December 30, 2021

Why Is Ezekiel Repeatedly Called the “Son of Man”?

Nathan W. Bingham & Derek Thomas
Why Is Ezekiel Repeatedly Called the “Son of Man”?

In the Gospels, Jesus often calls Himself the “Son of Man.” Why does God use this title to address the prophet Ezekiel? Today, Derek Thomas helps us understand what “son of man” means in both instances.


NATHAN W. BINGHAM: We’re joined on the Ligonier campus this week by the Senior Minister of the First Presbyterian Church in Columbia, South Carolina, Dr. Derek Thomas. Dr. Thomas, what is the significance of Ezekiel’s being repeatedly called “son of man”?

DR. DEREK THOMAS: This is a great question. My memory tells me that Ezekiel is referred to as the “son of man” some ninety times. This is not something in the dark. This is a biggie. I think it means something different than what it means in the Gospels in reference to Jesus.

Now, Jesus is called the “Son of Man” and the “Son of God.” Up until the late-nineteenth century, even in orthodox Reformed circles, that was interpreted as the “Son of Man” was a reference to His humanity, and the “Son of God” was a reference to His divinity.

These days, nobody believes that, because the “son of man” image is taken from Daniel chapter 7, and the “son of man” idea in Daniel chapter 7 is a divine figure, not a human figure, so that the “son of man” is a reference, a name, ascribing lordship and divinity to Christ.

However, I think in Ezekiel, the reference is to his humanity. He’s a prophet, but he’s also a man. It’s a reminder of his lowliness. In the same way that in Psalm 8, for example, you have, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, that thou visitest him?” I can only quote this from the King James from memory. That’s obviously a reference to man’s frailty, man being created out of the dust of the earth. Why was Ezekiel called the “son of man” and not Jeremiah or Isaiah? I don’t have an answer to that.