Who is the Son of Man?

I did a few searches, but I couldn’t find anything relevant. I know that Jesus often refers to “The Son of Man”. Presumably he is talking about himself, but why would he refer to himself like that? Does it lose something in the translation from the Greek?

“Son of Man” is indeed another name, or title, for Jesus.

Sometimes He’s the Son of Man, sometimes He’s the Son of God. It’s that whole incarnation thing, see…

*Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust. *

– from “The Waste Land”
Now, I suppose ol’ T.S. Eliot was using “Son of man” here in the literal sense, much as Marvin the Martian would say “Puny Earthling.”

If the Son of God is Christ–wouldn’t the Son of Man be the Anti-Christ?

“Who is the Son of Man?”

Just be patient. The paternity test is due back next week.

What about the numerous times Ezekiel is called “Son of man?”

Zev Steinhardt

I’m not familiar with that phrase - how does it go in Hebrew? Ben Ish? Ben Enosh? Ben Adam? Ben Gever??

In the Bible, the phrase “son of man” means a human being. Jesus is referred to as THE Son of Man, capitalized majorly.

Ezekiel was presumably human.


In the original Hebrew, Ezekiel is referred to as Ben Adam.

This is a bit lengthy. Where possible, I’ve added the Hebrew/Greek versions in italics with the phrases bolded. I don’t know Hebrew, so I may get some of those phrases incorrect. Most of the information is from http://www.blueletterbible.org
Ezekiel the prophet was addressed (by God, calling him to be a prophet) as ‘Son of Man’ (ben 'adam).

However, it seems that when Jesus was referring to himself in this way, he was proclaiming himself as incarnate and also as the Messiah who would reign.

Daniel 7:13-14 (KJV) says " 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."
(* 'aruw bar 'enash 'athah*)

Revelations also has similar imagery :
Rev 1:13a (KJV) “And in the midst of the seven candlesticks [one]like unto the Son of man …”

Rev 14:14 (KJV) “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.”

Both of these are homoios huio anthropou (like the Son of Man).

A few of Jesus’ usages of the phrase indicate his identification with this image :

Matthew 12:8 (KJV) “For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day.”

Luke 18:31 (KJV) “Then he took [unto him] the twelve, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem, and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the Son of man shall be accomplished.”

John 1:51 (KJV) “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.”

John 5:27 (KJV) “And hath given him authority to execute judgment also, because he is the Son of man.”

The Greek phrase used is ho huios tou anthropou.

Also, in response to questioning in John 12 :

12:34 " 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?" (tis estin houtos ho huios tou anthropou)

He gives a lengthy, if not exactly direct, answer (John 12:34-50), beginning by saying (paraphrase) “walk while you have the light”(v.35), and later saying “I am come a light into the world”(v.46).
Textual critics like to analyze the words that appear around this phrase to see the associations that Jesus or the authors made with it. In the NT parousia, ‘arrive’, elthen and erchomenos, ‘coming’ appear, compared with Daniel. The Septuagint for Dan. 7:13 uses huios anthropou erchomenos (“the Son of Man coming”), and elthen in a slightly similar context in Dan 7:22.
It seems likely that whole books have been devoted to this topic.

“Son of Man” is also the name of that painting by Magritte with a businessman in a suit and bowler hat with an apple in front of his face that featured in The Thomas Crowne Affair.

As for Jesus, some claim that he said “son of a man” but that the recording didn’t pick up all of it. The experts all agree though that the tale that he followed it with the quote “and good luck Mr. Gorsky” is a complete fabrication, however.

OK, sorry for that last paragraph, but I’ve got a bit of an odd sense of humor.

The way I’ve heard it explained is that “Son of” was a Hebrew phrase with the general meaning of “essence of” whatever. So Jesus could be the essence of humanity, I guess, using this phrase.


From the Oxford Concise Dictionary of the Christian Church