Before we reach any conclusion, we need to examine the biblical evidence.
Q: Is the coming of the Son of man mentioned in Daniel 7:13 a reference to the second coming of Christ?
A: Some interpreters have argued that the New Testament interprets Daniel 7:13 as referring to Christ’s glorious second coming because in both cases He is coming on the clouds. Before we reach any conclusion, we need to examine the biblical evidence.
The Coming of the Son of Man in Daniel 7:13
Daniel sees in a vision one like a Son of man—suggesting that He is more than a human being; He is the Messiah—coming on the clouds. He is moving from one place to where the Ancient of Days is now located, in the most holy place of the heavenly sanctuary—a horizontal movement. He is joining God to participate in a judgment that occurs after the little horn oppressed God’s people for 1,260 prophetic days (A.D. 538-1798). Legal decisions are made based on the analysis of what was written in the heavenly books. At the close of the judgment, the Son of man receives glory, power, and kingship. It’s obvious that in his vision Daniel sees and describes for us what will be transpiring in heaven at a specific moment in the prophetic calendar.
The Coming of the Son of Man in the New Testament
When we examine the New Testament passages where the phrase “the Son of Man coming on the clouds,” or a similar one, is found (Matt. 24:30; 26:64; Mark 13:26; 14:62; Luke 21:27; Rev. 1:7), this is what the texts indicate: the Son of man is being seen by all human beings, “even they who pierced Him” (Rev. 1:7; cf. Matt. 24:30); He is coming from heaven to earth on the clouds—a vertical movement (cf. 1 Thess. 4:16, 17); the texts are describing the second coming of Christ; the Son of man is coming to gather His people and to defeat His enemies (Matt. 24:30; Mark 13:26; Rev. 1:7); He comes with great power and glory (Matt. 26:64; Mark 14:62; Luke 21:27), not to receive those attributes. It’s absolutely clear that the New Testament is describing an event that will transpire on earth visible to all and not just to a prophet.
Comparing the Evidence
When we analyze the information listed above, the conclusion is unavoidable: we are dealing with two different prophetic events that are, nevertheless, related to each other. They are chronologically connected in the sense that what takes place in heaven is followed by what will take place on earth, the coming of Christ. Notice that after the 1,260 prophetic days the Son of man receives glory, power, and kingship. Now, at the return of Christ, what was granted to Him in heaven is made visible to humans. This is not about a double-fulfillment prophecy but about two prophecies, each one fulfilled at a particular moment. The use of the phrase “the Son of Man coming with the clouds” found in Daniel is alluded to in the New Testament for at least one particular purpose. I would suggest that the allusion intends to identify Jesus Christ with the Messiah that
in Daniel received the right to rule as king and that is human and yet much more. The allusion legitimizes His divine appointment as God’s Messiah.