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Who is the One like a Son of Man in Daniel 7:13?

One like a Son of Man

In Daniel 7, Daniel records a dream and visions of four beasts, a King referred to as the Ancient of Days, and a person described as “One like a Son of Man” (Daniel 7:13, NASB 1977). The vision constitutes a sweeping panorama of future events that cause Daniel to be “troubled in spirit” (Daniel 7:15).

The four beasts in Daniel’s vision come up from the sea (Daniel 7:3). The first was like a lion having wings of an eagle. After its wings were plucked, it stood up as a human and was given a human heart (Daniel 7:4). A second was like a bear raised up on one side, had three ribs between its teeth, and was directed to eat much meat (Daniel 7:5). The third beast was like a leopard but had four wings and four heads, and it was given dominion (Daniel 7:6). The fourth was terrifying and had iron teeth and ten horns, and one horn arose having eyes and a boastful mouth (Daniel 7:7–8). Daniel was alarmed by these beasts, and it was told him that they were four kings (Daniel 7:17). But the kingdoms of these four kings would not last, because of the Ancient of Days and the One like the Son of Man.

At the end of Daniel’s vision of the four beasts, he saw the Ancient of Days take His seat on a throne on fire. He was clothed in white and had hair like wool (Daniel 7:9). It seems that He sat in judgment, putting an end to the kingdoms and particularly the boastful horn of the fourth beast (Daniel 7:11–12). Daniel then observed One like a Son of Man coming to the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:13). To the One like a Son of Man was given an eternal dominion to rule all peoples (Daniel 7:14). His kingdom would be indestructible. This vision is similar to the one Nebuchadnezzar had in Daniel 2 that described four kingdoms on earth, ruling until God set up an eternal kingdom on earth (Daniel 2:44–45).

Daniel’s visions revealed that One like a Son of Man would have an everlasting kingdom. It is no coincidence that the title Jesus most often used in reference to Himself in the Gospels was Son of Man. In one pivotal conversation, Jesus asked His disciples who the Son of Man was (Matthew 16:13–15). Peter affirmed that Jesus—the Son of Man—was the Christ, the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:16). Jesus affirmed that He would one day return and bring His kingdom (Matthew 16:27–28). John later wrote of the One like the Son of Man (Revelation 1:13) who had died and was alive forevermore (Revelation 1:18). This One commissioned John to write the book of Revelation. That final book of the Bible describes how the Son of Man is revealed, how He judges, and how He returns to establish His kingdom on earth. The Ancient of Days is God the Father (compare Daniel’s description of the Ancient of Days in Daniel 7:9 with Revelation 4:2—5:1, for example), and He gives the kingdom to His Son—the Son of Man. See also Psalm 2.

Jesus is the Son of God. One of many aspects and expressions of that relationship with His Father is the fact that He was conceived not of a man but of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:20). Jesus was also the Son of Man in the sense that He was born in the line of David. He was also often called the Son of David (for example, in Luke 1:32 and Romans 1:3). God had promised to David that there would be an eternal king in his line (2 Samuel 7:16). The Son of God is the Son of Man and the Son of David. Jesus has all three titles and is the One who is worthy to be the King.

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Who is the One like a Son of Man in Daniel 7:13?
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This page last updated: October 18, 2022