The phrase ‘Son of man’ is used in both the old and new testaments. As many of us are already aware, Jesus called himself the Son of man all the time. I suppose the reason I bring this up, and decided to concentrate on this term a little bit, is to avoid any confusion in our studies.
When we find the same term being used in two different ways, it’s important to stay mindful of it as we search through the scriptures.
2 Ways The Bible uses ‘Son of Man’
The two different directions that the phrase ‘son of man’ takes throughout the Word makes a huge difference considering the context of the scripture. One direction is to point to mankind, the other direction is to point to Christ Jesus himself. The phrase is scattered all over the gospels, most often being used by Jesus referring to himself, but then vanishes through the epistles with two exceptions.
56 And said, Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
These were the words of the Apostle Stephen, moments before his death. Obviously, he was referring to Christ Jesus, who had since been crucified & risen again, then taken up to the Father. So there’s one of the two exceptions. The other we can find in the book of Hebrews.
6 But one in a certain place testified, saying, What is man, that thou art mindful of him? or the son of man that thou visitest him?
And that is the Apostle Paul (so I believe is the author of Hebrews) quoting from the Psalms. Aside from these two verses, the term ‘son of man’ is not used until we get into the book of Revelation. Once we hit Revelation, we can find this term being used twice. Here they are.
13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
14 And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle.
Of those four verses, three of them is referring to the Lord Jesus, and one is talking about mankind. So as far as the New Testament outside of the Gospels go, we’ve been given an example of the two different ways the Holy Spirit uses this term. We can see my reasoning as we continue through this post.
Son of Man vs. son of man
Before we go much further, I would like to introduce some Old Testament mentions and usages of this phrase. When doing a search for this exact phrase, we can find it 108 times scattered all over the Old Testament. Most of which are found in Ezekiel interestingly enough. Here are a handful of those scriptures so that we can get a flavor of how the term was being used.
19 God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?
6 How much less man, that is a worm? and the son of man, which is a worm?
8 Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art; and thy righteousness may profit the son of man.
4 What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? (As seen in Hebrews 2:6)
17 Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself.
3 Lord, what is man, that thou takest knowledge of him! or the son of man, that thou makest account of him!
3 Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.
12 I, even I, am he that comforteth you: who art thou, that thou shouldest be afraid of a man that shall die, and of the son of man which shall be made as grass;
2 Blessed is the man that doeth this, and the son of man that layeth hold on it; that keepeth the Sabbath from polluting it, and keepeth his hand from doing any evil.
18 As in the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah and the neighbor cities thereof, saith the Lord, no man shall abide there, neither shall a son of man dwell in it.
It’s all in the Case
So what should we take notice of here? Well, in every one of these verses, it is referring to mankind all by itself. Not in any way referencing the Lord Jesus, or in those days would be recognized as their coming Messiah. How can we tell? Because every instance that the term is used to refer to mankind, the word son is lowercase. Any time it is referring to the Lord, the word Son is uppercase.
This is done deliberately throughout the entire Bible. A perfect example of this is when God the Father is being addressed, as God, it’s with a capital ‘G’. When it is referring to anything else by the word god or gods, the lower case of the letter ‘g’ is used. I’m sure that this isn’t news to anyone, but it is helpful to include this train of thought for the entirety of the Word, not just those verses that use the word god and God.
Ezekiel uses this term nearly every time the Lord had something to say to him. That book alone is responsible for the majority of us coming to know the phrase ‘son of man,’ boasting 93 instances of it’s usage. And in every one of them, the term is used as lower case, with the exception of it coincidentally being used at the beginning of a sentence. Here’s a few examples:
1 And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee.
3 And he said unto me, Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day.
6 And thou, son of man, be not afraid of them, neither be afraid of their words, though briers and thorns be with thee, and thou dost dwell among scorpions: be not afraid of their words, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they be a rebellious house.
All of these are referring to Ezekiel, as that was what the Lord had called him. As the Lord began a sentence to Ezekiel, son of man was capitalized, but when it was in the midst of a sentence the it wasn’t. Same principals that we use today when we type anything up where punctuation matters.
One and only Place
There is only one place in particular through the entirety of the Old Testament where the Son of man is used referring to the yet to come Messiah. And that would be in the book of Daniel.
13 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.
As far as I’m concerned, this is a direct link to the book of Revelation. And I’m not even counting the context of the scriptures (which can bring you to the same connection). Instead, I’m going by the particular way that Daniel says it. ‘One like the Son of man.’
As the apostle John gave his account of the things that he was experiencing and witnessing in the book of Revelation, he used the same phrase twice. In Revelation 1:13, we find: one like unto the Son of man, and the other is Revelation 14:14 which says: one sat like unto the Son of man. Both extremely similar to how Daniel worded what he experienced.
Also, these three verses (1 in Daniel & 2 from Revelation) are the only three that I could find in the Bible referring to the Lord in this way. Does it mean anything other than a relation between the two different accounts?
I haven’t got a clue. But, the Lord’s ways remove all possibilities of coincidences. It is overwhelmingly possible that there are some other very good reasons that I’m just not aware of, and perhaps some of you can post your thoughts in the comment section if you know of any.
I would suggest to be mindful enough to take notice of what you may see as little things akin to what we’ve been going over through this post. No matter how slight something may appear, these things can often be extremely significant in the Word of God.
Never overlook anything, because in doing so, it may be that you’re missing out on something particular that the Lord would like to show you.
If you’ve not been aware of these subtleties tucked into the Word, be prepared to have all kinds of lights turned on, shining into your studies throughout the Bible. My hope and prayer is that this post has been a blessing to someone out there.
A different matter
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