• prepared by Chong Ho Yu

A. Jesus as the Son of Man:

In the Gospels this term is used 81 times (some says 78 times) and never used by anyone except Jesus. The title "son of man" denotes the following meanings:

  • Jesus as the Messiah, Lord and Sovereign King: Matt 12:8, Matt 13:41, Luke 18:31

    Jesus was intended to use the title "son of man" to substitute "Messiah" though He is the Christ, because at that time most people expected their Messiah to be a political and military leader who could free them from the Roman rule.

  • Jesus as the Returning Judge and King: Daniel 7:13-14, Matt 24:30, Mark 14:62

    In the Old Testament, the phrase "son of man" is applied to Ezekiel and Daniel. In the book of Daniel, the "son of man" is portrayed as a returning king who will judge and rule the whole world.

  • Jesus as a humble human: Matt 8:20, Matt 11:19, Mark 9:12, Phil 2:5-11

    Non-believers always argue "Can God create a rock that He cannot move?"

    This is exactly what our God is! God can create a giant rock, of course, but He can impose limitations on Himself by not moving it, just like:

    • God is omnipotent and all-knowledgeable, but Jesus is finite (Mark 13:32).
    • God is eternal but Jesus died.
    • God is self-sufficient but Jesus was vulnerable to hunger and fatigue.
    • God is the image-less spirit, but the Word becomes Flesh (John 1).

    • Jesus is subject to the law of human psychology (Matt 26:39, 42, 44; Matt 21:12 Matt 16:23; John 2:4)

      Dietrich Bonhoeffer (German theologian): "He was continually engaged in struggle. He did things which outwardly sometimes looked like sin. He was angry, he was harsh to his mother, he evaded his enemies, he broke the law of his people, he stirred up revolt against the rules and the religious men of his country."

      Werner Elert (German theologian): "Christ was born under the law (Gal. 4:4). He was born under the laws of space and of time. He was under the law of biology, for he hungered and thirsted. He also lived under the law of psychology, for he could be angry, he could be love, he could cry, and he could be filled with anxiety.

    • Jesus fought against temptations and sins with His true human nature

      I am a "Trekky"--Star Trek fan. Whenever Enterprise is in danger, I know that neither Captain Picard nor any main characters would die. The script has been written in the way that the crew could overcome any threat no matter what happens. The so-called "victory" is just a play because the chance of failure is zero. If the resistance against temptation by Jesus is also a play and Jesus would win no matter what Satan do, then his so-called triumph is also meaningless. I believe that Jesus overcame human weaknesses with his full human nature and there is a possibility that Jesus could fail. Because the probability of failure exists, the triumph is true rather than just a play.

      Karl Barth (founder of dialectic theology): Christ took actual sinful human nature in order to come to where we are to save us...Without Jesus Christ we cannot determine the true option among the many options. In the humanity of Jesus Christ God has revealed what it is to be a true person.

      When Jesus counteracted the temptation from Satan, He did struggle by his full human nature. If He would not lose anyway, then He was just acting and the victory is meaningless. Because He could lose but he didn't, the victory is a true victory.

    • Jesus achieved the status of true and perfect human through a long time struggling (Philippians 2:6-11)

      It is a human route to be born, to grow, to advance, and to be perfected. Luke described Jesus childhood as "increase in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man." (2:52). Jesus did not come to this world as an adult and implement His salvation plan instantly. Instead, it took Jesus thirty years to prepare for his ministry.

    • The meaning of Jesus as the Son of Man

      Blaire Pascal (philosopher and scientist): Not only do we understand God only through Jesus Christ, but we understand ourselves only through Jesus Christ."

      To realize that Jesus was once as human as you and me, we know that he is able to share his sympathy with our suffering (Hebrews 4:15, 5:2).

B. Jesus as the Lord :

LORD in capitals represents Jehovah (YHWH, Yahweh, the self-existent One). When the lord is in lower case, it is "Adonai," which means a leader or a Prince. In Matthew the term "lord" is the Greek word Kurios. It is applied to both men and God. It means "master" and "owner," who has absolute control over the subordinates. In the New testament Kurios (lord) are used 650 times referring to God (e.g. John 20:28).

C. Jesus as the Son of God:

There are two views to the term "Son of God" in the Old testament:

  • "Son of god" is a title given to the angels, the Chosen People, the children of Israel and their kings. This title does not necessarily mean a divine one.

  • In Hebrew usage the phrase "son of x" meant of the order of. "Son of God" means "God." (John 5:18-23)

The second interpretation is more applicable to Jesus. Jesus was sentenced to death because He asserted that he is the "Son of God," which was perceived as a proclamation of the equality with God (Luke 22:70, Matt 26:64, Mark 14:61-62).


Bock, E. (1986). Moses: from the mysteries of Egypt to the judges of Israel. Edinburgh: Billing and Sons.

Mankind's search for God (1990). Brooklyn, N.Y.: Watch Tower.

Migliore, D. L. (1992). Faith seeking understanding. Grand Rapids, MI: Williams B. Eerdmans.

Recommended further reading

Kaiser, C. B. (1982). The doctrine of God : an historical survey. Westchester, Ill. : Crossway Books .

McGrath, A. (1990). Understanding doctrine: Its relevance and purpose for today. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Wells, D. F. (1984). The person of Christ: a biblical and historical analysis of the incarnation. Westchester, Ill.: Crossway Books.