When the Son of Man Comes

What did He mean when He said that, if we deny Him, He will deny us before the angels of God?

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Despite His ominous predictions about suffering and death, Yeshua assured His disciples that their messianic expectations were not completely without warrant. In the future, everything will unfold just as they hoped. “The Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels,” He assured them (Matthew 16:27). He saw two stages to the redemption.

First Messiah must suffer. Second He will come in glory to usher in the kingdom. In that day, He will right the wrongs and “repay every man according to his deeds” (Matthew 16:27). Then He will fulfill the prophecies, as it says in Isaiah 40:10, “Behold, the Lord God will come with might, with His arm [i.e., the Messiah] ruling for Him. His reward is with Him and His recompense before Him.”

Until then, the disciples could anticipate a path of suffering to enter the kingdom.

The Master’s words about anticipating death and martyrdom challenged the disciples’ allegiance. He knew that they were having second thoughts. He warned them not to be ashamed of Him and His teachings unless they would have Him be ashamed of them when He finally did bring in the kingdom. When the Son of Man comes at the advent of the Messianic Age, He will deny those who have denied Him: “Whoever denies Me before men, I will also deny him before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:33). The scene is similar to His description of the messianic banquet from which He will expel His unworthy disciples, saying, “I tell you, I do not know where you are from; depart from me, all you evildoers” (Luke 13:27).

Luke’s version of the saying has both a positive and a negative formulation:

And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man will confess him also before the angels of God; but he who denies Me before men will be denied before the angels of God. (Luke 12:8-9)

What did He mean when He said that He will deny us before the angels of God? “Before the angels of God” is a theological circumlocution that simply means “before God.” In this context, the “angels of God” constitute the heavenly court over which the LORD presides. The throne of judgment is in view. In this court, the Son of Man will vouch for those whom He has known to be His faithful disciples, but those who have abandoned Him must stand or fall on their own merit. Despite these strong words, the gospel reader must remember Simon Peter—the first to confess Yeshua as Messiah—denied the Master three times before men. Through repentance and the grace of God, he found restoration. The Master will not be ashamed of Simon Peter, nor will He deny Him before the Father.

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