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The New Testament Commentary Vol Iii John by B.W. Johnson

Note on |the Son of Man.|

In verse 51 occurs for the first time in the Gospel of John the phrase |the Son of man.| This remarkable designation is the one the Lord usually applies to himself. It occurs thirty times in the Gospel according to Matthew, thirteen times in Mark, twenty-five times in Luke, and twelve times in John. In the Gospels it is never used by the historians or disciples as a designation of Christ, and is used only by the Lord in speaking of himself. Hence, it only occurs once beyond the range of the Gospels, in Acts 7:56, and the Lord never uses it after his resurrection. It will be found that the passages in which the Lord uses the phrase may be grouped into two classes: 1. Those which refer to the earthly work of the Lord during the period of his humiliation, and 2. Those which refer to his future coming in glory. It is used in the present instance in the latter sense. Another striking example of this use is found in Matt.25:31, |When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all his holy angels with him| to take his seat on the throne of judgment. Such passages show that the Son of man is a divine being who shall sit surrounded by angels upon the throne of eternal judgment. The phrase is not an equivalent to the word |Messiah,| or Christ, but one that expresses the universal humanity of our Divine Lord. He describes himself, not as the Son of Mary, nor as the Son of Abraham, but as the Son of man. He appeared upon earth, not as the kindred of the family of Nazareth, or of the Jewish nation, but as the kindred of humanity. He is the brother of the Greek, the Roman, the Gaul, the American, the African, as well as of the Jew. Nor did he ever call himself a Jew, but in all his relations with the Jewish nation he held himself as one not of their race. He always spoke to them, not of our but of your law. And it is as the brother of our race that the Son of man shall judge the world.
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