"The Son of God" or "a son of the gods"?
Daniel 3:25 "and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."
When the God fearing Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow down and worship before the image king Nebuchadnezzar made, he had them cast into a burning fiery furnace.
These three bold believers confessed: "If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king." These three believers in the one true God were cast into the flames and yet they were not harmed. King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and said: "Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God." (Daniel 3:25).
"Then in Nebuchaddnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the kings word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God." (Daniel 3:28)
When we read the entire historical event in the King James Holy Bible, we see that their God did indeed deliver them. However this truth of the true God working salvation for His people is obscured and perverted in numerous modern versions.
"The fourth is like THE SON OF GOD"
"And the form of the fourth is like the Son of God" is the reading of Wycliffe Bible 1395 - "the fourthe is lijk the sone of God.", the Great Bible 1540, the Bishops' Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1587 - "the forme of the fourth is like the sonne of God.", the Douay-Rheims of 1610 - "and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.",the King James Bible 1611, The Bill Bible 1671, Webster's translation 1833,the Brenton Translation 1851, the Calvin Bible of 1855, the Julia Smith Translation 1855, The Smith Bible 1876, The Ancient Hebrew Bible 1907 - "the fourth is like THE SON OF GOD", the Douay of 1950, The Word of Yah 1993, Lamsa's 1936 translation of the Syriac Peshitta - "the fourth is like that of the Son of God.", The Word of Yah Bible 1993, the Third Millennium Bible 1998, the NKJV of 1982, The Koster Scriptures 1998 - "the fourth is like THE SON OF ELAH", the 2009 Bond Slave Version, the Asser Septuagint 2009 - "the fourth is like THE SON OF GOD."
It is also the reading of The Revised Webster Bible 1995, The Complete Apostle's Bible 2005, The Revised Geneva Bible 2005, the 2011 Orthodox Jewish Bible - "and the form of the fourth is like the Bar Elohin (Ben Elohim, Hebrew).", the Biblos Interlinear Bible 2011 - "the form of the fourth is like the Son of God", Conservative Bible 2011, The Work of God's Children Illustrated Bible 2011, The New Brenton Translation 2012, The Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2012 - “the form of the fourth is like the Bar-Elahin”, the Jubilee Bible 2010, The Revised Douay-Rheims Bible 2012, the 2012 Natural Israelite Bible - "the fourth is like THE SON OF GOD." and The Holy Bible, Modern English Version 2014 - "And the form of the fourth is like the Son of God!”
This online Interlinear Hebrew Old Testament - "the fourth is like THE SON OF GOD."
Jewish Virtual Library The Tanakh [Full Text] 1998
“and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
It is even the reading found in the so called Greek Septuagint copy I have which is translated as "the fourth is like the Son of God."
The so called Greek Septuagint stands with the KJB in its translation.
It says: "the fourth is like the Son of God"
You can see it online here -
24 And Nabuchodonosor heard them singing praises; and he wondered, and rose up in haste, and said to his nobles, Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? and they said to the king, Yes, O king. 25 And the king said, But I see four men loose, and walking in the midst of the fire, and there has no harm happened to them; and the appearance of the fourth is like the Son of God.
Hebraic Transliteration Scripture 2010 - "and the form of the fourth is like the Bar-Elahin”
Foreign language translations that say the fourth is like the Son of God are the French Sainte Bible of 1759 by Louis Lemaistre de Sacy - " le quatrième est semblable au Fils de Dieu.", the Spanish Sagradas Escrituras of 1569, the 2010 Reina Valera Gomez - "y el parecer del cuarto es semejante al Hijo de Dios.", the Check BKR Bible - "jest synu Božímu.", the Lithuanian Bible - "kaip Dievo sūnus!”, the Russian Synodal Version - "подобен сыну Божию.", the 2009 Romanian Fidela Bbile - "ca a Fiului lui Dumnezeu. "
and the Modern Greek Bible -"ου τεταρτου ειναι ομοια με Υιον Θεου."
The NKJV 1982 also reads: "the fourth is like the Son of God" but then it has a footnote that reads: "Or a son of the gods". A son of the Gods, would not be the Son of the only true and living God. "A son of the gods" would not be the Lord Jesus Christ who was with them in the fiery furnace.
The Second Person of the divine Trinity often appeared in the Old Testament as "the angel of the Lord" and was worshipped as God. (See the references below in Poole's Synopsis.)
"A son of the gods" is the reading of the ASV, NASB, NIV, RSV, ESV, Holman Standard, the Jehovah Witness New World Translation, and many other modern versions. You cannot believe nor teach the same truth using these conflicting versions.
Daniel Wallace and company's ridiculous NET version goes off virtually all by itself and actually says: "And the appearance of the fourth is like that of a god!"
And the 1998 Complete Jewish Bible and the critical text 2011 Common English Bible actually say: "and the fourth looks like one of the gods!”
Holy Scriptures VW Edition 2010 - “And the form of the fourth is like the son of a god.”
And not to be outdone for novelty, the brand new 2012 International Standard Version says: "and the appearance of the fourth resembles a divine being."
The 2004 Judaica Press Tanach says - "and the form of the fourth one is like [that of] AN ANGEL."
God’s First Truth 1999 - “and the fourth is like AN ANGEL to look upon. “
The Ancient Roots Bible 2008 has - “and the form of the fourth is like A DESCENDANT OF God.”
All of these last mentioned modern versions reject the clear Hebrew reading of SON - Hebrew bar.
The Catholic Connection
The Catholic Versions are, as always, in disagreement with each other. Not only do the Catholic versions continually disagree with each other, but if you look at Daniel chapter 3 in the Catholic bible versions you will see that they have all added some 66 entire verses allegedly taken from the Aramaic and some Greek copies to this single chapter. The older Catholic translations like the 1610 Douay-Rheims as well as the 1950 Douay read like the King James Bible - "and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."
But the 1968 Jerusalem bible says "the fourth looks like a son of the gods", the 1970 St. Joseph New American bible has "the fourth looks like a son of God" and the 1985 New Jerusalem has "a child of the gods!". And the 2009 Catholic Public Domain Version has - "the fourth is like a son of God.”
Coverdale of 1535 and Matthew's Bible of 1549 were off the mark with: "and the fourth is like an angel to loke vpon."
Bible commentators like bible versions are all over the board when it comes to understanding Who this fourth Person was who appeared with the three Hebrew believers. However there are several that support the reading found in the King James Bible and many other translations that this Person was none other than the Son of God.
At our Facebook King James Bible Debate forum, and common sense Bible believer posted this simple and logical explanation - "Look at a verse previous to Daniel 3:25, which is Daniel 2:47 “The king answered unto Daniel, and said, Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods, and a Lord of kings, and a revealer of secrets, seeing thou couldest reveal this secret.”
It seems king Nebuchadnezzar learned a lesson at this point and when another miracle took place, the deliverance from the fiery furnace, that he recognized the power of Almighty God, and said in Daniel 3:25 ... Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God."
John Gill - "And the form of the fourth is like the Son of God; MANY OF THE ANCIENT CHRISTIAN WRITERS INTERPRET IT OF CHRIST THE SON OF GOD, whom Nebuchadnezzar, though a Heathen prince, might have some knowledge of from Daniel and other Jews in his court, of whom he had heard them speak as a glorious Person; and this being such an one, he might conclude it was he, or one like to him; and it is highly probable it was he, since it was not unusual for him to appear in a human form, and to be present with his people, as he often is with them, and even in the furnace of affliction;to sympathize with them; to revive and comfort them; to bear them up and support them; to teach and instruct them, and at last to deliver them out of their afflictions."
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown - "like the Son of God--Unconsciously, like Saul, Caiaphas, and Pilate, he is made to utter divine truths... REALLY IT WAS THE "messenger of the covenant," WHO HEREIN GAVE A PRELUDE TO HIS INCARNATION."
Matthew Henry - "Some think it was the eternal Son of God, the angel of the covenant, and not a created angel. He appeared often in our nature before he assumed it in his incarnation, and never more seasonable, nor to give a more proper indication and presage of his great errand into the world in the fulness of time, than now, when, to deliver his chosen out of the fire, he came and walked with them in the fire."
John Wesley - " The Son of God - Jesus Christ, the Angel of the covenant, did sometimes appear before his incarnation."
Matthew Poole - " Like the Son of God; a Divine, most beautiful, and glorious countenance; either of a mere angel, or rather of Jesus Christ, the Angel of the covenant, who did sometimes appear in the Old Testament before his incarnation, Gen. xii. 7; xviii. 10, 13, 17, 20, &c.; Exod. xxiii. 23; xxxiii. 2; Josh. v. 13—15 ; Prov. viii. 31; in all which places it is Jehovah; Gen. xix. 24; Exod. iii. 2 ; Acts vii. 30, 32, 33, 38."
Was it an angel, or was it the second person of the Trinity, "the" Son of God? That this was the Son of God - the second person of the Trinity, who afterward became incarnate, has been quite a common opinion of expositors. So it was held by Tertullian, by Augustine, and by Hilary, among the fathers; and so it has been held by Gill, Clarius, and others, among the moderns. Of those who have maintained that it was Christ, some have supposed that Nebuchadnezzar had been made acquainted with the belief of the Hebrews in regard to the Messiah; others, that he spoke under the influence of the Holy Spirit, without being fully aware of what his words imported, as Caiaphas, Saul, Pilate, and others have done. - Poole's "Synopsis."
John Trapp Complete Commentary (English Puritan) - “This fourth person here in the fiery furnace is by many held to be Christ the Son of God, who appeared at this time in human shape.”
Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers - “(25) The Son of God.—These words, let us remember, are uttered by a heathen king, who calls this same Person, in Daniel 3:28, “an angel” of the God whom the three children worshipped. Probably Nebuchadnezzar thought that He stood to Jehovah in the same relation that he himself did to Merodach. His conceptions of the power of Jehovah were evidently raised by what he had witnessed, though as yet he does not recognise Him as being more than a chief among gods. He has not risen to that conception of the unity of God which is essential to His absolute supremacy. But still the question has to be answered, What did the king see? THE EARLY PATRISTIC INTERPRETATION WAS THAT. IT WAS NONE OTHER THAN CHRIST HIMSELF. We have no means of ascertaining anything further, and must be content with knowing that the same “Angel of God’s presence” who was with Israel in the wilderness watched over the people in Babylon.”
Hawker’s Poor Man’s Commentary - “Probably the impious wretch was struck with astonishment at the distinguishing providence of God, that while God's servants received no hurt, the very heat of the furnace struck dead those who had laid their hands upon them. But what, did the fire loosen the cords, With which Shadrach and his companions were bound, and yet not touch their persons? Yes! so distinguishing was the mercy, that not a hair of their heads was singed. Oh! what tokens are these of JESUS looking on, guiding all, and controlling all! But all is explained to us in what follows. JESUS was with them."
Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged - “The form of the fourth is like the Son of God. Unconsciously, like Saul, Caiaphas (John 11:49-52), and Pilate, he is made to utter divine truths, the full import of which he did not himself understand. "Son of God" in his mouth means only an "angel" from heaven, as Daniel 3:28 proves, "Blessed be the God of Shadrach, etc., who hath sent his angel." (Compare Job 1:6; Job 38:7, where "the sons of God" mean the angels; Psalms 34:7-8, "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear him, and delivereth them;" and the probably pagan centurion's exclamation, Matthew 27:54, "Truly this was the Son of God"). The Chaldeans believed in families of gods: Bel, the supreme god, accompanied by the goddess Mylitta, being the father of the gods: thus by the expression he meant one sprung from and sent by the gods. Really it was the "messenger of the covenant," who herein gave a prelude to His incarnation.”
Notes from the Internet on Daniel 3:25
Who is the Fourth Man of Daniel 3:25?
A Paper Presented at the Toronto Baptist Church
Third Annual King James Bible Conference
By Pastor Hugo W.K. Schönhaar
Daniel 3:25, He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
There is no question in the minds of Bible believers who this Person is. The debate rages over whom Nebuchadnezzar believed he saw. The reasoning goes like this; since Nebuchadnezzar was a pagan king he would have had no way of identifying this Person as the Son of God. Is this supposition true?
The King James Bible should be enough evidence for the Bible believer. Unfortunately, few people read a KJB today and are left holding a modern perversion (Excuse me, I meant to say satanic counterfeit).
Daniel 3:25 (NIV), He said, "Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods."
With this kind of blatant attack on the words of the living God it is important to back up what was really said in Daniel 3:25. I will bring a four-fold refutation on the readings found in the NIV and all other new bible versions (Excuse me, I meant to say New Age bible versions.[Just in case the "brethren" get upset; the NIV backs up David Spangler’s statement of faith: "Christ is the same force as Lucifer" cf. Isaiah 14:12 and Revelation 22:16b in an NIV]).
This quadripartite argument will deal with: philology, prophets, pedagogues and philosophy.
The Aramaic used does not lend itself to the readings in the modern versions. Dr. Thomas Strouse has explained the situation well in the space of one paragraph:
Grammatically, the Aramaic words for son (var or bar) and God
(elahin) form a word pair. When the second word of a word pair is definite ("God"), then the first word is definite ("the Son").
Dr. Strouse states in a footnote that, "Modern translations fail to state this common Hebrew/Aramaic grammatical idiom. Translations such as the NIV’s "a son of the gods" "are wrongheaded, grammatically and theologically".
So much for retaining the "poetic language" of the "time honoured" KJV. So much for "vigorously adhering to the original languages". So much for the "scholarship" that is tainted with modernism.
The words of the NIV in Daniel 3:25 are defined - not by the rules of grammar, but by the warped theology of the translators. To be fair, the NIV translation committee did not have the intellectual rigor of the KJB translators. They have been weighed in the balances for well over a quarter of a century and have been found woefully wanting; both intellectually and spiritually." (end of comments by Pastor Hugo W.K. Schönhaar )
Get yourself the King James Bible and stick to it. It is God's Book and the complete and inerrant, 100% true, Christ exalting words of the living God.
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