"When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that [I] the Son of man [am] is?

And they said, Some say [that thou art] John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets.

He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am?

And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Nestle GNT:

Ἐλθὼν δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἰς τὰ μέρη Καισαρίας τῆς Φιλίππου ἠρώτα τοὺς μαθητὰς αὐτοῦ λέγων Τίνα λέγουσιν οἱ ἄνθρωποι εἶναι τὸν Υἱὸν τοῦ ἀνθρώπου;

οἱ δὲ εἶπαν Οἱ μὲν Ἰωάνην τὸν Βαπτιστήν, ἄλλοι δὲ Ἡλείαν, ἕτεροι δὲ Ἱερεμίαν ἢ ἕνα τῶν προφητῶν.

λέγει αὐτοῖς Ὑμεῖς δὲ τίνα με λέγετε εἶναι;

ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ Σίμων Πέτρος εἶπεν Σὺ εἶ ὁ Χριστὸς ὁ Υἱὸς τοῦ Θεοῦ τοῦ ζῶντος.

I'm one of the few that still believe Matthew was the first gospel written, though originally in the Hebrew language. However, even if Mark 8:27 and Luke 9:18 are also valid, I would say Yeshua just asked all three questions.

I have two questions...

If we read "But whom say ye that I am?" as "But whom say ye that I am?" instead of "But whom say ye that I am?" does this change the question?


Who is the son of man in Matthew 16:13?

Thank you.

4 Answers 4


OP asks:

If we read "But whom say ye that I am?" as "But whom say ye that I am?" instead of "But whom say ye that I am?" does this change the question?

Perhaps, but this is not a valid reading of the Greek (For those who missed it as I did the first three times through, the difference is in the bolding of "I" in the OP's proposed translation rather than the bolded "ye", the traditional understanding.)

ὑμεῖς δὲ τίνα με λέγετε εἶναι;
hymeis de tina me legete einai?
But you [pl], whom do you say [pl] that I am?

The fronting of the personal pronoun (hymeis = you, plural) at the beginning of the clause, its redundant presence as the subject of a clause with a verb already marked for person/number (2nd, plural), and its slot alone before the postpositive de all serve as markers that the pronoun "you", rather than "I", is the focus of the question.

(Since the OP apparently prefers Matthew in Hebrew, hymeis de corresponds nicely to the disjunctive waw + "nominative absolute" personal pronoun – here, hypothetically, וְאַתֶּ֖ם (wᵉʾattem) – also "focus-marking" the pronoun.)

Who is the son of man in Matthew 16:13?

The son of man is Jesus. Mark 8:27 and Luke 9:18, mentioned by the OP, are parallel passages that use "I" rather than "son of man"; this title is also frequently used by Jesus of himself throughout Matthew. Verse 15 is then a repetition of the question is v. 13. Hagner sums up the relationship between these two in his comment on v. 15:*

Jesus repeats the question (this time in verbatim agreement with Mark), now directing it to the disciples (note the emphatic ὑμεῖς, "you yourselves"). The first-person pronoun με stands in place of "Son of Man" in v. 13. The question is asked not so much for information but to elicit from the disciples an explicit confession of his messianic identity.

*Donald A. Hagner, Matthew 14–28, (WBC: Zondervan, 1995), 467-468.

  • 1
    (+)1 Thank you very much Susan. I did not even consider the double plurals. I still fail to see this as the same question, but that was excellent. I've posted several similar questions, so I'd like you to know that I do believe Yeshua is the son of man. I'm very interested in what you think about my question concerning John 9:35. Thanks again.
    – Cannabijoy
    Commented Jul 17, 2016 at 13:12
  • I'm going to choose this as the answer, although I disagree that Yeshua referred to himself as the son of man in any verse except for John 9:35. Thank you Susan.
    – Cannabijoy
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 1:14
  • @anonymouswho to whom else would He refer to besides Himself? John 5:27 And He has given Him authority to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man.
    – Ted O
    Commented Mar 13, 2017 at 14:46
  • @Susan Two questions: (1) "The people" in the question - did the average oridinary Jews have faith in Christ? Or do "the people" specifically refer to those who believe? (2) Why would they believe that Jesus is one of the dead prophets that came alive? Why did they not think of Him as a new individual? Could that be related to the prophecy that Elijah would come again?
    – Andries
    Commented Nov 12, 2021 at 4:22

Is Daniel 7:13-14 too simple an answer? I would say that he is declaring himself as the son of God. it is also addressed in Who is the man in Daniel's vision in Daniel 10?

  • Yes, that's too simple. Especially concerning John 9:35, which I've also posted a question about. I would agree that Yeshua is declaring himself to be the son of God. This is the answer he receives when he asks "Who do you say I am". So if Yeshua is the son of God, who is the son of man?
    – Cannabijoy
    Commented Jul 21, 2016 at 20:30

The phrase "Son of Man" - υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου - with and without the definite article (ὁ) - appears 81 times in the Gospels: 14 in Mark, 25 in Luke, 30 in Matthew and 12 in John.


  1. Jesus is the only one in the Gospels to use the expression to refer to Himself
  2. Jesus only uses this expression, and no other expression, when referring to Himself

The only passage in the Gospels where one might claim an exception is where the crowd is repeating something Jesus Himself said:

The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man? (John 12:34, KJV)

The late religious historian Martin Hengel made the point that although the Greek term ὁ υἱὸς τοῦ ἀνθρώπου in itself had no obvious meaning beyond the literal go a Greek speaker, the case would be altogether different when the phrase was spoken in Aramaic, as it would - as another answer hinted - immediately bring to mind the prophesy of Daniel, which appears in the Old Testament in Aramaic rather than Hebrew:1

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 7:13)2

The late Protopresbyter Thomas Hopko, former Dean Emeritus of Orthodox Theology at St. Vladimir Orthodox Seminary, in his series The Names of Jesus, said:

Martin Hengel called it [the phrase, "Son of Man"] a 'veiled codeword', a kind of Aramaic insider word for Jews. And maybe that explains why it's found 30 times in Matthew, because Matthew's considered to be the Aramaic Gospel,3 the one originally written for Jewish Christians, and also, Matthew is not only the Torah Gospel, the one identifying Jesus as the New Moses and connecting [him] to the Law, but also Matthew is considered to be the source of the very sayings of Jesus, that the collection of the sayings of Jesus himself is somehow connected with the Matthew tradition and that you find them first of all through Matthew or in a separate collection that then comes through in Mark and Luke and so on.4

The connection with the prophesy is perhaps made even clearer in Matthew's and Mark's account of Jesus' interrogation by the high priest:

And the high priest arose, and said unto him, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God. Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven (Matthew 26:62-64).

And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven (Mark 14:59-62).

Here He certainly brought to mind not only Daniel's prophesy, but also the Psalm:

The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, Until I make thine enemies thy footstool (110:1).

which is the most quoted Old Testament verse in the New Testament.

I think the high priest's reaction leave's little doubt as to whether the connection to the prophesy and the psalm went unnoticed:

Then the high priest rent his clothes, saying, He hath spoken blasphemy; what further need have we of witnesses? behold, now ye have heard his blasphemy (Matthew 26:65)

The question remains why Jesus chose this phrase and this allusion in the exclusive manner He did. Thomas Hopko summarizes here:

Jesus calls himself the Son of [Man] and the scribes and the elders and the high priests, knowing the Scripture, they know exactly what he means. They know exactly what it means.

The Greeks later ... and the Gentiles ... had to learn what it meant. We had to learn what it meant, but a Jew did not have to learn what it meant. He knew that that expression, “the Son of Man,” was tantamount to the Messiah. It even is tantamount to being God’s Son. It’s tantamount to be the one who sits on the throne, and who receives all honor, glory, dominion, majesty, blessing, power, and thanksgiving — evcharistia, evlogia, timē, proskēnesis — all these words are given to him, and, certainly, to God, and to this Son of Man.

So the expression “Son of Man” is what Jesus calls himself. And it’s the only thing that he calls himself ... Once the Son of Man—the man, the one whom God has chosen, raised up, sent, who is his own Son begotten of God before all ages, who already in Daniel is presented with the Ancient of Days to sit upon the throne—once that Son of Man comes, then he is to be given all glory, honor, and worship as the Christ, the Lord, the Savior, the Man at the Father’s right hand, the one who sits enthroned with him, God’s very own Son, and God himself in human flesh.

1. Thomas Hopko, "Why does Jesus refer to Himself as Son of Man when virtually no one else does?", Ancient Faith Radio, May 30, 2009, https://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/namesofjesus/jesus_-_son_of_man/print (accessed 10 April 2020)
2. Septuagint reading is slightly different, where the translator includes the definite article: I beheld in the night vision, and, lo, one coming with the clouds of heaven as the Son of man, and he came on to the Ancient of days, and was brought near to him (Brenton)
3. It was the understanding in the early Church and at least through the first millennium that Matthew was the first to write a Gospel account and that he most likely wrote his first account in Aramaic (sources in translation say "Hebrew", but that is because there is no distinction between "Aramaic" and "Hebrew" in Greek). As late as the 7th century, Sophronius of Jerusalem claimed that a copy of Matthew's original work was preserved during his time at the library of Caesarea and was then being used by "the Nazarenes of Berroia in Syria" (Introduction to Theophylact's Explanation of the Gospel According to Matthew; Chrysostom Press, 1992, p.5
4. "There are four evangelists; two of them, Matthew and John, were of the company of the twelve, and two, Mark and Luke, were of the seventy. Mark was also a follower and disciple of Peter, and Luke, of Paul. Matthew, then, first wrote the Gospel in the Hebrew language for the Jews who believed, eight years after Christ's Ascension. Some say that John translated it from the Hebrew language into Greek. Mark wrote his Gospel ten years after the Ascension, instructed by Peter. Luke wrote his Gospel fifteen years after the Ascension, and John the most wise Theologian, thirty two years after the Ascension" (Theophylact, op. cit.)


The answer to the grammar came through Susan.

This is the answer to "Who is the son of man in Matthew 16:13?"

The short answer: He is the words that come out of your mouth.

The Long Answer

To show the Hebrew classification of the metaphor.

“God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent; Has He said, and will He not do it? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? (Numbers 23:19 NASB)

This verse shows that there's a division between the classification of God and the metaphor "Son of Man".

This metaphor was used much in both the book of Ezekiel and that of the Book of Enoch. Now regardless if one wants to discount the Book of Enoch, its been described that the Book of Enoch was popular during the time of Jesus. And even if that's disagreed with, it still was used in that writing holding to the concept of the metaphor.

God is the Word

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1 NASB)

He comes out of our mouth

And Balaam said to Balak, “Look, I have come to you! Now, have I any power at all to say anything? The word that God puts in my mouth, that I must speak.” (Numbers 22:38 NKJV)

Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is the truth.” (1 Kings 17:24)

“But when I speak with you, I will open your mouth, and you shall say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD.' He who hears, let him hear; and he who refuses, let him refuse; for they are a rebellious house. (Ezekiel 3:27 NKJV)

He really really came out of the mouth of Jesus

I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. (Deuteronomy 18:18 NASB)

Remember reading about the repentance of the son of man?

This does not mean that Jesus had reason to repent. Indeed what came out of the mouth of Jesus those where "God's words".

Jesus helps to make this clear to us

It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man." (Matthew 15:11 NASB)

James offers help to show what Jesus describes

With it we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in the likeness of God; 10 from the same mouth come both blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be this way. 11 Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? 12 Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh. (James 3:9-12 NASB)

The concept of the son of man defined into two types

  • Fresh Water / Salt Water
  • Good Tree / Bad Tree

One type causes curses. One type causes blessings.

Jesus expands on this concept using a tree metaphor

So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits. (Matthew 7:17-20 NASB)

Even John the Baptist explains this concept

Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; 9 and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham for our father'; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. 10 The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. (Matthew 3:8-10 NASB)

The blind man could "see" that the trees define people

And he looked up and said, “I see men, for I see them like trees, walking around.” (Mark 8:24 NSAB)

A quick summary of these classifications this far

A person can say good things or bad things. People who say bad things "cut down and thrown into the fire". We should repent(turn away) from saying bad things. Saying bad things defiles a person. We bear good fruit when we keep to repentance (aka: not saying bad things)

Jesus explains what our conversations should be like

But let your statement be, 'Yes, yes' or 'No, no'; anything beyond these is of evil. (Matthew 5:37 NASB)

But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. 20 For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. (Matthew 10:19-20 NASB)

Good fruit just got defined as the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.

Why no more need for Rules

After learning both good and evil from our parents, the law came to guide all to good, but who followed the Law or did all follow the law, or does all follow the law even this day?

Therefore instead of speaking about the evil of the day, and producing bad fruit that results in death, we bind up the evil inside of our bodies and do not set it free. This means resisting the urge to tell others about how sally did this wrong etc. etc.

For indeed if one does allow the words about evil to escape the lips, it comes back and the final condition of the one who spoke it.

The Truth of the Confession of Sin

Do not let your mouth cause your flesh to sin, nor say before the messenger of God that it was an error. Why should God be angry at your excuse and destroy the work of your hands? (Ecc 5:6 NKJV)

Sin does not mean Error

If you do well, will not your countenance be lifted up? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door; and its desire is for you, but you must master it.” (Genesis 4:7 NASB)

  • Saying what was done wrong kills the one who speaks it.

The real question a person should ask.

What is Sin that when I should confess I get forgiven and be given everlasting life?"

The short answer: Sin = Hate

The long answer concerning the definition of sin he will give to another question.

  • Thank you for the answer Decrypted. I don't really see how this answers the question though. I read this several times, but I still don't understand what "he is the words that come out of your mouth" means. My words are not the son of any man. As far as I know, they are just words that produce a sound when I speak. Maybe I'm missing something.
    – Cannabijoy
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 3:41
  • The words that get birthed from a human, that's the son of man. Consider how they do 3D animation, there is a parent object, and there is a child object, what happens to the parent object, also occurs to the child object. For example If the designer was making a 3D model of a hand The palm of the hand would attach to the forearm object. The palm would acts as the child of the forearm, Yet for the fingers they attach to the palm. In this the fingers their the child of the parent object labeled palm. The finger gets controlled by the movement of the palm, likewise the same for the son of man.
    – Decrypted
    Commented Jul 22, 2016 at 22:39

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