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Matthew 16:

21 From that time on Jesus began to explain to his disciples that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.
...
28“Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

But everyone who was standing there and listened to him had died and didn't see his second coming. A similar idea is in Matthew 26:

63b The high priest said to him, “I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”

64“You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

But the high priest died without seeing his second coming either.

John 19:34

Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.

Revelation 1:7b

“Look, he is coming with the clouds,” and “every eye will see him, even those who pierced him";

But the soldier who pierced Jesus died without seeing his second coming.

On three different occasions, the Bible predicts that the human observers would not die until they had seen the second coming of Christ. There are answers to each of the three cases individually. I'm looking for a single unifying answer to all three cases.

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  • Also please ask : Why does Revelation 1:7 state "even [those] who pierced him" if we are told in John 19:34 that only 1 soldier pierced him? Aug 2 '21 at 14:07
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    Good question. You can raise that question yourself if interested.
    – Tony Chan
    Aug 2 '21 at 14:10
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Is there a single unifying answer to the predictions that human participants would witness the second coming?

Short Answer: Yes. However, we must set aside all our preconceived ideas.

The consistent statement by the OP of all those who heard the message seems to be this: "[Everyone] listening to him had died and didn't see Christ's second coming." I submit this is an erroneous assumption, which I hope to prove in what follows.

We should remember what Christ told His disciples in His third answer to 3 questions (from Matthew 24:3):

  • Matthew 24:36-39 (ESV): “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. 37For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. 38For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, 39and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Christ's response to: "What will be the sign of the end of the age?” is very clearly "no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only." From this, we should understand that the end of the age, the end of time, and Christ's return are all in view and that no one but the Father knows when this will occur.

However, there is a profound subtlety here that is generally overlooked. We believe that God is moving along the same "timeline" that we are, and that He experiences each day just as we do. But that is a terrible mistake. We know this from several passages in Scripture including Psalm 90:

  • Psalm 90:4: "For a thousand years in Your sight Are like yesterday when it passes by, Or as a watch in the night."

This same passage is echoed by Peter in his Second Letter:

  • 2 Peter 3:8: "But do not let this one fact escape your notice, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day."

Peter is attempting to describe an eternal state where time as we understand it does not elapse at all. For the sake of argument, let’s assume that 1 day in heaven is exactly equal to 1,000 years based precisely on Peter’s words. If that were literally true, then the following must also be true:

   1 heavenly minute = 2/3  Earth years;   1 heavenly hour = 42 Earth years; 
   1 heavenly day    = 1,000 Earth years;  1 heavenly week = 7,000 Earth years.

In this hypothetical scenario, while those who died almost 50 years ago “wait,” only 1 hour has elapsed in heaven. Abraham, who died roughly 4,000 years ago will have experienced only 3 or 4 days in heaven. But, we know that 1,000 years is merely symbolic of timelessness – the absence of time. The intent of the passages is to contrast finite time on earth with the timeless realm of God.

Note carefully the word "timeless" because this means the absence of time, something which we bristle against as too difficult to comprehend. But God has no history: He is too utterly real to have any. His entire existence occurs at once in the eternal reality. It is, therefore, nonsensical to speak of "what God did yesterday" or "what God will do tomorrow" because if there were a "yesterday" in paradise, there would have to be an infinite number of yesterdays, each one before the other, ad infinitum. This is known as an infinite regression, a logical impossibility. And, we know that God is not a god of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33).

That is why God identifies Himself as "I AM." Note that He never tells us "I was" or "I will be." That is the meaning, despite our tendency to humanize (anthropomorphize) God's existence as similar to our own as we experience the passage of time.


I have prefaced all of what I'm about to say to try to reach those who have great difficulty with this idea — and that includes almost everyone. Physically, we live in a world of time. However, once our faithful spirit has been liberated, time ceases to exist to us. This means that the moment you, as an individual, die, time no longer elapses.

Obviously, this is not true for everyone that remains physically alive, but their moment will come sooner or later — and it will occur "as a thief in the night". We should recognize that each of us will meet our end unexpectedly — physical death occurs to almost everyone when they least expect it. Why do I mention death? The reason for this is that there is a vast distinction (per Psalm 90:4, 2 Peter 3:8, etc.) between life in this world and life in the hereafter.

Let us consider the rest of what Christ taught in Matthew by examining the cross reference in Luke 17 regarding what will happen to those who remain:

  • Luke 17:34-37: "'I tell you, on that night there will be two in one bed; one will be taken and the other will be left. 35There will be two women grinding at the same place; one will be taken and the other will be left. 36Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other will be left.'37And answering they said to Him, 'Where, Lord?' And He said to them, 'Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered.'”

What does this all mean? Here, suppose we first reflect on the words of Paul as to our nature as human beings:

  • 2 Corinthians 4:16: "Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying [and will die], yet our inner man is being renewed day by day."

The "inner man" of which Paul speaks is our spirit. We possess a dual nature, one physical (which will die) and one spiritual (which is immortal). If we think carefully about the verses above, Jesus seems to be telling us:

1. In the night, two will be in one bed; one will be taken (spirit) and one will be left (physical);
2. (In the night?) two women will be grinding at the same place; one will be taken (spirit) and one will be left (physical);
3. (In the night?) two men will be in the field; one will be taken (spirit) and one will be left (physical);
4. Where is the spirit and the body separated? "Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered" (emphasis added);

Vultures are always associated with dead carcasses, just as they are here. The dead, physical body has become food for these foul creatures at the moment the spirit of the man/woman has departed this physical realm. It is very likely that some will vehemently disagree. Some will argue that "vultures" in verse 37 should really be interpreted "eagles" — meaning Romans. Others will insist that this is referring to a "rapture" where the saints are taken and the lost are left. Again, we must put these preconceived ideas aside if we are to understand spiritual concepts. It is often only when we are finally able to differentiate between the spiritual and the carnal that we can hope to begin to discern the explanation I have provided. They are not easy for anyone to grasp, certainly not initially.


Here, suppose we reflect on another passage by Christ:

John 6:40: “[Everyone] who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day” (emphasis added).

Suppose we imagine a faithful man named Tom, who just expired in a hospital. From his perspective, is not this "last day" Tom’s last day, just as it is with all of us when our time arrives?

Many will immediately claim that Tom "waits" in the grave" for 5 years, or 5 decades — before he is awakened from death by Christ. But this concept is fundamentally contrary to Christ's explicit declaration:

John 8:51: "Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps My word he will never see death" (emphasis added).
John 11:26: "[Everyone] who lives and believes in Me will never die" (emphasis added).

What?! How can these statements be true? Isn't Tom dead in that grave? Yes, Tom's dead body is certainly in the grave. But where is Tom's spirit — his consciousness, his being? We should understand that, spiritually, our "inner man/woman" is becoming stronger by the day. The spirit does not die and it does not sleep. That is why there is no "night" in heaven but only a single, eternal day! No one will sleep in the paradise of God. Only the physical body sleeps, or dies. Tom's spirit is perfectly alive, traversing the threshold between finite time and eternity.

And, that is the point that Christ is making. The only way His words make any sense is that saints never consciously experience death. (I do not believe this is true for the lost, but that is another discussion.)

Christ repeatedly tells us that He will never set foot again on earth — rather, He will return with the clouds of heaven (Matt. 26:64, Mk. 14:62, Acts 1:11, 1 Thess. 4:17, Rev. 1:7, etc.). Here is just one of the passages that emphatically attests to this fact:

Mark 14:62: “'I am [the Christ],' said Jesus. 'And you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Let us examine a few passages that describe this moment explicitly:

1 Thessalonians 4:17: “Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord.”

This verse states that all saints will be caught up together to meet Christ in the air. The words simply could not be clearer. Those faithful who have perished are already making their journey out of time to meet the Lord in the air ("clouds of heaven").

So, did Christ never return to any of the people dating back to the first century, just as He promised?

John 14:3: “If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also."

Christ's "return" is the moment we transcend this world to instantly join Him in paradise. And, this is the answer to the OP. It is the “single, unifying answer to the predictions that human participants will witness the second coming. Further, the statement: "[Everyone] listening to him had died and didn't see Christ's second coming" is answered by simply understanding that everyone who is saved will meet the Lord in the air at the same time exactly as we're told.

What this means is that Christ doesn't return to us; we step into His eternal Presence with the Father! It would be very easy to quote dozens of passages that speak to this fact.

Finally, note this as well: Everyone will both see and hear the trumpet of God, and they will do so the moment they are transformed from this finite world of sin and death. Since we will have entered a timeless realm, there is NO waiting. Everything happens in the twinkling of an eye:

1 Corinthians 15:51-53: "Behold, I tell you a mystery; we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet; for the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed. For this perishable must put on the imperishable, and this mortal must put on immortality." (emphasis added).

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One of the teachings of Christ (and of the early Church) was that believers are born from above and their identity is spiritual. Such a spiritual identity cannot die and cannot taste death, only the outward physical "tent" experiences death, but those whose identity is not the tent but the spirit, they will not taste death.

John 11.25-26:

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.

2 Cor 4.13-18:

We having the same spirit of faith, according as it is written, I believed, and therefore have I spoken; we also believe, and therefore speak; Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God.

For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

This is why in the New Testament, dead saints are said to be "asleep" (1 Thess 4.13). To a believer, dying is as if you fell asleep, it is just a period of time in which you are resting before rising again. Thus they are not tasing "death", they are only tasting sleep.

Continuing on in that verse in 1 Thessalonians 4.13-18, those who are asleep will rise first -- to see the second coming and then those who are still alive will ascend second:

Now we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, concerning those who have fallen asleep, so that you will not grieve as also the rest, who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, thus also God will bring those who have fallen asleep through Jesus together with him. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who remain until the Lord’s coming, will not possibly precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who remain, will be snatched away at the same time together with them in the clouds for a meeting with the Lord in the air, and thus we will be together with the Lord always. Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Thus when Jesus said "some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom", he was saying that some of those standing before him would be (or already are) born from above and thus will not taste death before the second coming.

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Is there a unifying answer to the different predictions that the human participants would not die until they have seen the second coming?

The Transfiguration

Jesus told them that he would die and be resurrected (Mr 8:27-31), though he also promised that some of his disciples would “not taste death at all” until they had first seen “the Son of man coming in his kingdom,”

This promise was fulfilled “six days later” (or “eight” according to Luke, who apparently includes the day of the promise and that of the fulfillment) when Peter, James, and John accompanied Jesus into “a lofty mountain” (Matthew 17:1; Mark 9:2; Luke 9:28) where, while praying, Jesus was transfigured before them.

Matthew 17:1 NASB

The Transfiguration

17 Six days later, Jesus *took with Him Peter and [a]James, and his brother John, and *led them up on a high mountain by themselves.

Mark 9:2 NASB

2 And six days later Jesus *took with Him Peter, [a]James, and John, and *brought them up on a high mountain by themselves. And He was [b]transfigured before them;

Concerning Jesus coming in the clouds, the Bible says: (This alludes to Daniel 7:13-14)(Rev. 1:7, Mt 26:64)

Revelation 1:7 NASB

7 Behold, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen.

Matthew 26:64 NASB

64 Jesus *said to him, “You have said it yourself. But I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

This coming refers to Jesus’ appearing in the future to reward the just and punish the wicked.

Those Romans and Jews have now been dead for close to 2,000 years. So those who ‘pierce him’ today must represent nations and peoples that display the same hateful attitude that was shown when Jesus was impaled. Jesus is no longer here on earth.

This supernatural display of power will signal that Jesus has come to pronounce judgment. In another part of this same prophecy about the last days, Jesus gives more details about the judgment that will be pronounced at this time. We find that information in the parable of the sheep and the goats. (Read Matthew 25:31- 46.)

Matthew 25:31-33,45-46 NASB

The Judgment

31 “But when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, then He will sit on His glorious throne. 32 And all the nations will be gathered before Him; and He will separate them from one another, just as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; 33 and He will put the sheep on His right, but the goats on the left.

45 Then He will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it for one of the least of these, you did not do it for Me, either.’ 46 These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

Supporters of God’s Kingdom (Rev. 11:15 )will be judged as “sheep” and will “lift up [their] heads,” realizing that their “deliverance is getting near.” (Luke 21:28) However, Kingdom opposers will be judged as “goats” and will go away into eternal punishment-- meaning that there will not be any hope of resurrection

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There are two quite separate questions here that must be answered independently.

1. Matt 16:28

28“Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.”

This prediction/prophecy was literally fulfilled in the following verses of Matt 17 -

1 After six days Jesus took with Him Peter, James, and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. 2 There He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light. 3 Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared before them, talking with Jesus.

Note that the kingdom of God/heaven, with Jesus as the monarch, consists of the saved people from all ages. In the above transfiguration, Moses can be seen as representing those who died and then went to heaven while Elijah can be seen as representing those who did not die but will be taken to heaven without dying at the end of time. All this is done on the basis of Jesus' atonement as displayed in the transfiguration.

2. See Jesus coming in the Clouds

To be able to see Jesus coming in the clouds requires that people be alive at the time of Jesus' return. Jesus actually said this:

John 5:28, 29 - Do not be amazed at this, for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out—those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment.

This is an allusion to Dan 12:2. Paul said the same thing in Acts 24:15:

I have the same hope in God that they themselves cherish, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.

There is a direct allusion to the two resurrections in Heb 11:35. Thus, it is entirely consistent and expected that Jesus could say that "every eye will see Him" in Rev 1:7, "even those that pierced Him", including those that ordered such a vile act such as the Roman and Jewish authorities.

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