Anyone who reads the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John will likely notice the phrase “the Son of Man.” What may not be immediately apparent about the phrase is that Jesus is the only person who speaks the phrase. While Jesus’s disciples and others call him “Rabbi” or “Messiah” (
Did you know…?
- The gospels record Jesus referring to himself as “the Son of Man” on over eighty occasions.
- Jesus uses language similar to
Dan 7:13-14in Mark 13:26; Mark 14:62(and parallels), and also in John 5:27.
- Paul never uses the idiom “the Son of Man” or “son of man” to speak of Jesus.
Rev 1:13and Rev 14:14both describe a figure using allusions to the “one like a son of man” in Dan 7:13but not “the Son of Man.”
- Early Jewish interpretations of Daniel’s “one like a son of man” in
1Enoch, 4Ezra, and 2Baruchportray the figure as messiah, preexistent, Isaiah’s servant of the Lord, judge of the wicked, and redeemer of the righteous.
- There is no evidence that early followers of Jesus called Jesus “the Son of Man” or worshipped him as the Son of Man.
Who or what is “the Son of Man”?
Asking who or what is “the Son of Man” is nothing new. For instance, the crowd in the Gospel of John asks Jesus “Who is this Son of Man?” (
What did Jesus mean by calling himself “the Son of Man”?
Since Jesus’s use of the phrase “the Son of Man” is distinctive, understanding what he meant by the phrase can be baffling. Interpreters have suggested numerous explanations throughout the centuries, as Delbert Burkett and Mogens Müller helpfully describe, yet the two most common views explain Jesus’s use of the phrase either as a particular idiom (the idiomatic view) or as an allusion to the “one like a son of man” in
On the other hand, those who hold to the Danielic view understand that Jesus used the phrase to associate himself with the “one like a son of man” in
Both views have been the predominant view at one time or another during the last century, but because of increased study of Jewish apocalypses (i.e.,