Son of Man

The Descent From the Cross by Gustave Doré


“If Jesus referred to Himself as ‘son of man’ isn’t He saying He was only human and not divine?”

In the Old Testament, the prophet Ezekiel was called “Son of man” 95 times by my count. In the New Testament book of Matthew Jesus was called “Son of man” 26 times. In Luke, 26 times and in the Gospel of John 12 times. Some have said the title Son of man meant He was divine, but if that’s true why is Ezekiel called by that title much more than Jesus?

For one, it’s important to note that while God always called Ezekiel son of man, Jesus always called Himself the Son of man. What would be so special about using this title in the definitive article?

The title Son of man was not meant to convey divinity but rather, as it sounds, humanity. Jesus came to earth as the second Adam. He did what Adam failed to do and restored God’s communion with man.

Jesus also used the title that the prophet Daniel used several hundred years before in the book named after him. In Daniel 7:13-14 we read, “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.

As Matthew Henry commented

As a title common to him with others. He was called, and justly, the Son of God, for so he was; but he called himself the Son of man; for he is really and truly “Man, made of a woman.’ In courts of honour, it is a rule to distinguish men by their highest titles; but Christ, having now emptied himself, though he was the Son of God, will be known by the style and title of the Son of man. Ezekiel was often so called to keep him humble;Christ called himself so, to show that he was humble. Or, as a title peculiar to him as Mediator. He is made known, in Daniel’s vision, as the   Son of man,   Daniel 7:13. I am the Messiah, that Son of man that was promised.

Son of God

So, did Jesus ever call Himself the Son of God? Searching scripture I can’t find a time when Jesus said “I am the Son of God.” But He was called Son of God by others: demons, disciples, and regular people. Even Satan used the term mockingly when tempting our Lord in the wilderness. And although Jesus never explicitly used the name for Himself, He never rejected it. On the contrary, He affirmed it.
One of the most obvious affirmations is when Jesus was asking His disciples who do they say that He is. Matthew 16:15-17, “He saith unto them,But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ,the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.”


Jesus gave another confirmation that He was the Son of God and for this was threatened with death.

Matthew chapter 26:63-66, “But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him,Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy.What think ye? They answered and said, He is guilty of death.”

Others have been called “the son of God” (eg. Adam in Luke 3:38, Israel in Hosea 11:1) but only Jesus is called the “only begotten” (John 3:16) or monogenēs, which actually means “singular of its kind. He was the son of God for all eternity. Coexisting with His Father and existing of the same nature.

Jesus the Christ, the Son of man, and the Son of God.


Derrick Stokes
Theologetics.org

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