What Scripture Says About Salvation
A Bible Study by Fred Kenison
Monograph 12: The Son of Man
The terms "son of man," "son of the man," and "the son of the man" are used over 80 times in the New testament. By comparison, the phrase, "the son of the God," and its other forms, appear about 50 times.
Sermons about how the term "son of man" is used in reference to Jesus are very rare. Why were these terms used when referring to Jesus? Did they signify different roles? And, especially, what did Jesus do and say as "the son of the man?"
The "son of man" terms were used primarily in the four gospels, mostly by Jesus himself. Other than in the gospels, these terms were used only four times in the New Testament. One occurs in Acts 7:56-"the son of the man;" one in Hebrews 2:6 (quoting from Psalms 8:4-6)-"son of man;" one in Revelation 1:13-"son of man;" and one in Revelation 14:14-"son of man."
Jesus apparently wanted people to perceive him as "the son of the man." On several occasions when people addressed him as "the son of the God," he referred to himself as "the son of the man." For instance, in John 1:50-52:
"Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God [the son of the God]; thou art the King of Israel. Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man [the son of the man]."
Matthew 16:13-16 says,
"When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man [the son of the 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 [the son of the God]."
Jesus usually referred to himself as the son of the man. Others referred to him as "the son of the God," or the christ, the messiah.
Matthew 26:63-64 says,
"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 [the son of the God]. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man [the son of the man] sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven."
Jesus converted the question of whether or not he was "the son of the God" into the answer that he was "the son of the man." Luke 22:69 and Mark 14:61-62 are similar in context.
Luke 4:3-4 says,
"And the devil said unto him, If thou be the Son of God [a son of the God], command this stone that it be made bread. And Jesus answered him, saying, It is written, That man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God."
It is interesting to note that the devil questioned his relationship to God by saying "a son" instead of "the son." Jesus answered him as a man, saying that a man is also to feed on the word of God. Why did he emphasize his manhood even to the devil?
In John 5:22, Jesus said that the Father judges no man but has given all judgment to the son. Then, in verse 5:27, he added,
"And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man."
Jesus never denied being the christ, or the son of the God. Again, it should be emphasized that his being the son of the God was by adoption when he became king.
In some places, the term "the son of the God" no doubt signified the close relationship he had with God in love and obedience as a sent one. The confusion about this point has led to the doctrine of Jesus being a sort of "god-man," both God and man at the same time. The significance of the term "son" is that it was used to indicate adoption; it did not refer to God as sire, but as creator.
Both men and women are created by God, but all are called sons in Romans 8:19:
"For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God."
Many scriptures speak of men as being ek, out of, or from God, especially prophets or believers (for instance, see I John 5:19). When the scriptures say that Jesus was ek, out of, or from God, they could mean that he was sent by God to do his bidding, just as God sent others.
Several Old Testament scriptures may help clarify the meaning of the term "son of man." God called Ezekiel to be a prophet and a judge of Israel, and he addressed Ezekiel as "son of man" over 60 times. But, Ezekiel was never addressed by the more definite term "the son of the man."
According to Thayer, the word man is used,
"universally with reference to the genus or nature, without distinction of sex, a human being, whether male or female. And in this sense with the article, generically, so as to include all human individuals."
Therefore, the term "son of man" would simply be translated as "a son of a man," whereas "the son of the man" would be translated as "the highest person or the particular son of all human individuals."
In Numbers 23:19-20, Balaam prophesied:
"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? Behold, I have received commandment to bless: and he hath blessed; and I cannot reverse it."
This is a very clear statement that God is not a man nor a son of a man. Yet, Jesus repeatedly referred to himself as the son of the man, and as a man. God is not a man; but Jesus is a man.
The New testament says that Jesus is of the lineage of David, a man-the particular, outstanding man of the whole human race. This is not confusing if we stick solely to the scriptures and do not mix in men's illogical doctrine of the trinity.
One of the first scriptures to prophesy that Jesus would be a man is Genesis 3:15, where God said to the serpent,
"And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel."
Here, Jesus is referred to as the seed, or offspring, of Eve, a woman of the human race.
Hebrews 2:9-18 says,
"But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted."
Jesus calls us "brethren." Since the children are flesh and blood, Jesus became flesh and blood, not like angels (heavenly) but like Abraham (fleshly). He was tempted and suffered like men because he was a man in every sense of the word.
Isaiah 9:6-7 says,
"For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this."
Again, the idea of a son is that of adoption, not of physical descent. This son will be responsible for the government which will not end. This is the seed, or offspring, of David destined to rule during the next age.
The names, "The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace," do not appear in the Septuagint. However, a note stating that they appear in the Alexandrine text gives the following translation: "Mighty One, Potentate, Prince of Peace."
The word God comes from theos, which basically means power, especially that power which finds its source in The God, the giver of power. In other words, the one who sets on this throne will be empowered by The God. That power will make him a mighty person, but not The God.
These verses (Isaiah 9:6-7) are a renewal of God's promise to David, made through Nathan. The TDONT (Vol. 9, p. 506) says,
"The point here is not so much the birth as the accession of a new ruler of David's house. The prophet regards this as adoption by Yahweh. If vs. 5 can still be applied to the accession of a ruler of the Davidic dynasty, a more strongly eschatological expectation seems to be implied in vs. 6. The new son of David will be a final and perfect ruler. Under his rule, which will be for an indefinite period, there will be salvation without end. This final Davidic ruler will be Yahweh's representative on earth. Is. 9:5f is thus the oldest passage to set forth clearly what is called Messianic expectation. More patently here than in the royal psalms the reference is not just to a Davidic kin, in the course of empirical history, with whose accession the beginning of a rule of salvation is expected in the full sense, but rather to an outstanding saviour of the house of David who represents the last thing in history."
In Ezekiel 1, the prophet described the living creatures which had appeared in his vision.
Verse 1:5 says,
"And this was their appearance; they had the likeness of a man."
Verse 1:8 says,
"they had the hands of a man."
Verse 1:10 says,
"As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man."
Verse 1:26 says,
"and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it."
God actually gave Ezekiel a vision of the man on the throne of glory. This was expanded further in the book of Daniel.
Daniel 7:9-14 says,
"I beheld till the thrones were cast down, and the Ancient of days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him: thousand thousands ministered unto him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened. I beheld then because of the voice of the great words which the horn spake: I beheld even till the beast was slain, and his body destroyed, and given to the burning flame. As concerning the rest of the beasts, they had their dominion taken away: yet their lives were prolonged for a season and time. 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."
Here, again, a man approaches God, and God gives him the kingdom which will last forever. God gives, man receives. Clearly, these scriptures show a picture of man's subordination.
The Old Testament scriptures portray a son of man as both prophet and king. Given this background, perhaps the New Testament will shed more light on the term "the son of the man," the term which Jesus used so often to describe himself.
In Matthew 9:6 (and the parallel passages in Mark 2:10 and Luke 5:24), when addressing those who had accused him of blasphemy, Jesus said,
"But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith he to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house."
Then, verse 9:8 says,
"But when the multitude saw it, they marvelled, and glorified God, which had given such power unto men."
As the son of the man, Jesus healed and forgave sins. This was a remarkable departure from Jewish beliefs which said that only God could forgive sins.
Jesus was using the authority and power which God gave him as "the son of the man." Jesus, in referring to himself as "the son of the man," was setting himself apart as the highest, or greatest, of all humanity, and also claiming to be "the son of the man" who had been prophesied to come. In using this name, he was also reminding the crowds that he was flesh and blood, just like them.
In Matthew 12, the Pharisees accused Jesus and his disciples of laboring on the Sabbath because they pulled some heads of grain and ate them as they walked through the field. In Matthew 12:7-8, Jesus said,
"But if ye had known what this meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice, ye would not have condemned the guiltless. For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day."
In other words, Jesus said he was more important than the Sabbath. This was a reference to Hosea 6:6:
"For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings."
When he quoted Hosea, Jesus raised a point which is still misunderstood today. People still offer "sacrifices" to God instead of charity to others. This also throws light on the real reason for the sacrifice of Jesus, himself: namely, that God did not desire it. [For further details on this point, see Monograph 4 in this study.]
The scribes and pharisees asked him for a sign of the last days of this age, and Jesus said,
"An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of [the] man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth." (Matthew 12:39-40 and Luke 11:29-30).
Jesus was talking about what would happen to him. Jonas came forth alive from the belly of the fish even as the son of the man would come forth from the grave.
In Matthew 16:13, Jesus asked his disciples,
"Whom do men say that I the Son of [the] man am?"
Then, in verse 16:20, after Peter's answer, he told his disciples that they should,
"tell no man that he was Jesus the Christ."
In this manner, Jesus was saying that he was the christ, or the messiah.
In Matthew 17:22-23 (as well as in several parallel passages), Jesus spoke of his betrayal.
"And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of [the] man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry."
In Matthew 20:18-19, he identified who these "men" would be.
"Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of [the] man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again."
In several places, the scriptures say that the disciples did not understand what Jesus was telling them. For example, John 12:16 says,
"These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him."
Amazing as it seems, they did not understand what his betrayal and suffering meant! God hid the meaning from them until Jesus was glorified. When holy spirit, which is the truth, came upon them, then the disciples understood and they were changed into zealots for the cause of Jesus Christ.
Jesus also taught them the purpose, or at least some of the reasons, why he would die. Matthew 20:28 says,
"Even as the Son of [the] man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." (See also Mark 10:45).
Note that Jesus came to give his life, pysche, or soul. Whenever scripture speaks of "the son of the man" giving his life it refers to his soul. The life, soul, was in the blood, and Jesus shed his blood, or gave his soul.
Jesus had a soul in common with other men, and he gave his soul, or his life, as a ransom for many. Nowhere does the New Testament say that God has a soul. Man became a living soul, and so did Jesus. They shared a soul in common with all flesh (men and creatures).
There are two scriptures in the Old Testament which speak of the Lord as having a soul. Jeremiah 51:14 says,
"The Lord of hosts hath sworn by himself, saying, Surely I will fill thee with men, as with caterpillars; and they shall lift up a shout against thee."
And, Isaiah 1:14 says,
"Your new moons and your appointed feasts my soul hateth: they are a trouble unto me; I am weary to bear them."
The words himself and soul come from nephesh, which refers to the living part of creatures. This was no doubt only a foreshadowing of a truth to be revealed in the New Testament .
Luke 9:56 says,
"For the Son of [the] man is not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them."
The word lives comes from psychas. Jesus came to save lives (souls), not to destroy them. This is the same thought reflected in Matthew 20:28:
"Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many." (See also Mark 10:45).
As an aside, some people say these scriptures (Luke 9:56 and Matthew 20:28) mean that Jesus did not die for all, but only for some. However, it does not say he died for some, but for many. The word "many" does not rule out the fact that he died for all, which would be the case if the word "some" had been used.
Before going on, note that Jesus gave his soul. In John 12:32-33, Jesus said,
"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."
This scripture is often "spiritualized" into meaning that if people today lift up Jesus in testimony they will draw others to Jesus. However, that is completely contrary to the meaning of the scripture, which plainly states that Jesus was speaking of his death by crucifixion. It is his death which will draw all men unto him, whether men testify or not. It is not men's testimony that lifted up Jesus, but those who crucified him.
In Luke 18:31 Jesus told the twelve,
"Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of [the] man shall be accomplished."
Jesus often spoke to them about some of the signs of his coming, which will be our next subject for discussion.
In Matthew 10:23, Jesus said,
"But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of [the] man be come."
The words be come are from elthe, an aorist indicative active which does not convey a sense of completion but only shows that the act is in progress.
Another similar scripture is Matthew 16:28:
"Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom."
The word coming is from erchomenon, used here as a present active participle, which shows that the act of coming is continuous, or repetitive. Again, this shows progress, but no sense of completion.
These two scriptures (Matthew 10:23, 16:28) are often confusing. In English, they first seem to indicate a time when the son of the man will come. Then it appears contradictory when it says his coming will be at the end of this age.
Jesus was not inferring that he knew the time of his coming. He was only telling what some of the signs of his coming would be at the end of this age. In fact, in Matthew 24:36, Jesus told his disciples:
"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only."
Luke 13:32 is even more specific:
"But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father."
Even after the resurrection, Jesus told his disciples,
"When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power." (Acts 1:6-7).
Even after his resurrection, Jesus did not know when the kingdom would come, only that it was in the power of the Father. You would think that if Jesus and God were the same, that he would know. On the other hand, if he were God, and did know, then we would be venturing into the area of "tritheism," which comes up later in the study.
Jesus was evidently only giving signs about the progress of the coming kingdom when he spoke such things (Matthew 10:23, 16:28). He was not telling them that the kingdom would be here when they returned from visiting the cities of Israel, or that some of them would not die before the kingdom came at the end of the age.
The distinction lies in understanding the word parousia, which is the word Jesus used when referring to the coming of the king and the kingdom. However, Jesus did not use the word parousia in these scriptures. We will say more about parousia later.
So, what was Jesus talking about? Reading Matthew 10:23 in context shows that the subject was persecution. Jesus was simply saying that he, as the son of the man, would be persecuted by the time they returned. This would be one of the signs that the son of the man was making progress toward his crucifixion, burial, and resurrection, which would be part of the progression toward his return.
The things concerning him as Messiah were beginning to progress toward the end of this age when he would return and initiate the kingdom of God. Persecution was part of this progression.
Matthew 16:28, if read in context, also shows that Jesus was saying that some of those present would behold his transfiguration, which they did. They also heard God say that Jesus was his own beloved son. This was another step toward his return.
When Jesus explained the parable of the tares (Matthew 13:37-43), he said that the son of the man is the one who sowed the good seed, and that at the end of this age the son of the man will send forth his angels to gather out of his kingdom all things that offend and those who practice lawlessness.
In Luke 12:8, the son of the man said that those who have confessed him before men will be confessed before the angels, and those who denied him before men will be denied before the angels.
Mark 8:38 says,
"Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of [the] man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."
Matthew 19:28 says,
"And Jesus said unto them (his disciples), Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of [the] man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel."
In Luke 22:69, Jesus told the chief priest and scribes that,
"Hereafter shall the Son of [the] man sit on the right hand of the power of God."
Acts 7:55 says that Stephen,
"being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God."
We are told to watch for his coming because it will occur at a time when we will be least expecting it.
We are also to watch for the progressive signs which show that the day of the Lord is coming closer. In I Thessalonians 5:1-5, Paul said,
"But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief. Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober."
This passage plainly says that those who watch, expecting the Lord's return, will not be surprised. The phrase, "that day" refers to the parousia, which Thayer says is,
"The presence of one coming, in the N.T. especially of the advent, i.e. the future, visible, return from heaven of Jesus, the Messiah, to raise the dead, hold the last judgment, and set up formally and gloriously the kingdom of God."
Matthew 24:27 says,
"For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."
This verse also refers to the physical return of Jesus, his parousia. Luke 17:24 refers to the same event:
"For as the lightning, that lighteneth out of the one part under heaven, shineth unto the other part under heaven; so shall also the Son of man be in his day."
Matthew 24:37-39 also describes Jesus' return:
"But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be."
This is a description of those who walk in darkness, who pay no attention to the son of the man's coming. Those who consider the scriptures will not be caught unaware because they are walking in the light. They will see the progression of signs revealing his return. No one knows the exact day or hour except the Father, but those who study can see the signs of the gradual progression toward that fateful day.
The parousia is also described in the following scriptures: I Corinthians 15:23; I Thessalonians 2:19, 3:13, 4:15, 5:23; II Thessalonians 2:1, 2:8; James 5:7-8; II Peter 1:16, 3:4; I John 2:28. This digression in studying the two different Greek words used to describe the different aspects of the coming of the son of the man may help those who have had questions about this subject.
Now, back to the trinity. John 5:27-29 says that the Father,
"hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation."
Those in the graves shall hear the voice of the son of the man, not that of the son of the God. Note that it is the voice of a man, the greatest of all men.
Another scripture which speaks of Jesus as a man after his resurrection is found in John 3:13:
"And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which is in heaven."
It is a man which ascended into heaven.
In John 6:62, Jesus asked his disciples,
"What and if ye shall see the Son of man ascend up where he was before?"
Notice that Jesus himself said that he would ascend as a man. Luke 24:50-51 also speaks of his ascension:
"And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven."
Jesus blessed them as a man, and he ascended into heaven as a man.
Luke 24:36-39 tells about the events which happened after Jesus had appeared to Simon Peter.
"And as they thus spake, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. But they were terrified and affrighted, and supposed that they had seen a spirit. And he said unto them, Why are ye troubled? and why do thoughts arise in your hearts? Behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself: handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have."
After his resurrection, Jesus said that he had flesh and bones, which a spirit does not have. God is a spirit, but Jesus gives his own disclaimer about being a spirit. He said that he was composed of sarx (flesh) and bones.
John 1:14 says,
"And the Word was made flesh [sarx], and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth."
Somehow, according to trinitarian teaching, Jesus was God, became a kind of God-man while here on earth, and returned to heaven to become God again. However, none of the scriptures examined thus far have supported the trinitarian teaching.
In fact, Thayer makes the following comment on the word sarx in John 1:14:
"ho logos sarx egeneto, (the word became flesh) entered into participation in human nature, (the apostle used sarx, not anthropos (man), apparently in order to indicate that he who possessed supreme majesty did not shrink from union with extreme weakness)."
Jesus set the spirit in antithesis to the flesh when he said,
"for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have." (Luke 24:36).
To quote again from Thayer (p. 571, 14),
"sarx, when either expressly or tacitly opposed to the spirit, has an ethical sense and denotes mere human nature, the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence, and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God; accordingly it includes whatever in the soul is weak, low, debased, tending to ungodliness and vice. Thou must not understand flesh, therefore, as though that only were flesh which is connected with unchastity, but St. Paul uses flesh of the whole man, body and soul, reason and all his faculties included, because all that is in him longs and strives after the flesh."
Paul essentially stated that Jesus acted as a man, endowed with the power of holy spirit without measure:
"Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross." (Philippians 2:5-8).
Jesus, as the Word, certainly had a divine nature; but when he came to earth, he emptied himself and became a man, with the form of a man, the flesh of a man, the nature of a man. He became sarx, and by his own admission he remained sarx after his resurrection. He was not a spirit, but a man-a resurrected man-with a glorified body which was subject to the spirit.
Paul again emphasized the manhood of Jesus in I Timothy 2:3-6:
"For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time."
Jesus is still a man, acting as mediator between God and men.
It is rather difficult to understand how some people can claim that God became a man when the scriptures plainly say that God is so great that the heavens and the earth can not contain him (see I Kings 8:27, II Chronicles 2:5-6, II Chronicles 6:18).
It is no wonder that the Jews reject Christianity as truth when Christians claim that their God is a man. The Jews had a different perception of the terms "the son of the God" and "the son of the man." This is clearly shown when Jesus asked Peter,
"Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" (Matthew 16:13).
Peter's reply definitely shows that he perceived the elect, consummate man of all humanity to be the christ, the son of the living God, the man who was adopted by God as king immediately after his anointing by holy spirit at his baptism (see Matthew 3:17, Mark 1:10-11, Luke 3:22).
Demons and others had announced Jesus to be the son of the God, but Peter was the first to connect the two terms properly. Jesus told him that God had shown this to him (Matthew 16:17).
Here is a summary of the things Jesus did as the son of the man. As "the son of the man," Jesus,
(l) was given authority to forgive sins,
(2) healed the paralytic
(3) announced that he would begin the ministry which would
culminate in his parousia,
(4) said that he desired mercy rather than sacrifice,
(5) said he would be three days and three nights in the heart of the
(6) sowed the good seed and will send the angels to reap the harvest
just before the beginning of the Kingdom of God,
(7) said that he would build his church,
(8) said he would come in the glory of the Father, not his own glory,
(9) gave a preview of his future at the transfiguration,
(10) said he would render to each according to his works
(11) said he would be betrayed,
(12) said he would give his life as a ransom for many,
(13) said he came not to destroy but to save souls,
(14) said he would be coming as the lightning shines from east to
(15) said he would be coming on the clouds of heaven,
(16) said he would be coming at an hour when unfaithful men
(17) told his disciples to watch for his progressive coming,
(18) told his disciples that he would suffer, be crucified, and rise
(19) said he would be delivered to the Gentiles,
(20) said he would be ashamed of those who were ashamed of him,
(21) said he would confess those who confessed him,
(22) said he would be coming in great power and glory,
(23) said he would seek and save that which was lost,
(24) said all in the graves would hear his voice and come forth,
(25) said that he did nothing of himself, only of God,
(26) said that they would see him ascending.
What an impressive list!
Please note, it is the son of the man who is coming as king, one with whom other men can identify. How gracious and great God is to us. He sent Jesus as a man who could relate to us, so that we could see the very image and expression of God's character.
# Jesus usually referred to himself as the son of the man, while others
referred to him as the son of the God, or the christ, the messiah.
# Jesus said that the Father judges no man but has given all judgment to
# Jesus was adopted as the son of the God when he became king.
# The significance of the term "son" is that it was used to indicate
adoption; it did not refer to God as sire, but as creator. The confusion
over this has led to Jesus being erroneously called a sort of "god-man,"
both God and man at the same time.
# God called Ezekiel to be a prophet and judge of Israel, and he
addressed Ezekiel as "son of man" over sixty times. But, Ezekiel was
never addressed by the more definite term "the son of the man."
# The term "son of man" would simply be translated as "a son of a
man," whereas "the son of the man" should be understood as "the
highest person or the particular son of all human individuals."
# Scripture clearly states that God is not a man nor a son of a man. Yet,
Jesus repeatedly referred to himself as the son of the man, and as a
man. God is not a man; but Jesus is a man.
# The distinction between God and Jesus is not confusing if we stick
solely to the scriptures rather than mixing in men's illogical doctrine of
# The Old Testament scriptures portray a son of man as both prophet
and king. When Jesus referred to himself as "the son of the man," he
was setting himself apart as the highest, or greatest, of all humanity
and also claiming to be "the son of the man" prophesied to come.
# The scriptures say that his disciples did not always understand what
Jesus was telling them.
# When holy spirit, which is the truth, came upon them, then the
disciples remembered and understood, and they were changed into
zealots for the cause of Jesus Christ.
# The life, soul, was in the blood, and Jesus shed his blood, or gave his
soul. Jesus had a soul in common, just like other men, and he gave his
soul, or life, as a ransom for many.
# Nowhere does the New Testament say that God has a soul.
# Man became a living soul, and so did Jesus. They shared a soul in
common with all flesh (men and creatures).
# It is his (Jesus') death which will draw all men unto him, whether men
testify or not. It is not men's testimony that lifted up Jesus, but those
who crucified him.
# Even after his resurrection, Jesus did not know when the kingdom
would come, only that it was in the power of the Father. You would
think that if Jesus and God were the same, that he would know.
# Those who consider the scriptures will not be caught unaware when
Jesus returns because they are walking in the light. They will see the
progression of signs revealing his return. No one knows the exact day
or hour except the Father, but those who study can see the signs of the
gradual progression toward that fateful day.
# After his resurrection, Jesus said that he had flesh and bones which a
spirit does not have. God is a spirit, but Jesus gave his own disclaimer
about being a spirit. He said that he was composed of sarx (flesh) and
# According to the doctrine of the trinity, Jesus was God, became a kind
of God-man while here on earth, and returned to heaven to become
God again. But none of the scriptures support these teachings.
# Paul essentially stated that Jesus acted as a man, endowed with the
power of holy spirit without measure.
# Jesus, as the Word, certainly had a divine nature; but when he came to
earth, he emptied himself and became a man, with the form of a man,
the flesh of a man, the nature of a man. He became sarx, and by his
own admission he remained sarx after his resurrection. He was not a
spirit, but a man-a resurrected man-with a glorified body which
was subject to the spirit.
# It is rather difficult to understand how some can claim that God
became a man when the scriptures plainly say that God is so great that
the heavens and the earth cannot contain him.
# Peter perceived the elect, consummate man of all humanity to be the
Christ, the son of the living God, the man who was adopted by God as
king immediately after his anointing by holy spirit at his baptism.
© 2009, Fred Kenison and Merrill Douglass. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.