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Jesus, the Son of Man, as presented in the Gospel of John

Lionel Windsor (2003)


The essay begins with the proposal by Barnabas Lindars that ‘The central aim of the Johannine christology is to expound the intimate relationship of Jesus and God. For this purpose John takes over the idea of the Son of Man, [. . .]’. Lindars’ case has some merit, but has isolated an important theme rather than a ‘central aim’. Loader’s attempt is also flawed because it is does not take into account the narrative nature of the Gospel. I propose that the central aim of Johannine christology is twofold: to expound the intimate relationship between Jesus and God, and to expound the saving relationship between Jesus and those who believe in him. This is demonstrated firstly from the Gospel in general.

Then we turn to the ‘Son of Man’, which is used to expound this twofold aim within the narrative structure of the Gospel. By analysing each of the occurrences of ‘Son of Man’ in the Gospel, we demonstrate that the important elements of revelation, judgment and life-giving are progressively shown by John to find their ultimate fulfilment in the cross. Chapter 12 is a climax in this regard.


What did John the Evangelist want his readers to understand, first and foremost, about Jesus Christ? How does he achieve it? These two questions have been the subject of much debate in modern scholarship, with as yet little consensus.1 Barnabas Lindars, in an attempt to come to grips with the Johannine ‘Son of Man’, wrote in 1973, ‘The central aim of the Johannine christology is to expound the intimate relationship between Jesus and God. For this purpose John takes over the idea of the Son of Man, [. . .]’.2 He endeavours to demonstrate how the title ‘Son of Man’ is the Gospel’s vehicle for expressing the increasingly apparent unity of will between Jesus and God, culminating in his ultimate obedient act—the crucifixion. This is valid, as far as it goes. However, much more can (and has) been said, both about the central aim of Johannine christology and about the purpose of the Johannine designation ‘Son of Man’. We will argue, in the light of other scholars’ research and of John’s Gospel itself, that Lindars’ thesis only partly resolves these two issues.

A ‘central aim’?

Moloney concedes that Lindars’ analysis has some merit.3 John’s use of ‘Son of Man’ is not accidental, for it is used to express Jesus’ relationship to God particularly in the contexts of judgment, life-giving, passion and exaltation. Moloney also applauds Lindars’ search for the origins of ‘Son of Man’ in Daniel 7:15-27 and Isaiah 52-53, rather than in Gnostic myths. However, the article has both methodological and substantial flaws. The primary methodological problem is Lindars’ ‘two-edition’ theory of composition. This theory relegates chapter 6 to a later edition which ‘interferes’ with the rest of the Gospel.4 Because he does not deal adequately with this and much other Johannine material, he fails to demonstrate how the intimate relationship between Jesus and God is the central aim, either of John’s Gospel or of the designation ‘Son of Man’. As a result, many important christological themes are sidelined. For Lindars, the crucifixion is simply the ultimate demonstration of Jesus’ obedient intimacy with God. Belief or unbelief in this fact of theological intimacy is not central, but has ‘inevitable consequences’,5 which Lindars does not adequately relate to the eschatological resurrection, judgment and life-giving activity of the Son of Man.

These shortcomings raise two more questions for us: How might we search for the central aim of Johannine Christology? and If we find it, how do we know that it is the central, rather than a central or even a subsidiary aim? Culpepper warns against methodologies which try to isolate and systematise christological motifs on the basis of historical developmental theories or particular titles, arguing for a more holistic approach.6 Loader proposes objective criteria for isolating a ‘central structure’ in Johannine christology.7 His criteria call upon the interpreter to investigate the relative frequency and positional significance of motifs and patterns of motifs in the Gospel, with a further proviso that any postulated central structure must be able to integrate all other motifs. Applying these criteria, he finds that the central idea is the Son (of God) who has come, sent by the Father, and given all authority, makes the Father known and returns to the Father.8 The ‘Son of Man’ designation adds nothing to the central structure, but is simply John’s device to justify his use of the historical, incarnate, crucified Jesus in his portrayal of this otherwise divine ‘Son’. This approach, however, is unsatisfactory, for it separates structure from purpose. While Lindars’ approach suffers from being too focussed, Loader’s approach suffers from being too static.

The twofold aim of Johannine christology

We must look for more than a central static ‘structure’ for Johannine christology. The way forward is rather to analyse the Gospel’s total dynamic narrative flow to find a central ‘aim’, without unduly focussing on any particular title. Along these lines, I propose that the central aim of Johannine christology is twofold: to expound the intimate relationship between Jesus and God and to expound the saving relationship between Jesus and those who believe in him (life for those who believe, judgment for those who do not). Although the first theme is logically and ontologically prior to the second, John is aiming to expound both themes equally. The crucifixion is the logical basis for both of these themes: it is both the ultimate act of expression of the intimate relationship between Jesus and God, and the means by which believers can enter into a saving relationship. Each theme in this twofold aim is inextricably bound to the other such that they may be distinguished, but cannot be separated: the intimate relationship is fulfilled in the salvation of believers, and the basis of salvation is in the intimate relationship. Furthermore, ‘Son of Man’ is a revelatory title which has a significant part to play in expounding both themes. In other words, John’s soteriology is inseparable from his christology, and ‘Son of Man’ expounds both of them.

Most scholars will emphasise each of these two themes, to a greater or lesser extent. The relationship between Jesus and God is seen from John 1:1-2 onwards, with the pre-existence of the Logos forming the fundamental presupposition of the Gospel’s christology.9,10,11 Jesus’ relationship with God is particularly on view in the first half of the Gospel. The title ‘Son of God’ means a great deal for the evangelist, much more than simply ‘king of Israel’ or the Hellenistic ‘God-man’.12 The close relationship between Father and Son (John 3:16-17; 3:35; 5:20, 22, 26; 10:38) means that the Father glorifies the Son, who in turn glorifies the Father (John 3:36; 5:21, 23, 6:40). Jesus is Son of God in an exclusive sense (John 1:14, 18; 3:16, 18), exercising the divine functions of judgment (John 5:22, 30; 8:16; 9:39) and giving life (John 4:14; 6:40, 47, 54; 10:28). Jesus alone has seen (John 6:46, 8:38), speaks for (John 3:34, 8:26-8) and works for (John 10:32, 37) his Father.13 Jesus being ‘sent’ by God has a Jewish legal flavour in that the sent one can fully represent the sender,14 but Jesus’ relationship with the Father goes beyond simply being the ‘sent one’ (John 3:17, 34; 4:34; 5:23-24, 30, 36-38; 6:29, 38-39, 44, 57; 7:16, 18, 28-29, 33; 8:16, 18, 26, 29, 42; 9:4; 10:36; 11:42).15 John 8 is structured like a paternity suit to determine the Fatherhood of God with respect to Jesus.16 John 10 climaxes in the idea of the perfect unity of will between Jesus and the Father (John 10:30, 36, 38).17,18 The relationship is stressed but not elaborated in chapters 13-17 (John 13:3, 20, 31; 14:6-11, 16, 24, 28; 15:10, 15, 21; 16:5, 28, 30; 17:3, 6, 8, 9, 10, 11, 21-22, 26). In the crucifixion we see the consummation of Christ’s predictions that there he would manifest the full glory of God (John 12:23, 13:31, 17:1).19

The relationship between Christ and believers is also emphasised in John. It, too, appears in the prologue (1:12-13) and is elaborated in the first half (e.g. 3:3, 5, 16; chapter 6). It is the focus of the farewell discourses (chapters 13-17). Indeed, Sproston believes that ‘John is not a study of Jesus, but a study in human reaction to Jesus’.20 He sees the humanity of Jesus as fundamental to the relationship between human believers and God, mediating God’s appearance (1:18, 6:46, 14:9) words (8:28, 12:49) and glory (17:22), so that the disciples participate in the Jesus/God relationship in terms of unity (10:30), knowledge (10:14-15), love (10:17), obedience (8:29), works (14:12) and filial bond (20:17).21 In addition, the emphasis upon present eschatology in John serves to highlight the life-and-death importance of belief in the Jesus whom we meet in John, rather than bypassing him in our vision of the eschaton (which is nevertheless a future reality).22

True as these observations may be, the genius of John’s christology is that both of these themes usually occur together. Furthermore, there are a number of places in John where the two themes are inextricably intertwined. In 6:37-40, the salvation of the believer (masculine gender, i.e. personal) is, in fact, the Father’s purposeful, inexorable, gift (neuter gender) to the Son. In 14:13, the Son will grant the requests of believers in order that the Father should be glorified in the Son. The egw eimi sayings carry the connotation of eternal divinity (e.g. 8:58, cf Exo 3:14; Isa 41:4; 43:10, 25; 45:18; 47:8, 10; 51:12 LXX), yet when used with a predicate, egw eimi normally points to an aspect of the saving relationship between God and his people: the bread of life (6:35, 41, 48, 51), light of the world (8:12), gate/door of the sheep (10:7), good shepherd (10:11, 14), resurrection and life (11:25), way, truth and life (14:6), vine with branches (15:1, 5).23 Jesus’ prayer in chapter 17 is a marvellous interweaving of the relationships between the Father, the Son and believers. The post-resurrection climax of 20:17 is that God is ‘My Father and your Father; My God and your God’. Thus the twofold purpose of 20:31: ‘But these things are written in order that you may believe that Jesus is The Christ, The Son of God, and in order that, because you believe, you may have life in his name.’24

The Son of Man and the twofold aim

This analysis is still rather static. But when we turn to the Son of Man, we find a vehicle which John uses to expound his twofold christological aim within the narrative flow of his Gospel. On the use of the motif itself, Morris observes,

In the Fourth Gospel [. . .] the term is always associated either with Christ’s heavenly glory or with the salvation He came to bring [. . .] “the Son of Man”, then points us to Christ’s conception of Himself as of heavenly origin and as the possessor of heavenly glory. At one and the same time it points us to His lowliness and His sufferings for men. The two are the same.25

Moloney puts this in more dynamic terms: we only know the Son of God through the Son of Man, and we are judged for how we act on the basis of this knowledge.26

Part of the OT background to the ‘Son of Man’ motif is most likely Daniel 7, where one ‘like a son of man’ comes with the clouds of heaven, is presented before the Ancient of Days and given universal, everlasting dominion and glory.27 He appears to represent the persecuted and consequently vindicated people of God, though to what extent this representation motif is present in Jesus’ ministry and/or in John’s theology is debated.28 Since the Son of Man is usually associated with being ‘lifted up’ (υψοω) , it is reasonably clear that the suffering Servant figure of Isaiah 52-53 (see especially Isaiah 52:13) has been used to exegete Daniel 7 in a new way, prompted by Jesus’ words and actions, as we shall see.29,30

John 1:51

John’s first mention of the Son of Man occurs in John 1:51, as the climax to a series of identifications of Jesus—Lamb of God (John 1:29, 36), Elect of God (John 1:34), Messiah (John 1:41), Son of Joseph (John 1:45), Son of God i.e. King of Israel (John 1:49). Jesus predicts ‘greater things than these’ (John 1:50) and then predicts in John 1:51 that ‘you’ (plural, therefore generalised) will see ‘heaven opened’ and ‘the angels of God ascending and descending upon The Son of Man.’31 This last part of the verse is a direct verbal parallel with Genesis 28:12, with cases and tenses changed only to transform the past narrative of Jacob’s dream at Bethel into a future vision. This vision of the Son of Man is clearly significant, but what does it mean? Brown sets broad parameters when he says that ‘the Son of Man is the locus of divine glory, the point of contact between heaven and earth’ (cf John 2:11).32 Walker sees it as a Hegelian synthesis between two unresolvable contradictory statements – Jesus as the human, earthly Son of Joseph and as the divine, heavenly Son of God.33 Morris and Moloney see heavenly revelation as the sole meaning of the verse.34,35 However, given the earlier part of the verse which speaks of ‘heaven opened’ in the perfect tense36 and the OT antecedents to this idea which involve judgment (Gen 7:11, Isa 24:18), life-giving (Deut 28:12, Psa 78:23) and revelation (Ezek 1:1), it is best to see this vision foreshadowing all three themes.

John 3:13-14

More information is added to the Son of Man motif in John 3:13—the ascent (and descent) of the Son of Man himself. The perfect tense of ‘ascended’ (αναβεβηκεν) has caused scholarly consternation, for at the time of speaking, Jesus had not yet ascended to his Father (John 20:17).37,38 Painter believes that these words must be spoken from the point of view of Jesus’ ascension,39 yet the strong verbal and conceptual connections with Jesus’ own words in the previous verse argue against this. It is better to see this as a ‘perfect of Scriptural application’, denoting a Scriptural passage which was written in the past but which has ongoing application—in this case, future application.40 Such perfects are common in John (John 1:18, 2:17; 6:31, 32, 45; 7:19, 22; 8:17, 33, 41; 10:34; 11:52; 12:14, 16, 40; 15:25 and possibly John 1:51). Jesus demonstrates that nobody in Scripture ascends to heaven, even though some try (e.g. Isa 14:12ff, Prov 30:1-4),41 except the Son of Man in Daniel 7 (which future vision). But, he adds, the only one qualified to ascend to heaven is the pre-existent one who descended from heaven. Hence Jesus, the Son of Man, can impart heavenly revelation to Nicodemus (cf John 3:12). Descent may not be a natural element of the Son of Man motif,42 but Jesus, through drawing out the consequences of Daniel 7, can now identify the Son of Man with the one who descended. Thus ‘Son of Man’ reveals the pre-existence of Jesus, and hence his relationship to God.

In the next verse, however, there is more on view than the revelation of Jesus’ pre-existence. The Son of Man does not merely ascend, he must be ‘lifted up’ (υψωθηναι) like Moses’ lifting up of the snake in the wilderness. The use of  δει indicates a Scriptural fulfilment; the most natural place to look (in addition to the obvious reference to God’s provision of salvation from death in Numbers 21:4-9) is Isaiah 52:13ff which speaks of God’s suffering servant who is ‘raised and lifted up and highly exalted’ yet suffers dreadfully as a sin offering for the people.43 John’s implied play on the word υψοω to mean either ‘exalt’ or ‘crucify’ (which is quite possible for the Aramaic equivalent) will become more obvious as the Gospel progresses.44 The themes of judgment and the giving of life to believers are expanded directly in the subsequent discussion (verses 15-21). Lindars wants to subordinate judgment and life-giving to the overarching theme of revelation: the ‘inevitable consequences’ of one’s response to the revelation that Jesus is united with God are life or judgment.45 However, we have seen that all three themes are present in equal measure. Certainly, we are judged for how we respond to the revelation of the Son of Man (and saved, or ‘given life’, by believing), but more is going on than the ‘inevitable consequences’ of belief or unbelief. Jesus, like the servant, is to be lifted up as a sin offering. His actions have more than revelatory value.

John 5:27

Indeed, judgment is the overarching theme in John 5:27. Jesus may work on the Sabbath, because God has delegated all of his authority to Jesus: to give resurrection life (verse 21) and to judge as ‘Son of Man’ (verse 27). The anarthrous form may be making explicit the reference to Daniel 7:13.46 If so, it enhances the future eschatology which is present in verses 26-30 and which complements the realised ‘revelation’ eschatology of verses 19-25.47 Lindars and Moloney both wish to subordinate judgment to revelation, but again this is unwarranted.48,49

John 6

Lindars’ analysis of the next three references to the Son of Man in chapter 6 is marred by his assumption that the discourse is an addition to the original Gospel, and so must be analysed apart from the narrative flow. He sees the second edition adding an element of consistent (i.e. future) eschatology to the idea of Son of Man.50 However, John 6 is entirely consistent with the rest of John as it develops its twofold christology. The intimate relationship between Jesus and God is seen in the ‘certification’ of Jesus by the Father, which is the reason that he can give food which endures into eternal life (verse 27). The necessity of believing in the suffering, crucified Son of Man for present and future life is expressed in the vivid terminology of eating his flesh and drinking his blood (verse 53). These sayings may be hard, but what if you see the Son of Man ascending ‘to where he was before’ (verse 62)? The apodosis is uncertain: is he speaking of the scandalous ‘lifting up’ of the cross51 or Jesus’ rise to glory which resolves the tension?52 Perhaps the ambiguity is intentional at this stage of the drama.

John 8:28

In John 8:28, the revelation of Jesus’ unique relationship with his Father is prominent. The whole chapter is concerned with light (i.e. revelation) and the Fatherhood of God with respect to Jesus. It is held together by repeated occurrences of εγω ειμι 53 Jesus is the light (John 8:12), the one who testifies about himself (John 8:18), and finally, simply εγω ειμι without predicate—with its associated connotations of divinity (John 8:28).54 Significantly, the place in which this unique relationship with the Father will be most clearly seen is in the ‘lifting up’ of the Son of Man (verse 28). Jesus is forecasting the passion, which is ‘the decisive act, whereby Jesus’ heavenly origin is revealed and the unbelieving world is judged’.55 Nevertheless, the saving relationship between Jesus and those who believe in him is not absent; rather it is expressed negatively in chapter 8: ‘if you do not believe that εγω ειμι you will die in your sins’. Hence the necessity, in the context of light and judgment (chapter 9), to believe in the ‘Son of Man’ (John 9:35, 38).

John 12

Chapter 12 is immensely significant for a number of reasons. Verse 23 is a hinge verse in the Gospel, the turning point where Jesus’ ‘hour’ has now come (cf John 2:4; 7:6, 8, 30; 8:20).56 It does not mention ‘the Son’, so the whole chapter must be understood with reference to the title ‘Son of Man’.57 Chapter 12 makes explicit what has been implicit about the Son of Man—that his ‘lifting up’ involves both glorification (John 12:23) and death (John 12:34). The crowds understand that Jesus is the dying Son of Man, but they do not understand how this Son of Man can also be the Christ.58 Yet in this chapter, the twofold aim of Johannine Christology is brought to a climax. Jesus’ intimate relationship with God is nowhere more apparent than when the Son of Man who descended obediently submits to the Father’s will to go to the cross (John 12:27), and thus simultaneously glorifies the Father and is glorified (John 12:23, 28; see also John 13:31).59 Moreover, the saving relationship between Jesus and believers is equally pushed to the fore. His death will bear much fruit (John 12:24), those who follow and serve Jesus and hate the world will be honoured by the Father (john 12:25) and when he is ‘lifted up’, he will draw all men to himself (John 12:32). The reference to Isaiah 53:1 (John 12:38) in a Passover context (John 12:1) serves to further highlight the vicarious servant-style suffering which Jesus is about to undergo, and the tragic unbelief of many who miss out on the opportunity for life.

Conclusion: the cross and the twofold aim

The cross is of supreme importance for both themes in the twofold aim of Johannine christology. It is the primary act of obedience of Jesus to the Father. But it is not an arbitrary obedient act, as if the Son suffers simply because the Father wants him to. It is a purposeful obedient act, with the aim of dying for and saving sinners and thence glorifying both the Father and the Son. Consequently, we are not saved from judgment simply by believing that Jesus has an intimate relationship with God, which was revealed by his death. Rather, we are saved from judgment by believing in the Son of Man himself, the one who came down from heaven, who is in a unique relationship with the Father, and who died for our sins, thereby saving us from judgment and giving us life—now and forever. John has both a theology of the cross and a consistent eschatology,60 but is concerned, above all, to relate everything to the historical person of Jesus Christ who ‘came in the flesh’ (cf 1 John 4:2, 2 John 1:7). He wants us to know two things about Jesus Christ: that there is an intimate relationship between Jesus and God and that there is a saving relationship between Jesus and those who believe in him. The ‘Son of Man’ is an important aspect of this christological revelation.


  • Beasley-Murray, George. ‘John 12:31-34: The Eschatological Significance of the Lifting up of the Son of Man’. Pages 70-81 in Studien Zum Text Und Zur Ethik Des Neuen Testaments: Festschrift Zum 80. Edited by Heinrich Greeven. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1986.
  • Borgen, Peder. ‘God’s Agent in the Fourth Gospel’. Pages 137-48 in Religions in Antiquity: Essays in Memory of Erwin Ramsdell Goodenough. Edited by J. Neusner. Leiden: Brill, 1968.
  • Brown, Raymond E. The Gospel According to John. 2 vols. The Anchor Bible. London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1971.
  • Burkett, Delbert. The Son of the Man in the Gospel of John. Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement 56. Sheffield: JSOT, 1991.
  • Cullmann, Oscar. The Christology of the New Testament. London: SCM, 1959.
  • Culpepper, R. Alan. ‘The Christology of the Johannine Writings’. Pages 66-87 in Who Do You Say That I Am?: Essays on Christology. Edited by Mark A. Powell and David R. Bauer. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1999.
  • Green, Joel B. ‘Death of Jesus’. Pages 146-163 in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Edited by Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight and I. Howard Marshall. Leicester: Intervarsity, 1992.
  • Hurtado, Larry W. ‘Christ’. Pages 106-17 in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Edited by Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight and I. Howard Marshall. Leicester: Intervarsity, 1992.
  • Lindars, Barnabas. ‘The Son of Man in Johannine Christology’. Pages 43-60 in Christ and Spirit in the New Testament. Edited by Barnabas Lindars and Stephen S. Smalley. Cambridge: University Press, 1973.
  • Loader, William R. G. ‘The Central Structure of Johannine Christology’. New Testament Studies 30 (1984): 188-216.
  • Marshall, I. Howard. ‘Jesus Christ’. Pages 592-602 in New Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Edited by T. D. Alexander and Brian S. Rosner. Leicester: IVP, 2000.
  • ______. ‘Son of Man’. Pages 775-81 in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Edited by Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight and I. Howard Marshall. Leicester: Intervarsity, 1992.
  • Mealand, David L. ‘The Christology of the Fourth Gospel’. Scottish Journal of Theology 31/5 (1978): 449-467.
  • Moloney, Francis J. The Johannine Son of Man. 2nd ed. Biblioteca di Scienze Religiose 14. Rome: Libreria Ateneo Salesiano, 1978.
  • Morris, Leon. The Gospel According to John. The New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Michigan, 1971.
  • ______. Jesus Is the Christ: Studies in the Theology of John. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989.
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  • Pryor, John W. ‘The Johannine Son of Man and the Descent-Ascent Motif’. Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 34/3 (1991): 341-51.
  • Sproston, W. E. ‘“Is Not This Jesus, the Son of Joseph.?” (John 6:42): Johannine Christology as a Challenge to Faith’. Journal for the Study of the New Testament 24 (1985): 77-97.
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  • Walker, William O. ‘John 1:43-51 and “The Son of Man” in the Fourth Gospel’. Journal for the Study of the New Testament 56 (1994): 31-42.
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  • 1 R. Alan Culpepper, ‘The Christology of the Johannine Writings’, in Who Do You Say That I Am?: Essays on Christology (ed. Mark A. Powell and David R. Bauer; Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 1999), 66-87 has an intriguing explanation for this lack of consensus: ‘John’s Word will continue to elude our grasp. The light shines on in the darkness, but the darkness cannot comprehend it.’ (p. 86) Is he equating modern scholarship with the Johannine moral darkness?
  • 2 Barnabas Lindars, ‘The Son of Man in Johannine Christology’, in Christ and Spirit in the New Testament (ed. Barnabas Lindars and Stephen S. Smalley; Cambridge: University Press, 1973), 59.
  • 3 Francis J. Moloney, The Johannine Son of Man (2nd ed.; Biblioteca di Scienze Religiose 14; Rome: Libreria Ateneo Salesiano, 1978), 14-15.
  • 4 Lindars, ‘Son of Man’, 44. See the critique by Moloney, Johannine Son of Man, 15.
  • 5 Lindars, ‘Son of Man’, 49.
  • 6 Culpepper, ‘Christology’, 66-87.
  • 7 William R. G. Loader, ‘The Central Structure of Johannine Christology’, New Testament Studies 30 (1984), 188.
  • 8 Loader, ‘Central Structure’, 209.
  • 9 John Painter, ‘Christology and the Fourth Gospel: a Study of the Prologue’, Australian Biblical Review 31 (1983), 48.
  • 10 Culpepper, ‘Christology’, 72-73.
  • 11 David L. Mealand, ‘The Christology of the Fourth Gospel’, Scottish Journal of Theology 31/5 (1978), 450-52.
  • 12 Mealand, ‘Christology’, 459-60.
  • 13 Marianne M. Thompson, ‘John, Gospel of’, in Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels (ed. Joel B. Green, Scot McKnight and I. Howard Marshall; Leicester: Intervarsity, 1992), 378.
  • 14 Peder Borgen, ‘God’s Agent in the Fourth Gospel’, in Religions in Antiquity: Essays in Memory of Erwin Ramsdell Goodenough (ed. J. Neusner; Leiden: Brill, 1968), 137-48.
  • 15 Culpepper, ‘Christology’, 74.
  • 16 Culpepper, ‘Christology’, 74-75.
  • 17 Lindars, ‘Son of Man’, 43-60, 55-56.
  • 18 Culpepper, ‘Christology’, 66-85, 74-75.
  • 19 W. E. Sproston, ‘“Is Not This Jesus, the Son of Joseph.?” (John 6:42): Johannine Christology as a Challenge to Faith’, Journal for the Study of the New Testament 24 (1985), 79.
  • 20 Sproston, ‘Is Not This Jesus’, 89, emphasis original; although his study is flawed by an unwarranted dichotomy between faith and evidence.
  • 21 Sproston, ‘Is Not This Jesus’, 79.
  • 22 George Beasley-Murray, ‘John 12:31-34: The Eschatological Significance of the Lifting up of the Son of Man’, in Studien Zum Text Und Zur Ethik Des Neuen Testaments: Festschrift Zum 80. (ed. Heinrich Greeven; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1986), 70-81.
  • 23 Thompson, ‘John’, 377.
  • 24 My translation and emphasis
  • 25 Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John (The New International Commentary on the New Testament; Grand Rapids: Michigan, 1971), 173.
  • 26 Moloney, Johannine Son of Man, 208-20.
  • 27 Lindars, ‘Son of Man’, 57.
  • 28 Moloney, Johannine Son of Man, 2-17. G. F. D. Moule, The Origin of Christology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977), 11-22 sees a strong identification.
  • 29 Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John (2 vols.; The Anchor Bible; London: Geoffrey Chapman, 1971), 1.146.
  • 30 Lindars, ‘Son of Man’, 57.
  • 31 Lindars, ‘Son of Man’, 45-46.
  • 32 Brown, John, 1.91.
  • 33 William O. Walker, ‘John 1:43-51 and “The Son of Man” in the Fourth Gospel’, Journal for the Study of the New Testament 56 (1994): 31-42.
  • 34 Morris, John, 170-71.
  • 35 Moloney, Johannine Son of Man, 40-41.
  • 36 Daniel B. Wallace, Greek Grammar beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996), 581-82, the ‘perfect of [OT] allegory’. cf 3:13 below.
  • 37 Morris, John, 223.
  • 38 Brown, John, 1.132, 1.145
  • 39 John Painter, ‘The Enigmatic Johannine Son of Man’, in The Four Gospels 1992: Festschrift Frans Neirynck (ed. F. Van Segbroeck et al.; 3 vols.; Leuvin: Leuvin University Press, 1992), 1878.
  • 40 Wallace, Grammar, 581-52 calls this a ‘perfect of allegory’ but acknowledges the shortcomings in his nomenclature.
  • 41 Delbert Burkett, The Son of the Man in the Gospel of John (Journal for the Study of the New Testament Supplement 56; Sheffield: JSOT, 1991). His thesis is that Proverbs 30:1-4 is actually behind 3:13, but his conclusions regarding the identification of the Son of Man with the Son of God are stretched too far.
  • 42 John W. Pryor, ‘The Johannine Son of Man and the Descent-Ascent Motif’, Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 34/3 (1991), 346-49.
  • 43 Brown, John, 1.146.
  • 44 Lindars, ‘Son of Man’, 48.
  • 45 Lindars, ‘Son of Man’, 47-49.
  • 46 Morris, John, 320.
  • 47 Brown, John, 1.220.
  • 48 Lindars, ‘Son of Man’, 53.
  • 49 Moloney, Johannine Son of Man, 84-86.
  • 50 Lindars, ‘Son of Man’, 58-59.
  • 51 Morris, John, 384.
  • 52 Lindars, ‘Son of Man’, 59.
  • 53 Moloney, Johannine Son of Man, 125-38.
  • 54 Brown, John, 1.348.
  • 55 Lindars, ‘Son of Man’, 53.
  • 56 Brown, John, 1.470.
  • 57 Moloney, Johannine Son of Man, 184.
  • 58 Morris, John, 599.
  • 59 Lindars, ‘Son of Man’, 56.
  • 60 Beasley-Murray, ‘John 12’, 70-81.
Published inAtonementJohnTrinity

Publications by Lionel Windsor:

  • Lift Your Eyes: Reflections on Ephesians

Recent blog posts

  • Entering a tomb in PompeiiWe too: the offenders (Ephesians 2:3)
    Judgmentalism. It’s a bigger problem than we think. Judgmentalism is certainly a danger for God’s people. That’s because God’s people have God’s word. God’s word helps God’s people to see how wonderful God is, and how terrible humanity is in comparison. But Ephesians 2:3 contains two highly significant, emphatic words: “we too”. We too, says Paul, were the offenders. We, too, were the disobedient. These words aren’t talking about all those horrible people “out there”. They’re talking about God’s people. And it’s something we, too, need to hear. These words tell us something incredibly important—something that we ignore at our peril.
  • Photo by Daniel Lienert on UnsplashThe root of the problem (Ephesians 2:1–2)
    I hadn’t visited the dentist for years. Then I felt a tiny amount of pain in one of my teeth. But I ignored it. I didn’t want to bother with a dentist. Anyway, I had my own solution: I’d always brushed my teeth quite thoroughly, and was proud of it. So I just kept brushing. But after a while, the pain came back. This time, it was worse. So I finally visited the dentist. That was painful, too. The root had become so infected that I needed root canal surgery. That was a while ago. But last year, it flared up again, as these things apparently do. And yet I chose to visit the dentist again, even though I knew it might be painful. Why? Because I’d learnt something. I’ve learnt that if I have a problem that goes to the root, and if I know someone who has the solution to the problem, I shouldn’t ignore it or try to fix it myself. I should face up to the root problem, and get help. So I got help. Now, I don’t have a tooth in that spot at all. In Ephesians 2:1–2, Paul seeks to go deep, to the root of the problem. The problem Paul talks about here is incredibly serious. It can be very painful to admit. But Paul can and does admit it—because he also knows the person with the solution. According to Paul, this isn’t a problem to ignore or try to fix ourselves. It’s not something we can educate ourselves out of. This is a problem to face up to, and get help.
  • Captivated by ScriptureCaptivated by Scripture: A personal reflection on D. W. B. Robinson’s legacy for biblical studies
    What made Donald W. B. Robinson such an inspiring and influential teacher for generations of students? His commitment to being captivated by Scripture. This is a paper given by Lionel Windsor at the legacy day and launch of Donald Robinson Selected Works Volume 3: Biblical and Liturgical Studies & Volume 4: Historical Studies and Series Index. Moore Theological College, Sydney, 16 March 2019.
  • The first thing to say about church (Ephesians 1:22–23)
    Here in Ephesians 1:22–23, for the first time in his letter, the apostle Paul uses the word “church”. He’s taken quite some time to get to this point. That might make you think that the church isn’t very important to Paul. But actually, the reverse is true. This is a climactic statement. So far in Ephesians, Paul has poured out his praise to God for his blessings and plans and purposes. He has told his readers how he is praying for knowledge and hope and strength in God. Now, finally, at the highest peak of this amazing prayer, Paul names “the church”. So what is the first thing Paul has to say about the church? What is the word he associates most closely with the church? What matters most to Paul when it comes to the church? The answer is, in fact, obvious. It’s so obvious that you might think it doesn’t need to be said. You might even wonder why Paul bothers saying it, when there are so many other more practical things he could say about the church. But while it might seem obvious, it needs to be said first. Why? Because it’s so easy to assume it. Yet without it, nothing else about the church makes sense.
  • Grave of John BunyanStrength to live (Ephesians 1:19–21)
    What do we do when we feel weak in the face of the powers that be? One response might be just to shut down, close ranks and find a bitter satisfaction in our identity as victims. Another response might be to try to fight as hard as we can to exert our power and dominance over others, seeking to turn the tables so that we become the conquerors instead of the oppressors. Both of these responses involve seeking strength and power in ourselves. They are often the way that oppressed individuals and groups in our world respond to the powers that are oppressing them. But is that the way God wants his people to respond to our weakness in the face of power? In Ephesians 1:19–21, the apostle Paul gives us a far better way to respond. Paul’s response involves looking for strength. But it’s not a strength that comes from within ourselves. It’s a strength that comes from God himself.
  • Christ, the Cross and Creation Care ConferenceConference: Christ, the Cross and Creation Care
    I'll be speaking at the "Christ, the Cross and Creation Care Conference", Sydney. 8.30am to 3.30pm, Saturday 22 June 2019. A conference run by A Rocha Australia
  • Palatine Hill from Roman Forum with contrails – Black and WhiteWhat’s the point of theology? (Ephesians 1:17–18)
    The full name of the college I teach at is “Moore Theological College”. That word “Theological” says something important about who we are. It reminds us about what we're on about. Yes, the Bible is at the centre of everything we do. Yes, we seek to train people for ministry. Yes, we're driven by the worldwide mission of Jesus Christ. Yes, we're committed to learning together, and having our characters formed in loving Christian community. But our careful study of the Bible, and our pastorally-motivated ministry and mission training, and our encouragement of one another in our community, all matter because of something more basic: theology. Unfortunately, the word "theology" can be misunderstood. It sometimes gets used to mean something like “technical details about spiritual things that experts argue about and isn’t much practical use to regular people”. But that's just a caricature. It's not what theology is. Theology is something far more profound, far more life-changing, and far more fundamental—not just for people at a college, but for everyone. In Ephesians 1:17–18, Paul prays for his readers—people who have come to believe in and live for Jesus Christ. It's a prayer for more theology.
  • Youth praying, Finchale PrioryPrayer: What are we actually doing? (Ephesians 1:15–16)
    “A Muslim, a Jew and an Anglican Minister walk into a classroom”. This was the advertising blurb for a local Community College seminar I participated in a few years ago. I joined a Muslim educator and a Jewish academic (who is also a friend of mine) to give a series of presentations on different aspects of our three religions to interested people from the community. When we came to the topic of ‘prayer’, I was fascinated to hear what my co-presenters had to say. Even though we were all using the same word, ‘prayer’, the word meant very different things in the different religions. As a believer in Jesus Christ, what did I have to say about what prayer is? What would you have said? Christians, too, can often be a bit confused or unclear about what prayer actually is. That’s where the Apostle Paul really helps us. In these verses in Ephesians, Paul starts telling his readers about his own prayers for them.
  • Photo by Danielle Macinnes on UnsplashThe Holy Spirit: Our security (Ephesians 1:14)
    The Stanford Marshmallow Experiments are a favourite illustration of motivational speakers. The lesson is this: If you can learn how to delay gratification early in life, you’ll do better in later life. Sounds reasonable, doesn’t it? But unfortunately, like many popular conclusions drawn from famous psychological experiments, it doesn’t stand up to closer scrutiny. The more up-to-date study demonstrates something far more mundane: if you grow up in a secure home where you know there will always be food on the table, you’re more likely to be able to put off eating a marshmallow. This isn’t a particularly useful lesson for motivational speakers. But it’s a great illustration of what it means to be a child of God.
  • Mission. Photo by Ben White on UnsplashThe message is the mission (Ephesians 1:13)
    What is God’s mission? What means is God using to bring about his purposes in Christ? What does that mean for our own mission as Christians and churches?

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