Q: What does Christ “coming in His Kingdom” mean…(Mt. 16:28)?
Q: What does Christ “coming in His Kingdom” mean? Jesus said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom” (Mt. 16:28).
This statement was fulfilled at the Lord’s transfiguration, when He gave three of His disciples a foretaste of His glory and power in advance of His Second Coming:
Jesus took Peter, James, and John his brother, led them up on a high mountain by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. . . . Suddenly a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces and were greatly afraid (17:1–3, 5–6).
Jesus was not predicting He would establish His Kingdom on Earth in the disciples’ lifetime because the Old Testament prophecies about the Kingdom were never fulfilled during Jesus’ lifetime.
Nor was Matthew 16:28 fulfilled when the disciples saw Jesus in His glorified state for 40 days after His resurrection and before His ascension. Jesus did not establish His Kingdom on Earth at that time, and He refused to answer the disciples’ question concerning when the Kingdom would be established (cf. Acts 1:6–7). Some believe Jesus’ prediction was fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. But Jesus did not establish a physical Kingdom then either. At Pentecost, He sent the Holy Spirit as promised to comfort and indwell His disciples (Jn. 14:15–18, 23; cf. Acts 1:4–8).
Still others believe Matthew 16:28 predicted Jesus would return to destroy Jerusalem and the Temple in AD 70. However, this view does not address the context: (1) The verse says nothing about Jesus showering judgment on Jerusalem and the Temple, (2) there is no historical record of Jesus’ physical return in AD 70, and (3) Jesus never predicted His Second Coming would occur before the disciples died. Scripture clearly teaches that at Christ’s Second Coming, everyone on Earth will see the Lord return in power and great glory (Mt. 24:30; Rev. 1:7).
The transfiguration was a preview of that glory. The apostle Peter understood this fact (cf. 2 Pet. 1:16–18).
Jesus’ transfiguration reassured His disciples that His upcoming death would not hinder His later reestablishment of God’s Kingdom on Earth (cf. Mt. 16:21). Furthermore, God confirmed what the disciples witnessed when He declared, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!” (17:5).