We have now come to the end of our series on the Divine Names and Titles for our Lord in the New Testament. Today, we will be examining the Lord’s two titles “Son of God” and “Son of Man.” These two terms are probably the most famous titles used of the Lord and yet, are probably the most misunderstood.
In order to understand the usage of these two titles, however, one must have a basic understanding of how the ancient Jews spoke. For example, although the New Testament was written in Koine Greek, the language of the modern world at the time, the text was written by Jews. Thus, the text includes many Hebraisms, or idiomatic terms based in the Hebrew faith and culture. The use of the word “Son of” is such an Hebraism.
The terms “Son of God” and “Son of Man” are typically abused by cults such as Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons in order to claim that the Lord Jesus is not actually God, but God’s Son and His first creation. After all, they claim, how can Jesus be God if He called Himself the Son of Man so often? This false understanding of the terms, however, is entirely based on human anatomy rather than the actual Hebraic idiom.
The title “Son of God” expresses the Son’s relation to the Father (Matthew 1:20; Luke 1:31, 35), but also of all those who are begotten of God. 1 John 3:1 states, “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not” (emphasis added). As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we have not merely been “adopted” into God’s Family, but have been spiritually begotten as actual sons and daughters of God, “born again” into His Family as Christ’s brothers and sisters.
However, that does not make us equal with Christ by any means. As the “Son of God,” He is “the Resurrection and the Life” (John 11:25), having the power to raise the dead (John 5:25) and make those who believe in Him “Sons of God” with Him. Yet, He is also the “Son of Man” which relates to His Dominion in the earth, all judgment being committed to Him by the Father (John 5:27).
When used of Christ, the term “Son of Man” always employs the definite article; when used of a human like the prophet Ezekiel, it never employs the article. Through the “first man, Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:22-23, 45), dominion was given over the works of the Creator (Genesis 1:26). However, due to the Fall (Gen. 3), this dominion was forfeited, no particular son of Adam having universal right to rule the earth. Thus, chaos, unrest, and conflicts ensue between men and nations, and will continue until the coming again of the Man Christ Jesus Who now has the sole authority to rule the whole earth (Ezekiel 21:27).
His title “Son of Man” pertains to His dominion upon the earth, which will not fully be realized until He returns to sit on the Throne of David for 1,000 years. Satan, throughout history, has tried to usurp this authority by installing a human head to rule the world – Alexander the Great, Caesar, Napoleon, Hitler, etc. – and he will briefly succeed in the coming Antichrist, but the coming again of Jesus Christ with his saints after the Great Tribulation will put an end to that quickly.