Son of Man

SYNOPSIS  The images of the “Son of Man” figure from Daniel are applied to Jesus and his “saints” in the New Testament  Daniel 7:13-14

Bright Clouds - Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash
Daniel’s vision of one “
like a Son of Man” who received “dominion” occurs several times in the gospel accounts. For example, Jesus foretold how “all the tribes of the earth” would mourn when “they see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven.” More often in the four gospels, “Son of Man” is the self-designation found on the lips of Jesus. The same vision of Daniel is alluded to in the post-resurrection claim by Jesus that he now possesses authority over all things - (Matthew 10:2313:4116:27-2824:3025:31Luke 21:27): - [Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash].
  • (Daniel 7:13-14) – “I continued looking in the visions of the night, when, lo, with the clouds of the heavens, one like a son of man was coming, and to the Ancient of days he approached, and before him they brought him near; and to him were given dominion and dignity and kingship, that all peoples, races and tongues, should do service to him; his dominion was an everlasting dominion, which should not pass away, and his kingdom that which should not be destroyed.
  • (Matthew 28:18-20) – “And Jesus, having come near, spoke to them, saying, All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me; Go, therefore, and disciple all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I myself commanded you. And, lo, I am with you all the days, until the conclusion of the age.
At his trial, when the high priest demanded an answer whether he was the Messiah or not, Jesus responded:
  • I am he, and you will see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
In stating this, Jesus combined a phrase from Daniel 7:13 with Psalm 110:1, leaving no doubt that he was the promised Messiah:
  • Yahweh declared to my Lord, Sit at my right hand until I make your foes your footstool” - (Mark 14:62Matthew 26:64Luke 22:69).
  • (Psalm 2:7-8) – “I will tell of the decree: Yahweh said to me, You are my son; This day have I begotten you. Ask of me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, And the uttermost parts of the earth for your possession.”
In the original vision, the “Son of Man” approached the Throne to receive authority over the nations. Likewise, in the second Psalm, the Messiah was exalted to rule over all the “nations of the earth” from Yahweh’s throne. In his trial, Jesus declared that this prophecy was about to be fulfilled - It was something his executioners would see, presumably, to their dismay.

In the book of Daniel, the “Son of Man” approached the Throne to receive dominion over “all peoples, nations and tongues.” This same image is behind several passages in the book of Revelation that emphasize the universal sovereignty of the “Lamb.”

For example, the entire creation declares the “Lamb worthy” to receive all power and dominion, and precisely because “by his blood, he purchased for God men out of every tribe, tongue, people and nation.” Later, John saw an “innumerable multitude coming out of the “Great Tribulation” comprised of men and women “from every nation, tribe, people and tongue” - (Daniel 7:13-14, Revelation 5:9, 7:9-17).

In Daniel, the “Son of Man” is closely associated with the “saints” and their fate and is virtually identical with them. Likewise, Revelation applies the description of the “little horn” that made “war against the saints,” and their vindication by the “Ancient of Days” to the followers of the “Lamb”:
  • (Daniel 7:21-22) - “I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them; until the ancient of days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most-High, and the time came for the saints to possess the kingdom.”
  • (Revelation 11:7) - “When they finished their testimony, the beast that ascends out of the abyss will make war with them, and overcome them, and kill them.”
  • (Revelation 12:17) - “The dragon waxed wroth with the woman and departed to make war with the rest of her seed, those who keep the commandments of God, and hold the testimony of Jesus.”
  • (Revelation 13:7) - “It was given to him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them.”
  • (Revelation 20:4) - “I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given for them: and I saw the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and such as worshipped not the beast, neither his image, and received not the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years.”
The New Testament is consistent and clear – The “Son of Man” from Daniel is identified with Jesus, and especially with him as the post-resurrection ruler over the “nations of the earth.” Likewise, in Revelation, the “saints” associated with the “Son of Man” in Daniel is identical to the followers of the “Lamb.” Additionally, the image of the “Son of Man arriving on the clouds” is applied to the return of Jesus in glory at the end of the age – (Revelation 1:7).

But the New Testament does the unexpected. The sovereignty of Jesus over the nations began with his resurrection from the dead, not his return in glory, as does the vindication and reign of the “saints” with him.




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