What does Daniel 3:25 mean?
ESV: He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”
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.'
NASB: He responded, 'Look! I see four men untied and walking about in the middle of the fire unharmed, and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods!'
CSB: He exclaimed, "Look! I see four men, not tied, walking around in the fire unharmed; and the fourth looks like a son of the gods."
NLT: Look!' Nebuchadnezzar shouted. 'I see four men, unbound, walking around in the fire unharmed! And the fourth looks like a god !'
KJV: 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.
NKJV: “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
Verse Commentary:
Babylon's king, Nebuchadnezzar, hatefully ordered that three men (Daniel 1:6–7) who defied his command to worship an idol (Daniel 3:1–7, 12) be tied up and thrown into a superheated furnace (Daniel 3:19–23). Some commentators suggest that what he sees now was a spiritual vision, implying that the king was reacting to spiritual insight, rather than looking into the flames. And yet, his words and actions suggest he was indeed watching, probably out of the same spite that caused him to order the execution (Daniel 3:24).

This fire is probably part of a "furnace," or an ancient lime kiln, which had openings on both the top and the side. Through the lower gap, the king perhaps expected to see the remains of three Hebrew captives. Instead, he sees four figures, untied, and moving. Hebrews 11:34 alludes to this miracle by remarking that by faith believers "quenched the power of fire." The word "quenched" as used in those contexts most literally means "made ineffective." The fire was not extinguished, but it had no power over the men inside.

One of the four figures is described as "like a son of the gods." It's possible this was a preincarnate appearance of Jesus, or it may have simply been an angelic being such as Michael the Archangel (Daniel 10:13; 12:1). Some translations suggest Nebuchadnezzar referred to this person as "like the Son of God." This would be an incredibly precise reference to Jesus. However, the pagan king had no knowledge of Hebrew prophecy, nor a worldview including God the Son as described by the Bible. Rather, what the king saw was a fourth figure of unmistakably supernatural power.

Before their ordeal, the three Hebrew men confidently told the king they would not worship his idol. They were confident that God could save them, despite Nebuchadnezzar's arrogance (Daniel 3:15). They were prepared to die for their faith, knowing God was not obligated to rescue them, but trusting that the Lord would do what was best (Daniel 3:16–18). Here, their faith is validated.
Verse Context:
Daniel 3:19–25 follows the description of Nebuchadnezzar's angry response to an accusation: that Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 1:6–7) refused to worship Nebuchadnezzar's golden image (Daniel 3:1–7, 8–12). Rather than begging for mercy, the men openly refuse to commit idolatry (Daniel 3:16–18). This enrages the king, who tries to make an example of them, which is thwarted by God (Daniel 3:22–27). The passage is recorded in Aramaic, highlighting its importance to non-Jewish people of the ancient world.
Chapter Summary:
Nebuchadnezzar builds a golden idol, possibly inspired by the explanation of his own dream (Daniel 2:36–38). He commands all people to worship it, at a given musical signal, on pain of death. Three Hebrew men openly defy this command and are thrown into a superheated furnace. To his shock, the king sees a supernatural figure with the still-living Israelites. Not only do they survive, but their clothes aren't singed nor even smelling like smoke. The king praises their faith, and their God, commanding that no one speak ill of the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
Chapter Context:
The first chapter of Daniel explained how four captive Israelite boys became respected advisors to a Babylonian king. Chapter 2 showed these men praying for divine wisdom to untangle that same king's dream. These events set the stage for this chapter and the famous trio of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. The men refuse to bow to an idol and are rescued from fiery death by God. This is the last mention of these men in Scripture, as focus shifts back to Babylon's kings and the prophet Daniel.
Book Summary:
The book of Daniel contains famous Old Testament stories and prophecies. Daniel was taken from the Israelite people and made an advisor for a conquering empire. He demonstrates faithfulness and wisdom during many years serving in this role. Though Daniel does not deliver a public message, Jesus refers to him as a "prophet" (Matthew 24:15). The first portion of the book mostly describes Daniel's interpretations of dreams and other events. The second portion looks ahead to the end times. Daniel is classified in English Bibles as a "major" prophet, meaning the book is relatively long and the content has broad implications. The book of Revelation echoes and expands on many of the same themes.
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