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Fausset's Bible Dictionary


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Son of man

Others are "sons of men" (Job 25:6; Psalm 144:3; Psalm 146:3; Isaiah 51:12; Isaiah 56:2). God addresses Daniel (Daniel 8:17) once, Ezekiel so about 80 times, to remind him of his human lowliness and frailty, as "man lower than the angels," though privileged to enjoy visions of the cherubim and of God Himself, "lest he should be exalted through the abundance of the revelations" (2 Corinthians 12:7). The divine Son appeared to him "as the appearance of a man above upon the throne" (Ezekiel 1:26). As others are "sons of God," but He "the Son of God," so others are "sons of man" (Ezekiel 2:1; Ezekiel 2:3) but He "the Son of man" (Matthew 16:13), being the embodied representative of humanity and the whole human race; as on the other hand He is the bodily representative of "all the fullness of the Godhead" (Colossians 2:9). Ezekiel, as type of "the Son of man" whose manifestation he records, is appropriately designated "son of man."
        The title "the Son of man" implies at once Messiah's lowliness and His exaltation in His manifestations as THE REPRESENTATIVE MAN respectively at His first and second comings; His humiliation on the one hand (Psalm 8:4-8; Matthew 16:13; Matthew 20:18; Matthew 20:28) and His exaltation on the other hand, just "because He is the Son of man": Daniel 7:13-14, Hebrew not Ben -ish or -Adam, son of a hero or of man generically viewed, but Ben enosh, "Son of man," frail and abject, marking the connection of His humiliation and exaltation as man (Philemon 2:5-11; Matthew 26:64; John 5:27). He comes again as man to reinstate man in his original glory, never to be dispossessed of it. He is now set down on the throne of God as the Son of God. That is a throne which His saints cannot share; therefore He shall assume another throne, made "His" in order that they may sit down on it with Him (Revelation 3:21).
        The kingdom shall be "under the whole heaven," on earth (Daniel 7:18; Daniel 7:27); He shall reign with them as the Son of man, Head of the new creation, and Restorer of man's lost inheritance. Because as man He established His and the saints' title to the kingdom at the cost of His own blood, as man He shall judge and reign. It is fit that He who as the Son of man was judged by the world should judge the world. Revelation 5:9-10; Psalm 8:4-8; Hebrews 2:6-8; 1 Corinthians 15:21-22; 1 Corinthians 15:28; 1 Corinthians 15:45; 1 Corinthians 15:47. The title "the Son of man" in the New Testament Jesus alone uses, and of Himself, except Stephen in dying, "I see the Son of man standing on the right hand of God," referring not to His humiliation on earth but to His heavenly exaltation (compare John 12:23; John 12:34; John 6:62; John 3:13; Acts 7:56); standing to assist, plead for (Psalm 109:31), and receive the dying martyr.
        Stephen speaking "full of the Holy Spirit" repeats Jesus' prophecy before the council, foretelling His exaltation as the Son of man; only there it is "sitting on the right hand of power," because there majestic repose, here rising to His servant's help, is the thought. Stephen's assertion stirred their rage, that Jesus who had been crucified for claiming to be "the Son of God" stands at God's right hand as being "the Son of man." Another exception is John so calls Him in apocalyptic vision (Revelation 1:13; Revelation 14:14), corresponding to the Old Testament apocalypse (Daniel 7:13). The Son of God in eternity became the Son of man in time, whose manhood shall be glorified with His Godhead to eternity. The two titles together declare the whole truth as to His one Person, "whom do men say that I, the Son of man, am? ... Thou art the Christ, the Son of God. ... Blessed art thou, Bar-Jona" ("son of Jonah"), etc.
        As truly as thou art son of Jonah I am at once "the Son of man" and "the Son of God" (Matthew 16:28). The two are again combined in Caiaphas' question as to His being the Son of God, and His affirmative answer and further revelation, "nevertheless, besides ... ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power," etc. (Matthew 26:63-64; Matthew 24:30; Matthew 25:31-32; Mark 14:61-62). As the Son of man He was Lord of the Sabbath, "for the Sabbath was made for man" whose Representative Head He is (Mark 2:28). As the Son of man He suffered for sin (Matthew 17:12), and as the Son of man He hath power on earth to forgive sins (Matthew 9:6). As the Son of man He had not where to lay His head (Matthew 8:20); as the Son of man "He hath on His head a golden crown" (Revelation 14:14).
        Every eye shall see Him (Revelation 1:7), but only "the pure in heart shall see God" (Matthew 5:8). "The Son of God became the Son of man that you who were sons of men might be made sons of God" (Augustine, Serm. 121). Jesus is one of our race, yet above the whole race, the One Man in whom mankind finds its unity, the turning point of history at the close of the old and the beginning of the new era. His absolute relation to mankind requires an absolute relation to God. He could be the Son of man only because He is the Son of God. He alone fully realizes the ideal of man, as well as that of God, combining too in His manhood all the exquisite graces of woman with the powers of man.

Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew Robert M.A., D.D., "Definition for 'son of man' Fausset's Bible Dictionary". - Fausset's; 1878.

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