WE have dealt hitherto almost exclusively with pre-Christian teaching; but we proceed now a step further, and in examining the subject of the Advent of the "Son of Man," we shall, while starting from the Old Testament and Apocalyptic literature, be here mainly occupied with the Gospel teaching. The consideration of the history of the title "the Son of Man" affords a natural transition from Jewish to Christian Eschatology; and while it is far from our intention to study exhaustively the history of this title, some little detail will, nevertheless, be necessary.
We must first of all deal with the seventh chapter of the book of Daniel; 1' in verses 13, 14 of this chapter we read as follows:
[paragraph continues] I saw in the night visions, and, behold, there came with the clouds of heaven one like unto a son of man, and he came even unto the Ancient of Days, and they brought him near before him. And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all the peoples, 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 it is to be noted that this one who is "like unto a son of man" comes "with the clouds of heaven"; it is no fanciful distinction when one points out the difference between coming upon the clouds, and coming with the clouds; the former is only used of God Almighty (e.g., Isa. xxi. 1; Psalm civ. 3). There is, therefore, some reason in the writer's mind for using the expression with the clouds, instead of upon the clouds. And the reason is not far to seek; the meaning of the vision is that the future world-ruler is to be not from the earth, but from Heaven; that is to say, the coming rule or kingdom is to be divinely appointed, and it is to be a human rule, hence the expression "a son of man"; and here again it is very important to notice that the phrase "a son of man" is widely
different from "The Son of Man"; the former, "a son of man," is merely the Aramaic way of expressing a "human being"; and the point of the vision is that it declares that the ruler in this coming kingdom, though sent by God (and in that sense from Heaven), is a human being. In the vision the contrast is brought out between the beasts arising out of the sea, who are symbolic of the world-powers that have been, and the one who is like unto a son of man, i.e., who is symbolic of the future ruler of the kingdom to come. But it is an earthly kingdom; and from the twenty-seventh verse of this chapter it is plain that this one who is like unto a son of man symbolises the Israelite nation: And the kingdom, and the dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the Most High; his kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him (see, too, verses 18-22). Thus, while the title "Son of Man" is originally derived from this passage in the book of Daniel, it does not there denote anything more than that he to whom it is applied is a human being.
The next step in the history of the title "Son of Man" is its consideration in that
portion of Ethiopic Book of Enoch called the Similitudes, i.e., chaps. xxxvii.--lxx.; these belong approximately, as we have already seen, to 94-64 B.C.
In the first place, the "Son of Man" is here spoken of as existing before the beginning of the world: "At that hour that Son of Man was named before the Lord of Spirits, and his name before the Ancient of Days. Before the sun and the signs (of the Zodiac) were created, before the stars of Heaven were made his name was uttered before the Lord of Spirits. 1 He shall be a staff for the righteous and for the holy ones, that they may rest on him and not fall; he shall be the light of the Gentiles, 2 and the hope of those who are sad at heart. 3 . . . For this reason hath he been chosen and hidden before Him (i.e., God) before the world was created, and unto eternity (he shall be) before Him. And the wisdom of the Lord of Spirits hath revealed him to the holy and righteous . . ." (xlviii. 2-7). To this belief in the pre-existence of the "Son of Man" before the creation of the world must be added the conception of his Kingdom,
which is to be a universal one; he is described as, in a very real sense, the king of kings; for example, in the Similitudes lxii. 3f., we read: "And there will stand up in that day all the kings and the mighty, and the exalted, and those who hold the earth, and they will see and recognise him as he sits on the throne of his glory. . . . And the kings and the mighty and all who possess the earth will glorify and bless and extol him who rules over all--who was hidden . . ." (verses 2-9, cf. xlv. 4-5). The idea of this universal dominion is further emphasised by the fact that the Son of Man is described as sitting upon the throne of God Almighty: "And the Chosen One shall sit upon My throne in those days, and all the secrets of wisdom will come forth from the thoughts of his mouth; for the Lord of Spirits hath given it to him, and hath glorified him." 1 One other point, which is of especial importance for our present purpose, is that this Son of Man is described as coming to judge the world: "He (the Son of Man) sat himself upon the throne of his glory, and the sum of judgement was committed unto him, the Son of Man, and he caused the sinners and they that have led the world
astray to disappear from the face of the earth and to be destroyed; with chains shall they be bound, and they shall be imprisoned in the place where they shall be gathered together (a place of) destruction" (lxix. 27, 28; lxii. 3-5). That this throne is God's throne is clear from li. 3; "And the Chosen One will in those days sit upon My throne. . . ." How exactly these thoughts are reflected in the Gospels will already have been realised, but it may be well to illustrate this very briefly. The pre-existence of the Son of Man is taught in the Gospels, for example, in John xvii. 24: Father, that which thou hast given me, I will that, where I am, they also may be with me; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me; for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world (cf. John xvii. 5). The universality of His kingdom as taught in the Gospels is seen, for example, in Matt. xxviii. 18, 19: And Jesus came unto them and spake unto them, saying, All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all nations. . . Further, for the thought of the Son of Man sitting upon the throne of God, one recalls such words as those contained in Matt. xxv. 31: But when the Son of Man shall come in
his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory (cf. Matt. xix. 28); especially when one reads this in connection with such a passage as John xvii. 5: And now, O Father, glorify me with thy own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. And, lastly, for the truth that the Son of Man will come to judge, see John v. 22: For neither doth the Father judge any man, but he hath given all judgement unto the Son; John v. 27: And he gave him authority to execute judgement, because he is the Son of Man; John v. 30: My judgement is righteous.
It will be seen, on comparing the conception of the "Son of Man" in the book of Daniel with that contained in this section of Eth. Enoch (i.e., the Similitudes), that there is a vital difference between the two; for in the former the "Son of Man" appears as the type or symbol of the nation of Israel; his human personality is emphasised; while in the latter he is presented as a supernatural person. Moreover, in the former the indefiniteness of the phrase "like unto a son of man," is very different from the distinct "the Son of Man" in the latter. Very important is the fact, therefore, that in the Similitudes of Enoch we meet for the first
time with the title "The Son of Man." That is to say that, roughly speaking, eighty years before the birth of Christ, we have a presentation of a personality, called the "Son of Man," who is believed to have existed before the creation of world, whose kingdom is to be a universal one, who sits upon the throne of God, and who is described as coming to be the Judge of the world.
That in both the book of Daniel and in the Similitudes of Enoch the title, "The Son of Man," is used in reference to the Messiah does not require formal proof; it is only necessary to read the passages in question in order to see that the fact is obvious; the Messiah and "The Son of Man" are identical. 1
Now we have next to consider the title of "The Son of Man" in the Gospels. The first point to notice, and it is a highly significant one, is that this title is never used excepting by our Lord Himself; an exception, the solitary one that exists, is seen in John xii. 34, where the multitude use it; but even here it is clear that they are only quoting words which Christ had used concerning Himself: The multitude therefore answered him,
[paragraph continues] We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sagest thou, The Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man? The only time in which it is used in the New Testament outside the Gospels is in Acts vii. 56, where St. Stephen says: Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing on the right hand of God; but these words, spoken before the Sanhedrin, are in reality a quotation of words of similar import which our Lord Himself had used before the same assembly: 1 But from henceforth shall the Son of Man be seated at the right hand of the power of God (Luke xxii. 69); so that in this case, too, the title is only used in a quotation of our Lord's own words concerning Himself. 2
Next, we must see in what connection our Lord uses the title; and here we shall have to notice that there are two entirely different sets of ideas which He uses in connection with it. This is very striking, and at first, not altogether easy to understand. Firstly, our Lord uses the title "Son of Man" in regard
to Himself in such a manner as to make it appear as though it were a term of humiliation; this will be clear in recalling such words as these: The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head (Matt. viii. 20; Luke ix. 58); The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold, a gluttonous man, and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners (Matt. xi. 19; Luke vii. 34); speaking against the Son of Man is forgiven, not so if the Holy Spirit is spoken against (Matt. xii. 32; Luke xii. 10); the suffering of the Son of Man is referred to by Christ in a number of passages (Matt. xvii. 12; Mark viii. 13; Luke ix. 22; John 14, etc.); so, too, His betrayal; and Christ says that, The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many (Matt. xx. 28; Mark x. 45). All these passages speak of the "Son of Man" in connection with suffering and humiliation; and if the Gospels contained only passages like those just referred to, when speaking of the "Son of Man," we should be wholly justified in regarding the title "Son of Man" as indicating our Lord's human nature in contrast to passages which speak of Him as
the "Son of God," as laying stress on His Divine Nature. But there are a considerably larger number of passages in which the title is used in connection with the ideas of glory, honour, and majesty. To give but a few examples: The Son of Man is able to forgive sins (Matt. ix. 6, etc.); He is Lord of the Sabbath (Mark ii. 28, etc.); it is He Who sows the good seed, in the parable of the wheat and tares (Matt, xiii. 24-30); but above all, and this is exceedingly important, almost always when Christ speaks of His Second Coming He uses the title of the Son of Man, this more than thirty times in the Gospels; and among these passages it is very interesting to notice how frequently the thought of His coming to judge the world is either prominent or understood without being actually expressed. Only one or two examples of this need be cited: For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then shall he render unto every man according to his deeds (Matt. xvi. 27, 28); And then shall he send forth the angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven (Mark xiii. 27); For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of
him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when he cometh in his own glory, and the glory of the Father, and of the holy angels (Luke xi. 26); and just one other striking passage: But when the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory; and before him shall be gathered all the nations; and he shall separate them one front another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats (Matt. xxv. 31, 32). The judgement-scene that follows will be familiar, and need not be further dealt with here.
The following table, which contains all the passages of the Gospels in which the title "The Son of Man" is used, will fully illustrate what has just been said.
Passages in which the title "The Son of Man" is used in connection with the ideas of suffering and humiliation:--
Matt. viii. 20: And Jesus said unto them, The foxes have holes, and the birds of heaven have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head. (Cf. Luke ix. 58.)
Matt. xi. 19: The Son of Man carne eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a wine-bibber, a friend of publicans and sinners (Cf. Luke vii. 34.)
Matt. xii. 32: And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world nor in that which is to come. (Cf. Mark iii. 28-31; Luke xii. 10.)
Matt. xii. 40: For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale; so shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. (Cf. Luke xi. 30-32.)
Matt. xvi. 13: . . . He asked his disciples, saying, Who do men say that the Son of Man is? (Cf. Mark viii. 27; Luke ix. 18; the context in each case points to the idea of the Suffering Christ.)
Matt. xvii. 12, 13:. . . But I say unto you that Elijah is come already, and they knew him not, but did unto him whatsoever they listed. Even so shall the Son of Man also suffer of them. (Mark ix. 12, 13.)
Matt. xvii. 22, 23: The Son of Man shall be delivered up into the hands of men; and they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised up. And they were exceeding sorry. (Matt. xx, 18, 19; Mark viii. 31; ix. 31, 32; x. 33, 34; Luke ix. 22, 44; xviii. 31-34.)
Matt. xx. 28: The Son of Man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. (Mark x. 45.)
Matt. xxvi. 2: Ye know that after two days the passover cometh, and the Son of Man is delivered up to be crucified.
Matt. xxvi. 24: The Son of Man goeth, even as it is written of him; but woe unto that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed. (Mark xiv. 21; Luke xxii. 22.)
Matt. xxvi. 45: Then cometh he to the disciples and saith unto them, Sleep on now, and take your rest; behold, the hour is at hand, and the Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners. (Mark. xiv. 41.)
Luke vi. 22: Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you, and when they shall separate you from their company, and reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of Man's sake. (Cf. Matt. v. 11.)
Luke xxii. 48: But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of Man with a kiss?
Luke xxiv. 6-7: Remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered up into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.
John iii. 13, 14, 15: And no man hath ascended into heaven, but he that descended out of heaven, even the Son of Man [which is in Heaven]. 1 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; that whosoever believeth in him may have eternal life.
John viii. 28: Jesus therefore said, When ye have lifted up the Son of Man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself, but as the Father taught me, I speak these things.
John xii. 34: The multitude therefore answered him, We have heard out of the law that the Christ abideth for ever; and how sayest thou, The Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?
Passages in which the title "The Son of Man" is used in connection with the ideas of power, glory, and honour:--
Matt. ix. 6: 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, and take up thy bed, and go into thy house. (Mark ii. 10, 11; Luke v. 24.)
Matt. x. 23: Verily, I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone through the cities of Israel, till the Son of Man be come.
Matt. xii. 8: The Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath. (Mark ii. 28; Luke vi. 8.)
Matt. xiii. 37: He answered and said, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of Man.
Matt. xiii. 41, 42: The Son of Man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that cause stumbling, and them that do iniquity, and shall cast them into the furnace of fire.
Matt. xvi. 27, 28: For the Son of Man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then shall he render unto every man according to his deeds. Verily, I say unto you, There be some of them that stand here, which shall in no wise taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.
Matt. xvii. 9: Jesus commanded them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of Man be risen from the dead. (Mark ix. 9; cf. Luke ix. 35, 36.)
Matt. xix. 28: And Jesus said unto them, Verily, I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration, when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
Matt. xxiv. 27: For as the lightning cometh forth from the east, and is seen even unto the west, so shall be the coming of the Son of Man. (Luke xvii. 22-24.)
Matt. xxiv. 29-31: But immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken; and then shall appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven; and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send forth his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Mark xiii. 24-27.)
Matt. xxiv. 37-44: And as were the days of Noah, so shall be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and they knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall it be in the coming of the Son of Man Therefore be ye also ready; for in an hour that ye
think not the Son of Man cometh. (Luke xii. 40; xvii. 26-37.)
Matt. xxv. 31-33: But when the Son of Man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory, and before him shall be gathered all the nations; and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on the left. (Cf. Luke xxi. 27, 28, 36.)
Matt. xxvi. 64: Nevertheless I say unto you, Henceforth ye shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of Heaven. (Mark xiv. 62; cf. xxii. 69.)
Mark viii. 38: For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man also shall be ashamed of him when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. (Luke ix. 26; cf. xii. 8.)
Luke xviii. 8: Howbeit when the Son of Man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
Luke xix. 10: For the Son of Man came to seek and to save that which was lost.
John i. 51: And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye shall see the heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man. (Cf. John vi. 62.)
John vi. 27: Work not for the meat which perisheth, but for the meat which abideth unto eternal life, which the Son of Man shall give unto you; for him the Father, even God, hath sealed. (Cf. John vi. 53.)
John xii. 23, 24: And Jesus answereth them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of Man should be glorified. Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a grain of wheat fall into the earth and die, it abideth by itself alone; but if it die, it beareth much fruit. (Cf. John xiii. 31.)
These facts regarding Our Lord's use of the title The Son of Man" in regard to Himself present us, therefore, with a problem which is well worth pondering. The intimate connection between humiliation and glory, between the Sufferer and the Judge, which the title "The Son of Man" connotes in the mouth of our Lord, must obviously be intentional, a great truth must underlie the whole thing--the question is, Can we fathom it? Nothing can be clearer than that it utterly puzzled the disciples; but it is also certain that we are to-day in a better position to unravel the problem than can have been the case with the disciples.
We shall find ourselves assisted more than half-way by recalling the words of our Lord, after His Resurrection, to the two disciples whom He met on the way to Emmaus; He said unto them: O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Behoved it not the Christ to suffer
these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning from Moses and from all the prophets he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke xxiv. 25-27.) What must strike one here, first of all, is that our Lord refers to the past; He says, almost in so many words, that there is really nothing new, nothing to be surprised at, in all that had happened, because it was the fulfilment and realisation of what the prophets had spoken of long ago. It is certain, therefore, that for a solution of the problem before us we must look to the past; and in the words just quoted--"Behoved it not the Christ to suffer these things, and to enter into his glory?"--the two great thoughts concerning the Messiah in the past are summed up. The first is to be found in the book of Isaiah, the second in the book of Enoch. Does it offend some to hear this? "What is this book of Enoch," some will say, "that is thus coupled with the book of Isaiah? How can a book that does not even belong to the Apocrypha (let alone the canonical Scriptures) be mentioned side by side with that which stands first among the Old Testament books?" Some people have put the question in another way: "How comes it that the book which
contains the most wonderful account of the Son of Man from the point of view of His majesty and glory, which describes the Advent of the Son of Man in terms practically identical with those of the Gospels--how comes it that such a book was never admitted into the Old Testament Canon? No doubt the Pharisees and the Scribes could have told us. Be that as it may, of this fact there can be no doubt: that as the book of Isaiah foretells the Gospel story of the Suffering Messiah in a way that no other book does, so does the book of Enoch describe the Gospel account of the coming of the Son of Man in His glory in a way that no other book does. When, therefore, we find that in the Gospels the Son of Man appears, on the one hand, as humiliated, the object of scorn, and the Sufferer, and, on the other hand, as the glorious King and Judge, it means that the prophecies of both the book of Isaiah and the book of Enoch find their fulfilment in Christ, the Son of Man, and Christ, the Son of God. Behoved it not the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?--His visage was so marred more than any man; and his form more than the sons of men (Isa. liii. 14); there we get the connection
with the expression "son of man," but it is purely human. Again, He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isa. liii. 3); he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed . . . the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all (verses 5, 6). And the other seer said: "The Son of Man sat himself upon the throne of his glory, and the sum of judgement was committed unto him" (Eth. Enoch lix. 27); "And there will stand up in that day all the kings and the mighty, the exalted, and they that possess the land; they shall see and know him when he sits upon the throne of his glory, and righteous judgement shall there be in his presence, and no lie shall be spoken before him" (Eth. Enoch lii. 3). 1
As in days of old, so now: "We believe that Thou shalt come to be our Judge"; but as in days of old, so now: "We pray Thee, therefore, help Thy servants, whom Thou halt redeemed with Thy precious blood," Our redemption is through His suffering; but the Judge comes in glory.
The problem connected with the title of "The Son of Man" in the Gospels may thus be explained by saying that Christ teaches the doctrine of His Human and Divine nature by accepting the prophecies which had gone before concerning the Son of Man, and regarding them as applying to Himself; and His use of the title may therefore be said to sum up diverse and apparently contradictory ideas which had long been in existence, but which, as was inevitable, men had very inadequately understood.
We must next turn to the Gospel teaching concerning the four main elements of the Eschatological Drama, together with the other less important points, which we considered in the Old Testament and in the Apocalyptic literature.
147:1 The phrase "son of man" which occurs frequently in the book of Ezekiel, is merely a mode of address, and has nothing to do with the present subject.
150:1 Cf. further Kautzsch, Die Apokryphen und Pseudepigraphen des AT. I. 264, note.
150:2 See Isa. xlii. 6; xlix. 6; John viii. 12.
150:3 Cf. Matt. xi. 28.
151:1 See John xvii. 1, 5.
154:1 For a very valuable contribution to the history of the title Son of Man in pre-Christian literature, see Dalman, Die Worte Jesu, pp. 191-219.
155:1 Cf. Dalman, Die Worte Jesu, p. 206.
155:2 The phrase which occurs in Rev. i. 13, xiv. 14, is used in the same sense as in the book of Ezekiel; while in Heb. ii. 6 it refers only to one who is of the human race; i.e., in the one case it is a mode of address, in the other a way of describing one born of a woman.
160:1 The words in square brackets are not well attested.
167:1 These are only a very few of the appropriate passages which could he cited.