(Mt. 16:28) Did Jesus make a false prediction about his second coming?

CLAIM: Jesus said, “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” (Mt. 16:28). Preterists claim that this passage affirms that Jesus’ second coming will occur before his disciples die. For instance, Preterist Gary DeMar writes,

If we maintain that the event Jesus is describing in these verses is still in our future, then how should we interpret Jesus’ 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”? 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. If we adopt the view that the Transfiguration is the fulfillment of Matthew 16:27–28, we must conclude that most of the people with whom Jesus spoke were dead within seven to ten days (Matthew 17:1)! Hardly possible.[1]

Is this the case?

RESPONSE: The subject of “those” in this passage is the group of people who see him—not the others who don’t. Therefore, it doesn’t apply to them.

This passage is a reference to Jesus’ transfiguration in the very next verse. In the very next verse (17:1), Jesus is transfigured before his disciples, which fits with both Peter (2 Pet. 1:16-18) and John’s (Jn. 1:14) retelling of the story (i.e. they refer to the transfiguration as the glory of Christ—not his destruction of the Temple). Peter died before the destruction of the Temple, but he refers to the Transfiguration as the “coming” (Greek parousia) of Christ.

This is a foretaste of his ultimate coming in glory (Acts 1:11; Rev. 1:7). The verse divisions are aligned in this way in the gospel of Mark. If we read this narrative in Mark’s gospel, it becomes much clearer (Mk. 9:1-9). This verse is followed—not by a chapter division—but by a natural sequence of events. If Matthew’s gospel had been divided in this way, it would appear a more natural sequence. Moreover, Jesus said, “There are some of those who are standing here…” This language fits with the three disciples (Peter, James, and John) who saw him on the transfiguration. However, this language of “some” would not fit with the resurrection, ascension, Pentecost, or the church age. All of the disciples saw this. Finally, even according to the Preterist view, no one “saw” Jesus at his coming in AD 70, because it was an invisible coming. This wouldn’t fit with the language of Matthew 16:28 either


[1] DeMar, Gary. Last Days Madness. Atlanta: American Vision, 1994. 34-35.