"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).
When was this literally fulfilled?
The Preterist Argument
A preterist is one who believes that most Biblical prophecies were fulfilled in or around 70 A.D. at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and that since these prophecies were already fulfilled they will have no future fulfillment.
One preterist wrote the following concerning Matthew 16:27-28:
27 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.
Do you believe that Jesus came back before some of His 1st century disciples died?? Do you literally believe it?? I do!
Note: His implication here is that the Son of Man came in His kingdom at the time of the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Preterists usually describe this as "Christ's coming in judgment."
Christ promised that some would not taste of death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom. So the key question is this: Was this promise fulfilled in 70 A.D. with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans or was it literally fulfilled in some other way?
The Biblical Response
Thank you for sharing your thoughts regarding our Lord's prediction in Matthew 16:27-28. This certainly is a very fascinating passage.
We would certainly agree with you that the Lord came in judgment in 70 A.D. (although not visibly), but He did not come "in His kingdom" (compare Matthew 16:28). No kingdom was established in 70 A.D.
When Christ comes in His kingdom there are at least ten things that must take place at or around that time. Consider the following:
1. When Christ comes in His kingdom, He will return to earth and be seen by every eye (Matthew 24:25-30 and Revelation 1:7).
This did not take place in 70 A.D. In 70 A.D. Christ was not seen by anyone.
2. When Christ comes in His kingdom, the Jewish people will be regathered from every country on earth and brought into their promised land (Matthew 24:31; Jeremiah 16:14-15; Isaiah 43:5-7; Jeremiah 23:7-8; Jeremiah 31:7-10; Ezekiel 11:14-18; Ezekiel 36:24).
This did not take place in 70 A.D. Instead of being regathered, the Jews were killed and scattered.
3. When Christ comes in His kingdom, there will be no wars on earth (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3; Psalm 46:9; Zech. 9:10).
This did not take place in 70 A.D. In 70 A.D. it was a time of fierce warfare carried out by the powerful Roman army.
4. When Christ comes in His kingdom, the kingdom will be restored to Israel (Acts 1:6) and the Messiah will sit on the throne of David which will be located in Jerusalem (Isaiah 9:7; Jeremiah 17:25; 23:5-6; 33:15; Hosea 3:4-5; Amos 9:11-15; Luke 1:32-33).
This did not take place in 70 A.D. In 70 A.D. Jerusalem was destroyed, the temple destroyed and no King from the line of David was reigning on the throne!
5. When Christ comes in His kingdom it will be a time of great deliverance and great blessing for the Jewish people (Jeremiah 30:7-9; Ezekiel 34:25-31).
This did not take place in 70 A.D., which was a time of great judgment upon the Jewish people who decades earlier had rejected and crucified their Messiah (although some Jews did believe on Him).
6. When Christ comes in His kingdom, God's sanctuary (His temple) will be in the midst of His people (Ezekiel 37:26-28; Ezekiel 40:5-43:27).
This did not take place in 70 A.D. because it was then that the Jewish temple was destroyed, resulting in the Jews having no temple at all.
7. When Christ comes in His kingdom, there will be a priesthood operating in the temple and animal sacrifices will be offered (Ezekiel 44:1-46:24).
This did not take place in 70 A.D. When the Romans destroyed the temple they put an end to a functioning priesthood and they put an end to animal sacrifices.
8. When Christ comes in His kingdom, "the Jews will possess and settle in all of the promised land, and it will again be subdivided into the twelve tribal divisions. But these tribal divisions will be different than those described in the book of Joshua" (Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum, Footprints of the Messiah, p. 328). The description of the location of all of the 12 tribes during the kingdom is described in Ezekiel 47:13-48:29. Seven tribes will be situated to the north of the temple (Ezekiel 48:1-7) and five tribes will be situated to the south of the temple (Ezekiel 48:23-29).
This did not take place in 70 A.D. After the Roman destruction of Jerusalem the surviving Jews were scattered throughout the world. In the 20th century a small remnant returned to the land of Israel and a Jewish state was established.
9. When Christ comes in His kingdom, there will be a message of good news that will be declared to Jerusalem (Isaiah 52:7-10). This message will consist of the following elements: 1) The good news of peace; 2) The good news that Messiah will reign in Zion; 3) The good news that God has comforted His people; 4) The good news that God has redeemed Jerusalem.
This did not take place in 70 A.D. In 70 A.D. there was only bad news for the Jewish people. It was the bad news of judgment and destruction and ruin and death, not the good news of comfort and peace.
10. When Christ comes in His kingdom there will be joy and gladness (Isaiah chapter 35). This joy and gladness will result from the following conditions: 1) the desert will become fertile (verses 1-2, 6-7); 2) Messiah will come to deliver Israel (verses 3-4); 3) Those who are lame or blind or deaf will be healed (verses 5-6); 4) Wild vicious animals will no longer be a problem (v. 9); 5) It will be a time of great rejoicing (v. 10).
This did not take place in 70 A.D. In 70 A.D. the Jews who were fortunate enough to survive the Roman invasion did not have joy and gladness, but rather sorrow and sighing (compare Isaiah 35:10).
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It is important to see when Matthew 16:28 was literally fulfilled. To find a literal fulfillment we need only look to the next chapter (Matthew 17), where we find that the "some standing here" refers to Peter, James and John and "seeing the Son of man coming in His kingdom" refers to the transfiguration. This is confirmed by 2 Peter 1:16-18 where the transfiguration is said to be "the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." The transfiguration was a marvelous preview of the Lord's future coming in His kingdom majesty.
2 Peter Chapter 1
16: 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.
Keep in mind that in Matthew 16:21 Jesus, for the first time, told His disciples that He would suffer and die. This would create immediate questions in the minds of the disciples: "If the Messiah is to die, then what about the kingdom? Does this mean that God's kingdom program will be cancelled? Does this mean that the hundreds of prophecies about the kingdom in the Old Testament will not be fulfilled?" The Lord Jesus answered these questions by giving three of His disciples an amazing glimpse of His coming kingdom by way of the transfiguration (2 Peter 1:16-18), thus assuring them that the kingdom would indeed come in the future AS PROMISED!
The following is taken from John Darby's Synopsis of the Books of the Bible, Volume 3, page 137:
In each Gospel that speaks of it, the transfiguration immediately follow the promise of not tasting death before seeing the kingdom of the Son of Man. And not only so, but Peter (in his second Epistle, 1:16), when speaking of this scene, declares that it was a manifestation of the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He says that the word of prophecy was confirmed to them by the view of His majesty; so that they knew that whereof they spoke, in making known to them the power and the coming of Christ, having beheld His majesty. In fact it is precisely in this sense that the Lord speaks of it here, as we have seen. It was a sample of the glory in which He would hereafter come, given to confirm the faith of His disciples in the prospect of His death which He had just announced to them.
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It is typical for those who are preterists to condemn dispensationalists for the way we interpret a handful of verses that they do not think we are taking literally (such as Matthew 16:27-28 and Matthew 24:34, etc.) and yet they seem to ignore hundreds of kingdom prophecies given by the prophets of old and say that they will never find any literal fulfillment. Any prophetic view which seeks to take a few passages literally in such a way that forces hundreds of verses to be understood in a non-literal way is suspect, to say the least.
Please consider the following document entitled Do You Interpret the Bible Literally? Six Tests to See if You Do.