A Bible study from Faithbuilders Fellowship.
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"THE SON OF MAN"

JESUS OFTEN referred to Himself under the chosen and preferred title, "the son of man." Nothing in Jewish history indicates that the common people saw any prophetic significance in those words. There is no suggestion that when "son of man" was heard it was understood as instead of, or in place of the title 'Messiah.' Nor is there any indication in Scripture that through His frequent use of "the son of man" title Jesus intended that the Jews would eventually come to learn that He was the Messiah. As He said later to Peter, an understanding that Jesus was the Messiah came through revealment by His heavenly Father. (Matt. 16:16,17) Even after He was acclaimed king by the people, what Jesus said would happen to "the son of man" seemed incompatible with the ir Messianic expectations. -- John 12:13,34

Study of Scripture surely made Jesus aware of the manner in which God had addressed Ezekiel. That faithful human servant received instructions over 90 times under the 'Son of man' title. This gave dignity and meaning to the title. When "the son of man" expression was heard by alert Hebrews, they thought of a faithful, responsive servant of God. This was reason enough for Jesus to use that title. Of course He could have referred to Himself as "the Son of God," for indeed God was His father. (Matt. 4:3,6 ) But Jesus must have realized that those words would have quickly brought upon Him the full enmity of Israel's corrupt and suspicious leaders.

The life and times of Ezekiel contain several parallels to that of Jesus, a fact which may have inclined Jesus to adopt this title. Ezekiel was, more than others, God's prophet to a people in captivity. And Jesus surely was God's servant on behalf of a larger family bound in captivity to the law of sin and death under the oppression of a potent adversary, Satan, the devil. Ezekiel's vision of God's throne, possibly shown in greater detail to him than to other prophets, strengthened his faith and increased his will to continue in divine service. Likewise, the unfolding of God's will and plan to Jesus through the unmeasured holy spirit inspired Him to faithfulness. (John 3:34) The LORD's assignments to Ezekiel were laid out in considerable detail, and he complied with great intensity. The experiences of Jesus in the months of His service before He first referred to Himself under this title, must have made our Master aware of how similar to His had been the duties of Ezekiel. Practically all of the divine instructions received by Ezekiel were addressed to him as "thou son of man," or "O son of man," or "Son of man," and the same privileges and reponsibilities were also laid upon Jesus. The ones listed below are modified and brief. Citations following the extracts identify: a) similar expressions in other prophecies; or b) similar service, teaching, or response by Jesus, who must have noted the spirit of God's commands to Ezekiel; or c) similar principles expressed by New Testament writers; or d) concepts which every faithful disciple of Jesus Christ should endeavor to imitate.

Ezekiel

The principles in the above commands addressed to Ezekiel as "Son of man" suggest that the heavenly Father intended they also be instruction to future servants. Through them, God conveyed special information to Jesus, and expressed principles and duties for the guidance of all who become disciples of His Son.

The New Testament authors usually wrote in Greek "son of the man" to record that expression of our Master. However, the Greek language does not demand insertion of the definite article 'the' in "son of man." This is evidenced by Heb. 2:6 (which is a quotation from Psalm 8), John 5:27, Rev. 1:13 and 14:14, in all of which the Greek anthropou, man, is anarthrous (without the definite article).< 1>

The life of Jesus makes apparent that as a human servant He kept and fulfilled every aspect of God's will for Him. No other human servant could have done this. All others inherited sin, were themselves undone, imperfect, unrighteous. But here was "the son of man," a perfect human son of God, truly and wholly man, possessing a relationship to the human race through His mother Mary. The genealogy of Luke 3:35-38 serves specifically to document this relationship. He was thus able to offer himself as a corresponding price for the man Adam, to be Redeemer of him and of the entire race of men. God purposed that the Messiah must be flesh and suffer death on the cross. This was made possible by His birth: the Logos was "made flesh." It was through the birth process and subsequent growth to maturity that the prophecy was fulfilled as worded in the Septuagint: "a body hast thou prepared me." --Isaiah 40:5, Hebrews 10:5

Other important relationships were enabled by His birth through Mary, but that human birth in itself did not meet all that was required of Him to inherit His future glory. The promised "son of David" was to be a king who would sit upon the prophetic throne of David, and He must be out of David's loins. But such son must first be qualified, prepared, developed. God must see evidence before exalting Him, that Christ Jesus would function loyally in kingly service on the plane of divine glory. To become the "seed" of the woman (Gen. 3:15), Jesus must when on earth demonstrate full obedience to God, that He was worthy to receive the "all power" which would be given to Him at His resurrection. And this He did demonstrate by His faithfulness unto death. The same principle is involved in the necessity that Jesus qualify to be "the seed of Abraham." Merely as the son of Mary, Jesus could not be that promised 'seed' (Gal. 3:16,19) and the agent through whom would come God's blessing of all the families of the earth. First He must overcome trial and temptation. And the elect church shares in the activities to be accomplished through the promised seed. "If ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed."--Gal. 3:29

We will more fully appreciate "the son of man" expression by realizing that each time Jesus referred to Himself by it, He indicated a resolve to continue His ministry in faithful, obedient sacrifice. The title spoke of His humanity, of His flesh which He gave for the life of the world. And His future existence and extended privileges depended upon fulfillment of all that was required of "the son of man" when on earth.

Messiah Identifies Himself

Jesus realized that He must not at once openly claim to be Israel's promised Messiah, or claim to be the Son of God, lest enmity against Him reach its zenith prematurely. When He delivered the demoniac from the power of his possessors, the demons identified Jesus, whereupon our Master immediately silenced them. (Luke 4:35) The first recorded acknowledgement which our Master was pleased to hear--that He was indeed the Messiah promised--was in Samaria. It followed a conversation with the Samaritan woman in which Jesus said He was Christ (John 4:26,29); and the hearing "of His own word" by others upon which many believed. (John 4:41,42) But although comparatively early in our Master's ministry, that truth may not have been widely circulated because Galileeans avoided contact and intercourse with the people of Samaria.

The first instance of record in which Jesus applied to Himself the expression "the son of man" is in His discussion with the timid Pharisee, Nicodemus. The passage is John 3:13,14, four words of which are generally agreed to be spurious.< 2> "And no man hath ascended up to heaven, but He that came down from heaven, even the Son of man. And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up." These words apply the expression to Himself as a servant. They mark Him as the Calvary sacrifice, and also identify Him as the Logos who served God before the days of His flesh. It is a testimony of His prior existence and service in God's heaven, of His invisible interaction between heaven and earth, and of His knowledge of heavenly things. Though acknowledging Jesus as "a teacher come from God," Nicodemus was unable to believe all that Jesus told him. Because of this he did not receive the commendatory assurance which Peter heard after his revealing confession in Matt. 16:17 some time later.

Jesus performed many miracles throughout Galilee and in Capernaum, probably the place mentioned as "His own city" (Matt. 9:1), and where He was "at home." (Mark 2:1) He relieved many who were beset with devils, dispelled the fever of Peter's mother-in-law, healed the diseased, and cleansed a leper. To such an extent did His activities draw the multitude that He "could no more openly enter the city, but was without in desert places." (Mark 1:45) On a subsequent visit to Capernaum, a palsied man was let down through the house roof, the crowd being so great as to block normal entry. Seeing such faith, Jesus "said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee." (Mark 2:5) Some scribes, upon hearing this statement, accused Jesus of blasphemy, reasoning that only God could forgive sins. Perceiving their thoughts, Jesus inquired of them which was easier, "to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk?" Jesus knew, of course, that all would agree that greater power was required to enable Him to walk. And to have them "know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins," He did that which was considered the greater. He enabled the sick man to arise, pick up his bed roll, and go "forth before them all."

Forgiveness of Sins

This was a very important event in our Master's ministry. Forgiveness of sins was the basic objective of his visit to earth. The forgiveness of sins which He would grant based upon His atonement sacrifice was according to the faith of those involved -- their faith in His sacrifice of His human life. Jesus was then in the process of making that sacrifice. Not long after this occasion, He expressed the basic truth regarding His mission. "The bread that I will give is My flesh, which I will give for the life of the world." (John 6:51, Matt. 20:28) Every work which Jesus would undertake for His heavenly Father in the future would depend upon His success in His present rescue mission to earth. On this first expression of His authority to forgive sins in the earth He chose again to identify Himself as "the son of man."

The Apostle John realized it was of vital importance to their own salvation that every believer recognize why Jesus was flesh and blood. To deny that God's Son was "made flesh" (John 1:14) would be a denial of the entire process of atonement by which God purposed reconcilation between Himself and mankind. Because of its importance, John put forth his understanding in very plain words, meaning exactly what he wrote. "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not Jesus [as having been flesh] is not of God: and this is that of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come: and even now already is it in the world."--1 John 4:1-3

In that passage John explains that the holy spirit of truth confesses, testifies, agrees that God did send Jesus Christ, who is come in flesh to make a sacrifice of His human life. If one disavows this to be true; if one disavows that Jesus took upon Himself the form of a servant (Phil. 2:7), for the suffering of death (Heb. 2:9); if one says that Jesus came with flesh but not in flesh (John 1:14); if one believes that Jesus when on earth before He died was a spirit being housed in flesh rather than being flesh (2 Cor. 5:10); then, John taught, that one is not confessing the truth of God. The apostolic explanation means that such belief is not in harmony with the purpose and work of Christ, hence is a doctrine in opposition to Christ. His conclusion regarding those who hold such views is that whether or not they realize it, they are actually believing contrary to what Scripture says is the service of Christ in God's plan, and hence they are "anti-Christ."

His repetition of this teaching in 2 John 7 does not suggest that the Apostle felt he previously had not taught clearly. How could it have been written more plainly? The restatement of this truth indicates that some had not accepted the Apostle's teaching.

Activities of "the Son of Man"

Recall the sabbath occasion when Jesus and His disciples ate grain crushed in their hands as they passed through a field. The law allowed this (Deut. 23:25), but some claimed they broke God's law in doing it on a sabbath. Jesus inquired of His accusers if they had not read how David "when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him; how he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone?" (Luke 6:3,4) He further testified on that occasion that "The sabbath was made for man, and not man for the sabbath." (Mark 2:27) He showed that the absence of reprimand or recompense demonstrated that the eating of the shewbread by David had not really broken God's law. Therefore Jesus did not break God's law, nor did He teach men to break it.--Matt. 5:19

Our Lord reminded the Pharisees of activities which proved Him innocent of their accusations. He inquired, "Have ye not read in the law, how that on the Sabbath days the priests in the temple profane the sabbath, and are blameless?" (Matt. 12:5-8) This referred to priestly labors required by the sabbath-day change of shewbread (Lev. 24:8,9), and to the additional sacrifices which the priests were obliged to offer on the sabbath day. (Num. 28:9,10) He also reminded them that when a male child's eighth day happened to fall on a sabbath, the temple priests had to perform circumcision on a sabbath. (John 7:22,23) "And," He added, referring to Himself, "I tell you a greater thing is here than the temple." (Matt. 12:6 Marshall Interlinear) Jesus, in His prehuman existence as the Logos of glory, instituted God's legal ordinances to Israel through Moses. It was not because of this, however, that He proclaimed Himself "Lord of the sabbath." It is because He was present as a perfect human son of God, anointed with God's holy spirit, having authority to represent the really vital elements of man's relationship to God, that He could truly say, "the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath."--Mark 2:28

The only begotten son of God served His eternal Father from every plane of nature on which He lived. For each service He received not only a different body, but a body appropriate to the accomplishing of the assigned service. First He had spiritual lif e and glory. Next, He "emptied Himself, taking the form of a slave, becoming in likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient until death, and death of a cross." (Phil. 2:7,8 Marshall Interlinear) Soon after d eath, He received life again, given by the resurrection from the dead of the being in which every life process had ceased. This was a reward for His great faithfulness even unto the death of the cross.

"The Son of man" title is used by our Master as applying to Himself in practically all of His activities after having come to earth in the flesh. It was "the son of man" who was the sower of seed. He promised to intercede with God on behalf of all who accepted Him in faith--all who endure reproach for "the son of man's sake." (Luke 6:22) "The son of man" would be betrayed; would be delivered up; would be lifted up and suffer; would die and give His life a ransom for many; would be raised again on the t hird day. Jesus emphasized that His future service and power would be entrusted to Him because of His faithful obedience when here in the earth. He did this by saying that many activities He would accomplish during His rule in heaven would be done by "the son of man." It would be "the son of man" who would sit on the throne of His glory, from which He would draw all men unto Him; it would be "the son of man" who would appear; whose presence would be manifest from the east even unto the west; who would cau se signs; who would be ashamed of all who would be ashamed of Him; who would come in the clouds of heaven at a time not thought; and who would value the little faith then found in the earth.

The answer of the disciples to the question Jesus put to them in Matt. 16:13 makes evident that the Jewish populace did not perceive a connection between "the son of man" and their promised Messiah. Some, they said, thought Jesus was "John the Baptist [back from the dead, as Herod also wondered--Matt. 14:2]: some, Elijah; and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets." There was reason for the questions expressed in John 12:34, and why the Jews did not identify "the son of man" with Messiah. "We have he ard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever [a teaching of Psa. 89:28,29 and 110:4]: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of man." This suggests either that Jesus had just mentioned "the Son of man," though unrecorded in the account, or that His private conversation with Nicodemus had received publicity. (John 3:14) Many were puzzled, hearing One whom they believed to be the Messiah (John 12:13) give assurance of His approaching crucifixion. How could this be? Who is this "son of man" of whom you have spoken?--John 12:34

Sitting as Judge

After His betrayal, Jesus assured His accusing enemies that they would subsequently see Him in a specific action. "Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven." All the synoptic gospels bear this record. (Matt. 26:64, Mark 14:62, Luke 22:69) This important statement was not made to believing disciples. It is not part of that which is often called "our Lord's great prophecy." The activity Jesus here promised they would see Him in, was not the same as that in which He was later seen by Stephen. That disciple saw "the Son of man" standing on the right hand of God. Jesus was there postured as being fully aware of Stephen's experience, an involved participant, an associate in the disciple's perse cution. He sensed, indeed, endured the experience with Stephen, just as later when believers were persecuted by Saul. (Acts 9:4) But Jesus explains to these enemies that when they would see Him, He would be 'sitting.' The implication of this is that He wo uld be 'seen' sitting in judgment. The coming destruction would cause them to see Him and the consequence of His judgment. (Matt. 21:41, 24:2, Luke 23:28-31) "The clouds of heaven" as a symbol represent the trouble and distress by which divine judgments a re executed.< 3> Jesus accompanied those judments--"coming in the clouds of heaven." It was through those judgments that He would be 'seen' by His enemies. In fulfillment of His words, some of the very ones to whom Jesus spoke d id live to witness that devastating judgment, though they never visibly saw Jesus with their physical eyes.< 4>

Of course Jesus would also be seen by His friends, as assured in John 16:16. But His disciples were puzzled by that promise. "What is this that He saith unto us, A little while, and ye shall not see Me: and again, a little while, and ye shall see Me: a nd, Because I go to the Father?" (John 16:17) The beginning fulfillment of this promise came at Pentecost, the first blessing after He had gone "to the Father." Then they 'saw' Him again. But these disciples saw Him with power, bestowing spiritual blessings. What a contrast to the judgment and destruction through which His enemies 'saw' Him!

Spiritual Sight Emphasized

Jesus knew His death would cause His disciples deep sorrow. "But I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice, and your joy no man taketh from you." (John 16:20-22) That joy from knowing He was alive again and that He did see them would soon be surp assed by the Pentecostal joy. (John 16:24-26) This joy would come from an experience deeper than seeing Him before His ascension. (Matt. 28:8, Luke 24:41) "Ye shall see Me, because I go to the Father" (John 16:16,17), points directly to the Pentecostal bl essing and subsequent illumination through the invisible power and influence of God's holy spirit.

The recognition of believers by Jesus, and His confessing before His Father of His followers, is vital to our fellowship with the Father and with the Son. (1 John 1:3,6) We have fellowship with our risen Master when Jesus is 'seen' through spiritual discernment, as encouraged in Hebrews 9:24-28. Note the opening portion of that passage, verses 24-26. "For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us: Nor yet that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest entereth into the holy place every year with blood of others; For then must He often have suffered since the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath H e appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." This passage contains several important points of contrast:

  1. The typical high priest went into the typical Most Holy; whereas Jesus went into heaven itself.

  2. The typical priest took blood of others; whereas Jesus went in with His own blood.

  3. The typical priest, with animal blood, enabled a temporary blessing for Israel; whereas Jesus, with His own blood, enabled the putting away of sin on behalf of all believers in His sacrifice.

  4. Because he brought only a temporary blessing, the typical high priest entered and offered often. But Jesus entered and offered "once for all," obtaining eternal redemption.--Heb. 9:12

  5. Another point, though previously made by the inspired teacher in Heb. 7:26-28, is appropriate to this consideration. The typical high priest went into the Most Holy two times each Atonement Day with the respective bloods of the two slain sin-offeri ng animals, making a separate atonement each time, "first for his own sins, and then for the people's"; but Jesus made one sacrifice and offered His human life value in God's presence only one time. He did not make two atonements, nor did He make a combin ed atonement, for the reason that He had no sin. He made but one atonement, an atonement for "the people." It was not made for "himself." That one offering has made Him "able also to save them to the uttermost [entirely and forever] that come unto God by Him." The Son was "holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners," able by one sacrifice and by one entrance to make the only atonement needed--atonement for "the people." Having had no sin when on earth, and receiving office as high priest upon His re surrection-- "made higher than the heavens"--He needed no atonement. But He did need to "offer up sacrifice< 5>...for the people's" sins, and "this He did once [ephapax, "once for all"] when He offered up Himself."--Heb. 7:27

The Offering of Our Heavenly High Priest

Inasmuch as Jesus did this "once for all," it is obvious that "the son of man" should not offer Himself often, or yearly, and this is clearly stated. "Not...that He should offer Himself often,...for then must He often have suffered from the foundation of the world: but now once in the end of the world hath He appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." (Heb. 9:24-26) Instructive as is this rendering, the Greek contains a further thought. "...but now once at the completion [end] of the ages [Gre ek, aionon] for annulment of sin through the sacrifice of Him, He has been manifested." (Marshall Interlinear) Note the phrase, "the completion of the ages," which suggests that the ages for making sin-atoning sacrifices, typical and antitypical, and for the offering of blood, had then (and the time is confirmed by the word 'now') come to an end. Not only would no further sacrifice for sin be made, but also no offering for sin would ever be made again, for none would ever again be required.

'Sacrifice' and 'offering' appear often in the Hebrews' teaching of atonement truths. The words appear in several forms--sacrificed, sacrifices; offer, offered, offerings. 'Sacrifice' as a verb represents the slaying to effect the shedding of blood.< 6> The use of that sacrificed life after the blood was shed is represented by the word 'offer.' That distinction seems to be pointed out in Psa. 40:6 and Heb. 10:5, where both sacrifice and offering are mentioned in appropriate s equence. The emphasis of Heb. 8:3-6 is that the more excellent ministry of our heavenly high priest involves His offering and service in heaven. The teaching in those verses is founded on the facts presented in Heb. 5:3-6. There it is affirmed that even a s Aaron was called by God to be high priest "to offer for sins," so Jesus did not exalt Himself to His glorious rank, condition and office. It was the Father who glorified the Son and made Him a high priest "for ever after the order of Melchisedec." 'Glor ified,' Heb. 5:5, is from the Greek doxazo, Strong #1392, "to render glorious." God raised Jesus from the dead that He might be this priest--"He that said unto Him, Thou art My Son, to day have I born thee" in resurrection.--Heb. 5:5- 10, Acts 3:13, 13:33

"Offer" is used in an important sense in Heb. 8:3,4. The heavenly priest "for ever after the order of Melchizedec" (Heb. 6:20) was required to have, and indeed did have "somewhat also to offer" in heaven. "If He were on earth, He should not be a priest , seeing that there are priests that offer gifts according to the law." Yet "every high priest is ordained to offer gifts and sacrifices: wherefore it is of necessity that this [high priest] have somewhat also to offer." The evidence is, therefore, that w e have a heavenly high priest who was required to, and who did 'offer' in heaven. He there offered the value of His sacrificed human life as atonement for sin.< 7>

An important distinction between sacrifice and offering is seen in Heb. 9:24-26. There it is written that if Jesus "should offer Himself often," as did the typical high priest when he entered "into the holy place [Most Holy] every year with the blood o f others," "then must He [Jesus] often have suffered since the foundation of the world." 'Offer Himself' is compared to the sprinkling of blood in the typical Most Holy by the typical high priest. The Most Holy represented heaven itself. This comparison e stablishes the distinction between 'suffering' on earth and 'offering' in God's presence in heaven. 'Suffered' is put for His death, and because He need not 'offer' often, He need not die often. While of course He often experienced ignominy and shame, und ergone for His personal development and preparation< 8> for glory, 'suffered'< 9> here speaks of the sacrificial death of His flesh on Calvary, "once for all." Thus was the true redemption provided, fo reknown from the beginning in God's great purpose, the redemption into which all may believe.

Note the assurance that Jesus would not suffer 'often.' Jesus 'suffered' once on Calvary, and Heb. 13:12 affirms its purpose: Jesus, "that He might sanctify the people [not Himself] with His own blood, suffered without the gate." And it was indeed with out the gate that Jesus died, at "the place which is called Calvary," "a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha," "nigh to the city" of Jerusalem. (Luke 23:33, John 19:17,20) Jesus "suffered without the gate" once, not o ften. That death provided the blood of atonement. The LORD seeks no more shedding of atonement blood, because Jesus died "once for all," Greek, ephapax, for the people's sins.-- Heb. 7:27, 10:10

"Once to Die"

The truths mentioned foregoing, clearly taught by New Testament writers, were reasonably and harmoniously foreshown in the typical sacrifices and offerings.

Now consider Heb. 9:27,28. "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment, So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for Him shall He appear the second time without sin unto salvation." This important Biblical statement teaches two things that are true of 'men' and of 'the son of man.'< 10> Not only were both men< 11> and Jesus "appointed to die," but also would their death be followed by judgment. The word 'appointed' is a translation of the Greek word apokeitai, from Strong #606, apokeimai. The word means "reserved for one, awaiting him" (Thayer), and the King James Version uniformly renders its three other uses as "laid up." Adam Cla rke renders apokeitai as "laid before" them. Certainly man was not from creation "appointed to die." He was created perfect and appointed to live if he would remain thankfully obedient. But this text considers man after he disobeyed--in a sinful, condemne d state, needing redemption. All upon whom death passed by the disobedience of one man (Rom. 5:12,19) are "appointed [reserved, awaiting, laid up]...once to die, and after this [death], judgment." After death, judgment would be either manifested or conduc ted.< 12> All who in their present experience with sin and death do not believe into Christ will undergo their own individual trial in the Earthly Kingdom Age. (Rom. 5:12, John 5:28,29, Acts 17:31, 2 Cor. 5:10, Eccl. 12:14, 11: 9) As it pertained to Jesus after His death, and as it pertains to each faithful disciple after his death, 'judgment' means 'decision.'< 12> But all of this is not discussed in Hebrews. The point is merely established that the judgment of imperfect man follows his death, and that the same was true of the perfect and sinless Jesus, who bore the sins of others. This agrees with the argument of Heb. 9:26, that as man dies only once as a result of sin inherited from Adam,< 13> so Jesus suffered but once. Our sins were imputed to Him, that He might bear them away.

The favorable judgment of Jesus was predictable because He kept God's law perfectly. His resurrection was essential to the fulfilling of God's purpose, for a dead Savior could not encourage unto salvation even one repentant sinner. He was "put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit." (1 Pet. 3:18) Now he lives as a divine being, and 'will appear again,' but not as a sinbearer, to all those expecting Him and His forgiveness-of-sins salvation. Note the NAS reading of that portion of Heb. 9:28 : "Christ shall appear< 14> a second time, not to bear sin, to those who eagerly await Him, for salvation." 'Appear' used here is not from the Greek phaneroo or its derivatives, meaning 'being made apparent, manifested, made op en or known.' Nor is it from epiphaneia or its derivatives, meaning manifestation or appearing. Also, it may not be from what Strong lists as #3700. Lexicons show it to be from horao, Strong #3708. Included in its lengthy definitions are: "to discern clea rly (physically or mentally)"--Strong; "to see with the mind, to perceive, know"--Thayer; "figuratively of mental or spiritual perception"--Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich; "used of mental sight, to discern, perceive"--Liddell & Scott. "As seeing Him who is invisi ble," Heb. 11:27, and "for I perceive...", Acts 8:23, illustrate how horao is used in the senses above affirmed.

Consider another feature of Heb. 9:28. Perhaps only the King James Version reads "the second time." That wording has contributed to a common view that the author of Hebrews had in mind the second advent. Moffatt and Smith & Goodspeed translations read 'again,' reflecting the absence in the text of a Greek equivalent for 'time.' There is no inference that the 'salvation' here promised stands for the final deliverance commonly associated with the second advent. On the other hand, many passages do teach t hat the present relationship enjoyed by believers is because we have received salvation.--Luke 19:9, Acts 4:12, 13:26, Rom. 1:16, 10:10, 2 Cor. 6:2, 7:10, Eph. 1:13

A former appearance which preceded the appearing of Jesus "a second time without sin" [without a sin-offering sacrifice] is affirmed in verse 26.< 15> That was when He "appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." In that use, 'appeared' translates a different Greek word, pephanerotai, from phaneroo, Strong #5319. Marshall Interlinear translates pephanerotai into "He has been manifested." The RSV reads, "But now once at the end of the ages hath He been manifested t o put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself." Jesus, who once offered Himself to bear the sins of many, bore them on the tree. Many saw and witnessed. He bore our sins as the great sin bearer. His great sacrifice constitutes the basis of salvation from sin to all who will believe into it. But His flesh, essential for that sacrifice, no longer exists. That body was offered in sacrifice for sin. "That which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be." (1 Cor. 15:37,38) Faith believes not only in Hi s sacrifice, but also in His resurrection. He inherited a spiritual body, not an animal body.--1 Cor. 15:44

The promise of Jesus to His disciples that "ye shall see Me" (John 16:16,17,19), the fulfillment of which started at Pentecost after He went "to the Father" (see under preceding subhead "Spiritual Sight Emphasized"), uses a form of the same Greek word translated "shall appear" in Heb. 9:28. Both are future tense. That early promise to the faltering Hebrews that "Christ...will appear a second time" was an exhortation to the development of faith by and in those not then convinced of our Lord's completed atonement sacrifice nor of His subsequent reward. Not until faith became present within their hearts could Jesus 'appear' to them, so as to be discerned. The Greek word used which promised that Jesus would appear is ophthasetai, passive voice in future te nse. The record of our Lord's promise to Paul at his conversion (Acts 26:16) uses the same root word, in the same passive voice, future tense--"I will appear to thee," Greek ophthasomai.

It is evident that Heb. 9:28 does not teach of the second advent salvation from the fact that those asleep in death, whether of the just who did good, or of the unjust who did evil (John 5:28,29, Acts 24:15), cannot be understood as "eagerly waiting fo r him," RSV. Nor could such representation apply to a faithless society engaged in the normal pursuits of life, who are themselves to be judged. Our Lord has appeared in the sense of this passage ever since Pentecost to all who recognize their need for sa lvation and whose faith enables them to 'see' Him who previously was manifested bearing our sins.

God did in a very real sense send Jesus after His ascension to confirm salvation to believing disciples. This is affirmed by Peter in Acts 3:24-26. The Apostle said that all the prophets who had spoken, beginning with Samuel, foretold "these days"--the days of spiritual privilege then opening. "Unto you first God, having raised up His servant, sent Him to bless you, in turning every one of you from his iniquities." And only because this obedient servant was raised up in resurrection glory, and because God sent Him to bless, has He appeared "a second time" to them and to us for salvation.

Let all rejoice who see Him as our risen Savior; who see Him because He has appeared to us who have looked for Him. Let us continue daily to so look with rejoicing hearts, expecting fulfillment of all the exceeding great and precious promises.

Summary

God named Ezekiel "Son of man" perhaps specially to direct the close attention of "the Son of God" to the severe and special responsibilities assigned to that prior prophet. Jesus was called upon to obey fully in similar activities. Our Master's repeated application to Himself of "the Son of man" title emphasized His teaching that He was man, and that His ransom purchased the entire race of mankind.

Fulfillment of many prophecies pertaining to Messiah required that He be flesh and be the 'son' or 'seed' of former servants. His human birth was the first step in attaining the Messianic offices. Most of the categories of service mentioned in the Bibl e applicable to Jesus on earth and in heaven He acknowledged under the title "the Son of man." His most important function may be "forgiveness of sins."

Jesus kept His promise to be 'seen' by His enemies. He did come "in the clouds of heaven" at the destruction of Jerusalem. (Matt. 26:64) Keeping His promise to His disciples also, Jesus has brought joy and peace to every believer, receiving us into His spiritual presence. Therefore we now have fellowship "in the heavenlies" (Eph. 2:6) with the Father and with the Son.

Full atonement has enabled this fellowship, because He first suffered once on earth, and then offered once in heaven. This reconciliation was accomplished by our heavenly high priest after the order of Melchizedec. (Heb. 5:5,6, 6:20) No other sacrifice is necessary or contributory to authorize full atonement for all mankind. His appearance after sacrifice for salvation to all those expecting it continues to all whose faith enables them to discern His victory and power and love.

NOTES

  1. (to page 3) Translational authority indicates Dan. 7:13 should read "like unto a son of man..."--Young, Fenton, Leeser, Rotherham, Smith & Goodspeed, ASR, RSV, NAS, Amplified, NIV

  2. (to page 5) The last four words of John 3:13, "which is in heaven," would not have been spoken by Jesus, who was then on earth. They do not appear in "the oldest and best manuscripts."--F. Fenton

  3. (to page 9) Judges sit, not stand, in judgment. They are seated on thrones or seats. In the King James translation, every appearance of seat, seats, throne, and thrones in the book of Revelation is from one Greek noun, thronos, Stro ng #2362.

  4. (to page 9) The implications of the manner in which Jesus was later seen by those very enemies in fulfillment of His promise deserves full consideration. It is pertinent to all other prophecies touching the appearing of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. No prophecy may teach that the glorified Jesus will be literally seen with physical sight by people on earth.--John 14:19, 1 John 3:2

  5. (to page 10) 'Sacrifice' is a translation of the Greek noun, thusia, Strong #2378, "sacrifice (the act or the victim, lit. or fig.)" It is translated only sacrifice or sacrifices in the King James Version. Jesus offered up Himself. In Rom. 12:1, Phil. 2:17, 4:18, Heb. 13:15,16, 1 Pet. 2:5, thusia relates to believers.

    Quite incidentally, 'offered' in Heb. 7:27 is from the Greek anaphero, Strong #399, not evident from the Strong Concordance itself.

  6. (to page 11) The Greek verb thuo, Strong #2380, "to rush (breathe hard, blow, smoke), i.e. (by impl.) to sacrifice," used 14 times, is in the King James Version translated five times into some form of the word 'sacrifice,' and nine times into some form of 'kill' or 'slay.' Only once has this word been used with an antitypical significance: "For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us." (1 Cor. 5:7) "Without shedding of blood is no remission" of sins is a firm Bible teaching th at refers only to the sacrifice of Christ Jesus our Lord. (Heb. 9:22) While Christian sacrifice is a vital aspect of discipleship, writers of New Testament Scripture apparently saw appropriate to use thuo with antitypical meaning only regarding the ransom sacrifice of God's beloved Son, slain to enable remission of sins.

  7. (to page 11) Unfortunately, sometimes the concept of 'offer' as taught in Heb. 9:25,26 and Heb. 8:3,4 is not clearly discerned. Instead, it has been widely but nonetheless inharmoniously suggested that 'offer' means 'slay' or 'sacri fice,' and that the members of the spiritual body of Christ present themselves to Jesus, who then 'sacrifices' (slays) them either as the completion of His, or as an additional, sin-offering sacrifice. But this is not how our heavenly high priest met His obligation to 'offer.' In both passages noted above, the 'offering' of the value of His atonement blood was made in heaven by our heavenly high priest, as in the type it was offered in the Most Holy, which represented heaven itself.

    It is not suggested that 'offer' means solely and only the presenting of the value of atonement blood in heaven. The twin concepts--first, making the sacrifice, and second, offering the atoning value in God's presence--are sometimes combined. This use may be illustrated in Heb. 7:27, 9:14 and 28.

  8. (for page 12) "The body of Christ" denotes believers in Christ united together, with Jesus as their instructor and head. 1 Cor. 12:27 is the only passage using that phrase which applies to this important oneness. Christians are ther efore called a body, but they are not connected to the flesh of Jesus in the sense some imagine. Consideration of this verse and its context, and of 1 Cor. 12:12, 2 Cor. 1:21, and 1 John 2:20,27 indicates that the Apostle refers to an anointed body or gro up of believers. The Greek text for 1 Cor. 12:27 holds no definite article, and two interlinearies read "a body of Christ." The thought conveyed by the spurious portion of Eph. 5:30, "of His flesh and of His bones," is not valid. God purposed "from the fo undation of the world" (Eph. 1:4) to bring "many sons unto glory." Faithful overcomers will serve with Jesus by privilege, according to the quality of their diligently-prepared and fully-proved characters. (1 Cor. 15:41) Development through suffering is t he divinely-ordained process, essential for Jesus also, as well as for each believer who accepts Jesus as his living head and teacher.--Heb. 2:10

    Jesus represents Himself as being personally persecuted when such experience is endured by His disciples. (Acts 9:4,5) This evidences the reality of His presence with us, of our living with Him, and the closeness of our spiritual relationship. Every be liever having become of the spiritual "body of Christ" has received of the anointing of the holy spirit (1 John 2:27), and endures some form of persecution, pressures, affliction in the process of his development. No true believer shall be excepted. Reali zing this, the Apostle rejoiced in such evidence of God's privilege to him. "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for His body's sake, which is the church." (Col. 1:24) Paul en dured afflictions in his flesh on behalf of "that which is called out," Young's Analytical Concordance definition of the Greek word ecclesia, translated 'church.' Christ is the example in endurance of affliction, and His church is privileged to fill up th at which He left behind to be endured. Some has remained for every member of Christ's body of true believers to experience. The very processes by which God prepares the church for glory assure this.

    These afflictions are developmental tools for the preparation of the elect. Their daily endurance does not accrue toward, nor prepare antitypical blood for any sin-atonement. The voluntary death of Jesus on Calvary was the sacrifice for sin, and nothin g in addition has been or ever shall be required or sought.

  9. (for page 12) Only five of the 25 Greek words which the King James Version renders into some form of 'suffer,' are pertinent to the Bible doctrine of Christian suffering. A brief consideration of all five words follows:

  10. (to page 12) It is acknowledged that "the son of man" expression does not appear in Heb. 9:27,28. As a matter of fact, except for our Master Himself, Stephen is the only one recorded as having uttered the expression in a non-quotin g situation.

  11. (to page 12) There are several reasons why an interpretation of Heb. 9:27 that 'men,' in the clause "as it is appointed unto men," refers only to certain men--the typical high priests mentioned in verse 25--could not have been mean t by that writer:

  12. (to page 13) The Greek krisis, Strong #2920, is here used: "decision (subj. or obj., for or against); by extens. a tribunal; by impl. justice (spec. divine law)"--Strong. Pertaining to Jesus, and to all faithful disciples, the foll owing definition of 'krisis' from Thayer is most appropriate: "opinion or decision given concerning anything, esp. concerning justice and injustice, right or wrong." Thayer's simple definition, "a trial," would apply to the 'men' in the text, the unbeliev ing world in general.

  13. (to page 13) This has no bearing upon or connection with other Bible teachings relating to the second death. Certainly there is no divine decree that men should die the second death. That expression represents a destruction from wh ich the Bible suggests no recovery.

  14. (to page 13) The King James rendering of three different Greek words, vs. 24, emphanisthenai; vs. 26, pephanerotai; vs. 28, ophthesetai, into the English appear, has obscured the meaning. In verse 24 it is to 'present Himself' befo re God in the heavenly sanctuary; in verse 26, 'has been manifested' on earth (1 Tim. 3:16, 1 John 1:2, 3:2); in verse 28, 'will appear.' The Alexandrian copy and others there add, "by faith."

  15. (to page 13) This statement is made of a faithful servant of God who was fully obedient. There is no inference that sin was present within Him during His preceding appearance, when He was offered to bear the sins of many. (1 John 3 :5) The author apparently copied the Old Testament method, where the single Hebrew word for sin, Strong #2403, khat-tawth, represents 'sin offering.' This is seen first in Exod. 29:14, and it occurs about 60 times in Leviticus alone. Check this out. Notic e the listings in Strong Concordance under 'offering.' No Hebrew word index number appears following many entries. This indicates the absence of any word from which to translate 'offering.' It has been added because its meaning is there. It is not conside red supplied, and thus not italicized in the King James Bible. 'Sin offering' is expressed by the single Hebrew word for sin. This procedure was apparently followed in Heb. 9:28 and 13:11.

How readest thou? It is probable that additional readings of the foregoing discussions with careful consideration of every Bible passage cited will bring a deeper understanding of the thoughts presented. Only when the viewpoints are fully understood is one in a position to properly evaluate whether or not they be true.


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