"Shall Not Taste Death"; Matthew 16: 27-28

"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. 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" (Mt.16 27-28).

In regard to this verse Gary DeMar asks,"If we maintain that the event Jesus is describing is still in our future, then how do we interpret His statement that some of those with whom He was speaking would still be alive when He did in fact 'come in the glory of His Father with His angels' ?" (DeMar, Last Days Madness, 43).

One of the meanings of the Greek word translated "coming" at Matthew 16:28 is "to appear" (Thayer's Greek English Lexicon).

So this is one of the possible meanings of Matthew 16:28:

"Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man appear in his kingdom."

Therefore, we can understand that the Lord Jesus was saying that there were some of the Apostles who would see the Lord Jesus "appearing" in His kingdom before they died.

The words of Peter in his first epistle refers to this "appearing," and it happened at the "transfiguration" on the holy mount:

"For, skilfully devised fables not having followed out, we did make known to you the power and presence of our Lord Jesus Christ, but eye-witnesses having become of his majesty --for having received from God the Father honour and glory, such a voice being borne to him by the excellent glory: `This is My Son -- the beloved, in whom I was well pleased;' and this voice we -- we did hear, out of heaven borne, being with him in the holy mount" (2 Pet.1:16-18; YLT).

Peter is speaking of seeing the Lord's "presence" and he also says that he was was an eyewitness of His "majesty". The word "majesty" is translated from the Greek word megaleiotes and that word means "greatness, magnificence...of the visible splendor of the divine majesty as it appeared in the transfiguration of Christ, 2 Peter i.16" (Thayer's Greek English Lexicon).

Therefore we can understand that what happened on the Holy Mount fulfilled the Lord Jesus' words that some of His Apostles would witness His "appearance" or "presence" in His kingdom.

In each gospel that records the words of the Lord Jesus saying that some of His Apostles will see Him in the kingdom the events of the "transfiguration" immediately follow. On the holy mount "His face did shine like the sun, and His rainment was as white as the light"  (Mt.17:2).

Louis A. Barbieri, Jr., suggests the signifiance of those who were present on the Holy Mount:

"Why were Moses and Elijah, of all Old Testament people, present on this occasion? Perhaps these two men and the disciples suggest all the categories of people who will be in Jesus' coming kingdom. The disciples represent individuals who will be present in physical bodies. Moses represents saved individuals who have died or will die. Elijah represents saved individuals who will not experience death, but will be caught up to heaven alive (1 Thes. 4:17). These three groups will be present when Christ institutes His kingdom on earth. Furthermore, the Lord will be in His glory as He was at the transfiguration, and the kingdom will take place on earth, as this obviously did" (Walvoord & Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary; New Testament [Colorado Springs: ChariotVictor Press, 1983], p.59).


Gary DeMar says,"Some claim that the 'coming' Jesus had in mind was the transfiguration. But the transfiguration cannot be its fulfillment since Jesus indicated that some who were standing with Him would still be alive when He came but most would be dead" (Ibid., 43-44).

The Lord Jesus never said that most of His Apostles would be dead by the time when some of them saw Him coming in His kingdom. He was merely saying that some of them would be given the privilege of seeing Him in His kingdom before they died. If we look at the context we can see that it was here that the Lord told His Apostles that He would suffer and die (16:21). Not only that He also told them to follow Him and that whoever shall lose his life for His sake shall find it (16:25).

Surely this would raise questions in the minds of His Apostles. If the Lord was to die what would that mean about the kingdom? Would the prophecies of the OT in regard to the kingdom be fulfilled? His Apostles would need reassurance at this point in time that He would ultimately triumph and the kingdom would indeed be set up. In order to reassure them He told them that some of them would see Him coming in His kingdom before they died. So by understanding the context in which His words were spoken we can know that He was not saying that most of His Apostles would die before others saw Him coming in His kingdom.

John 16: 27-28

Gary DeMar next attempts to use John 21: 18-23 to prove that the coming of the Lord Jesus has already happened and some of His Apostles were still alive at that coming:

"A helpful bibical commentary on Matthew 16:27-28 is found in John 21:18-23. After Jesus describes for Peter how he will die (21: 18), Peter asks of John's fate, 'Lord, and what about this man?' (21:21). Jesus says to Peter, 'If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!' (21:22). History tells us that Peter died before Jerusalem was destroyed, and John lived beyond Jerusalem's destruction, a perfect and expected fulfillment of Matthew 16: 27-28" (Ibid., 44).

If we are to believe Gary DeMar then we must believe that the Lord Jesus prophesised that John would not die before the Lord Jesus came in glory. However, the verses which follow prove that Gary DeMar made the same mistake that the Apostles made when they assumed that is what the Lord Jesus said. Let us look at the verse which Gary DeMar left out:

"Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me. Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?" (Jn. 21:21-23).

At least one of the Apostles went about telling other believers that John would not die until the Lord Jesus came. And that is what Mr. DeMar is asserting that the Lord Jesus said. But John himself says,"Yet Jesus said not unto him, 'he shall not die'!"

Instead the Lord Jesus said,"If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee?"

Edwin A. Blum says,"Peter, having been informed about God's plan for his life, naturally wondered what the future held for his friend John, the disciple whom Jesus loved. Jesus sharply rebuked Peter for being curious about God's will for another's life: What is that to you? You must follow Me. Some disciples can be easily distracted by unnecessary questions about God's secret will; as a result they neglect God's plainly revealed will...Peter was to commit himself to God's plain commands to him. John then corrected a faulty inference made by some believers that John would not die" ("The Bible Knowledge Commentary", 345-346).

Even with these plain words before him Gary DeMar makes a faulty inference in regard to what the Lord Jesus actually said. He should take his own advice when he wrote,"Why is a discussion of these texts so important? First, we want to be accurate in our understanding of Scripture since it is God's only word to us, the expression of His will. To misinterpret Scripture is to misinterpret God's will. Second, the integrity of the Bible is at stake" (Ibid., 46).

Gary DeMar did in fact misinterpret the Scriptures and thus he misinterpreted the will of God.

Matthew 16:27

"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" (Mt.16:27).

This verse parallels Matthew 24:30, and this coming is in regard to events which will occur at the "end of the age". One of these events will be a world wide judgment, as witnessed by the words of the Lord Jesus when He said that "the field is the world" (Mt.13:38).

At Matthew 16:27 the Lord says that when He comes with His angels He will reward "every man" according to his works.There is no reason to suppose that He means "every man in Judea". If that was what He meant then He would have said that. But He did not.

At other places we can read the following in regard to when the Lord comes with His angels:

"And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ"  (2 Thess.1:7,8).

There is nothing here that even hints that the judgment is limited to only unbelievers living in Judea or Jerusalem. Instead it speaks of the Lord taking vengence on them that know not God and obey not the gospel.

Henry Alford

Gary DeMar says the following in regard to Matthew 16:27:"Henry Alford states that this passage refers 'to the destruction of Jerusalem, and the full manifestation of the Kingdom of Christ by the annihilation of the Jewish polity' "(Ibid., 45).

Sir Robert Anderson says the following in regard to the words of Henry Alford quoted by Gary DeMar:

"Was there ever a more amazing example of 'nightmare exegesis' ? Did the disciples know that this was what they were asking for when they uttered the words the Lord had taught them, 'Thy kingdom come'? They prayed that prayer with knowledge of the truth so plainly revealed in Scripture, that 'the kingdom' would bring the restoration of the Jewish polity and relief from the Roman yoke" (Anderson,Misunderstood Texts of the New Testament, 42).

The Lord's Apostles had been with Him for forty days after His resurrection when He spoke of "the things pertaining to the kingdom of God" (Acts 1:3). And after being tutored at His knees they had not heard anything to persuade them that the kingdom would not be restored to Israel. Therefore they asked the Lord:

"Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6).

The Lord only told them that they were not to know the "time" when that would happen (Acts 1: 7). If they were incorrect in their belief that the kingdom would be restored to Israel then surely the Lord would have corrected them. But He did not.

We must part company with our common sense in order to believe that Gary DeMar is correct and the "kingdom" which was to be restored to Israel was a destruction of Jerusalem and the annihilation of the Jewish polity!

Later on the day of Pentecost Peter told the Jews that if they repented and would return to the Lord then the Father would send back the Son so that the "times of refreshing" could be ushered in:

"Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, that the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord. And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you" (Acts 3:19,20).

We must throw our reason to the wind in order to believe that the "times of refreshing" which will happen when the Lord Jesus returns refer to the destruction of Jerusalem and the annihilation of the Jewish polity!

Gary DeMar writes,"Unfortunately, the clear testimony of the Bible does not convince those who are intent on making the Bible fit their preconceived view of prophecy" (DeMar, Last Days Madness, 402).

In order to make the Bible fit his preconceived view of prophecy Gary DeMar must make the "kingdom" be in reference to the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D.70.