What is the difference between the phrases: the son of man and the son of God?

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Jesus referred to Himself as the “son of man” over 85 times in the New Testament. This was a direct quotation to the prophecy of Daniel that says, “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 peoples, nations and men 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). By referring to Himself with this title, Jesus wanted the Jews to see Him as the One who was given dominion and glory and the kingdom, thus, fulfilling the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament.

The phrase “Son of Man” also means that Jesus was truly a human being. At the incarnation, the Son of God took upon Himself the form of humanity (John 1:1–4, 12, 14; Phil. 2:7; Heb. 2:14) and became the Son of man (Mark 2:10), so uniting divinity with humanity by a tie which will never be broken. John the beloved tells us that Jesus came in the flesh as a human being “By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God” (1 John 4:2).

At the same time, Jesus was the Son of God and the essence of God “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being” (Hebrews 1:3). It is a most comforting thought to the repentant sinners to know that their representative before the Father is “One like” themselves, One who was in all points tempted like as they are and who is touched with the feeling of their infirmities (Heb. 4:15).

Jesus was not God’s Son in the sense of a human father and a son for God did not get married and have a son. Jesus is God’s Son in that He was conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit. Luke 1:35 declares, “The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.’”

Jesus admitted that He is the Son of God. At His trial, the High Priest asked Him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God” (Matthew 26:63). “’Yes, it is as you say,’ Jesus replied. ‘But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven’” (Matthew 26:64). The Jewish leaders responded by charging Jesus of blasphemy (Matthew 26:65-66). Later, before Pilate, “The Jews insisted, ‘We have a law, and according to that law He must die, because He claimed to be the Son of God’” (John 19:7). Why would His claiming to be the Son of God be taken as blasphemy and be worthy of death? The Jewish leaders clearly understood that to be the Son of God is to claim divinity.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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