of Man”. I wonder why Jesus didn’t refer to Himself as the Son of God"–it seems to me that if He had chosen to to do so, He would have clarified once and for all who He claimed to be. Any thoughts on this?


It’s pretty simple actually. The term is a reference to a vision of the prophet Daniel (7:13-14):

“As I looked,
thrones were placed,
and the Ancient of Days took his seat;
his clothing was white as snow,
and the hair of his head like pure wool;
his throne was fiery flames;
its wheels were burning fire.
A stream of fire issued
and came out from before him;
a thousand thousands served him,
and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him;
the court sat in judgment,
and the books were opened.

…] “I saw in the night visions,
and behold, with the clouds of heaven
there came one like a son of man,
and he came to the Ancient of Days
and was presented before him.
And to him was given dominion
and glory and a kingdom,
that all peoples, nations, and languages
should serve him;
his dominion is an everlasting dominion,
which shall not pass away,
and his kingdom one
that shall not be destroyed.”

Around the time of Jesus, there were already interpretations of this being who was “like a son of man” being a sort of preexistent end-time ruler figure who will exercise judgment in God’s name - who is often identified as the Messiah. (I should tell you that there were really different ‘messianic expectations’ floating around in the period - this is one of them.)


Patrick brings up a great point.

Much of what Jesus says can be very clearly understood if one understands some very basic things about the prophets - whom each of the prophets were, who their audience was and what their message was. Anyone who wants to understand Jesus message should study the prophets.

This is why daily reading of the Bible and formal Bible study is so important. Many ask questions about the scriptures and it is clear that while they have some familiarity with the Gospels, they really are not familiar with much else in the Bible.



Some of this may be related of Jesus’ slow unveiling of the revelation of who He is. He made His role as Son of God visible as the Apostles were prepared to receive it. Remember the many incidents of their confusion? His story was a difficult one to understand, accept, and finally believe!

His use of this term was also a way of asserting His human nature. Surprisingly, he used it often in speaking of His divinity. He was fully man, but He was fully God.

Matthew26:63 (NAB-R)
The high priest rose and addressed him, “Have you no answer? What are these men testifying against you?”
But Jesus was silent.
Then the high priest said to him, “I order you to tell us under oath before the living God whether you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
Jesus said to him in reply, “You have said so.* But I tell you:
From now on you will see ‘the Son of Man
seated at the right hand of the Power’
and ‘coming on the clouds of heaven.’”

In ancient times a blood relative could “redeem” his kinsman from jail. As a MAN like us, He could “redeem” us from sin.

Leviticus 25:48-49
After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him:
Either his uncle, or his uncle’s son, may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him; or if he be able, he may redeem himself.


I find the “son of man” unclear as well, and for reason.
Jesus talks about “the Son of Man” in the third person, so he speaks it as though he is not talking about himself with that phrase.
The description and explanation for “one like a son of man” was first in Daniel 7, when he has a vision of four beasts arising from the sea.
Than again in Enoch, where “the son of man” is described with much more description as a divine and cosmic judge of earth.
Then, in a later edition of Similitudes in chapters 70-71, the “son of man” figure is described as a mere mortal, and identified as Enoch himself!



Matthew 16: 13-16

13 When Jesus went into the region of Caesarea Philippi* he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”
14 They replied, “Some say John the Baptist,* others Elijah, still others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus said to him in reply, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah. For flesh and blood* has not revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father."

Notice the parallelism of the two verses I’ve highlighted in blue.
"Who do the people say that the Son of Man is?"
"Who do--------you----say that-------------I-------am?"

Both lines are spoken by Jesus within the same context. Jesus can be speaking of no one else but Himself.

(By the 4th century, the Book of Enoch was mostly excluded from Christian canons, and it is now regarded as scripture by only the Ethiopian Orthodox Church and the Eritrean Orthodox Church. It should not be considered in our discussion.)


Son of Man for “Ben adam” is a possible translation, but for the real meaning you need to go back to Genesis 1:27 and find the word “adam”, human. Ben means “from”. Read from “adam” to the end of the verse. Don’t include anything before. This will give you a clearer picture of what to expect when Messiah arrives, and what not to expect when checking for “schemers”.

Hope that helps.


I see what you’re trying to say, Chef…but still, when I read all the references to “son of man” when he says the phrase, it still sounds as though he’s speaking in the third-person about someone else. And as you know, there is much debate among scholars and the religious in the Jewish faith and among Christians about what this phrase means exactly.



I agree that Matthew 16:13-20 is pretty definite.

The reason that it sounds sometimes in the third person is that it is a title that Jesus is claiming and it is a title of crucial significance.

Not only is the title the fulfilment of Daniel’s prophecy but because ‘man’ in Hebrew is also ‘Adam’ it is a claim to be the son of Adam. As the NT writers explained, the theological sacrifice of the incarnated God taking on human flesh to redeem man from the sins of Adam is expressed in the twin titles - Son of God, Son of Adam.

Another interesting twist is that I have read that in Hebrew there was not a word for ‘species’. Instead they would use ‘son of’ .

So ‘son of ox’ would mean species of ox.

If this is correct then ‘Son of God’ and ‘Son of man’ could be translated as ‘species of man’ and ‘species of God’.

Such a coming together is necessary in some understandings of salvation theology.

also if it helps :

also from Wikipedia :

In Matthew 18:11 Jesus refers to Son of man came to serve and states: “For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost.”. In the Gospel of Mark 10:35–45 this episode takes place shortly after Jesus predicts his death.

Mark 2:27-28, Matthew 12:8 and Luke 6:5 include the Lord of the Sabbath pericope where Jesus tells the Pharisees “The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath: so that the Son of man is lord even of the sabbath.” Christians commonly take the phrase “son of man” in this passage to refer to Jesus himself.

Matthew 12:38-42, Mark 8:11-13, Luke 11:29-32
Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.” But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here. (NKJV, emphasis added)
Most scholars and theologians agree that the use of Son of man in this pericope is consistent with that of self-reference.


From Wikipedia cont…

In explaining the Parable of the Weeds: Matthew 13:37,41-42
He answered and said to them: “He who sows the good seed is the Son of man… The Son of man will send out His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and those who practice lawlessness, and will cast them into the furnace of fire. There will be wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Christians commonly take the phrase “son of man” in this passage to refer to Jesus himself, rather than humanity in general.

When Jesus predicts his death.[11]

Luke 18:31-34, Mark 10:32-34, Matthew 20:17-19
Then He took the twelve aside and said to them, “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man will be accomplished. For He will be delivered to the Gentiles and will be mocked and insulted and spit upon. They will scourge Him and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.” But they understood none of these things; this saying was hidden from them, and they did not know the things which were spoken.

Mark 8:31-32:38 states:
He then began to teach them that the Son of man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke plainly about this, and Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him…If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels."

Mark 10:35-45 refers to (Son of man came to serve)
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Referring to the Second Coming Mark 8:38-9:1 (NRSV), Matthew 16:27-28, Luke 9:26-27
Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.’ And he said to them, ‘Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.’

Mark 14:62 (ESV), Matthew 26:64 (at his Trial before the Sanhedrin)
And Jesus said, ‘I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.’

Matthew 24:30 states:
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.

Matthew 25:31-32 states:
But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate them as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.
Johannine literature[edit]



and last one from Wikipedia :

First page of the Gospel of John from the Tyndale Bible, 16th century
The first chapter of the Book of Revelation refers to “one like a Son of man” in Revelation 1:12-13 which radiantly stands in glory and speaks to the author.[12] In the Gospel of John Jesus is not just a messianic figure, nor a prophet like Moses, but the key emphasis is on his dual role as Son of God and Son of man.[13]

John 1:49-51 states:
Nathanael answered and said to Him, “Rabbi, You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” Jesus answered and said to him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” And He said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, hereafter[j] you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.
This passage may be an allusion to Jacob’s Ladder. In any case, the implication is that seeing the angels ascending and descending on the “son of man” (i.e. the speaker, Jesus) would be a great wonder.

John 5:25-27 states:
Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man.

John 8:28 states:
When you see the Son of man lifted up, then you shall know I am.

John 9:35-37 states:
Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of man’?” “Who is he, sir?” the man asked. “Tell me so that I may believe in him.” Jesus said, “You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you.”

John 12:34-36 states:
The crowd answered him, ‘We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains for ever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man?’ Jesus said to them, ‘The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going. While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light.’ After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them. (emphasis added)

John’s vision of the Son of Man is a key Johannine reference to the Son of man. In both Revelation 1:12 and 14:14, John reports seeing one “like the Son of Man”. In 1:12, he is identified as the author of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3.


Hebrews 2:6-9 states:
But one testified in a certain place, saying: "What is man that You are mindful of him, or the Son of man that You take care of him?
Here “son of man” appears to refer to humanity in general, but which the author of Hebrews appears to interpret as referring specifically to Jesus.

Book of Acts[edit]

Acts 7:54-57 states:
When they heard these things, they became enraged and ground their teeth at Stephen. But filled with the Holy Spirit, he gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. “Look,” he said, “I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!” But they covered their ears, and with a loud shout all rushed together against him.

It is thought by Christian scholars that the author of Acts (also believed to be the author of Luke) includes this reference to “the Son of Man” as a direct reference to Jesus and his previous ascension, to sit at the Right Hand of God in Heaven. They would argue that in Daniel 7, “the Son of Man” refers to his ascending back to his rightful throne and this is the precise picture of him fulfilling such a role as he receives the spirit of Stephen and judges the Pharisees who stoned Stephen, although the complete Judgment (Last judgment?) will occur at the Great White Throne judgment at the end of the age


Jesus uses the title “Son of God” to stress His Divine nature, “Son of Man” to stress His human nature.

Adam was created by God; he had no human father. Therefore, he was a son of God. By virtue of his disobedience, the human race fell. We could only be saved by a human being, but that human being also had to be Divine. The title “son of man” is what God used for Ezekiel; therefore, read Ezekiel carefully, looking for “glimpses” of Jesus.


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