Son of Man Reaps - Rev. 14:14-20
"I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one "like a son of man" with a crown of gold on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand.
"Then another angel came out of the temple and called in a loud voice to him who was sitting on the cloud, "Take your sickle and reap, because the time to reap has come, for the harvest of the earth is ripe." So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth and the earth was harvested.
"Another angel came out of the temple in heaven, and he too had a sharp sickle. Still another angel, who had charge of the fire, came from the altar and called in a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, "Take your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of grapes from the earth's vine, because its grapes are ripe." The angel swung his sickle on the earth, gathered its grapes and threw them into the winepress of God's wrath. They were trampled in the winepress outside the city, and blood flowed out of the press, rising as high as the horses' bridles for a distance of 1,600 stadia [about 200 miles]." - Revelation 14:14-20, NIV.
Noted trinitarian scholar William Barclay writes in his The Revelation of John, Vol. 2 (Revised Ed.), "The Daily Study Bible Series" that there are "difficult things" in this passage.
"... there is the fact that the one like a son of man reaps and also an angel reaps. We may regard the one like the son of man, the risen and victorious Lord [Jesus], reaping the harvest of his own people, while the angel with the sharp sickle reaps the harvest of those destined for judgment."
Dr. Barclay didn't go on to explain another difficulty: Why the scripture about the son of man reaping is so difficult for many trinitarians. So the purpose of this paper is to explain why this scripture is so difficult for trinitarians.
Notice these statements by respected trinitarian authorities which also confirm that it is Christ being spoken of in the passage in question:
Rev. 14:14: "Christ is come for reaping this time (Heb. 9:28) for the harvesting of earth (verses 15-17). - p. 414, Vol. 6, Word Pictures in the New Testament, A. T. Robertson (extreme trinitarian).
`Crown': "Hence in the Apoc. [Revelation] a crown is represented on the conquering Christ (Rev 6:2, 14:14)" - p. 530, Vol. 1, A Dictionary of the Bible (trinitarian), James Hastings, Hendrickson Publ., 1988 printing.
`Crown' (Stephanos in NT Greek) - "Stephanos is the crown of exaltation bestowed upon Christ (Rev 6:2; 14:14; He:2 9)." - p. 763, Vol. 2, The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (very trinitarian), Eerdmans Publ., 1984 printing.
"The linguistic usage of Revelation 1:13 and 14:14 reveals affinities to Dan. 7:13. Both passages speak of `one like a son of man' as walking (`amidst the lampstands') or `sitting' on the clouds of heaven. Note too how Rev. differs from the Gospels in leaving out the article; this is apparently an imitation of the text of Dan. 7:13: the apocalyptic `Son of man' is the figure found already in Dan. 7:13, but now as a glorified ruler and judge." - The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (trinitarian), p. 633, Vol. 3, Zondervan Publ. (trinitarian), 1986.
Also examine Acts 1:9; Daniel 7:13,14; Acts 1:11; Mark 13:26, 27; and Rev. 1:7:
"[the resurrected Jesus] was lifted up, and a cloud removed him from their sight [`a cloud hid him from their sight' - GNB; `he disappeared into a cloud' - LB]" - NEB, Acts 1:9.
"[Daniel saw in a vision:] behold, with the clouds of heaven one like a Son of Man was coming, and he came up to the Ancient of Days [God] and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom." - NASB, Daniel 7:13, 14.
"`This Jesus, who has been taken away from you up to heaven [hidden in a cloud], will come in the same way as you have seen him go.'" - NEB, Acts 1:11.
"At that time men will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And he will send his angels and gather [reap] his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens." - NIV, Mark 13:26, 27.
"Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him" - NASB, Rev. 1:7.
Notice how one scripture tells us that Jesus' followers will be `gathered by the sickle' (harvested) from the earth by Jesus the king who is still seated on the cloud (Rev. 14):
"So he who was seated on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth and the earth was harvested."
Does it say Jesus will actually physically return to earth? No. It clearly says he will still be seated in the clouds when he harvests his people from the earth. In the same way that the clouds hid him when he left (Acts 1:9), they could well be hiding him on his harvesting return ("in the same way as you have seen him go.")
Furthermore, Jesus doesn't even do it firsthand, but, instead, while "in clouds," actually sends his angels to earth to do it! (Mark 13:26, 27.) So, when it also speaks of Jesus being `seen,' we may decide that it really means we `see' in vision, or even `see' by means of our own understanding of what is happening. - see Insight, Vol. 2, p. 678, `Presence.'
After all, other righteous people described in the Bible as having `seen' God, did not physically see him, but, instead, actually saw a vision or even a representative (usually an angel) of God - See SF study paper. Job, for example merely heard Jehovah's voice coming from a windstorm (`whirlwind' - NRSV), but later he said ... "now my eyes have seen you." Job 38:1; 42:5, NIV. And the footnote for Job 42:5 in the New International Version Study Bible tells us:
"... now Job has seen God with the eyes of faith and spiritual understanding" - NIVSB, 1985 ed.
In line with this understanding is the rendering by many translators of Heb. 9:26. Here the inspired Bible writer tells us that Jesus has already "appeared once and for all" [hapax - see the NWT study paper]. - NEB, JB, NJB, GNB, Phillips; cf. RSV, NRSV, REB, NAB (1970 & 1991 revision). This would certainly seem to indicate that Jesus would not again physically appear to men.
But whether men actually, physically see him or not is not an important issue. Surely an honest misunderstanding of this would in no way threaten your standing with God.
An error in your understanding of who God is and, therefore, your worshiping God in truth (John 4:24), however, is a crucial issue which means everlasting life (John 17:3) or eternal destruction (2 Thess. 1:8, 9, NRSV).
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It is strange that so many respected trinitarian scholars admit that Christ is the `son of man' in Rev. 14:14. Of course the evidence overwhelms any other theory, but that doesn't stop many trinitarian "scholars" from constructing other poorly supported context-defying statements in other areas of the Bible.
Of course, they usually just ignore the great trinitarian difficulty of Rev. 14:14. And what is this great difficulty concerning Christ on the clouds in Rev. 14:14?
He is in all respects like an angel (Dan. 10:5; cf. Rev. 1:13; 14:15 - `another angel' besides that of 14:14 [Christ])." - The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology (trinitarian), p. 633, Vol. 3, Zondervan Publ. (trinitarian), 1986.
Notice that the "son of man" on the clouds is given a command by "another angel" and he obeys that command. The command, of course, comes from God (the Father alone) through the angel. Both the "son of man" and the other angel are servants of God (the Father alone).
The wording " another angel" (although not certain, because of the description of other angels before the appearance of the "son of man") at least strongly indicates that the "son of man" here is an angel of God.
But we find absolutely no indication whatsoever in this account that the angel who orders Christ to harvest the earth is giving orders to God Himself! Can anyone believe that an angelic servant of God would speak this way to the Most High God Himself? Or that he would have to tell the omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing) Most High "God the Son" when and how to do anything?
Isn't it obvious that Jesus here is in the role of a reaping angel of the last days and performing a task similar to the other reaping angel? Would the Most High Only True God actually wait subserviently for a command from the Most High Only True God to be brought to him by an angelic servant of God and then obey like any other servant?
Isn't the great "difficulty" for trinitarians here the fact that this scripture is actually strong evidence that the resurrected Son (and installed heavenly King) is still not really God ?
Although Watchtower Society (WTS) research and scholarship is usually at least the equal of (and often superior to) that of other sources, I have tried to rely most heavily on other sources in Christendom itself (preferably trinitarian) or my own independent research to provide evidence disproving the trinitarian `proof' being examined in this paper. The reason is, of course, that this paper is meant to provide evidence needed by non-Witnesses, and many of them will not accept anything written by the WTS. They truly believe it is false, even dishonest. Therefore some of the following information may be in disagreement with current WTS teachings in some specifics. Jehovah's Witnesses should research the most recent WTS literature on the subject or scripture in question before using this information with others.