Son of Man

jesus-coming-clouds

Millions of Christians are awaiting the return of the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. Jesus taught on this extensively. Using Mark, the earliest gospel, Jesus refers to himself [albeit always in the 3rd person] as the Son of Man numerous times.

Mar 2:10  But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic—

Mar 2:28  So the Son of Man is lord even of the Sabbath.”

Mar 8:31  And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.

Mar 8:38  For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.”

Mar 9:9  And as they were coming down the mountain, he charged them to tell no one what they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead.

Mar 9:12  And he said to them, “Elijah does come first to restore all things. And how is it written of the Son of Man that he should suffer many things and be treated with contempt?

Mar 9:31  for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.”

Mar 10:33  saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles.

Mar 10:45  For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

Mar 13:26  And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory.

Mar 14:21  For the Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.”

Mar 14:41  And he came the third time and said to them, “Are you still sleeping and taking your rest? It is enough; the hour has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners.

Mar 14:62  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.”

There is no doubt that Jesus considered himself the ‘Son of Man’ and used the book of Daniel as his source. If we look at Daniel 7 we can see there is indeed a vision Daniel receives where he sees “one like the son of man” coming on the clouds”

Dan 7:13-14  “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.  (14)  And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

Where did this idea that the Son of Man being a divine messianic figure come from? Second Temple era Jewish apocrypha, such as the The Book of Enoch, contributed greatly to this line of thought. We know this book was used extensively by early Christian writers and is specifically quoted in the book of Jude [v14].

“Son of man” is found in the Book of Enoch, but never in the original discourses. It occurs, however, in the Noachian interpolations (lx. 10, lxxi. 14), in which it has clearly no other meaning than “man,” if, indeed, Charles’ explanation (“Book of Enoch,” p. 16), that the interpolator misused the term, as he does all other technical terms, is untenable. In that part of the Book of Enoch known as the “Similitudes” it is met with in the technical sense of a supernatural Messiah and judge of the world (xlvi. 2, xlviii. 2, lxx. 27); universal dominion and preexistence are predicated of him (xlviii. 2, lxvii. 6). He sits on God’s throne (xlv. 3, li. 3), which is His own throne. Though Charles does not admit it, these passages betray Christian redaction and emendation.
Jewish Encyclopedia Son of Man

It influenced not only later Jewish apocrypha, but has left its imprint on the New Testament and the works of the early Fathers. The canonical Epistle of St. Jude, in verses 14, 15, explicitly quotes from the Book of Henoch; the citation is found in the Ethiopic version in verses 9 and 4 of the first chapter. There are probable traces of the Henoch literature in other portions of the New Testament.

Passing to the patristic writers, the Book of Henoch enjoyed a high esteem among them, mainly owing to the quotation in Jude. The so-called Epistle of Barnabas twice cites Henoch as Scripture. Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, and even St. Augustine suppose the work to be a genuine one of the patriarch. But in the fourth century the Henoch writings lost credit and ceased to be quoted. After an allusion by an author of the beginning of the ninth century, they disappear from view.
– Catholic Encyclopedia – Book of Enoch

The earliest literature of the so-called “Church Fathers” is filled with references to this mysterious book. The early second century “Epistle of Barnabus” makes much use of the Book of Enoch. Second and Third Century “Church Fathers” like Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Origin and Clement of Alexandria all make use of the Book of Enoch. Tertullian (160-230 C.E) even called the Book of Enoch “Holy Scripture”. The Ethiopic Church even added the Book of Enoch to its official canon. It was widely known and read the first three centuries after Christ.
– The Reluctant Messenger – Book of Enoch

If you read the Book of Enoch you get a feel of second Temple era apocalyptic literature that fueled different messianic movements. You also get a good feel for the heavily Hellenistic influence that were on the writer. If you’re so inclined you can read all three books of Enoch at Early Jewish Writings. Another good source that documents the Hellenistic influence of this period is Prof. Tabor’s excellent site at UNC Charlotte entitled The Jewish Roman World of Jesus.

Going back to the book of Daniel we read in his vision that it does indeed seem like he saw a figure in the form of a man – or one like the son of man – in the clouds who would be given dominion over all the peoples and nations who would serve him.

Dan 7:13-14  “I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him.  (14)  And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.

If this was the only information we had on this vision we could be left with the impression that a single man/divine figure who would fulfill this prophecy. There is no doubt that this is how some first century Jews interpreted it, including Jesus. But most people don’t read the rest of the chapter. Luckily, the angel interprets this vision and tells us exactly who this “one like the son of man” is.

Dan 7:16  I approached one of those who stood there and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of the things.

Dan 7:22  until the Ancient of Days came, and judgment was given for the saints of the Most High, and the time came when the saints possessed the kingdom.

Dan 7:27  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 shall be an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him.’

All the kingdoms under the heavens will be given to the saints of the Most High. They are the “one like the son of man” and called “him” in the singular. The angel in no way interprets this vision as a single individual who have dominion of the earth. If this is true then we can expect other prophets to back this up, no?. Do other prophets tell us the saints [Israel] will be given dominion and all peoples of the earth will serve them? Yes they do.

Isa 14:1-2  For the LORD will have compassion on Jacob and will again choose Israel, and will set them in their own land, and sojourners will join them and will attach themselves to the house of Jacob.  (2)  And the peoples will take them and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them in the LORD’s land as male and female slaves. They will take captive those who were their captors, and rule over those who oppressed them.

Isa 42:6  “I am the LORD; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations,

Isa 45:25  In the LORD all the offspring of Israel shall be justified and shall glory.”

Isa 49:22-23  Thus says the Lord GOD: “Behold, I will lift up my hand to the nations, and raise my signal to the peoples; and they shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on their shoulders.  (23)  Kings shall be your foster fathers, and their queens your nursing mothers. With their faces to the ground they shall bow down to you, and lick the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the LORD; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.”

Isa 54:3  For you will spread abroad to the right and to the left, and your offspring will possess the nations and will people the desolate cities.

Isa 60:12  For the nation and kingdom that will not serve you shall perish; those nations shall be utterly laid waste.

Jer 33:7-9  I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel, and rebuild them as they were at first.  (8)  I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me.  (9)  And this city shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth who shall hear of all the good that I do for them. They shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the prosperity I provide for it.

Eze 28:26  And they shall dwell securely in it, and they shall build houses and plant vineyards. They shall dwell securely, when I execute judgments upon all their neighbors who have treated them with contempt. Then they will know that I am the LORD their God.”

Mic 7:15-16 As in the days when you came out of the land of Egypt, I will show them marvelous things.
Mic 7:16  The nations shall see and be ashamed of all their might; they shall lay their hands on their mouths; their ears shall be deaf; (17)  they shall lick the dust like a serpent, like the crawling things of the earth; they shall come trembling out of their strongholds; they shall turn in dread to the LORD our God, and they shall be in fear of you.

Zec 8:23  Thus says the LORD of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.'”

Zec 14:14  Even Judah will fight at Jerusalem. And the wealth of all the surrounding nations shall be collected, gold, silver, and garments in great abundance.

When the tribes of Israel are reunited into one nation and gathered into the land they will take captive those who were their captors, and rule over those who oppressed them – and they will possess the nations. This is the same interpretation given to Daniel regarding his vision. Israel is “the one like the son of man” who will be given dominion, not Jesus.

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