What are the possible interpretations of "will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God"? Which is most likely correct?

Luke 9:27:

But I say to you truthfully, there are some of those standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”

Mark 9:1:

And Jesus was saying to them, “Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.”

Matt. 16:28:

“Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”

  • Are you looking for interpretations as to what event is anticipated by "the kingdom of God" coming in power?
    – Soldarnal
    Oct 5 '11 at 18:52
  • @Soldarnal: Exactly.
    – jrdioko
    Oct 5 '11 at 18:53
  • The Kingdom of God is often used to refer to the Church as established by Peter on the day of Pentecost after the death of Christ. It is more inclusive of the group that is standing there when this teaching is taking place and also fits in with the fact that some will die before the ushering in of the Kingdom with the Holy Spirit being sent upon those in the upper room and then Peter preaches his sermon in Acts 2. Oct 5 '11 at 20:08

Popular interpretations as to what event is anticipated by "the kingdom of God" coming in power include the following:

  • The transfiguration
  • The resurrection
  • The ascension
  • The day of Pentecost
  • The second coming

A couple things stand out in the passage that are worth noting. First, Jesus has just given indication that the disciples may end up soon forfeiting their lives for his sake. Moreover he links this to his own impending death. Second, Jesus says that "some" will see this event, likely indicating that not all present will experience it. And third, the transfiguration story immediately follows this statement in each of the synoptic accounts. The connection is especially clear in Luke's account where he notes that "eight days after Jesus said this" they went up to the mountain.

Together these indicate that the transfiguration is likely the event anticipated. Unlike the second coming, it was fairly imminent. (And of course if it was the second coming, Jesus seems to be wrong.) The reference to "some" indicates that likely the resurrection, ascension or Pentecost are not in view since essentially all present to hear these words were present at those events as well. Judas is of course an exception, but "some" probably indicates a smaller group still. In contrast, only Peter, John and James were present at the transfiguration. The proximity of the pericopes is probably the most telling.

Outside of the synoptics, probably the most deciding passage comes from 2 Peter 1:16-18:

2 Peter 1:16-18 (NIV) Emphasis added
16For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. 17He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” 18We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.

It is evident in these verses that Peter links the "coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power" with his witness of the Majestic Glory displayed in the transfiguration. If, as is thought, Peter stands behind Mark's gospel and if Peter is the author of this epistle, this provides pretty strong evidence that Mark intends for his readers to link the statements made by Christ with the event that follows.

  • 2
    Thanks for bringing in 1 Peter to this discussion. I had never noticed the connection before!
    – Frank Luke
    Mar 23 '12 at 13:49
  • 3
    Bringing in the verse from 2 Peter nailed everything. Thanks indeed for clearing my doubts. Jul 28 '15 at 10:14

The most authoritative Church commentators in antiquity understood Jesus here to be referring to the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-8; Mark 9:2-8; Luke 9:28-36). It is no coincidence that the Transfiguration is the very next event the Synoptics recount after Jesus says There may be some standing here ... (Matthew 16:28; Mark 9:1; Luke 9:2) - with Matthew and Mark recalling that it occurred 6 days later, and Luke recalling that it occurred about eight days later.

John Chrysostom (c 349-407), commenting on Matthew's version, comments:

Inasmuch as He had discoursed much of dangers and death, and of His own passion, and of the slaughter of the disciples, and had laid on them those severe injunctions ... He willing to assure their very sight, and to show what kind of glory that is wherewith He is to come, so far as it was possible for them to learn it; even in their present life He shows and reveals this; that they should not grieve any more ...

Having discoursed of hell, and of the kingdom (for as well by saying, He that findeth his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose it for my sake, shall find it1 as by saying, He shall reward every man according to his works2, He had manifested both of these): having, I say, spoken of both, the kingdom indeed He shows in the vision, but hell not yet.3

Cyril of Alexandria (378-444) writes on Luke's version:

He says, I say unto you, there are some of those standing here, who shall not taste of death until they have seen the kingdom of God. Does He mean that the measure of their lives will be so greatly prolonged as even to reach to that time when He will descend from heaven at the. consummation of the world, to bestow upon the saints the kingdom prepared for them? Even this was possible for Him: for He is omnipotent: and there is nothing impossible or difficult to His all-powerful will. But by the kingdom of God He means the sight of the glory in which He will appear at His manifestation to the inhabitants of earth: for He will come in the glory of God the Father, and not in low estate like unto us. How therefore did He make those who had received the promise spectators of a thing so wonderful? He goes up into the mountain taking with Him three chosen disciples: and is transformed to so surpassing and godlike a brightness, that His garments even glittered with rays of fire, and seemed to flash like lightning. And besides, Moses and Elijah stood at Jesus' side, and spake with one another of His departure.4

1. Matthew 16:25
2. Ibid. v.27
3. Homily LVI on Matthew (tr. from Greek)
4. [Sermon LI on Luke (tr. from Syriac)


In the context, Yahuwshuwa (Jesus) is speaking of the time when he shall come in glory and judge every man according to his works. In Matthew 16:24 it says he spoke these words to his disciples, but if we cross reference it to mark 9:1 and 8:34 we see that he spoke these words to his disciples and the multitude of people with them.

So he said "some of you shall not taste death ", only a remnant of the first generation of Israel would be saved therefore he said "some". They would not taste death. Here are some verses to explain what he meant by that:

john 11:26 "whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die"


John 8:51 " if a man keep my saying, he shall never see death".

Hebrews 2:9 (kjv) "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man"

So out of the multitude of people that Yahuwshuwa spoke to, only a remnant received everlasting life and therefore never taste death. Because Yahuwshuwa would taste death for those believers upon the cross . And yes they will "see" the kingdom coming in glory at the ressurection of the dead.



This is about being able to understand the knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom. The power of death and life is in the tongue …and they that love it shall eat the fruit of it. When one hears the His knowledge (as He opens up the Scriptures to our understanding), we are to take heed on how we hear.

The only way to enter in to understanding His knowledge is to become humble (humble as a child as far behaving in evil opposition to what one hears) as the disciples did humble themselves upon the mountain .

They “fell on their face and were sore afraid”….they did fear God and keep His commandments and humbled themselves as they heard His voice instructing them to hear His Son.

Matthew 17:5-7 KJV (5) While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him. (6) And when the disciples heard it, they fell on their face, and were sore afraid.

Only then can one “stand” before the Son.

(7) And Jesus came and touched them, and said, Arise, and be not afraid.

John did fall at His feet as "dead"...that is, he humbled himself and was able to then "stand" before the Son.

Revelation 1:17-18 KJV (17) And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last: (18) I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.

We also are to hear as He comes to open up the Scriptures (Moses and Elijah….the Law and the Prophets) to our hearing ears.

Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child (being humble) will in no wise enter in. They cannot understand His words then.

Luke 18:15-17 KJV (15) And they brought unto him also infants, that he would touch them: but when his disciples saw it, they rebuked them. (16) But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. (17) Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.

The power of death and life is in the tongue….and those who love it shall eat the fruit thereof…whether it be death or life.

When one uses their tongue for evil, they “taste” of death and will not be able to enter in. His disciples did not “taste of death” and were able to understand.

Proverbs 18:20-21 KJV (20) A man's belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; and with the increase of his lips shall he be filled. (21) Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.

The Son comes in the kingdom to open up the Scriptures to our hearing ears. His sayings are the “angels”….or messengers…that we are not to be ashamed of. We are not to be ashamed of His testimony as He opens up the Scriptures to our understanding.

Luke 9:26-27 KJV (26) For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father's, and of the holy angels.

The only way to “stand” before the Son of man is not to use the tongue for evil at what hears.

They will not “taste of death”….that is, use the tongue for evil speaking against what one hears…until they see (KNOW) the kingdom of God as they will be able to enter in to understand the knowledge of the mysteries of the kingdom.

(27) But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.

The Son of man shall come in the glory of His Father with His angels….His sayings…His interpretations of the Scriptures.

He shall then reward every man according to what man’s works towards the hearing of His interpretations of the Scriptures….Moses and Elijah “talk” with Him. Those who will humble themselves will then be able to "stand" before Him to hear.

Some will do evil as they will resist what they hear and speak evil….taste of death.

Others will do good towards what they hear….tasting life...for death and life are in the power of the tongue and we are to choose wisely choosing life and not death.

Matthew 16:27-28 KJV (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. (28) 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.

The disciples upon the holy mountain did humble themselves and did listen. They did hear a voice from Heaven confirming that this is His Son speaking and were to hear Him. They did glorify the Father and the Son.

2 Peter 1:16-21 KJV (16) For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty. (17) For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. (18) And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.

Today, we have a more sure word of prophecy.

Rather than hearing an audible voice coming from Heaven confirming that this is His Son, we have a more sure confirmation within us as the Light arises within our very own darkened/obscured hearts that this is His Son whom we are to hear as He opens up…interprets…. the Scriptures (Moses and Elijah) to our hearing ears.

(19) We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: (20) Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. (21) For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.

The Lord comes to interpret the Scriptures with His holy words…sayings…. “angels”.

Some will be caught unawares when a “stranger”...those brothers who are moved to speak as moved by the Holy Spirit... comes along to speak His words. They will be found not remembering to let brotherly love continue and will go about “killing the messengers” of His words. They will not humble themselves . They will not be hospitable. They are using their tongues to "taste of death".

Luke 21:34-38 KJV (34) And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares.

As a snare shall it come on all of those who “dwell on the face of the whole earth” ….that is, upon those who are dwelling on earthly wisdom…..envy, strife, contentions, wrath, etc. These are people who will not be found “awake” to His righteousness and will be tempted to speak out in evil….not humbling themselves.

(35) For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.

To “watch” is to remember to always let brotherly love continue. They will humble themselves at the hearing of His voice as He interprets the Scriptures. To “pray” is to let our words always be seasoned with grace. They will be able to “stand” before the Son of man.

(36) Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.

This is about His coming to teach us…to interpret the Scriptures. The children of the Day will hear Him teaching while those of the “night” are forgetting to let brotherly love continue and will not be able to receive His teachings as they use their tongues for evil….the “tasting of death”.

(37) And in the day time he was teaching in the temple; and at night he went out, and abode in the mount that is called the mount of Olives.

The Light dawns within our very own hearts….and the people came “early in the morning” to Him in the temple for the purpose of hearing Him.

(38) And all the people came early in the morning to him in the temple, for to hear him.

To continue in “prayer” is to let our speech always be filled with grace and peace so that we may enter in through the door of utterance to know the mystery of Christ and be thankful for what we shall hear.

Colossians 4:2-6 KJV (2) Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; (3) Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds: (4) That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.

Let brotherly love continue and entertain “strangers”….walking in wisdom to those who are without…so that we may enter in to understand the mysteries of the kingdom. to "pray always" is to let our speech be always be with grace and seasoned with salt...with peace...towards all people.

(5) Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. (6) Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

To “taste of death” is to be found speaking out in evil towards those “strangers”


These verses are clear evidence that Jesus believed the "Kingdom" would break in within the generation of people then living. Matthew 24:34: "... this generation will not pass away till all these things take place" has a similar meaning.

Many later NT writings point the same direction. Paul wrote that "time has grown very short" (1 Cor 7:29), the author of 1 Peter wrote "the end of all things is at hand", author of 1 John wrote "we know that it is the last hour" (1 John 2:18), Revelation talks about "what must soon take place" at the beginning, and "the time is near" at the end.

In short, Jesus and his followers mistakenly proclaimed an imminent end-times.

"In the decades after Jesus' death, then, the Christians had to revise their first expectation again and again. This makes it very probable that the expectation originated with Jesus. We make sense of these pieces of evidence if we think that Jesus himself told his followers that the Son of Man would come while they still lived. The fact that this expectation was difficult for Christians in the first century helps prove that Jesus held it himself." (E.P. Sanders, The Historical Figure of Jesus)

Some claim that the so-called "Transfiguration" was meant by Matt 16:28. But does something that supposedly happened a mere six days later fit with "some standing here will not taste death"? That verse implies a more future time: some people standing there would die, but some would not. It fits perfectly with "this generation will not pass away", meaning some of "this generation" will still be alive.

The clincher is the immediate preceding context in Matt 16:27: the Son of Man coming in glory with his angels, judging every man. Clearly a reference to the imminent Kingdom coming.


A movement began after the Babylonian conquest of Jerusalem in 586 BCE that developed into what was called apocalypticism. The basis for the belief was that, with the fall of Jeruselem and the destruction of the 1st temple, clearly forces of evil were in control of the world. The belief was that God would at some point correct this and good would rule and the righteous would be rewarded. God would do this by delivering a Messiah who would be a powerful man from the lineage of David. He would be a) a king, a military leader b) a prophet c) some cosmic figure (Son of Man?) who would lead Israel against the evil forces and win.

By the time of Jesus this had morphed into the understanding that this world would end and a new world, the Kingdom of God, would be in it's place. This is not heaven as we understand it. There would be a bodily resurrection of all who had lived and they would be judged as to their righteousness and those who were righteous would live on in the Kingdom of God where all things were as they should be.

Thy kingdom come Thy will be done on Earth as it is in heaven

Jesus is saying that the time is imminent. Mark 9:1 "some standing here will not taste death before the Kingdom of God has come with power". That is, within a generation, before some of you die, the Kingdom of God will come to power.

By the time Luke was written, it was clear that this wasn't happening so the verse was changed and the "come to power" was removed.

Also, the references to all 3 synoptic gospels is problematic. These are individual books that reflect the philosophy (theology and christology) of the writer. What Luke calls the Kingdom of God may not be what Mark or Matthew believes. You can't conflate the three.


it could mean that for some the real death will come with the coming of God's Kingdom.

if those who actualy heard this verse are actually still alive today,... the verse says: "you will taste death, when the Kingdom comes".

the verse does not actualy imply that some will live as long as the kingdom doesnt come, but that they will 'taste death' only when it comes.

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The original of this passage is in Mark's Gospel, simply because it is the strong consensus of New Testament scholars that Mark was written first and was the main source used by the authors of the other two synoptic gospels. Thus, the most reliable way to establish the original meaning of this passage seems to be to look in Mark. The term 'kingdom of God' can tend to hide meaning and, in Mark as Story, Rhoads, Dewey and Michie suggest a better translation to be 'rule of God', the Greek being capable of either meaning but 'rule of God', although less regal, a more straightforward reading in the English language.

In Mark 9:1, Jesus is prophesying his second coming, a prophecy he repeats in more dramatic detail in chapter 13. Mark has the ability to create relationships between events by the use of several rhetorical literary devices, including intercalations (literary sandwiches), chiastic structures, parallel structures and proximity. In this case, the prophecy in Mark 9:1 is linked, as pair X, in a proposed parallel structure of Mark, a literary relationship that demonstrates authorial intent. Mark 9:1 also follows seamlessly after a prophecy of the crucifixion in verse 8:31, with just a short intervening passage that hints of Peter's feelings of shame after the three denials.

Mark 8:31: And he began to teach them, that the Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders, and of the chief priests, and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again.

Mark 9:1 (KJV): 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 chapter 13 opens with a graphic description of the events of the First Roman-Jewish War and the civil war that erupted within Jerusalem even as it was being besieged. Then they are told that Jesus will come with great power and glory before his present generation had passed:

Mark 13:26-30 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then shall he send his angels, and shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from the uttermost part of the earth to the uttermost part of heaven. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near: So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.

Jesus did not literally prophesy his return on clouds within the lifetimes of some to whom he spoke, because had he done so, he would have been wrong. But the author of Mark had seen the tumultuous events of 70 CE and believed they were a portent of the second coming. This is what was meant by "will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God."

By the time the Gospels of Matthew and Luke were written, it was becoming clear that Jesus' generation had passed away without having seen Jesus return to establish the kingdom of God, so in copying Mark chapter 13, they emphasised that no one knew when Jesus would return, but they did copy the less obvious prophecy in Mark 9:1.

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