Matthew 16:28
A Time Statement for What?

By Bill Grimes
Matthew 16:28 AV
Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom. 
Mark 9:1 
And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power. (AV)

 Matthew 16:28 is the showcase time statement for many full Preterists. They look at this verse and see in it a time statement for the second parousia.  In this article, I submit for your consideration that Matthew 16:28 is not a time statement for the second parousia.  It is not even a time statement for AD 70.

Preterists make the mistake of lumping Matthew 16:28 in with the previous paragraph, Matthew 16:24-27. Stephen Langton, Archbishop of Canterbury, divided the Bible into the chapters that we now have around 1227AD.  He placed the verse known as Matthew 16:28 in the discussion of the cost of discipleship (Matthew 16:24-27).  However, in the Gospel of Mark, he grouped the parallel verse now known as Mark 9:1 with the Mount of Transfiguration narrative (Mark 9:1).  Matthew 16:28 serves as a transition to the Mount of Transfiguration narrative in Matthew 17:1-13.  Mark 9:1 serves as an introduction to the narrative.  Allow me to demonstrate.

Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.   For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.   For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?   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. (Matthew 16:24-27 AV)

Jesus tells His disciples that to follow him will cost them their very lives.  If they lose their lives for Jesus, they will find them; if they try to save their lives they will lose them.  It profits a man nothing to gain the world but lose his soul.  Jesus then makes a promise.  He will come in glory at an unknown future time and reward every man according to whether he tried to save his life or lose it.  The subject then changes.

Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.   And after six days Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart,   And was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light.   And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him.   Then answered Peter, and said unto Jesus, Lord, it is good for us to be here: if thou wilt, let us make here three tabernacles; one for thee, and one for Moses, and one for Elias.   While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.   And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.   And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.   And when they had lifted up their eyes, they saw no man, save Jesus only.   And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.   And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elias must first come?   And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.   But I say unto you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.   Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist. (Matthew 16:28-17:13 AV)

 Jesus prophesied that some of the disciples would live to see Him coming in His kingdom.  Six days later, He took Peter, James, and John up to a high mountain.  What did they see?  They saw Jesus with face shining as the sun and His clothes white as light (See Revelation 1:13-15).  They also saw Jesus speaking with two of the kingdomís prominent members:  Moses and Elijah. And then a cloud appeared, a bright cloud and the voice of God declared His approval of His Son.  Jesus then told Peter, James, and John to keep what they had seen a secret until after His resurrection.

You might object that verse 27 speaks of a coming and that verse 28 elaborates on that coming. If these verses were the only Scripture we had, I  would agree that it is a toss-up as to whether it belongs with Matthew 16:24-27 or Matthew 17:1-13. Matthew 16:28-17:13, however, is not the only Scripture that we have.  Simon Peter and the others kept their secret until after Jesus rose from the dead.  Peter then wrote about it in His second letter.

For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.   For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.   And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.   We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:   Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.   For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. (2 Peter 1:16-21 AV)

 This is Peterís narrative of what he saw on the Mount of Transfiguration. In verse 16 he affirms to his audience that he was not telling them a tale when he told  them about the power and coming of Jesus. He was an eyewitness of His majesty.  It is noteworthy that the Greek word translated "coming" in verse 16 is our favorite word, parousia.  Peter associates the term parousia with the Mount of Transfiguration event. Matthew 16:28 states that some of the disciples would not taste death until they saw the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.  Mark 9:1 states that some of the disciples would not taste death until they saw the kingdom come with great power.  Peter writes that he was not telling a tale when he made known to his audience the power and coming of Jesus.  There you have it.  If we allow Scripture to interpret Scripture, we see that Matthew 16:28 and Mark 9:1 are time statements which were fulfilled at the Mount of Transfiguration.

 These verses were also fulfilled in a broader sense in the Gospel preaching of the Kingdom by Jesus and His disciples.  Consider the following verses:

From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 4:17 AV)

Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God,   And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel. (Mark 1:14-15 AV)

And heal the sick that are therein, and say unto them, The kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. (Luke 10:9 AV)

  Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you. (Luke 10:11 AV)

 If we believe these verses as they are written, then I think it is safe to say that Matthew 16:28 and Mark 9:1 were fulfilled also in the preaching of the Gospel of the kingdom.  This preaching was authenticated with miracles of great power:

Luke 4:36  Then they were all amazed and spoke among themselves, saying, "What a word this is! For with authority and power He commands the unclean spirits, and they come out." (emphasis mine)
 Luke 5:17 Now it happened on a certain day, as He was teaching, that there were Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting by, who had come out of every town of Galilee, Judea, and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was present to heal them. (emphasis mine)
Since Matthew 16:28 and Mark 9:1 are parallel passages which are two different accounts of the same event, we would have to say that Jesus must have been (1) seen coming by His disciples in (2) a display of power for these two verses taken together to be literally fulfilled. That fits the first parousia, because both of these requirements were fulfilled in it. However, the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD does not meet both of these criteria, because history does not record that Jesus was at any time literally seen during that event.

Here is the conclusion of the matter.  Is Matthew 16:28 a time statement?  The answer is yes.  Is  it a time statement for the second parousia? The answer is no.  Is it a time statement for AD 70?  The answer is no. The answer is that it is a time statement for events that happened during the first parousia, most notably the Mount of Transfiguration event.

2000 William Grimes.  All rights reserved.  The contents of this article may be reproduced for free distribution provided no changes are made to the contents and the URL to this website is provided.  Quotations must be referenced by the URL to this website.  No other use shall be permitted without  written permission  from the author.