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Ask Donnell - What does the expression "Son of Man" mean?

Ask Donnell - What does the term "Son of Man" mean?

We received the following question from Roshawn; "Can you explain to me what “Son of Man” really means?"

Good question, Roshawn. I know it's been a while since we answered one of these questions. As you probably already know we planted The Body Church in Midtown Atlanta on January 26th so we have been posting mostly videos from our services. Nonetheless, let's get into the scriptures and see what it has to say.

"Son of Man" is an expression found in both the Old and New Testaments.

The Old Testament

Definition #1: "son of man" - Descendent of a Human Being

Numbers 23:19(KJV) - 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?

This is the first place in The Bible where "son of man" shows up. The words aren't capitalized in the King James Version because in this context it's used to simply represent any descendent of a human being. The Hebrew root words are "ben" for son and "adam" for man. "Ben" means "descendent, son, grandson, nation or any other builder of the family name" and "adam" means "human being". God is not a descendent of a human being so He doesn't have to answer to anybody. Amen! That's the point of the statement in Numbers 23:19.

This exact meaning, "descendent of a human being" is used in several other places including;

Job 25:6(KJV) - How much less man, that is a worm? and the son of man, which is a worm?

Job 35:8(KJV) - Thy wickedness may hurt a man as thou art; and thy righteousness may profit the son of man.

Psalm 8:4(KJV) - What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?

Psalm 146:3(KJV) - Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.

Definition #2 - "Son of man" - Prophet or Descendent of a Human Being with a special calling from God

Ezekiel 2:1-8(KJV) - And he said unto me, Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee. And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me. 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. For they are impudent children and stiffhearted. I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God. And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them. 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. And thou shalt speak my words unto them, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear: for they are most rebellious. But thou, son of man, hear what I say unto thee; Be not thou rebellious like that rebellious house: open thy mouth, and eat that I give thee.

In the Book of Ezekiel, God referred to the prophet Ezekiel as "Son of man". Take note of the capitalization of the word "Son" in many instances. It was translated that way for a reason. Obviously, Ezekiel was a prophet or simply a "called out" one. By a simple word study, the expression is translated from the same Hebrew words as before but in this case it refers to a special man of God. Yes, he's a human being but he's no ordinary human being. He's a human being with the Spirit of God inside of him. He's a Son of man.

In The Old Testament anyone who was called out or "hand-picked" by God for a special purpose was referred to as a prophet. Priests came from a certain lineage and hence were born into that role. Also, all the kings were not necessarily chosen by God. However, all the real prophets were anointed by God. Hence, it was a blanket title. Kings had the natural authority on the earth but prophets had the spiritual authority. When they spoke, God spoke. In The New Testament, the five-fold ministry gifts (Apostle, Prophets, Pastors, Teachers and Evangelists) operate on the same level as the Old Testament prophets because they have the same anointing. However, had they existed in The Old Testament they would also be referred to as prophets.

Definition #3 - "Son of man" - Pre-Incarnate Jesus

Daniel 7:13-14(KJV) - 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.

Though it's translated the same as all the other occurrences, this expression is obviously different. First, take notice of the capitalization of the word "Son". The word "Son" also comes from a different Hebrew word. In this case, the word for son is "bar" referring to not just any descendent but the chosen son or "heir (apparent to the throne)". It's obvious from reading this scripture who the "Son of man" is here. Nobody else but Jesus has been given the authority by The Father to rule all of creation. Hence, Jesus is more than just a typical descendent of a human being so the Hebrew word used here demonstrates that. Yes, Jesus was a man when He walked the earth but He was no ordinary man. He was the Heavenly Man. He was the Son who was born to be King! Now He's on His throne in heaven where He's supposed to be and soon He's returning to earth to establish His Kingdom right here.

The New Testament

Definition #4 -"Son of man" - Jesus

Matthew 8:20(KJV) - And Jesus saith unto him, The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head.

The phrase "Son of man" occurs in the New Testament 88 times and 83 of those occurrences are direct quotations from Jesus referring to Himself while the other 5 occurrences also refer to Jesus. The Greek root words translated into "Son" was "huios" which means "descendent or kin" and "man" was "anthropos" which means human being. Therefore, when Jesus spoke of Himself using the reference Son of man He wanted to emphasize His humanity. By using the expression He reminded the world that though He was God, He came to earth and dwelt among men. It was a demonstration of His humility. However, during one conversation, by the inspiration of The Holy Spirit, Simon Peter called Him out.

Matthew 16:13-20(KJV) - When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. 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. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Then charged he his disciples that they should tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ.

In this passage, Jesus asked His disciples if people knew who the Son of man really was. By their account, people thought Jesus was a Son of man similar to the "called out" ones like the Old Testament prophets. They knew He was special but they only saw Him as a special human being. However, The Holy Spirit spoke through Simon Peter and He was able to identify the "Son of man" as The Son of God. Therefore, in this passage we can see the dual nature of Jesus the Christ. He was more than just a special man. He was completely human yet completely divine. He was the "Son of man" by His own admission but the "Son of God" by the declaration of The Holy Ghost.

Conclusion - Who Is This Son of Man?

John 12:32-41(KJV) - And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die. The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man? Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them. But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.

Who is this Son of man? Can you see why they asked that question? Look at the reference again. They were taught that the Messiah would live forever but Jesus told them that He was going to die. Who is this Son of man? How could He be eternal yet die? How could He be God yet man? God can't die. Man can't be immortal. How could He be both? They could not understand it. There eyes were blinded. There hearts were hardened. They missed out. How can the mortal and immortal, natural and divine, human flesh and Spirit of God exist in one person? The answer is simple. It just does and His name is Jesus. Any more questions?

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