After last week’s great post on the Son of God, Melissa looks at what it means for us to also call Jesus the Son of Man in this week’s Word Nerd Wednesday post.
The Son of Man
Greek: ho huios tou anthropos
Huios– son, child, childhood
Anthropos– man, person, humanity, mankind
As I stated last Wednesday, in the “Son of God” post, the definite article “the” is typically ignored in the English translations. So, a more literal translation from the Greek would be “the Son of the Man”.
Son of Man in the Bible
“Son of Man” is the phrase Christ most often used to refer to himself. It is used over 100 times just in the Gospels. By using this phrase, Christ is claiming a position of humility. Imagine someone using the phrase quoted from Daniel 7:13 (see below) to refer to Jesus as the coming Messiah. They would essentially be saying, “You’re the Man.” In Greek, as in English, the word “The Man” is a compliment meaning exceptional, or head man. But Jesus would refer to himself as “the Son of the Man,” humbling himself to a lower position, therefore exalting the Father God.
One of the most famous uses of “Son of Man” is from Matthew 20. When the mother of the sons of Zebedee kneels before him asking for her boys to sit at his right and his left in his kingdom, Jesus replies that she doesn’t know for what she is asking. He goes on to teach them a truth that would seem very radical to them.
Why did the Son of Man Come to Earth?
But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28)
It is the only term used by Christ when referring to his pending betrayal, death, resurrection, and his second coming. In Matthew 12:8, Mark 2:28, and Luke 6:5 he proclaims, “the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” Using it also to talk of his authority on earth to forgive sins and “sow the good seed” which is his word, Jesus assumed the humble title when speaking of the great power and purpose he has as the “Son” of the Trinity. He is fully God and fully Man.
“For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily”Colossians 2:19
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”John 1:14
“but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.”Philippians 2:7
“For the Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.”Luke 19:10
Son of Man Not Found in Old Testament
The exact phrase “the Son of the Man” is never used in the Greek OT, the Septuagint, but the phrase is used without the definite articles, thereby translated, “a son of a man.” In Greek “a son of a man” has a different meaning that “the son of the man.” In the OT, “a son of a man” is used to refer to all the human race, often with the exact phrasing, “man and the son of man,” emphasizing the descendants of the current generation.
For example, in Psalm 8:4, “what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?”
Or in Isaiah 56:2, “Blessed is man who does this, and the son of man who holds it fast, who keeps the sabbath, not profaning it, and keeps his hand from doing evil.”
Then Something New
But when you get to the book of Ezekiel, the use of the word changes from a general reference of man, to a noun of direct address. It is the name that God, or God’s messenger uses to address Ezekiel. It is used like this dozens of times, more than and of the other OT uses combined. It is also used the same way in Daniel, as a way to address the prophet personally. However, Daniel also uses this phrase to describe the figure in his vision.
“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.”Daniel 7:13-14
In Matthew 24:30, Jesus uses one aspect of Daniel’s vision to describe his second coming;
“Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
The only difference is Daniel using the preposition “with” the clouds and Christ using a preposition with a different meaning, “on or upon” the clouds. But still the meaning is clear. He was using Daniel’s vision of himself to confirm that he was the long-awaited Messiah.
See and Believe in the Son of Man
Jesus was making a specific point by using this phrase to describe himself, not only to his disciples, but also sometimes to the Scribes and Pharisees. To his disciples, He was distinctly drawing their hearts to the scriptures. And when the time came the Holy Spirit would make them recall his words and they would believe. To the Scribes and Pharisees, he used the phrase to point out the hypocrisy of their man-made laws.
On the cross, He was the example held up for all to see.
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.”John 3:14
Because he came as man, yet fully God, we can have faith that life is not only flesh but exists beyond death as Spirit. The power of His resurrection for us is rooted in the perfect sinless life he lived as a man. The life none of us could ever live, yet we are stripped of our sinful garments and clothed in his righteousness. Hallelujah, what a Savior!The power of Christ's resurrection for us is rooted in the perfect sinless life He lived as a man. What does it mean to you to call Jesus the Son of Man? #Wordnerdwednesday #sonofman #namesofJesus @heartsabidingathom Click To Tweet
Melissa King is a homeschooling mother of five and Army wife of 15 years. She is now settled permanently with her family in Louisville, Kentucky since her husband went from Active Duty to the Reserves. Their Homeis their greatest ministry through foster care. Though she has a degree in Art Education and is the Director of her local Classical Conversations campus, her most rewarding job is that of wife and mother. In those rare moments when she is not teaching, cleaning, or cooking she enjoys painting, reading, and knitting. She enjoys various mediums of arts and crafts and the occasional inspired post on her blog, Abiding Hearts at Home. She has an immense passion for Bible Study, especially women’s ministries such as Protestant Women of the Chapel (PWOC) and Bible Study Fellowship (BSF), both of which have given her the opportunity to serve as a leader and facilitator. She has written an inductive Bible Study on Psalm 119 that she hopes to publish someday.