I have been involved in a study of Jesus’ words in Matthew 16:27-28 for awhile now, and have concluded that Jesus must have come in the glory of the Father, to judge the living and the dead according to their works, and, in doing so, he had established the Kingdom of God in great power and glory, giving it to his disciples (Matthew 16:27-28). Moreover, I also believe what Jesus said, that some of the people who heard him say those words would live to see them fulfilled.
At this time I would like to take note of a particular point that Jesus made in a parallel passage that isn’t so obvious in Matthew’s account. Notice Mark’s words:
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. (Mark 9:1 – emphasis mine)
According to Mark, which many say is Peter’s Gospel, not only would some of Jesus’ listeners live to see the Second Coming of Jesus, but they would live through it and look back on it! That’s a powerful statement, but is it accurate? Well, we could begin by looking at the Greek verb in question: “they have seen” (G1492). It is in the aorist tense, the subjunctive mood, and in the active voice. What this means is, the people “saw” something in the past (aorist tense) that they didn’t know when it would occur (subjunctive mood), and they were at that time considering it (active voice). So, the Greek at least fits the English translation. The people listening to Jesus’ words would live to see him come in the Kingdom of God, and they would be able to look back at that event and consider it. The question is, did Jesus tell the truth or did he prophecy falsely?
According to Robertson’s Word Pictures:
In Mark 8:38 Jesus clearly is speaking of the second coming. To what is he referring in Mark 9:1? One is reminded of Mark 13:32; Matthew 24:36 where Jesus expressly denies that anyone save the Father himself (not even the Son) knows the day or the hour. Does he contradict that here? It may be observed that Luke has only “see the kingdom of God,” while Matthew has “see the Son of man coming” (erchomenon, present participle, a process). Mark has “see the kingdom of God come” (elēluthuian, perfect active participle, already come) and adds “with power.” Certainly the second coming did not take place while some of those standing there still lived. Did Jesus mean that? The very next incident in the Synoptic Gospels is the Transfiguration on Mount Hermon. Does not Jesus have that in mind here? The language will apply also to the coming of the Holy Spirit on the great Day of Pentecost. Some see in it a reference to the destruction of the temple. It is at least open to question whether the Master is speaking of the same event in Mark 8:38; Mark 9:1.
Dr. Robertson says Mark’s text is in the perfect active participle meaning ‘they had seen the Kingdom of God already come.’ The text I used put it in the aorist subjunctive active, but Dr. Robertson makes my claim even more emphatic, and I don’t wish to argue which text is more correct. So, we’ll go with the one Dr. Robertson is using.
Dr. Robertson’s first consideration is: does Mark 9:1 differ from Mark 8:38 where Jesus was “clearly speaking of the second coming”?
Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation; of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels. 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. (Mark 8:38; 9:1)
The first thing I wish to say is this is remarkably close to Matthew 16:27-28, but in Mark the translators chose to divide Jesus’ words in the middle of his statement. In other words Jesus, or at least Mark put both verses together for consideration at once, but the translators or at least those who inserted the chapters and marked out the verses divided up Jesus’ words. I for one don’t think the responsible party did a good job.
Secondly, concerning Dr. Robertson’s question above, no, I don’t believe Mark 9:1 differs from Mark 8:38. Dr. Robertson’s argument wonders how Jesus’ later statement that none shall know the day or the hour (Matthew 24:34; Mark 13:32) wouldn’t contradict Mark 9:1. Well, when he began building the ark, Noah didn’t know the day and the hour of the Flood, but he knew the generation (Genesis 6:13-18), but later, he did know the day and the hour (Genesis 7:1-4). How would Jesus’ statement in Mark 9:1, which is similar to Mark 13:30, contradict Mark 13:32? I don’t’ believe Dr. Robertson has an argument here.
Thirdly, Dr. Robertson’s statement “Certainly the second coming did not take place while some of those standing there still lived” is supposition on his part. He is bringing to the table **stuff** he believes belongs to Jesus’ Second Coming that didn’t occur in the first century AD. Therefore, I don’t believe supposition is a strong enough argument to set aside Jesus’ words.
Fourthly, Dr. Robertson appeals to the Transfiguration as a possible fulfillment, but this fails, since the folks listening to him could not look back on that event and conclude the Kingdom of God had come in power, and by the way, only three people listening saw that vision, and all of the three, not some of the three, witnessed the event. If the Transfiguration if the fulfilling event, Jesus’ statement is misleading.
Fifthly, Dr. Robertson appeals to Pentecost and the coming of the Holy Spirit as a possible fulfillment of Mark 9:1, but this also fails, because, not only all (or at least most) of Jesus’ listeners lived to see that day, but no one could conclude that Jesus’ Kingdom had come in power on that day. Besides the New Testament writers still looked for the establishment of the Kingdom of God (2Timothy 4:1, 18; 2Peter 1:11).
Finally, Dr. Robertson appeals to 70 AD as the fulfillment of Mark 9:1, to which I agree wholeheartedly. However, as I have contended in previous studies, the Kingdom of God has not been postponed, neither delayed or failed. Jesus Second Coming occurred as he promised the people in that generation. He came in 70 AD.