In Matt. 16:28, Jesus says, “Verily I say unto thee, there are some standing here, who shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in His kingdom. ” What did Jesus mean by that?
Before answering the question “Did the disciples see Jesus coming in the kingdom”, we need to ask, “Has the kingdom already come?” Was Jesus talking about a spiritual kingdom or an earthly one?
Jesus was not talking about a spiritual kingdom. It is true that there is a heavenly or spiritual kingdom as well as an earthly kingdom. But Jesus is talking about an earthly kingdom,, since His disciples asked Him about the future kingdom after His death and return to life.
To these He also presented Himself alive, after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days, and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God . . . And so when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority . . . (NASB) Acts 1:3, 6-7
Jesus said that the kingdom is coming in the future.
Our next question is, “Has the kingdom already come? Jesus has given us some signs of things that must happen before the kingdom comes. Here is the most important one.
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come. (NASB) Matthew 24:14
Jesus says the gospel will be preached throughout the entire world and then the kingdom will come. The kingdom is described in Isaiah as follows:
And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the kid, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze; Their young will lie down together; And the lion will eat straw like the ox. And the nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. (NASB) Isaiah 11:6-8
This has not occurred either.
So what did Jesus mean in Matthew 16:28?
Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who shall not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” (NASB) Matt. 16:28
Jesus was referring to the event which immediately followed in Matt. 17:1-13 where both Moses and Elijah appeared with Jesus. Here a few of the disciples – Peter, James and John – saw Jesus displayed in the light of His divine glory as He will be in the kingdom. The Greek word Jesus used for “see” comes from HORAO which sometimes has the idea “to perceive with spiritual insight.” A few of the disciples did experience a glimpse of Jesus’ glory in the kingdom.
We are not in the kingdom today. It has not come yet. There are no known theologians who believe that we are in the kingdom today. Jesus allowed his three key apostles to see into the future.