The Son of Man
by Bob Morris
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Throughout the gospels, Jesus refers to himself as the "Son of Man." This is generally interpreted as "Son of God," by modern Christians. I was curious about what Jesus may have meant by this phrase, and whether he really claimed to be the Son of God. I looked at every time the phrase is used in the Bible, and I hope you find the results as interesting as I do.
- In Numbers 23:19, "son of man" is used to emphasize that God is not a son of man, and that God does not have the same faults as a man or son of man.
- In Job 25:5,6, the phrase is used again to emphasize that a son of man is not a God, and is, in fact, a worm.
- Psalm 8:3-5 wonders in amazement why God would care for the son of man, having made him a little lower than the heavenly beings.
- Psalm 80:14-18 talks about God raising the son of man up, but really doesn't give any indication of who the son of man might be.
- Psalm 144:3 echoes Psalm 8 in its wonderment of God caring for the son of man.
- Ezekiel uses "son of man" dozens of times. In every case, he quotes the Lord who is talking to Ezekiel. The Lord addresses him as son of man.
- Daniel 7:13 talks about a vision in which one like a son of man appears, but doesn't say who he is referring to.
- In Daniel 8:17 A man in Daniel's dream addresses Daniel as "Son of Man."
- In the New Testament, Matthew 12:32 uses "Son of Man" to emphasize he is not the Holy Spirit.
- Finally, in John 12:34, a crowd asks Jesus directly, "Who is this 'Son of Man'?" The crowd seems to be asking Jesus if he is the person that Psalm 80 refers to. In verse 35, Jesus doesn't answer the question, but encourages his questioners to become "sons of light."
All of the other references to "Son of Man" are Jesus referring to himself. He uses it like the pronoun "he," but never gives any indication that it refers to his divinity.
So does "Son of Man" mean "Son of God?" Apparently not. In fact, its usage seems to emphasize that "Son of Man" is NOT a god. Is Jesus a "Son of Man?" Of course. Is Jesus the Son of God? That's really beyond the scope of this exercise. I'd say He is, just like you and I are sons of God.