In this series of studies I am looking at Matthew 16:27 and 28 and discovering their first century AD implications. Jesus claimed that, in the lifetimes of some of his listeners, he would return in the glory of his Father with the angels of heaven and reward every man according to his works. In other words Jesus predicted his return in that generation of people living in the first century AD. Moreover, when he did come, he would judge each man according to his works, i.e. the judgment would immediately take place at the time of Christ’s coming. Previously, I showed how Jesus was basing his predictions upon Isaiah 40, especially verses 1-10, which also identify the ministry of John the Baptist, who was prophesied to prepare the way for the Lord (Isaiah 40:1-5; Matthew 3:1-3).
Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand and his arm shall rule for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his work before him (Isaiah 40:10 – emphasis mine).
Notice that Isaiah is speaking about the coming Kingdom of God (“his arm shall rule). Jesus also spoke of coming in the glory (Kingdom) of his Father. We know that glory refers to kingdom because of what we find in Matthew 20:21 & Mark 10:37. In Matthew James’ and John’s mother asks Jesus to cause her sons to sit on his right and left in his kingdom, but in the sister passage in Mark James and John ask to sit on Jesus’ left and right in his glory, and this also agrees with Matthew 16:28 where Jesus forthrightly mentions his coming in his Kingdom. In other words, both Matthew 16:27 and 28 speak of Jesus coming in his Kingdom. Therefore, Isaiah and Jesus are speaking of the same thing, namely, the Kingdom (glory) of God, when Christ will come to rule.
Understanding the implications of Matthew 16:27, many scholars have sought to divide it from verse-28, many assuming two kingdoms are in view, Jesus’ kingdom and his Father’s. The logic is based upon presumption. First, folks have decided what Jesus Second Coming **must** look like, then they interpret the scriptures according to that understanding. However, Isaiah simply will not permit 2000 years to come between verse-27 and 28 of Matthew 16.
Notice that Isaiah 40:10 quoted above shows the Lord coming in power (strong hand), to rule and to reward, and John the Baptist draws the authority of his ministry from Isaiah 40, and he was sent to prepare the way of Jesus. Therefore, Isaiah 40:10 refers to the reason Jesus had come. Must we change the meaning of words, the clear meaning of phrases in order to maintain the doctrines of men? What exactly would it mean for Jesus to come in power, in order to rule and reward his servants (and judge his enemies)? One can’t place 2000 years between Isaiah 40:1-5 and Isaiah 6-10. Where would we find the reason for doing such a thing? Isaiah predicted the coming of John the Baptist and also Jesus. John said that the axe is laid at the root of the trees (judgment) and the winnowing fork (harvest) was already in Jesus’ hand (Matthew 3:1-3, 10-12).
Where is there room for 2000 years in these scriptures? Jesus coming in Matthew 16:27 is the same coming as in verse-28, and the coming in both of these verses is the same coming that is prophesied by Isaiah in chapter 40 of his work. This means that verse 27 and 28 cannot be divided. This means, of course, that Jesus came cir. 70 AD to judge Jerusalem and destroy the Temple (cf. Matthew 26:64), and to reward his servants. The Old Covenant ended and we, the people of the New Covenant, became the sole representative of the Lord to the world. Jesus kept his promise to us.