Son of Man has Authority

After defeating Satan in the wilderness, Jesus began to proclaim the “Good News” of the Kingdom – “The season is fulfilled, the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe the gospel.” The term “Kingdom of God” is a summary statement that meant different things to different people at the time, but the man from Nazareth identified his mission with the glorious “Son of Man” figure first introduced by the Book of Daniel.

In the town of Capernaum, Jesus entered the synagogue and began to teach about the Kingdom. But there was something about HOW he taught that astonished his audience - “He taught them as one who has authority, and not as the scribes.”

Earth Artistic - Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash
[Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash]

Typically, the scribes cited historical and legal precedents to validate their propositions, the so-called “
traditions of the elders,” and they were not known for issuing clear or innovative declarations on their own authority.


Next, Jesus delivered a man from an “unclean spirit.” Amazed, the men in the synagogue asked questions about what they had seen. “What is this? With authority, he commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.” His audience recognized his “authority” but did not understand its source - (Mark 1:21-27).

Some days later, a paralytic man was brought to Jesus by several men, no doubt expecting him to heal their friend. But rather than simply heal the man, Jesus declared his sins “discharged.”

This caused consternation among the crowd, and the “scribes” were indignant. After all, who could forgive sins “but God alone.” His was an act of presumption if not blasphemy. Moreover, he had discharged the debt of sin on his own authority, apart from the Temple rituals required by the Torah.

Jesus challenged his critics. “Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, your sins are forgiven, or to say, Rise, take up your couch and walk?” Both statements are easy to say, and both are impossible to do without the authority of God. But he did not ask which one was easier to do, but instead, which one was easier “to say.”

It is easy to proclaim the forgiveness of sins since no one can verify the validity of your claim from observable evidence. But to say the paralytic was “healed” was far more difficult since verification would be immediate and obvious. If Jesus could demonstrate his authority to heal, it would validate his authority to proclaim the “forgiveness of sins.” And that is precisely what he did:

  • But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority to forgive sins on the earth, he said to the paralytic, Rise, take up your couch and go your way to your house. And he arose and, immediately, taking up the couch, he went forth before all.”

This is the first recorded instance where Jesus referred to himself as the “Son of Man.” He did not say that he had “authority,” but that the “Son of Man has authority,” in this case, to discharge or “forgive” sins.


This is the self-designation used most often by Jesus in the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke. And it is in his capacity as the “Son of Man” that he has the authority to “discharge” the debt of sins, cast out demons, etc.

The term “Son of Man” is derived from Daniel’s vision in which he sees “one like a Son of Man on the clouds of heaven” approaching the “Ancient of Days,” and the latter clearly represents Yahweh. From Him, the “Son of Man” received “dominion” and the kingdom so that all “peoples, nations, and men of every tongue might serve him” (Daniel 7:13-14).

And in Daniel, the term “dominion” translates the Aramaic word ‘sholtan,’ meaning “dominion, sovereignty” - the right and authority to rule. By identifying his actions with this “Son of Man,” Jesus claimed not only the authority to implement and reign over the Kingdom but also left us no doubt as to the source of his authority, the “Ancient of Days.”

That is why he has the “authority to forgive sins.” From Yahweh, the “Son of Man” received sovereignty over a kingdom that is “everlasting, and it will not pass away, and it will not be destroyed.” His authority was and is from God Himself, and according to the prophecy in Daniel, there are no limits on the extent of his dominion. It extends over all the peoples of the earth, and it will endure forever.

Certainly, the Torah provides the sacrificial rituals necessary to cleanse ritual defilement and atone for sins, and the “scribes” were not completely off-base to ask, “Who can forgive sins except God?

But on that day, they witnessed something entirely new and unprecedented, and that is why the crowd glorified God - because “He had given such authority to men.” And by doing so, the members of the crowd acknowledged his dominion and “served” him, the “Son of Man.”

Since his authority was from God, Jesus was fully within his rights to declare anyone’s sins “forgiven” whether he or she has undergone the required Temple rituals or not. And this is why the “Son of Man” could issue authoritative declarations on Earth about sin, ritual purity, dietary restrictions, and even the Sabbath Day (“for the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” - Mark 2:23-28, 7:14-23).

Thus, by identifying himself as the “Son of Man,” Jesus indicated the source of his authority, a claim his healings and exorcisms validated.

But being the “Son of Manwas not all fun and games. Later, he would reveal the true significance of his calling when he combined the figure of the “Son of Man” with Isaiah’s Suffering Servant- for the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of the chief priests and scribes who would condemn him to death, and hand him over to the Gentiles for execution.” Apparently, the one appointed to rule over God’s kingdom must first “give his life a ransom for many.”



Language of the New Testament

Two Little Horns?