Today we look at the Epistle, Revelation 1:4–18, specifically verse 13, in which the term “son of man” is used to refer to Jesus. Our devotion is from Concordia Commentary: Revelation.
Though the title “son of man” is used in Ezekiel as an appellation of the prophet, identifying him as a spokesman for God, it is chiefly the use of the term in Daniel that gives the theological background for its usage in the NT. Already in the intertestamental period, a theology of the Son of Man developed. For example, 1 Enoch comments on and interprets the Son of Man described in Dan 7:13–14. The Son of Man represents the Ancient of Days and rules God’s people on his behalf. The Son of Man’s preexistence is affirmed, he is identified as the Anointed One (Messiah), and he will be the light of the Gentiles. He is also identified with Wisdom and will be in charge of the resurrection and the judgment.
When Jesus began to call himself the “Son of Man,” the term already had a theological meaning within Judaism. It was the favorite title that Jesus used when speaking of himself in the third person. It appears some eighty-eight times in the NT, eighty-four of which appear in the four gospels and two in Revelation (1:13 and 14:14). In the gospels, it is used in connection with all of Christ’s ministry, but in particular in connection with statements that say that because of his death and resurrection he will come again in judgment. Jesus’ use of this title to identify himself and his ministry expresses that he is the fulfillment of the prophetic picture and word of the Son of Man in the OT. It also invites hearers to recognize him as such. He is the man whom God had chosen to take Israel’s place, and also that of the Gentiles, and to represent them before God. He is the one who established God’s kingdom, incorporating into it both Jews and Gentiles, and he did this by his own death and resurrection.
The OT roots, the intertestamental Jewish development, and the self-revelation of Jesus testified to in the NT all lead one to see that when the title “Son of Man” is applied to Jesus, the God-man, it emphasizes how he represents God’s people as he establishes for them God’s kingdom, and he also rules God’s people (and judges the whole world) by the authority of and on behalf of God the Father. These are the very emphases of Dan 7:13–14, the seminal passage that narrates how “one like a Son of Man” approached “the Ancient of Days” and received from him “authority, glory, and kingship” to the end that those from all peoples of the earth who are brought into his eternal kingdom will worship him forever and ever.
Devotional reading is adapted from Concordia Commentary: Revelation, pages 54–55 © 1999 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Hymn is “Built on the Rock” from The Concordia Children’s Choir Book, Volume 2: Six Settings for Reformation © 2016 Concordia Publishing House.