Patristics (early church Fathers) are not a valid hermeneutic to interpret the content of the NT. However, we do know that contained in the vast quantity of pre-Nicaea literature, the early fathers did hold consistently and decisively (within the limitations of their cultural vernacular and doctrinal expressions), the Christological essentials of the apostolic teaching particularly regarding monotheism and Jesus Christ as God incarnate within a trinitarian concept. We also we find significant theological descriptions as to Son’s atoning cross work.  

For example, note a few of many remarkable theological terms and phrases that the apostolic Father, Ignatius bishop of Antioch (c. A.D. 107) applies to Christ in his “genuine” letters:


Ἀγέννητος
(agennētos, “There is only one physician, who is both flesh and spirit, born and unborn [ἀγέννητος], God in man, true life,” Ephesians 7:2). Ἀγέννητος was technical term meaning unbegotten, unborn, unoriginated (Kelly, BDAG, Liddell et al.) distinguishing God (here, the incarnate God) from creatures.    


Ὁ γὰρ
θεὸς ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦς Χριστός (Ho gar theos hēmōn Iēsous Christos, “For our God, Jesus Christ,” Romans 3.3). Ignatius frequently referred to Christ as θεὸς (theos, “the/our God”) or similar phrases, and does so in distinction to the Father (e.g., Rom. prologue; Eph. 18; Polycarp 8.3 et al.). Further, contra the erroneous claims of Oneness advocates, there is no place in the Greek of Ignatius’s genuine letters where grammatically he says Jesus is the Father; rather Ignatius always differentiates Jesus from the Father—as two distinct divine persons.


Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ, ὃς πρὸ αἰώνων παρὰ πατρὶ ἦν
(Iēsou Christou, hos pro aiōnōn para patri ēn, “Jesus Christ, who before the ages was with the Father,” Magnesians 6.1). In affirming the preexistence of the person of the Son, in distinction to the Father, note the syntactical similarity of Magnesians 6:1 and John 17:5.

First both John and Ignatius use the prepositional phrase, παρὰ (para, “with, alongside of”) + the dative case indicating a clear distinction of persons (John 17:5- παρὰ σεαυτῷ, παρὰ σοί, “together with Yourself,” “with You”; Magnesians 6:1- παρὰ πατρὶ, “with [the] Father”).

Second, both passages use the preposition πρὸ (“before”) indicting the actual preexistence of the person of the Son (John 17:5- πρὸ τοῦ τὸν κόσμον εἴναι, “before the world was”; Magnesians 6:1- πρὸ αἰώνων, “before [the] ages”).         


ἐν αἵματι θεοῦ
(en haimati theou, “by the blood of God”; “being imitators of God, and having your hearts kindled in the blood of God, you have perfectly fulfilled your congenial work,” Ephesians 1.1). This most interesting phrase resembles Paul’s statement in Acts 20:28: “the church of God, which He purchased with His own blood.”  

Although the phrase in Acts 20:28 (διὰ τοῦ αἵματος τοῦ ἰδίου, lit., “with the blood of His own”) could be translated as “with the blood of His own Son” (possessive genitive, NET, CEV), Ignatius’s meaning is unambiguous (pre-Nestorian). In his Intro to the same letter (Ephesians), he refers to Jesus Christ as τοῦ θεοῦ ἡμῶν (“our God”). Thus, for Ignatius, the “by the blood of God” would be the blood of the incarnate God, Jesus Christ.            

Many more statements of Ignatius could be cited. Although Ignatius, along with other important apostolic Fathers (and subsequent ones), lacked modern articulation of doctrinal words and phrases, Ignatius did indeed clearly hold to an essential Christology, where salvation is through the blood of incarnate God the Son, preexisting before the ages, παρὰ πατρὶ (“with the Father”).        

“I kept looking, until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat. . . . I kept looking in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven, One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days, and was presented before Him. And to Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom, that all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one, which will not be destroyed (vv. 9, 13-14).

 

Daniel 7:9-14 offers additional evidence to the preexistence of Christ. It additionally indicates that the Messiah would receive true worship in the same sense as the Father. In Daniel’s vision, he describes two distinct objects of divine worship—the Ancient of Days and the “Son of Man” particularly in verses 9, 13-14. These passages are quite problematic for unitarian groups such as Oneness Pentecostals who deny any real distinction of persons between the Christ and the Father. The grammar of the passages denoting this distinction cannot be missed: two objects of praise, religious worship, and real interaction between the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man.

Verse 9: “I kept looking, until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat.” Note that Daniel sees “thrones” that were set up, rather than one single throne. Apparently, both the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man each have thrones as also indicated in the New Testament. This is not an isolated occurrence. In Revelation 3:21 both God the Father and the Lamb have thrones: “He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (cf. Heb. 1:8) We also see that God the Father and Lamb share the same throne (cf. Rev. 5:13; 22:1, 3), but yet they are always presented as distinct persons.

 

Verse 13: behold, with the clouds of heaven, One like a Son of Man was coming and He came up to the Ancient of Days.” Daniel sees the Son of Man coming up to the Ancient of Days. First, note how the Son of Man is coming: “with the clouds of heaven.” In the Old Testament, only YHWH is said to be coming in/with the clouds of heaven (cf., Exod. 19:9; Lev. 16:2; Isa. 19:1; Jer. 4:13). In the New Testament, only the Son, Jesus Christ, is said to be coming the clouds of heaven. In Mark 14:62 (cf. Matt. 26:64), when the high priest asked Jesus if He were the Messiah, the Son of God, He answered as affirmed:

“I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven” (also see Matt 24:30-31; John 3:13; Rev. 1:7). 

 

“Ancient of Days.” Unquestionably, the identity of the Ancient of Days (Aram. Atik Yomin; LXX, palaios hēmerōn) is God Himself. The CEV translates the title of “Ancient of Days” as “the Eternal God” and the TEV translates it as “One who had been living for ever.”

 

“Son of Man.” In the Old Testament, the title “son of man” (Heb., ben adam) is a common phrase used at times to underline the difference between God and human beings; used primarily though as a synonym for “man” or mankind in general (cf. Num. 23:19; Ps. 8:4; Isa. 51:12 ). It is used almost exclusively of Ezekiel. The Prophet Ezekiel is addressed as “son of man” by God at least ninety times in the Old Testament (e.g. Ezek. 2:1). Thus, predominately, the usage is used of the Prophet Ezekiel. However, in the New Testament, “Son of Man” was exclusively applied to Christ. Thus, it is well established that the phrase, “Son of Man,” as applied to Christ, was derived from Daniel 7:13f.

Jesus used this epithet of Himself more than any other title (in the gospels, it was used of Christ about eighty-eight times). Further, in the Gospels or gospels, the title is connected with both His humanity and His deity. In Mark 14:61-62, when the high priest had asked Jesus is He were the Messiah, the Son of the God, Jesus said: “I am; and you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” Note these New Testament references related to the divine nature of the “Son of Man.” That is, things that are attributed to the Son of man that only can be attributed to God:   

  • The Son of Man has authority “to forgive sins” (Matt. 9:6)
  • The Son of Man is “greater than the temple” (Matt. 12:6)
  • The Son of Man is “Lord of the Sabbath” (Matt. 12:8)
  • The Son of Man is the King of a kingdom and the angels and elect are His indicating that He rules over them (cf. Matt. 13:41)
  • The Son of Man is “the Messiah, the Son of the living God” (Matt. 16:13-17; Mark 14:61-62)
  • The Son of Man as to be killed and physically raised (resurrected) from the dead (cf. Matt. 17:9, 26:2; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:22; John 2:19-22)
  • The Son of Man gave His “as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45)
  • The Son of Man “descended from heaven” (John 3:13)
  • All who believe in The Son of Man will have eternal life (cf. John 3:14-15)
  • The Son of Man accepted religious worship (cf. John 9:35-38)

 

“And to Him was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom.” In Matthew 28:18-19, the Son of Man declares: “All authority has been given to Me, in heaven and earth.” He had stated this after “they worshiped Him” (v. 17). Thus, it seems that Daniel prophetically envisaged Matthew 28:18, the Son of Man not only receiving all authority, honor, and sovereignty, but, as we will see below, as in Matthew 28:17, Daniel sees the Son of Man being worshiped “by all people, nations, and languages.” The parallel here to Matthew 28:17-19 are striking.  

In Daniel 7:9-14, Daniel presents two objects of divine worship, the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man who “was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom.” First, we read in in verse 9 that Daniel saw “thrones,” not a single throne: “I kept looking, until thrones were set up, And the Ancient of Days took His seat.” Second, in verse 13, Daniel sees the Son of Man coming “with [LXX, epi] the clouds of heaven . . . to the Ancient of Days.”[1]

In especially verse 14, the deity of the person of the Son of Man is most expressed. After the Ancient of Days gives to the Son of Man “dominion, Glory and a kingdom,” then, He decrees that “All the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve [“worship,” Holman, NLT, NIV et al.] Him.” In verse 14, the LXX translates the Aramaic pelach as latreuō (cf. Isa. 56:2; Jer. 50:40; Ps. 8:4; 80:17; 146:3; Job 25:6). In a religious context the term denotes service or worship reserved for God alone (Exod. 20:5 [LXX]; Matt. 4:10; Acts 26:7; Rom. 1:9; 12:1; Gal. 4:8; Phil. 3:3; Heb. 9:14; Rev. 22:3; etc.).[3] Although in some editions of the LXX, have the term douleuō (“to serve”), but as with latreuō, in a religious context (which Dan. 7:9-14 undeniably are), douleuō denotes religious worship, signifying service or worship reserved for God alone.[4] ” (Gal. 4:8). [5]

Since Daniel’s vision was clearly within a religious context (i.e., in the heavens), the worship (latreuō/douleuō) that the Son of Man receives from the “peoples, nations and men of every language” is religious worship reserved for YHWH alone (cf. v. 27). That the Messiah, the Son of Man, rightfully received religious worship here is wholly consistent to the New Testament revelation  there are many places where the Son was worshiped in a religious context (e.g., Matt. 14:33; John 9:35-38; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 5:13-14). It is the Son of Man that is coming in the clouds whose “dominion is an everlasting dominion which will not pass away; and His kingdom is one which will not be destroyed” (cf. Eph. 1:20-21; Heb. 1:8-12).

Furthermore, to avoid the implications of the Messiah receiving true religious worship, some have argued that the title “Son of Man” refers exclusively to humanity collectively In response, however, it is true that many places in the Old Testament does convey  that meaning—but only where the context warrants. However, in Daniel 7:9-14 this designation cannot be true contextually. The Son of Man in Daniel receives “dominion, Glory and a kingdom,” and “all the peoples, nations and men of every language might serve Him.” This description cannot be said of men collectively.

More than that, while modern Jewish commentators deny the Messianic import of this passage, this was not the case with the earliest Jewish exegetes (cf. the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin, 96b-97a, 98a; etc.).   Further, as noted, the testimony of early church Fathers connected the Son of Man in Daniel 7 with Jesus Christ— and not with men collectively.  

 

Conclusion  

In Daniel 7:9-14, Daniel presents two objects of divine worship, the Ancient of Days and the Son of Man who “was given dominion, Glory and a kingdom.” In Revelation 5:13 and 22:1, 3 the Father and the Lamb are presented as distinct persons. According to the rules of Greek grammar (viz. Sharp’s rule #6), tou theou (“the God”) and tou arniou (“the Lamb”) are two different/distinct persons. Each noun is preceded by the article (tou, “the”) and both nouns are connected by the copulative conjunction (kai, “and”; as in Matt. 28:19; 2 Cor. 13:14; 1 John 1:3; etc.; see Edward L. Dalcour, A Definitive Look at Oneness Theology: In the Light of Biblical Trinitarianism, 4th Edition, Revised, Updated, and Expanded [NWU, Potchefstroom, SA, 2011], 88, note 5).         


 

Notes 

[1] In the OT, only YHWH is said to be coming in/with the clouds of heaven (cf., Exod. 19:9; Lev. 16:2; Isa. 19:1; Jer. 4:13). In the NT, only the Son, Jesus Christ is said to be coming the clouds of heaven (Matt. 26:64; Mark 14:62).

[2] Cf. the LXX editions of H. B. Swete and Alfred Rahlfs.  

[3] Latreuō would have the same linguistic force as that of the frequently used term for “worship,” proskuneō in a religious context (e.g., Exod. 20:5 [LXX]; John 4:24; Rev. 7:11).    

[4] For example, in Galatians 4:8, Paul says, “When you did not know God, you were slaves to those which by nature are no gods.” The phrase “were slaves” (or “you served”) is from the verb douleuō. Paul was clear, “to serve” (douleuō) in a religious service, anyone other than God in a religious context is idolatry.  

[5] In the NT, there are many places where the Son was worshiped in a religious context (e.g., Matt. 14:33; John 9:35-38; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 5:13-14).