Jesus As The Son of Man And As the Son Of God

The two descriptive titles of the Lord, the Son of
Man and the son of God, occur in the New Testament
with nearly equal frequency. To the casual reader
they appear to be used interchangeably. Nevertheless
each has its own distinctive meaning and special
usage. That is, wherever the term “Son of Man” is
employed, the subject referred to, both in the
spiritual and literal senses, differs from that which is
treated of when the “Son of God” is mentioned. In
fact, these two titles designate two distinct phases of
the Divine manifestation, which must be clearly seen
before certain important arcana of the Word can be
At first sight we are apt to conclude that the
expression “Son of God” testifies to the fact that the
Lord was conceived of Jehovah, and on the other
hand, the title “Son of Man” gives like testimony that
He was born of woman. This view, however, is
primitive. For as we shall see, the “Son of Man”
involves much more than the fact of ultimate birth
into the world, yet the general idea of an assumption
of the human is not dissociated from it. That is to
say, the “Son of Man” is always employed to express
an idea of the Divine under finite human form. There
can be little doubt, however, but that the origin of the
title arose from the ancient knowledge that the God
of the Universe was, in time, to be born into the world
as a man. In this connection we note that in the most
ancient prophecy concerning the Messiah He was
called the “seed of woman,” (Gen. iii. 15). But so far as
we know He was not called the “Son of Man” either in
the Most Ancient or Ancient Churches, nor yet in the
early stages of the Jewish Church. The historical
appearance is that the title “Son of Man” was a later
derivation from the original expression “Seed of
Woman.” This much is certain, that the prophet
Daniel was the first to employ it as distinctly
descriptive of the Messiah. “I saw in the night visions,
and, behold, one like the son of Man came with the
clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days,
and they brought Him near before Him.” (Daniel vii.
13.) Ever after this the title “Son of Man” was
recognized as a distinct appellation of the Messiah.
When the Lord called Himself by that name, no Jew
of His day was in doubt as to the meaning of His
Before Daniel, several of the prophets, especially
Ezekiel, spoke of themselves as the Son of Man. It is
said in the Writings that they did this because of
their representative character, that is, they, as
prophets, represented the Great Prophet, the Son of
Man, who was to come into the world. It might be
argued from this that before Daniel’s time the “Son of
Man” was recognized as one of the Messianic titles.
This may, of course, be so, but to my mind the
inference is not necessary. However, Daniel’s
employment of the phrase is unmistakable. But, as
before indicated, much more is involved in the usage
of the term than the mere fact that He was born of
Mary. In truth, when that is distinctly referred to, He
is called neither the son of God nor yet the Son of
Man, but the son of Mary, by which title the maternal
human is signified, which had in itself nothing more
of Divinity than that of any other man, but was in all
respects mortal. A true conception of the subject
leads to the conclusion that the Son of Man was no
more born of Mary than was the Son of God. Both are
titles of the Divine Human, which was not only
conceived by also born of Jehovah God. Yet in this
respect there is a marked difference between the Son
of Man and the Son of God, which will become clearer
as our subject progresses.
By these two titles the Divine Human is presented
under two different aspects. Stated in the most
general form the Son of Man signifies the Divine
Human as to Truth, while the Son of God has
reference to the Divine Human as to Good. This is
seen when the subject is viewed under a spiritual
idea, i. e., when the thought of the mortal human is
The distinction here made at first appears abstract,
yet as we shall see it is most definite, and will receive
ample confirmation from the literal usage of the
terms in the New Testament. We gain a more
concrete idea of this distinction when we see that the
Son of Man refers to the Lord as the Word, while the
Son of God has special reference to His Human as
Divine. It can at once be seen that the Word and the
Truth are the same thing. On the other hand, Divine
Good in the Human and the Divinity of the Human
are one idea.
The Son of Man, then, is the Lord as to Truth or as
the Word, but we must think of the Word as
spiritually understood. For the spiritual
understanding of the Word is the true Son of Man,
even as it is the true Word. There is a perfect parallel
between the letter of Scripture and the Human
assumed from Mary, for both by the process of
glorification are put off. The letter of Scripture, in
itself, is only a verbal containant of the Word; even as
the human assumed from Mary was only a mortal
vestment of the Son of Man. Since the Son of Man is
the Word spiritually understood, or the Word as it is
in the heavens, we conclude that the Son of Man is
the Divine Truth as it is received by the angels.
Beginning with the celestial heavens, and coming
down through the successive spheres, there is an
emanation of light from the Divine. This light is the
Divine Truth in the heavens, and by virtue of its
accommodation to human minds it is called the Son
of Man, and this for the obvious reason that such
accommodation is nothing more than a clothing of
the truth with finite forms, ever more gross as it
descends through the several expanses down into the
world where it reaches its finality in the literal
We note that this descending Truth, which in itself
is Divine and Infinite, adds to itself finite forms,
whence it becomes clear that this process not only
involves but is an assumption of the human by the
Divine; for the finite forms assumed by the
descending Truth were human forms taken from the
minds of the angels. In this sense the human was
assumed from the very beginning of creation. The
actual assumption of the flesh, in time, was nothing
more than a furthering and completion of that which
was begun at the first. The Human called the Son of
Man in the heavens was assumed from the beginning,
but the deep fact is that this human was not Glorified
until the assumption had reached the last degree,–
until the Son of Man came into the world.
Then the process of Glorification was instituted from
highests to lowests and from lowests to highests.
The Human was assumed from the beginning. It
has been assumed in all times and it will continue to
be assumed to all eternity. For, under a most exalted
idea, the assumption of the human and the act of
creation are one and the same thing, from which we
draw this conclusion that the coming of the Lord into
the world was involved in and necessitated by the
first act of creation; and, furthermore, that when He
did come, it could only be as the Son of Man, as the
Divine Truth, veiled and accommodated by finite
vessels. Remember the teaching that the Lord
descended as the Divine Truth, yet He did not
separate the Divine Good. This Divine Truth, by
virtue of its finite veilings, subject to mutations and,
in the minds of men, to temptations. Hence the oft-
repeated statement that the Lord as the Son of Man
was tempted and suffered even to the passion of the
cross. He thus suffered because He was the Truth
finited, the Word become flesh. And in His person He
suffered at the hands of the Jews in order that their
treatment of the Word might be thus represented.
This touches upon the grand distinction between
the Son of Man and the Son of God, and gives us the
reason why New Testament so often speaks of the
suffering of the one, but never of the other. The point
is that Truth clothed with finite forms can be
afflicted, but not Good, especially the Divine Good
signified by the Son of God. Truth can be afflicted,
even such truth as that which is in the heavens.
Therefore the Son of Man underwent temptations
much deeper than the sufferings of the mortal
human. This human endured toil and pain even to
the anguish of death. But his real temptations,–those
by which the heavens were purified, the world of
Spirits cleansed, and the hells subdued,–He
sustained in His character of the Son of Man, the
Truth, the Word. Yet it would not be right to exclude
the sufferings of the mortal part and say that these
had no reference to the process of Glorification. On
the contrary, they afforded the material basis for
every affliction, however internal. For while the Son of
Man, strictly speaking, is the Truth in the heavens,
yet that term includes the truth in the world, and, in
its broadest sense, the body of the Lord assumed on
the earth.
For this reason we conceive that when the Lord, as
the Son of Man, was tempted, there was conflict
throughout the whole sphere of creation, for such is
the range of the truth called the Son of Man. When
He was Glorified, as the result of His final temptation
on the cross, the heavens trembled, the earth quaked,
and the veil in the temple of Jerusalem was rent in
It is said that the heavens trembled, by which is
meant that they, on that occasion, were moved from
inmosts to outmosts, this movement causing a
readjustment of all things thereof, so that they stood
before the Lord renewed. Moreover, the fact stands
out that this movement, resulting in a reformation of
the heavens, was the consequence of a gigantic
conflict. This we learn from Arcana Coelestia, 4295,
where it is said that the angels tempted the Lord and
that in consequence He fought with the whole angelic
heaven. This combat was represented by Jacob’s
wrestling with the angel. The reason the angels could
tempt the Lord was that the truth with them was not
pure. This was especially the case prior to His
Glorification. These impure truths, inflowing into His
mind, brought on an inmost conflict whereby the
supreme ends of life were touched, moved and
readjusted; for of temptations of this class, it is said,
they are the inmost of all, inasmuch as they act upon
ends, and with such subtlety as to escape observation.
The purifying of the world of spirits and the
subjugation of the hells was the well known
consequence of the Lord’s Glorification. Very many
arcana are revealed to us with reference to this phase
of the subject, which are more or less familiar. But as
to the coincident reforming of the heavens not so
much is known, and this, perhaps, for the reason that
angelic temptations can hardly he understood by
men. Yet the fact of such temptations is revealed, and
we are allowed to draw one conclusion with regard to
their effect, which is of more than passing
importance. When the Lord fought with and
overcame the devils, they were cast down and hound
forever in hell. On the other hand, as a result of His
contention with the angels, they were enlightened and
lifted up into a higher and more celestial order. This
conclusion is obvious and is confirmed by A. C. 4075,
where something of the nature of these supreme
temptations is revealed, i. e., that they had reference
to the appearances of truth and to the seeming good
which prevailed in the ancient heavens.
In this number it is said that when the Lord made
His Human Divine, He called to Himself societies of
spirits and angels, for He willed that all things should
be done according to order. We must understand that
the Lord’s mind, that is, the mind which is below the
soul, was, in its form and construction, like that of
another man in its relation to the spiritual world. But
there is this grand difference, man is brought into
intimate relations with only a few societies, while the
Lord’s mind encompassed and thus included the
whole angelic heavens, yea the entire world of Spirits.
His mind also encompassed all the hells, but did not
include them. By his Glorification they were excluded,
though in a sense they were still encompassed, for
otherwise they could not have continued to exist.
Again, there was a difference between the mind of
man and that of the Lord in this that man derives his
goods and truths from the angelic societies with
which he is associated, but of the Lord it is said that
He did not derive anything of Good and Truth from
the angels, but only by them from the Divine. Angelic
societies were serviceable to Him as instrumentalities
for receiving the Divine Life according to the angelic
degree, and in serving Him in this capacity those
societies were themselves purified and exalted. Thus
are we to understand the mutual relation and
reciprocal action between the mind of the Lord and
the angelic heavens. Hence, it is said that He called to
Himself societies of spirits and angels according to
His good pleasure, and so far as they were
serviceable. This action and reaction between the
mind of the Lord and the heavens, was as an inmost
temptation to Him, and also to the angels, because of
the angelic influx with impure truths and apparent
goods, which He resisted and corrected. On these
occasions He was most intimately moved, and they
were thrown into a commotion so great as to call for
an entire re-adjustment.
The number before us gives several examples of
these temptations, but we can at present consider
only one of them, i. e., the one which refers to certain
societies which were in love to God, and believed that
if they looked upon the Infinite and worshiped the
hidden God, they could be in love to Him. But it was
shown them that they could not, inasmuch as it was
necessary that the Infinite should be made finite by
intellectual ideas.
It is said that these societies were serviceable to the
Lord in introducing Him into their ideas, and
through them into a knowledge of the Divine Truth
itself, which was that they could not be saved unless
the Human was made Divine and thus rendered an
object upon which men and angels might look. The
point here is that the Lord was not instructed in this
latter truth by those societies, but, as said, only by
them from the Divine. Perceiving their apparent
truth, He by it as a means entered into the real Divine
Truth. And by His so doing those societies were
corrected, that is, were thrown into commotion and
afterwards were lifted up and instructed.
In this way the Lord passed through the entire
heavens as He was being Glorified. Or, perhaps it
would be better to say, that in this way the entire
heavens were passed through His mind successively,
serving as the highest human instrumentality in His
Glorification, and being by that process corrected,
reformed, and re-established into a new and superior
image of the Divine Human. This view gives us an
exalted idea of the meaning of the Son of a Man who
suffered, and at the same time it places a proper
limitation upon that in the Lord which was capable of
The Doctrine teaches that suffering cannot be
predicated of the essential Divine, for no angel or
spirit can in any degree approach this. The same is
true of the Divine Good, and of the essential Divine
Truth which, being above all appearances or finite
forms, cannot be brought within the reach of
affliction. To be explicit, that in the Lord which
suffered is called the “Truth Divine bound.” This
Truth is represented in the Word by the binding of
Isaac by Abraham. We quote:
Truth Divine when bound was what could be
tempted in the Lord…. It was this Truth that was no
longer acknowledged when the Lord was in the world,
wherefore it was that by virtue of which the Lord
underwent and sustained temptations. This Truth
Divine in the Lord is what is called the Son of Man.
but Good Divine in the Lord is what is called the Son
of God. Concerning the Son of Man the Lord
frequently declares that He should suffer, but never
concerning the Son of God. . . . “Behold, we go up to
Jerusalem, and the son of Man shall be delivered to
the chief Priests and to the Scribes, and they shall
condemn Him, and shall deliver Him to the Gentiles
to mock and scourge Him, and to crucify,” (Matt. xx,
In all of which, by the Son of Man, is meant the Lord
as to Truth Divine, or as to the Word in the internal
sense, i. e., that it should be rejected by the chief
Priests and Scribes, should be spitefully entreated,
should be scourged, spat upon, and crucified. . . . The
Lord’s rising again upon the third day implies also,
that ‘Truth Divine, or the Word, as to its internal
sense, as it was understood in the Ancient Church,
should rise again in the consummation of the Age;
which also is the third day: wherefore it is said that
there should appear the sign of the Son of Man (i. e.,
a revelation of the internal sense of the Word). A. C.
Truth Divine in the Lord’s Human Divine which
underwent temptations . . . is not the essential Divine
Truth . . . but it is Truth Rational, such as the angels
are in, consisting of appearances of truth, and is what
is called the Son of Man, but before Glorification. . . .
In order that a distinct idea may be had of this most
mysterious circumstance, it may be expedient to call
the truth appertaining to the Lord, which could be
tempted and which underwent temptation, Truth
Divine in the Lord’s Human Divine. But the truth
which could not be tempted,. . .by the appellation
Divine Truth in the Lord’s Divine Human. A. C. 2814.
This rational Truth Divine was with the Lord prior
to His Glorification. He acquired it by the ordinary
human method of learning. The Written Scripture
was His teacher. This is clear from the fact that He
began life in total ignorance and by degrees learned
all things. From first crude beginnings He
successively passed through all outward appearances
to inward angelic realities, even to the inmost,
receiving into his mind the sum of finite thought and
affection. As to this totality of human good and truth
He was called the Son of Man. It appears, therefore,
that He became the Son of Man in an even higher
degree as He ascended from lower to higher forms of
truth; that He as a man assumed the heavens to
Himself and made of them a basis for His ascension
to the Divine. The heavens served in this capacity as a
higher human than that assumed from the world of
nature, which yet was one with the worldly human,
even as a man’s internal is one with his external, or as
his mind is one with his body.
Mary clothed the Divine Soul with a material
body; the heavens vested it with an angelic mind; the
Lord Glorified both. For as to both He was the Son of
Man who was tempted and by temptations Glorified.
From this we would anticipate that the Gospels would
predicate Glorification of the Son of Man but not of
the Son of God. And such is the case. Nowhere is it
said that the Son of God should be Glorified but of
the Son of Man, Jesus said: “The hour is come that
the Son of Man should be Glorified. . . Father Glorify
Thy Name. Then a voice came from heaven, I have
both Glorified and will Glorify it again.” John xii, 23,
As it was the Son of Man alone who could be
tempted, it follows that of Him alone could
Glorification be predicated, for Glorification was the
result of temptation. And as we have seen, this Son of
Man was none other than the Truth Divine bound,
which was truth in the heavens in the minds of the
angels, or what is the same, the Truth infilling the
heavens and descending thence into the world, which
Truth was the same as the internal sense of the Word,
including also its literal sense.


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