• Ashish Roy

Difference Between Son of God and Son of Man

If you have read the Bible or know something about the first four gospels (which are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John), then you have probably encountered the terms “son of God and son of Man.” And if you are like me who questions everything you read, most likely you’ve wondered like what these terms mean and why Jesus and gospel writers had used them more frequently.

Now, at first glance, these titles somewhat may mean that the title son of God shows the divinity of Christ and the title son of Man shows the humanity of Christ. It’s not as simple as all of that, because both of these titles have within them elements that refer to His deity and to His humanity. But if we take them and try to understand them with other verses in the Bible, we’ll see that the titles mean quite the opposite of what we think it means.

The title “Son of God” is given, in the first instance in Scripture, to those who manifest obedience to the Father. In the Old Testament, many people were called the sons of God like Adam, Abraham, and David and even in the Psalm, it says you are gods. And when we look at the New Testament, we can see that we are also called sons of God (ref First John 3). Jesus Christ is called the son of God more than 40 times in the Bible.

On the other hand, the term, Son of Man, is used by Jesus 80 times to refer to Himself.

There are two places in the O.T. where we see the term, Son of the man is used.

First in the book of Ezekiel, the son of man in this book is a lowly human figure. God refers to Ezekiel in the evocative every time calling him the son of man. It is to emphasize how human Ezekiel is (ref. Ezekiel 2:1,3 & 3:1).

Now in the book of Daniel, we see a completely different use of the title, Son of Man.

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13-14 NIV)

The second mention of the title, Son of Man, in this book shows someone who is coming on the cloud and one to whom was given authority and power. Only a divine being is expressed as coming on the clouds in the O.T.

Now, the question is which one of the Son of man titles does Jesus refers to when He calls Himself Son of Man?

We’ll look at some verses where Jesus claimed this title.

And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” (Mark 14:62 ESV)

Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven.” (Matthew 26:64 ESV)

But from now on the Son of Man shall be seated at the right hand of the power of God. (Luke 22:69 ESV)

From the above verses, we can clearly find that Jesus is referring to the title from the book of Daniel.

Even the Pharisees and teachers of the law knew the meaning of that title. In one instance when Jesus was on the trial before His crucifixion, they asked Him are you the son of God? And Jesus said, You have said it yourself and in the same sentence He said that you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of God. And just after that they tore their robes and said it is blasphemy because they knew what that title meant and that Jesus is claiming to be the God. (ref. Matthew 26:63-64)

We remember that Jesus says, “No one ascends to the Father except He who has first descended from Him.” Again, we tend to think that Jesus’ calling Himself the Son of Man was an expression of humility, when, in fact, it was a claim to divine authority. That’s why I want you to notice this. When He heals on the Sabbath day and is rebuked by His enemies, He said, “I did this that you may know that the Son of the Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” And when He forgives sins and creates an uproar from His contemporaries, saying, “Only God has the authority to forgive sins,” Jesus said, “I did this that you might know that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins.” And again, and again, and again, you will begin to see that this title, “Son of Man” that Jesus uses for Himself, is a highly exalted title. (An excerpt from Dr. R.C. Sprouls’ teaching series)

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