THE REVELATION OF THE SON OF MAN
Even though Christ ascended to his world, into the realm where he could be king and priest, there was still a time of “obscuration.” Jesus told his disciples to go into all the world with the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 24:14; 28:18f). While that message of Christ as the Messiah was accepted by “myriads” (Acts 21:20), it is nonetheless true that there continued to be a hiddenness concerning Christ.
Paul said the early church, along with all “creation” was anxiously longing for “the manifestation (apocalupsis) of the Sons of God” (Romans 8:18-19). In Colossians 3:1f the apostle said the brethren had died and their life was “hidden in Christ.” The church was at that time in a state of “death” and “hiddenness” that would be abolished at the appearing (phaneroo) of Christ. John said, “the world knows us not, because it knew him not, now are we sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, (phaneroo) we shall be like him (I John 3:1-2). Notice the inextricable and organic unity between Christ and his body, the church. As the apostles wrote, the church shared in the hiddenness that characterized the personal ministry of Jesus. But the time was soon coming when that obscurity would be swept away, and Christ and his body would be revealed! Notice a brief list of passages that predicted the revelation/manifestation of Christ and his body.
1.) Matthew 24:29f–In the events of the fall of Jerusalem the sign of the Son of Man in heaven would appear. As many scholars have noted this means that the fall of Jerusalem would be the final sign that Christ is truly the Son of God. Need we observe that Jesus said that revelation would be in his generation (Matthew 24:34)?
2.) Luke 17:31f–Jesus told of the “day when the Son of Man is revealed” (apocalupsis), as the time when it would be imperative to flee and not turn back. This hardly fits an “end of time” scenario.
3.) I Corinthians 1:4-8–Paul assured the Corinthians they would possess the charismata until the “coming (apocalupsis) of the Lord Jesus Christ. Are the Corinthians still alive? If not the Lord has been revealed!
4.) 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10–The apostle promised the saints at Thessalonica that they would receive relief (anesis– which is not “reward” but relief. See my In Flaming Fire for a full discussion) from persecution, “when the Lord Jesus is revealed (apocalupsis) from heaven.” This would be the time when he would be “glorified.” Have the Thessalonians not yet received relief from persecution? If the Thessalonians are dead, if Paul did not lie, if Jesus did not fail, then Christ was revealed!
5.) I Timothy 6:15-16- Paul told the young preacher to hold fast the commandments “until the appearing (epiphaneias) of the Lord. This epiphany would reveal, “who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” Paul did not tell Timothy to be faithful until he died; he told him to be faithful until the Lord appeared. This is an emphatic time indicator of the imminence of the parousia.
6.) I Peter 1:3-13–Peter spoke of the salvation that was coming at the revelation (apocalupsis) of the Lord “in a little while” after they had suffered being persecuted. (Remember the Messianic Woes?) Peter’s sense of imminence in regard to the revelation is undeniable (1 Peter 4:5, 7, 17).
7.) Revelation 3:9f-Jesus promised the Christians at Philadelphia that he would make those who claimed to be Jews but were not to come and acknowledge the “sonship” of the church. Here is the manifestation of the Sons of God and it would be at the soon coming of the Lord (v. 11)!
These, (and many more!), verses demonstrate the unity between the hiddenness of Christ and his body, the church. They also give an unmistakable temporal framework for the revealing of Christ and his body–that first century generation, and specifically the time of the fall of Jerusalem.
The time of the fall of Jerusalem was when the universal scope of Jesus’ second birth was fully revealed. Christ did not cease the work initiated by his resurrection, i.e. his kingship and priesthood, in AD 70, his place and prominence was fully revealed then! Christ and the New World he entered through his resurrection, that was proclaimed after his ascension, and hidden until his coming was gloriously, fully, irrefutably, revealed when Christ swept away the world of his first birth.
Christ was born again in his resurrection from the dead. That “rebirth” into his New World removed all the limitations imposed by his first birth. In his New World Christ ministers not just to Jews, but to any and all men who accept him (Galatians, 3:26-29). In his world Christ is a “high priest forever after the order of Melchisedec”, because the Old World to which he died was taken away. Christ’s Priesthood and Kingship were once and for all “revealed” in power and glory at his coming at the end of the Old World in A.D. 70 (Matthew 24:30-31).
Christ’s resurrection is the power whereby we today can enter that New Creation (cf. Isaiah 52:1f–>Revelation 21) , and participate in the life that is in him. Not only was Christ revealed, but the life that is in him was revealed as well. Nicodemus, and Israel, could not know the Messiah through the flesh, but had to be “born again” (John 3:3-5). Christ is not to be known “after the flesh” (2 Corinthians 5:16f), after the Old Covenant world of his incarnation. To know Christ today we must be “born again” from the world of sin into the world of life and light perfected and revealed by our Lord.
THE REVELATION OF THE SON OF MAN