Matthew 16:27-28 Study Archive
For the son of man shall come in the glory of his father… There be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the son of man coming in his kingdom
For the son of man shall come in the glory of his father… There be some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see the son of man coming in his kingdom
2008: Todd Dennis, Matthew 16:27-28 is NOT a Preterist “Time Indicator”
Oswald T. Allis (1947)
“Here there is no room for doubt as to the meaning of the expression which describes those who are to witness the coming. It concerns some of those alive and present when the words were uttered. They are to witness the coming. Consequently, we may say with positiveness, that this coming must have taken place during the lifetime of the apostle John. The claim that these words of Jesus referred to the transfiguration is plainly inadequate. That event was too near at hand (about a week distant) to make the fact that some of Jesus’ immediate followers would live to see it a sufficiently important matter to mention. The coming referred to seems most likely to be the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, at which time there was so far as we know no visible appearance of Christ.” (Prophecy and the Church (Phillipsburg: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1947, p 177)
Albert Barnes (1832)
“This generation, &c. – This age; this race of men. A generation is about thirty of forty years. The destruction of Jerusalem took place about forty years after this was spoken. See Notes on Mat. 16:28.” (Notes, Matthew 24:34)
John Broadus (1886)
“Six months earlier (in 16:27 f.) he had declared that would come again in the glory of his Father, as the sovereign Judge of mankind; and that some of them then present would live to see him ‘coming in his kingdom.’ We there found it necessary to understand that the particular coming to which this last phrase especially refers took place at the destruction of Jerusalem, which made Christianity completely and manifestly distinct from Judaism, and established the Messianic kingdom in its permanent present state. The prediction then briefly made by our Lord is now (as a result of Matthew 24:30) more fully unfolded} (vol 1, Matthew, p. 479).
Geneva Marginal Notes (1599)
Matthew 16:28 “This was fulfilled in his resurrection which was as an entrie into his kingdome, and was also confirmed by sending the holie Gost, whereby he wroght so great and sondrie miracles.” (in loc.)
S. Greijdanus (1940)
“Then this coming of God’s dominion cannot refer to our Lord’s resurrection, nor to the gift of the Holy Spirit which were to be realized within the year…. Nor can it refer to our Lord’s coming in judgment which is yet even now in abeyance.. Nor can the powerful spread of the gospel be meant, for this already came about within comparatively few years.. We shall have to think of the destruction of Jerusalem.. In it God revealed his kingly dominion in his judgment, a precursor of his judgment of the last day. ” (Het heilig Evangelie naar de beschrijving van Lukas, 1:424)
“Till the Son of man be come. A reference primarily, no doubt, to the Lord coming into his kingdom. See #Mt 16:28. He was thus to come in the life time of some of the apostles. He did thus come in the establishment of his kingdom in power on the day of Pentecost. He also came in judgment on the Jews at the destruction of Jerusalem. This event ended Jewish persecution. There is also the final coming to judge the world, but the meaning here does not include that.” (in loc.)
Johann Peter Lange (1857)
’emphatically placed at the beginning of the sentence; not a simple future, but meaning, The event is impending that He shall come; He is about to come.’ (in loc.)
“After much deliberation, whether the coming of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost, or the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, was the Second Coming of the Son of God, Mr. Mauro finally made his choice and decided that the destruction of Jerusalem was the Coming of the Lord and that it fulfilled the definite and precise promise recorded by Matthew: —Verily I say unto you, that there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.“ (Matthew 16:28)” – The Kingdom of God: What, When, Where? (PDF) – An Answer to Mauro’s Gospel of the Kingdom
Alexander Maclaren (1826-1910)
“Verse 28 adds, with His solemn ‘verily,’ a confirmation of this announcement of His coming to judge. The question of what event is referred to may best be answered by noting that it must be one sufficiently far off from the moment of speaking to allow of the death of the greater number of His hearers, and sufficiently near to allow of the survival of some; that it must also be an event, after which these survivors would go the common road into the grave; that it is apparently distinguished from His coming ‘in the glory of the Father,’ and yet is of such a nature as to afford convincing proof of the establishment of His kingdom on earth, and to be, in some sort, a sign of that final act of judgment. All these requirements (and they are all the fair inferences from the words) meet only in the destruction of Jerusalem, and of the national life of the chosen people. That was a crash of which we faintly realise the tremendous significance. It swept away the last remnant of the hope that Israel was to be the kingdom of the Messiah; and from out of the dust and chaos of that fall the Christian Church emerged, manifestly destined for world-wide extension. It was a ‘great and terrible day of the Lord,’ and, as such, was a precursor and a prophecy of the day of the Lord, when He ‘shall come in the glory of the Father,’ and ‘render unto every man according to his deeds.’” (Exposition of Holy Scriptures, Matt 16:28)
Adam Clarke (1837)
“[Isaiah 65 refers] to the destruction of Jerusalem and the Jewish polity; which in the Gospel is called the coming of Christ and the days of vengeance, Matthew 16:28; Luke 21:22.” (Isaiah 65, p. 513)
Gary DeMar (1999)
“If we maintain that the event Jesus is describing is still in our future, then how should we interpret His statement that some of those with whom He was speaking would still be alive when He did in fact ‘come in the glory of His Father with His angels’?” (Last Days Madness, p. 43)
Ken Gentry (1989)
“In Mark 9:1 Jesus promises that some of his hearers would not “taste of death” before witnessing the “coming of the kingdom with power.” This almost certainly refers to the destruction of the temple at the behest of Christ…” (Before Jerusalem Fell, p. lii)
Henry Hammond (1634)
“V.28. Coming in his kingdome. The nearness of this to the story of Christ’s Transfiguration, makes it probable to many, that this coming of Christ is that Transfiguration of his, but that cannot be, because the 27th ver. of the Son of mans coming in his glory with his Angels to reward, &c. (to which this verse clearly connects) cannot be applied to that; And there is another place, Joh. 21.23 (which may help to the understanding of this) which speaks of a real coming, and one principall person (agreeable to what is here said of some standing here) that should tarry, or not die, till that coming of his. And that surely was fulfilled in Johns seeing the pauoleoria, or famous destruction of the Jewes, which was to fall in that generation, Matt. 24. that is, in the life-time of some there present, and is called the kingdome of God, and the coming of Christ, and by consequence here most probably the son of mans coming in his kingdome, (see the Notes on Mat. 3:2, and ch. 24:3.b.) that is, his coming in the exercise of his Kingly office, to work vengeance on his enemies, and discriminate the faithfull believers from them.” (in loc.)
John Lightfoot (1889)
“1. That the destruction of Jerusalem is very frequently expressed in Scripture as if it were the destruction of the whole world, Deuteronomy 32:22; “A fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell” (the discourse there is about the wrath of God consuming that people; see verses 20,21), “and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.” Jeremiah 4:23; “I beheld the earth, and lo, it was without form and void; and the heavens, and they had no light,” &c. The discourse there also is concerning the destruction of that nation, Isaiah 65:17; “Behold, I create new heavens and a new earth: and the former shall not be remembered,” &c. And more passages of this sort among the prophets. According to this sense, Christ speaks in this place; and Peter speaks in his Second Epistle, third chapter; and John, in the sixth of the Revelation; and Paul, 2 Corinthians 5:17, &c.
2. That Christ’s taking vengeance of that exceeding wicked nation is called Christ’s “coming in glory,” and his “coming in the clouds,” Daniel 7. It is also called, “the day of the Lord.” See Psalm 1:4; Malachi 3:1,2, &c.; Joel 2:31; Matthew 16:28; Revelation 1:7, &c. See what we have said on chapter 12:20; 19:28.” (Lightfoot, vol. 2, p. 319).
“The destruction of Jerusalem is phrased in Scripture as the destruction of the whole world; and Christ’s coming to her in judgment, as his coming to the last judgment. Therefore, those dreadful things, spoken of in Matt. 24:29,30 and 31, are but borrowed expressions, to set forth the terms of that judgment the more.. v.30 – “then shall they see” – not any visible appearance of Christ, or of the cross, in the clouds (as some have imagined); but, whereas Jews would not own Christ before for the Son of Man, or for the Messias, then by the vengeance that he should execute upon them, they and all the world should see an evident sign, and it was so. This, therefore, is called “his coming,” and his coming in his kingdom.” [A Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, ed. Rev. John Rogers Pitman (London: J.F. Dove, 1825), p.141]
“This generation shall not pass, &c. Hence it appears plain enough, that the foregoing verses are not to be understood of the last judgment but, as we said, of the destruction of Jerusalem. There were some among the disciples (particularly John), who lived to see these things come to pass. With Matt. xvi.28, compare John xxi.22. And there were some Rabbins alive at the time when Christ spoke these things, that lived till the city was destroyed, viz. Rabban Simeon, who perished with the city, R. Jochanan Ben Zaccai, who outlived it, R. Zadoch, R. Ishmael, and others.” (vol 2., p. 320).
Thomas Newton (1754)
“‘The coming of Christ’ is also the same period with the destruction of Jerusalem, as may appear from several places in the Gospels, and particularly from these two passages; ‘There are some standing here,’ saith our blessed Lord, ‘who shall not taste of death till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom,’ Matt xvi. 28, that is, evidently, there are some standing here who shall live, not till they end of the world, to the coming of Christ to judge mankind, but till the destruction of Jerusalem, to the coming of Christ in judgment upon the Jews. In another place, John xxi.22, speaking to Peter concerning John, he saith, ‘If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?’ what is that to thee, if I will that he live till the destruction of Jerusalem? as in truth he did, and long. ‘The coming of Christ,’ and ‘the conclusion of the age,’ being therefore only different expressions to denote the same period with the destruction of Jerusalem, the purpose of the question plainly is, when shall the destruction of Jerusalem be, and what shall be the signs of it?’” (Newton, p. 374)
N.A. Nisbett (1787)
“While this work was in the press, a friend of mine put the sermons lately preached at Bapton’s Lectures, by Ralph Churton, M. A. into my hands. I have been only able to run my eye over them in a very cursory manner; but he does not seem to interfere with my plan; except in applying Matt. xvi, 29, to his transfiguration; which I have referred to the time when the Jewish economy was to cease.”
“His argument, that the ancients are unanimously on his side, has as little weight with me, as with the best commentators in modern times; for as Mr. Dodwell long ago observed; they fell far short of the solidity of the moderns, who excel them, not only in philosophy and learning, but in the knowledge of antiquity, and even of their own languages. The principal argument used by Mr. Churton, is the close connection of Matthew xvi, 28, and the parallel chapters of Mark and Luke, with the account of the transfiguration. But, with due submission, I think the connection is evidently, not with the transfiguration, but with the preceding context. We need only go back to the 27th verse, to perceive this, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father, with his angels, and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, there will be some standing here, who shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” -The coming of the Son of Man in the former, and his coming in his kingdom, in the latter of these verses, clearly determines the connection between the two; for in the account of the transfiguration, which immediately follows, there is not a word said of his coming. Besides, to foretel that the disciples would not die till an event took place which was to happen but six days after, this, as Bishop Newcome observes, would be a prophecy unworthy of Christ. I have only to add, that the same connection is observable in mark ix, 2, and in Luke ix, 28.” (An Attempt to Illustrate..)
“But though I cannot, upon a careful perusal of this part of his work, agree with him in every thing he says, concerning the different comings of Christ mentioned in the New Testament; yet it has given me great satisfaction to find him saying, “that the Apostles, by the coming of Christ, which they represented as at hand, when they wrote their epistles, meant his coming to establish his spiritual kingdom over all people, nations, and languages, and not his coming to put an end to the world; it is evident from what Christ himself told them, Matt. xvi, 28; There be some standing here, who shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” And agreeably to this account of the coming of Christ, and the end of all things, he observes, that every passage of their epistles, in which the Apostles have spoken of these things as at hand, may, with the greatest propriety, be interested of Christ’s coming to establish his own everlasting kingdom over all people, nations, and languages, by destroying Jerusalem, putting an end to he law of Moses, and spreading the Gospel through the world.” (APPENDIX)
James Stuart Russell (1878)
“This remarkable declaration is of the greatest importance in this discussion, and may be regarded as the key to the right interpretation of the New Testament doctrine of the Parousia. Though it cannot be said that there are any special difficulties in the language, it has greatly perplexed the commentators, who are much divided in their explanations. It is surely unnecessary to ask what is the coming of the Son of man here predicted. To suppose that it refers merely to the glorious manifestation of Jesus on the mount of transfiguration, though an hypothesis which has great names to support it, is so palpably inadequate as an interpretation that it scarcely requires refutation.
“It is reasonable to suppose, therefore that had the evangelists known of a deeper and hidden meaning in the predictions of Christ, they would have given some intimation to that effect; but they say nothing to lead us to infer that their apparent meaning is not their full and true meaning. There is, in fact; no ambiguity whatever as to the coming referred to in the passage now under consideration. It is not one of several possible comings; but the one, sole, supreme event, so frequently predicted by our Lord, so constantly expected by His disciples. It is His coming in glory; His coming to judgment; His coming in His kingdom; the coming of the kingdom of God. It is not a process, but an act. It is not the same thing as ‘the destruction of Jerusalem,’- that is another event related and contemporaneous; but the two are not to be confounded. The New Testament knows of only one Parousia, one coming in glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is altogether an abuse of language to speak of several senses in which Christ may be said to come, — as at His own resurrection; at the day of Pentecost; at the destruction of Jerusalem; at the death of a believer; and at various providential epochs. This is not the usage of the New Testament, nor is it accurate language in any point of view. This passage alone contains so much important truth respecting the Parousia, that it may be said to cover the whole ground; and, rightly used, will be found to be a key to the true interpretation of the New Testament doctrine on this subject.
“The inference therefore is, that the Parousia, or glorious coming of Christ, was declared by Himself to fall within the limits of the then existing generation,- a conclusion which we shall find in the sequel to be abundantly justified.” (The Parousia)
C. Jonathan Seraiah
“It is true that the “eschatology” of the New Testament is predominantly preterist. For those unfamiliar with the preterist perspective, it is the ancient view that many of the eschatological passages of the New Testament were fulfilled (completely) in the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d. 70. This view may sound novel, but in reality there have been orthodox adherents to it throughout church history (e.g., Clement of Alexandria, Eusebius, John Lightfoot, John Owen, Milton Terry, Jay Adams). This interpretation does not deny the Final Coming of Christ; it merely finds that not all “coming” passages refer to that event. The preterist interpretation is actually the most faithful to the biblical text because it recognizes that Old Testament prophetic terminology was used by the New Testament authors. This recognition is helpful in distinguishing the prophecies of Christ’s coming that were near, in the first century (Matt. 10:23; 16:28; 24:30; 26:64; 1 Thess. 5:2; 2 Thess. 1:7; James 5:7-9; 1 Pet. 4:7; Rev. 1:3, 7; etc.) and thus fulfilled in a.d. 70, from those that were far (John 5:28-29; Acts 1:11; 17:31; 1 Cor. 15:23-24; 1 Thess. 4:16; 1 Jn. 3:2; etc.) and thus not yet fulfilled even in our day. It also helps to distinguish between a spiritual “coming” (invisible for temporal judgment, as in a.d. 70) and a physical coming (visible for eternal judgment).” (End of All Things)
R.C. Sproul (1998)
“If the Olivet Discourse refers primarily to events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem and if the word generation refers to a forty-year period, then it is possible, if not probable, that Jesus’ reference to his coming in Matthew 16:28 refers to the same events, not to the transfiguration or other close-at-hand events.” (The Last Days According to Jesus, p. 55)
“All sorts of efforts have been made to evade the simple meaning of these words, but they all spring from the dogmatic prepossession that the coming of the Son of man in his glory must needs be an event far future from the time when the words were spoken.” (Apocalyptics pp.213-252)
“If a child were to read this passage I know what he would think it meant: he would suppose Jesus Christ was to come, and there were some standing there who should not taste death until really and literally he did come. This, I believe, is the plain meaning.” (“An Awful Premonition” in 12 Sermons on the Second Coming of Christ – Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1976, 5)
G.R. Beasley-Murray (1954)
“we can now understand what Jesus meant when he spoke of his parousia as of an event which some of his contemporaries would experience (Matthew 10:23, 16:28, John 21:22): he was referring on these occasions to the fall of Jerusalem.” (Quoting T. Zahn, Jesus and the Future, p. 130).
“..it is clear that for some reason or other the first generation of Christians did expect his speedy return, and if this impression was not based on his own language, whence could it have come?” (The Gospel of Matthew, p. 195).
What do YOU think ?
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Date: 16 Apr 2005
I think that, as usual, theists choose to interpret some biblical text as literal unless to do so would prove inconvenient to their belief, or outright erroneous. Then they feel completely justified in presenting their own interpretation of the text and convert the particularly difficult passage to some ‘parable’ like story where references don’t mean what they real say.
Date: 24 Jan 2006
I DON’T KNOW. I WAS JUST READING THROUGH MATTHEW AND NOTICED THIS VERSE. I JUST ASKED MY PASTOR TO EXPLAIN IT DURING ADULT SUNDAY SCHOOL QUESTION AND ANSWER TIME, BECAUSE HE TAKES THE BIBLE LITERALLY, AND I KNOW HE’LL COME UP WITH THE CORRECT ANSWER.
Date: 01 Feb 2006
Matthew 16:28 is very disturbing for someone trying to develop faith and then read this. There seems to be no symbolism or parable here. This is the COMING and the plain language interpretaion is simple. There was no coming when any of those standing were alive. They are all dead now, and as far as I know the COMING has not yet occurred. In other words, using basic interpretation and common sense, Matthew 16:28 is FALSE. I am completely open, and hopeful, that someone out there can prove me wrong. Any takers?
Date: 08 Jan 2007
I am thankful to read what students of the bible over the years have thought about this passage which surely refers to the historical destruction of Jerusalem. It’s either that or a perfect Jesus is a fable
of a figure as some have fallen into believing.
It’s good to question, and there’s even healthy doubt. I had trouble with this scripture which led me here today. One can only doubt the loving reality of Jesus Christ if they have not yet had the awesome pleasure of meeting and worshipping Him in Spirit and truth and experiencing His healing and freedom.
Jesus didn’t come to start Christianity and that’s the religious trap much of the church has fallen into all these years.
Jesus left us physically but he’s ever left us spiritually.
God bless you on your journey as you seek Him with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Honestly ask from the heart with the intent to follow through on the truth revealed and you will be shown thr truth and set free. Hope and healing to you where you need it most….
Date: 2 Feb 2008
Been away for a while and I felt moved to see where you were at. Your recent essay on Matthew 16:27-28 and what it means strikes me as a deeper, truer understanding of what Jesus was promising (not merely prophesying, but promising… well spotted, Todd!)
If God is beyond time, then the Judgement comes for all of us at any point in this linear temporal sequence, yet is at the “same” Divine time of God’s choosing. After all isn’t the Judgement in some time/space where “the Earth and sky have fled from the presence of Him”? How can there be chronological time as we know it when the “Sun, Moon and stars” were for the keeping of time & times? There can be no time, no space as the Bible writers knew them without Earth and sky.
[TD: Thanks! Here is a link to the article: Matthew 16:27-28 is NOT a preterist “time indicator” pointing to AD70]
Date: 13 Mar 2011
Is it possible that John has in fact seen the second coming of Christ when he was given the vision that is the book of Revelation? In a very real sense, regardless of the style of language, John has seen or was present in some sense at the second coming of Christ, the Day of judgment as written and prophecies in the book of revelation. That would fit the text as it stands without any hidden meaning or forcing the text to mean what some want it to mean.
Date: 19 Aug 2011
Matt 16:28 was fulfilled in the life of john the belove,in seeing the book of revelation which we can likened 2 the kingdom of God.Revalation 1:1-2 (….who bare the record of the word of God(d utterance of jesus in matt.16:28),and of the testimony of jesus christ,and all thing that he saw(the kingdom of God with power).
Date March 3, 2013
Time 9:31 AM
Other things Christ said impact on his statement in Matthew 16:28. One important one is found in Matthew 11:26: “And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this?”.
This refers to a specific group of people, who have in common such a great amount of spiritual maturity,
that at time their physical bodies die, their sentient consciousness continues on in a celestial body, having been instantly born from above; and they continue to be alive in heaven to witness the genuine glorious return of Christ to this earth.
They are mentioned in Revelation chapter 19. This chapter describes the return of Christ. Here are verses 11- 16:
“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.
12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.
13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.
14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.
15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.
16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.
At the beginning of this chapter, in verse one, we see who are the witnesses to this event:
“And after these things I heard a great voice of much people in heaven, saying, Alleluia; Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power, unto the Lord our God:
Surely, those to whom Jesus was referring in Matthew 16:29 (Peter and other disciples) will be among this group of “much people in heaven” witnessing his actual return ….. but they were doing it from heaven, and not the earth.