|Easton's Bible Dictionary|
Son of God
The plural, "sons of God," is used (Genesis 6:2, 4) to denote the pious descendants of Seth. In Job 1:6; 38:7 this name is applied to the angels. Hosea uses the phrase (1:10) to designate the gracious relation in which men stand to God.
In the New Testament this phrase frequently denotes the relation into which we are brought to God by adoption (Romans 8:14, 19; 2 Corinthians 6:18; Galatians 4:5, 6; Philippians 2:15; 1 John 3:1, 2). It occurs thirty-seven times in the New Testament as the distinctive title of our Saviour. He does not bear this title in consequence of his miraculous birth, nor of his incarnation, his resurrection, and exaltation to the Father's right hand. This is a title of nature and not of office. The sonship of Christ denotes his equality with the Father. To call Christ the Son of God is to assert his true and proper divinity. The second Person of the Trinity, because of his eternal relation to the first Person, is the Son of God. He is the Son of God as to his divine nature, while as to his human nature he is the Son of David (Romans 1:3, 4. Comp. Galatians 4:4; John 1:1-14; 5:18-25; 10:30-38, which prove that Christ was the Son of God before his incarnation, and that his claim to this title is a claim of equality with God).
When used with reference to creatures, whether men or angels, this word is always in the plural. In the singular it is always used of the second Person of the Trinity, with the single exception of Luke 3:38, where it is used of Adam.
Son of man
(1.) Denotes mankind generally, with special reference to their weakness and frailty (Job 25:6; Psalm 8:4; 144:3; 146:3; Isaiah 51:12, etc.).
(2.) It is a title frequently given to the prophet Ezekiel, probably to remind him of his human weakness.
(3.) In the New Testament it is used forty-three times as a distinctive title of the Saviour. In the Old Testament it is used only in Psalm 80:17 and Dan. 7:13 with this application. It denotes the true humanity of our Lord. He had a true body (Hebrews 2:14; Luke 24:39) and a rational soul. He was perfect man.
Noah Webster's Dictionary
1. (n.) A male child; the male issue, or offspring, of a parent, father or mother.
2. (n.) A male descendant, however distant; hence, in the plural, descendants in general.
3. (n.) Any young male person spoken of as a child; an adopted male child; a pupil, ward, or any other male dependent.
4. (n.) A native or inhabitant of some specified place; as, sons of Albion; sons of New England.
5. (n.) The produce of anything.
6. (n.) Jesus Christ, the Savior; -- called the Son of God, and the Son of man.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
GOD, SON (SONS) OF
See SONS OF GOD (OLD TESTAMENT); SONS OF GOD (NEW TESTAMENT).
The King James Version translates rightly
(1) ben-'achotho (Genesis 29:13); and
(2) huios tes adelphes (Acts 23:16), and wrongly,
(3) anepsios (Colossians 4:10), where, without doubt, the real meaning is "cousin," as in the Revised Version (British and American).
See RELATIONSHIPS, FAMILY.
SON OF GOD, THE
(ho huios theou):
1. Use of Title in the Synoptists
2. Meanings in the Old Testament
3. Sense as Applied to Jesus
4. Physical Reason
5. Alleged Equivalence to "Messiah"-Personal Sense Implied
6. Higher Use by Jesus Himself
7. The "Son" in Matthew 11:27
8. The "Son" in Mark 13:32
9. The "Son" in Matthew 28:18-20
10. Apostolic Doctrine: Deity Affirmed
11. The Fourth Gospel: Deity, Preexistence, etc.
1. Use of Title in the Synoptists:
While the title "the Son of man" is always, except once, applied by Jesus to Himself, "the Son of God" is never applied by Jesus to Himself in the Synoptists. When, however, it is applied to Him by others, He accepts it in such a way as to assert His claim to it. Now and then He Himself employs the abbreviated form, "the Son," with the same intention; and He often speaks of God as "the Father" or "my Father" or "my Father who is in heaven" in such a manner as to betray the consciousness that He is the Son of God.
2. Meanings in the Old Testament:
While to the common mind "the Son of man" is a title designating the human side of our Lord's person, "the Son of God" seems as obviously to indicate the divine side. But scholarship cannot take this for granted; and, indeed, it requires only a hasty glance at the facts to bring this home even to the general reader, because in Scripture the title is bestowed on a variety of persons for a variety of reasons. First, it is applied to angels, as when in Job 2:1 it is said that "the sons of God came to present themselves before Yahweh"; they may be so called because they are the creatures of God's hands or because, as spiritual beings, they resemble God, who is a spirit. Secondly, in Luke 3:38 it is applied to the first man; and from the parable of the Prodigal Son it may be argued that it is applicable to all men. Thirdly, it is applied to the Hebrew nation, as when, in Exodus 4:22, Yahweh says to Pharaoh, "Israel is my son, my first-born," the reason being that Israel was the object of Yahweh's special love and gracious choice. Fourthly, it is applied to the kings of Israel, as representatives of the chosen nation. Thus, in 2 Samuel 7:14, Yahweh says of Solomon, "I will be his father, and he shall be my son"; and, in Psalm 2:7, the coronation of a king is announced in an oracle from heaven, which says, "Thou art my son; this day have I begotten thee." Finally, in the New Testament, the title is applied to all saints, as in John 1:12, "But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name." When the title has such a range of application, it is obvious that the Divinity of Christ cannot be inferred from the mere fact that it is applied to Him.
3. Sense as Applied to Jesus:
It is natural to assume that its use in application to Jesus is derived from one or other of its Old Testament uses; and the one almost universally fixed upon by modern scholarship as that from which it was derived is the fourth mentioned above-that to the Jewish kings. Indeed, it is frequently asserted that in the Jewish literature between the Old Testament and the New Testament, it is found already coined as a title for the Messianic king; but the instances quoted by Dalman and others in proof of this are far from satisfactory.
4. Physical Reason:
When we come to examine its use in the New Testament as applied by others to Jesus, the facts are far from simple, and it is not applied in a uniform sense. In Luke 1:35, the following reason for its use is given, "The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee: wherefore also the holy thing which is begotten shall be called the Son of God." This is a physical reason, akin to that on account of which the angels or the first man received the title; but it is rather curious that this point of view does not seem to be adopted elsewhere, unless it be in the exclamation of the centurion at the foot of the cross, "Truly this was the Son of God" (Matthew 27:54). As a pagan this soldier might be thinking of Jesus as one of those heroes, born of human mothers but divine fathers, of whom the mythology of his country had so much to tell (compare the margin).
5. Alleged Equivalence to Messiah-Personal Sense Implied:
(1) Baptism, Temptation.
It has been contended, not without plausibility, that for Jesus Himself the source of the title may have been the employment of it in the voice from heaven at His Baptism, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17). By these words, it is usually assumed, He was designated as the Messiah; but in the adjective "beloved," and the words "in whom I am well pleased," there is something personal, beyond the merely official recognition. The same may be said of the voice from heaven in the scene of the Transfiguration. Milton, in Paradise Regained, makes Satan become aware of the voice from heaven at the Baptism; but this is also implied in the terms with which he approached Him in the Temptation in the wilderness, "If thou art the Son of God" (Matthew 4:3, etc.); and, if this was the sense in which the prince of devils made use of the phrase, we may conclude that in the mouths of the demoniacs who hailed Jesus by the same title it must have had the same meaning.
(2) At Caesarea Philippi.
When, at Caesarea Philippi, Jesus evoked from the Twelve their great confession, this is given by two of the synoptists in the simple form, "Thou art the Christ" (Mark 8:29 Luke 9:20); but Matthew adds, "the Son of the living God" (Matthew 16:16). It is frequently said that Hebrew parallelism compels us to regard these words as a mere equivalent for "Messiah." But this is not the nature of parallelism, which generally includes in the second of the parallel terms something in excess of what is expressed in the first; it would be quite in accordance with the nature of parallelism if the second term supplied the reason for the first. That is to say, Jesus was the Messiah because He was the Son of God.
(3) Trial before Sanhedrin.
There is another passage where it is frequently contended that "the Christ" and "the Son of God" must be exactly parallel, but a close examination suggests the reverse. In the account of the ecclesiastical trial in the Gospel of Luke, He is charged, "If thou art the Christ, tell us"; and, when He replies, "If I tell you, ye will not believe: and if I ask you, ye will not answer. But from henceforth shall the Son of man be seated at the right hand of the power of God," they all say, "Art thou then the Son of God?" and, when He replies in the affirmative, they require no further witness (Luke 22:67-71), Matthew informing us that the high priest hereupon rent his garments, and they all agreed that He had spoken blasphemy and was worthy of death (Matthew 26:65 f). The usual assumption is that the second question, "Art thou.... the Son of God?" implies no more than the first, `Art thou the Christ?'; but is not the scene much more intelligible if the boldness of His answer to the first question suggested that He was making a still higher claim than to be the Christ, and that their second question applied to this? It was when Jesus affirmed this also that their angry astonishment knew no bounds, and their sentence was immediate and capital. It may be questioned whether it was blasphemy merely to claim to be the Messiah; but it was rank and undeniable blasphemy to claim to be the Son of God. This recalls the statement in John 5:18, "The Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only brake the sabbath, but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God"; to which may be added (John 10:33), "The Jews answered him, For a good work we stone thee not, but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God."
6. Higher Use by Jesus Himself:
Naturally it is with the words of Jesus Himself on this subject that we are most concerned. He speaks of God as His Father, and to the disciples He speaks of God as their Father; but He never speaks to them of God as their common Father: what He says is, "My Father and your Father" (John 20:17). H. J. Holtzmann and others have attempted to make light of this, and even to speak of the opening words of the Lord's Prayer, "Our Father who art in heaven," as if Jesus might have uttered them in company with the disciples; but the distinction is a vital one, and we do not agree with those who can believe that Jesus could have uttered, for Himself along with others, the whole of the Lord's Prayer, including the petition, "Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors."
7. The "Son" in Matthew 11:27:
Of the passages in the Synoptists where Jesus speaks about God as "the Father" and Himself as "the Son," a peculiar solemnity attaches to Matthew 11:27 parallel Luke 10:22, "All things have been delivered unto me of my Father: and no one knoweth the Son, save the Father; neither doth any know the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth to reveal him." There is a Johannine flavor in these words, and they reveal an intimacy of the Son with the Father, as well as a power over all things, which could not have been conferred by mere official appointment, unless there had been in the background a natural position warranting the official standing. Not infrequently has the word "Messianic" been allowed by scholars to blind them to the most obvious facts. The conferring of an office on a mere man could not enable him to do things beyond the reach of human powers; yet it is frequently assumed that, if only Jesus was Messiah, He was able for anything, even when the thing in question is something for which a mere man is wholly incompetent.
8. The "Son" in Mark 13:32:
There is a saying of Jesus (Mark 13:32) about His own Sonship which may seem to refute the church doctrine on the subject, as in it He confesses ignorance of the date of His Second Coming: "Of that day or that hour knoweth no one, not even the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." Yet, while there is much in this passage fitted to produce sane and sober views as to the real manhood of Jesus, there are few sayings of His that betray a stronger consciousness of His being more than man. Four planes of being and of knowledge are specified-that of men, that of angels, that of Himself, and that of God. Evidently the Son is above not only men but angels, and, if it is confessed that He is ignorant of anything, this is mentioned as a matter of surprise.
9. The "Son" in Matthew 28:18-20:
The conclusion would seem to be that He is a being intermediate between the angels and God; but this impression is corrected by the greatest of all the sayings in which He calls Himself the Son (Matthew 28:18-20), "All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world." Here the Son is named along with the Father and the Holy Spirit in a way suggesting the equality of all three, an act of worship being directed to them jointly. By those who disbelieve in the Deity of Christ, the most strenuous attempts have been made to get rid of this passage, and in certain quarters it is taken for granted that it must have been an addition to the text of this Gospel. But for this there is no ground whatever; the passage is the climax of the Gospel in which it occurs, in the same way as the confession of Thomas is the climax of the Gospel of Jn; and to remove it would be an intolerable mutilation. Of course to those who disbelieve in the bodily resurrection of our Lord, this has no more substance than the other details of the Forty Days; but to those who believe in His risen glory the words appear to suit the circumstances, their greatness being congruous with the entire representation of the New Testament.
10. Apostolic Doctrine: Deity Affirmed:
Indeed, it is the Son of God, as He appears in this final scene in the First Gospel, who dominates the rest of the New Testament. Thus, in Acts 9:20, the beginning of Paul's testimony as a Christian is given in these words, "And straightway in the synagogues he proclaimed Jesus, that he is the Son of God"; and what this meant to Paul may be gathered from his own statement in the opening of Romans, "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God, which he promised afore through his prophets in the holy scriptures, concerning his Son, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, who was declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness by the resurrection from the dead; even Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 1:1-4). In He the equality of the Son with the Father is theme throughout the entire book; and in Revelation 2:18, "the Son of God, who hath his eyes like a flame of fire," speaks from the right hand of power to the church.
On this subject there was no division of opinion in the apostolic church. On many other questions the followers of Jesus were divided; but on this one they were unanimous. For this the authority of Paul is often assumed to be responsible; but there was a prior and higher authority. This was the self-testimony of Jesus in the Gospel of John. Though this may not have been put in literary form till all the other books of the New Testament had been completed, it was active and influential in the church all the time, affecting Paul and the other New Testament writers.
11. The Fourth Gospel: Deity, Preexistence, etc.:
There is no real disharmony between the expression of our Lord's self-consciousness in the Synoptists and that in John; only in the latter it is far ampler and more distinct. Here Jesus is not only called "the Son of God" by others, but applies the title to Himself in its full shape, as well as in the abbreviated form of "the Son." He further calls Himself the "only begotten Son of God" (3:16, 18), that is to say, He is Son in a sense in which no others can claim the title. This seems expressly to contradict the statement, so often made, that He makes others sons of God in the same sense as Himself, or that His Sonship is ethical, not metaphysical. No doubt it is ethical-that is to say, He is like the Father in feeling, mind and will-but it does not follow that it is not at the same time metaphysical. In fact, the perfection of ethical unity depends upon that which is metaphysical. Between a dog and a man there may be deep sympathy, yet it is limited by the difference of their natures; whereas between a woman and a man there is perfect sympathy, because they are identical in nature.
Another feature of Sonship in the Fourth Gospel is preexistence, though, strange to say, this is more than once connected with the title "Son of man." But the strongest and most frequent suggestions as to what is implied in Sonship are to be found in the deeds attributed to the Son; for these are far beyond the competence of any mere man. Thus, He executes judgment (John 5:22); He has life in Himself and quickeneth whom He will (John 5:26, 21); He gives eternal life (John 10:10), and it is the will of the Father that all men should honor the Son, even as they do the Father (John 5:23). Nevertheless, the Son does nothing of Himself, but only what He hath seen the Father do (John 5:19); and only that which He hath heard of the Father does He speak (John 14:10). In short, God is not only His Father, but His God (John 20:17). To statements such as these a merely official Sonship is not adequate; the relation must be ethical and metaphysical as well; and to a perfect Sonship all three elements are essential.
Seethe books on the Theology of the New Testament by Weiss, Beyschlag, Holtzmann, Feine, Schlatter, Weinel, Bovon, Stevens, Sheldon; and on the Teaching of Jesus by Bruce, Wendt, Dalman; Gore, The Incarnation of the Son of God, Bampton Lectures, 1891, and Dissertations on Subjects Connected with the Incarnation; Robertson, Teaching of Jesus concerning God the Father; full bibliography in Stalker, Christ's Teaching concerning Himself.
SON OF MAN, THE
(ho huios tou anthropou):
1. Use in the New Testament: Self-Designation of Jesus
2. Questions as to Meaning
I. SOURCE OF THE TITLE
1. The Phrase in the Old Testament-Psalms, Ezekiel, Daniel
2. "Son of Man" in Daniel 7-New Testament Allusions
3. Expressive of Messianic Idea
4. Post-canonical Literature: Book of Enoch
II. WHY JESUS MADE USE OF THE TITLE
1. Consciousness of Being the Messiah
2. Half Concealed, Yet Half Revealed His Secret
3. Expressive of Identification with Men in Sympathy, Fortunes and Destiny
4. Speculations (Lietzmann, Wellhausen, etc.) on Aramaic Meaning: These Rejected (Dalman, etc.)
1. Use in New Testament: Self-Designation of Jesus:
This is the favorite self-designation of Jesus in the Gospels. In Matthew it occurs over 30 times, in Mark 15 times, in Luke 25 times, and in John a dozen times. It is always in the mouth of Jesus Himself that it occurs, except once, when the bystanders ask what He means by the title (John 12:34). Outside the Gospels, it occurs only once in Acts, in Stephen's speech (Acts 7:56), and twice in the Book of Revelation (1:13; 14:14).
2. Questions as to Meaning:
At first sight it appears so apt a term for the human element in our Lord's person, the divine element being similarly denoted by "the Son of God," that this was supposed to be its meaning, as it still is by the common man at the present day. As long as it was assumed that the meaning could be elicited by merely looking at the words as they stand and guessing what they must signify, this was substantially the view of all, although this common conception went in two directions-some noting especially the loftier and more ideal elements in the conception, while others emphasized what was lowly and painful in the human lot; and both could appeal to texts in support of their view. Thus, the view "that Christ by this phrase represented Himself as the head, the type, the ideal of the race" (Stanton, The Jewish and the Christian Messiah), could appeal to such a saying as, "The Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath" (Mark 2:28); while the humbler view could quote such a saying as, "The foxes have holes, and the birds of the heaven have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head" (Matthew 8:20).
The more scientific investigation of the phrase began, however, when it was inquired, first, what the source was from which Jesus derived this title, and, secondly, why He made use of it.
I. Source of the Title.
1. The Phrase in the Old Testament-Psalms, Ezekiel, Daniel:
That the phrase was not one of Jesus' own invention is manifest, because it occurs often in the Old Testament.
Thus, in Psalm 8:4 it is used as an equivalent for "man" in the parallel lines,
"What is man, that thou art mindful of him?
And the son of man, that thou visitest him ?"
This passage has sometimes been regarded as the source whence Jesus borrowed the title; and for this a good deal might be said, the psalm being an incomparable exposition both of the lowliness and the loftiness of human nature. But there is another passage in the Psalms from which it is far from incredible that it may have been derived: in Psalm 80:17 occur the words,
"Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand,
Upon the son of man whom thou maddest strong for thyself."
This is an appeal, in an age of national decline, for the raising up of a hero to redeem Israel; and it might well have kindled the spark of Messianic consciousness in the heart of the youthful Jesus.
There is a book of the Old Testament in which the phrase "the son of man" occurs no fewer than 90 times. This is the Book of Ezekiel, where it is always applied to the prophet himself and designates his prophetic mission. In the words of Nosgen (Christus der Menschenund Gotlessohn): "It expresses the contrast between what Ezekiel is in himself and what God will make out of him, and to make his mission appear to him not as his own, but as the work of God, and thus to lift him up, whenever the flesh threatens to faint and fail." Thus there was one before Jesus of Nazareth who bore the title, at least in certain moments of his life; and, after Ezekiel, there arose another Hebrew prophet who has put on record that he was addressed from the same high quarter in the same terms; for, in Daniel 8:17, it is written, "So he came near where I stood; and when he came, I was affrighted, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man"-words then following intended to raise the spirit of the trembling servant of God. By Weizsacker and others the suggestion has been made that Jesus may have borrowed the term from Ezekiel and Daniel to express His consciousness of belonging to the same prophetic line.
2. "Son of Man" in Daniel 7-New Testament Allusions:
There is, however, in the same Book of Daniel another occurrence of the phrase, in a totally different sense, to which the attention of science is more and more being drawn. In 7:3;, in one of the apocalyptic visions common to this prophet, four beasts are seen coming out of the sea-the first a lion with eagle's wings, the second a bear, the third a fourheaded leopard, and the fourth a terrible monster with ten heads. These beasts bear rule over the earth; but at last the kingdom is taken away from them and given to a fifth ruler, who is thus described, "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 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 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" (Daniel 7:13, 14). Compare with these words from Daniel the words of Jesus to the high priest during His trial, "Henceforth ye shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven" (Matthew 26:64), and the echo of the Old Testament words cannot be mistaken. Equally distinct is it in the great discourse in Matthew 24:30, "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."
3. Expressive of Messianic Idea:
The use of this self-designation by Jesus is especially frequent and striking in passages referring to His future coming to judgment, in which there is necessarily a certain resemblance to the apocalyptic scene in Daniel. In such utterances the Messianic consciousness of Jesus is most emphatically expressed; and the passage in Daniel is also obviously Messianic. In another considerable series of passages in which this phrase is used by Jesus, the references are to His sufferings and death; but the assumption which explains these also most easily is that they are Messianic too; Jesus is speaking of the fortunes to which He must submit on account of His vocation. Even the more dignified passages, expressive of ideality, are best explained in the same way. In short, every passage where the phrase occurs is best understood from this point of view, whereas, from any other point of view, not a few appear awkward and out of place. How little, for example, does the idea that the phrase is expressive of lowliness or of brotherhood with suffering humanity accord with the opening of the judgment-scene in Matthew 25:31, "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"!
4. Post-canonical Literature: Book of Enoch:
The son of man, or rather "one like unto a son of man" mentioned in Daniel, is primarily the Hebrew people, as is expressly noted in the prophecy itself; but Jesus must have looked upon Himself as the representative of the people of God, in the same way as, in the Old Testament generally, the reigning sovereign was regarded as the representative of the nation. But the question has been raised whether this transference of the title from a collective body to an individual may have been mediated for Him through postcanonical religious literature or the prevalence among the people of ideas generated through this literature. In the Book of Enoch there occur numerous references to the son of man, which bear a remarkable resemblance to some of the sayings of Jesus. The date usually assigned to this production is some 200 years B.C.; and, if these passages in it actually existed as early as this, the book would almost require to be included in the canonical Scriptures, though for other reasons it is far from worthy of any such honor. The whole structure of the Book of Enoch is so loose and confused that it must always have invited interpolation; and interpolations in it are recognized as numerous. The probability, therefore, is that the passages referring to the son of man are of later date and of Christian origin.
II. Why Jesus Made Use of the Title.
The conclusion that this title expresses, not the personal qualities of Jesus as a man, but His functions as Messiah, may be disappointing; but there is a way of recovering what seems to have been lost; because we must now inquire for what reasons He made use of this term.
1. Consciousness of Being the Messiah:
The first reason, of course, is, that in Daniel it expressed Messiahship, and that Jesus was conscions of being the Messiah. In the Old Testament He was wont all His days to read His own history. He ranged over all the sacred books and found in them references to His own person and work. With divinatory glance He pierced into the secrets of Scripture and brought forth from the least as well as the best-known portions of the ancient oracles meanings which are now palpable to all readers of the Bible, but which He was the first to discover. From the passage in Daniel, or from some other passage of the Old Testament in which the phrase "the son of man" occurs, a hint flashed out upon Him, as He read or heard; and the suggestion grew in His brooding mind, until it rounded itself into the fit and satisfying expression for one side of His self-consciousness.
2. Half Concealed, Yet Half Revealed His Secret:
Another reason why He fixed upon this as His favorite self-designation may have been that it half concealed as well as half revealed His secret. Of the direct names for the Messiah He was usually shy, no doubt chiefly because His contemporaries were not prepared for an open declaration of Himself in this character; but at all stages of His ministry He called Himself the Son of man without hesitation. The inference seems to be, that, while the phrase expressed much to Himself, and must have meant more and more for those immediately associated with Him, it did not convey a Messianic claim to the public ear. With this accords well the perplexity once manifested by those listening to Him, when they asked, "Who is this Son of man?" (John 12:34); as it also explains the question of Jesus to the Twelve at Caesarea Philippi, "Who do men say that the Son of man is?" or, as it is in the margin, "that I the Son of man am?" (Matthew 16:13). That He was the Son of man did not evidently mean for all that He claimed to be the Messiah.
3. Expressive of Identification with Men in Sympathy, Fortunes and Destiny:
But when we try to realize for what reasons Jesus may have picked this name out from all which presented themselves to Him in His intimate and loving survey of the Old Testament, it is difficult to resist the belief that a third and the principal reason was because it gave expression to His sense of connection with all men in sympathy, fortunes and destiny. He felt Himself to be identified with all as their brother, their fellow-sufferer, their representative and champion; and, in some respects, the deepest word He ever spake was, "For the Son of man also came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many" (Mark 10:45 parallel).
4. Speculations (Lietzmann, Wellhausen, etc.) on Aramaic Meaning: These Rejected (Dalman, etc.):
In 1896, Hans Lietzmann, a young German scholar, startled the learned World with a speculation on the "Son of man." Making the assumption that Aramaic was the language spoken by Jesus, he contended that Jesus could not have applied to Himself the Messianic title, because there is nothing corresponding with it in Aramaic. The only term approximating to it is barnash, which means something very vague, like "anyone" or "everyman" (in the sense of the old morality play thus entitled). Many supposed Lietzmann to be arguing that Jesus had called Himself Anyone or Everyman; but this was not his intention. He tried to prove that the Messianic title had been applied to Jesus in Asia Minor in the first half of the 2nd century and that the Gospels had been revised with the effect of substituting it for the first personal pronoun. But he failed to show how the manuscripts could have been so universally altered as to leave no traces of this operation, or how, if the text of the New Testament was then in so fluid a state as to admit of such a substitution, the phrase should not have overflowed into other books besides the Gospels. Although the hypothesis has secured wide attention through being partially adopted by Wellhausen, whose view is to be found in Skizzen und Vorarbeiten, VI, and at p. 66 of his Commentary on Mark, it may be reckoned among the ghosts which appear for an hour on the stage of learning, attracting attention and admiration, but have no permanent connection with the world of reality. Dalman, the leading authority on Aramaic, denies the foundation on which the views of both Lietzmann and Wellhausen rest, and holds that, had the Messianic title existed, the Aramaic language would have been quite capable of expressing it. And in 1911 Wellhausen himself explicitly admitted this (Einleitung in die drei eraten Evangelien(2), 130).
Seethe books on New Testament Theology by Weiss, Beyschlag, Holtzmann, Feine, Schlatter, Weinel, Stevens, Sheldon; and on the Teaching of Jesus by Wentit, Bruce, Dalman; Abbott, The Son of Man, 1910; very full bibliography in Stalker, The Teaching of Jesus concerning Himself.
(1) In Biblical language the word "son" is used first of all in its strictly literal sense of male issue or offspring of a man or woman. In a few cases in the Old Testament, as in Genesis 3:16 Joshua 17:2 Jeremiah 20:15, the Hebrew word ben, is translated correctly in the English by the word "child" or "children" as it includes both sexes, as in Genesis 3:16, or is limited to males by the use of the modifying term "male." Closely connected with this meaning of direct male issue or of children is its use to denote descendants, posterity in the more general sense. This usage which, as in the case of the sons (children) of Israel, may be regarded perhaps as originating in the conception of direct descent from the common ancestor Israel, came in the course of time to be a mere ethnographic designation, so that the term "the children of Israel" and "the children of Ammon" meant no more than Israelites or Ammonites, that is, inhabitants of the lands of Israel or Ammon respectively. An extension of this usage is to be found in the designation of a people as the sons or children of a land or city; so in Amos 9:7 "children of the Ethiopians," or Ezekiel 16:28, where the literal rendering would be "sons of Asshur," instead of the Assyrians, and "the children of Jerus" in Joel 3:6.
See BAR (prefix); BEN-.
(2) More characteristic of Biblical usage is the employment of the word "son" to indicate membership in a class or guild, as in the common phrase "sons of the prophets," which implies nothing whatever as to the ancestry, but states that the individuals concerned are members of the prophetic guilds or schools. In the New Testament the word "sons" (huioi) in Luke 11:19, rendered "children" in Matthew 12:27 the King James Version, means, not physical descendants, but members of the class or sect; according to Matthew the Pharisees, who were attacking Christ.
(3) The word "son" is used with a following genitive of quality to indicate some characteristic of the person or persons described. In the English the word "son" is usually omitted and the phrase is paraphrased as in 2 Samuel 3:34, where the words translated "wicked men" in the King James Version mean literally, sons or children of wickedness. Two examples of this usage may be cited: the familiar phrase "sons of Belial" in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 15:13 the King James Version, and often), where the meaning is simply base or worthless fellows (compare Numbers 24:17, margin "children of Sheth" (Expository Times, XIII, 64b)); and in the New Testament the phrase "sons of thunder," which is given in Mark 3:17 as the explanation of the epithet "Boanerges." This use is common in the New Testament, as the phrases "children of the kingdom," "children of light," etc., indicate, the general meaning being that the noun in the genitive following the word children indicates some quality of the persons under consideration. The special phrases "Son of man" and "Son of God" are considered in separate articles.
See also RELATIONSHIPS, FAMILY.
Walter R. Betteridge
HESED, SON OF
MAN, SON OF
See SON OF MAN.
Son (25967 Occurrences)
Son appears 25967 times in 12 translations.
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