What does the verse Matthew 16:28 mean

(Yeddu Prasad) #1

Dear All, Please can someone help me understand the below verse.

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.

If Jesus spoke this verse 2,000 Years ago when he walked the earth, I believe the sentence “shall not taste of death” is not a reference to Physical death. So what death is this sentence referring to? And who was jesus referring to?

Please do help with the right understanding.

(SeanO) #2

@yeddu People have suggested that Matthew 16:28 refers to:

1 - Jesus’ transfiguration
2 - Jesus’ resurrection and receiving of His Kingdom
3 - destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD and the end of the old covenant
4 - the final day of judgment

In my opinion, if we look at other passages like Mark 14, it is clear that Jesus was predicting something that would happen in the lifetime of the individuals with whom he was speaking. Jesus told the priests that they would see Him coming in glory. I think options 1-3 are the most likely.

Mark 14:61-65 - Again the high priest asked him, “Are you the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?”

62 “I am,” said Jesus. “And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

63 The high priest tore his clothes. “Why do we need any more witnesses?” he asked. 64 “You have heard the blasphemy. What do you think?”

They all condemned him as worthy of death. 65 Then some began to spit at him; they blindfolded him, struck him with their fists, and said, “Prophesy!” And the guards took him and beat him.

One thing you need to keep in mind is that the phrase ‘coming on the clouds’ is not necessarily literally Jesus riding on clouds. In the OT, riding on the clouds was a symbol of God coming in power to judge a nation. So, consider Isaiah 19:1:

Isaiah 19:1 - A prophecy against Egypt:

See, the Lord rides on a swift cloud
and is coming to Egypt.
The idols of Egypt tremble before him,
and the hearts of the Egyptians melt with fear.

That is why some people think that Jesus’ ‘coming on the clouds’ occurred when Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 AD as Jesus predicted by the Romans.

Keep in mind that Jesus’ Kingdom is not an earthly Kingdom - so when Jesus talks about His Kingdom coming it may not be visible.

John 18:36 - Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jewish leaders. But now my kingdom is from another place.”

(Steven Kalinowski) #3

Hello Yeddu @yeddu
I am trying to understand why you don’t think it is a reference to death. The phrase ‘which will not taste of death’ seems plain enough to me. Jesus is talking to his disciples and it would seem that some of them would see 'the Son of Man coming in his kingdom" - whatever that means. This would mean that most of them would die before that would happen, but not all of them.
Is it just the “Son of Man coming in his kingdom part” doesn’t make sense with the above?
This is admittedly a difficult verse and digs into the very way of interpreting what we read. Many have just glossed over it in my circle of believers. I think Sean’s possiblity of 2 or 3 below are the best ones however.


(Yeddu Prasad) #4

Thank you Sean & Steven. I understood " coming in his kingdom." as Jesus second coming to the earth.

Point 2 makes a lot of sense to me.

Basis point 2, I feel Stephen could be one of the person who actually sees Jesus in his true glory before he died. Acts 7:55

(Tony Hacker ) #5

I’ve usually leaned on the first interpretation SeanO referred to in Jesus transfiguration, but i’m also open to Jesus referring to the outpouring of the Spirit.
Because remember when Jesus was doing miracles what He said in -Luke 11:20 NASB — “But if I cast out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you."
And also in-Matthew 12:28 NASB — “But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.
We don’t know exactly how big the audience was when Jesus was addressing this passage yet we do know that His disciples made it to the upper room to be baptized by the Spirit on the day of pentecost.

A few other related verses:

John 3:5-Jesus answered, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.

(Being baptized with water was not enough to enter the “Kingdom” of God here.)

Acts 1:5- “John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Acts 2:1-4-“When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.”

Acts 10:38-“You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him”

So if by what Jesus said in Matthew 12:28 that the Kingdom of God has come upon you in direct reference to the Spirit of God working through Him as it did with disciples after they received the same Spirit then maybe the outpouring of this same Spirit is and Kingdom connection is one and the same.

Hope i’m making this understandable as I believe these verses can correlate. And again, this is a difficult passage that’s why I say i’m “open” too.

God bless you guys

(Andrea L) #6

Dear @yeddu,

An answer to your question I have ever heard of until now (before reading the answers here) was that Jesus was referring to Apostle John, who had the chance to see Him “coming in His kingdom” when he had the vision about the end times (Book of Revelation).
I don’t remember when and where I’ve heard / read it, but it’s very likely I’ve come across it multiple times from different sources (and languages).
I hope it still helps (and also that I used appropriate expressions in my answer) and it’s also time for me to dig deeper in the other answers, thanks everyone!

(SeanO) #7

@yeddu Yes, that is a possibility. I suppose that all of the disciples who were filled with the Spirit, and Paul who saw a revelation of Christ, would have seen Christ coming in His Kingdom and others through them - if we take the view that it is the resurrection and the outpouring of the Spirit.

Personally, 70 AD makes the most sense to me because ‘coming on the clouds’ generally refers to God coming in judgment and all of Israel would have experienced that judgment. Now, they would not have literally seen Jesus in the clouds, but God did save the Christians out of this judgment through a prophecy by warning them to flee to Pella before the city of Jerusalem was besieged.

This heresy of the Nazoraeans exists in Beroea in the neighbourhood of Coele Syria and the Decapolis in the region of Pella and in Basanitis in the so-called Kokaba (Chochabe in Hebrew). From there it took its beginning after the exodus from Jerusalem when all the disciples went to live in Pella because Christ had told them to leave Jerusalem and to go away since it would undergo a siege. Because of this advice they lived in Perea after having moved to that place, as I said."

— Epiphanius, Panarion 29,7,7-8

However, these matters are uncertain and not easy to understand, so that is simply my viewpoint. I think the resurrection / outpouring of the Spirit makes a lot of sense too.

(SeanO) #8

@andrea.l Thank you for your thoughts. While the apostle John’s revelation might fulfill Jesus’ words to His disciples, it would not seem to fulfill what He said to the Jewish priests - that they would see the Son of Man coming on the clouds. So I would tend to say that John’s revelation alone is not sufficient to fulfill Jesus’ words.

(SeanO) #9

@yeddu Here is a video where N. T. Wright gives an explanation of this idea of “one like the Son of Man” sitting beside the ancient of days and how that relates to the coming of the Son of Man in the New Testament. Very interesting.