Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, who is understood as the fourth person in the fire?

In the third chapter of book of Daniel after King Nebicanesor throws Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego into the furnace he sees four people in the furnace instead of three, who are talking with each other.

  • What is understand of who this person is? An angel, a Christophany?
  • What is the current Christian understanding of this?
  • How would a Jewish person in ancient times have understood this?
  • Is there any extra biblical Jewish sources/tradition naming the fourth person (such as a specific angel, etc)?
  • 2
    You're asking too many things, and most are opinion based.
    – curiousdannii
    Apr 27, 2015 at 0:57

3 Answers 3


The King said that the fourth person looked like "a son of the Gods." This is translated as "the son of God" in the King James Version, which has led some people to conflate the fourth figure with Christ, but it's important to remember that the concept of "the son of God (singular)" makes no sense to the King, who was a polytheist.

He calls out to Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego and calls them servants of "the Most High God," which is to be understood literally. He saw that their God was higher (more powerful) than the Gods he worshipped, none of whom had ever been known to protect someone from incineration in a furnace.

It's most likely that the fourth figure was an angel, much like the one sent to Daniel to pacify the lions just a few chapters away from this story.

  • 3
    Well, the King, who was Nebuchadnezzar, had a personal experience with God when he was taken into the wilderness and acted like an animal. I think he kind of had an idea about the one he got to call the Most High God, even though he kept worshipping other gods, and it makes kind of a sense to me that he could have talked about Jesus when mentionning "the son of God".
    – raphink
    Aug 23, 2011 at 20:44
  • 5
    That's Daniel 4, whereas this story occurs in Daniel 3. If the book is chronological, he wouldn't have known God experientially until after the fiery furnace.
    – Narnian
    Oct 25, 2011 at 21:32

It is uncertain whether the person in question was an angel or was Christ. It is my understanding that it is fairly widely held among theologians that this passage is an example of a Christophany, but I cannot quickly cite any references for that view.

That the 4th person was a heavenly being seems quite clear from the context.


It is not explicitly stated whether or not this was a Christophany. Nebuchadnezzar's description that the Fourth was like "a son of the gods" without any commentary by the writer himself is circumstantial evidence that this was a legitimate conclusion.

God does promise to be with us in the fires as He said through the prophet Isaiah:

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: "Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. I give Egypt as your ransom, Cush and Seba in exchange for you. Isaiah 43:1-3 ESV

There doesn't appear to be any problems with believing that it was, indeed, a Christophany. I do hold to this view, though not all that strongly. I like the idea, but if it's not, it's no big deal.

Fortunately, if it were critical for us to know whether or not it was, the Bible would have made it clear. Since it doesn't, we can enjoy the consideration and probing without being too worried about falling into heresy.

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