“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.” (Matthew 16:28)
The other Gospels mention kingdom of God or kingdom present in power (Mark 9:1; Luke 9:27).
There are a number of interpretations of this, but the more prominent ones relate to the Resurrection of Christ, His Ascension, and the subsequent Outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
1. The Mediatoral Kingdom View. The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge by R. A. Torrey suggested this coming to refer to His coming in the “mediatorial kingdom which our Lord was about to set up, by the destruction of the Jewish nation and polity, and the diffusion of the gospel throughout the world.” However, Matthew 16:27 refers to this coming as being in the glory of the Father to reward each man according to his works.
2. The Resurrection and Pentecost View. Commentator John Gill suggested that Jesus spoke “rather, of the appearance of his kingdom, in greater glory and power, upon his resurrection from the dead, and his ascension to heaven; when the Spirit was poured down in an extraordinary manner, and the Gospel was preached all over the world; was confirmed by signs and wonders, and made effectual to the conversion and salvation of many souls; which many then present lived to see, and were concerned in: though it seems chiefly to have regard to his coming, to show his regal power and authority in the destruction of the Jews; when those his enemies that would not he should reign over them, were ordered to be brought and slain before him; and this the Apostle John, for one, lived to be a witness of.”
3. The Transfiguration View. Some suggest that the coming referred to Christ’ transfiguration on the Mount of Transfiguration in the next chapter. 2Peter 2:17 talks of this event as Christ’s receiving honor and glory. Yet, it certainly was not the kingdom come in power.
4. Receiving the Kingdom. Others suggest that this referred to Christ’s receiving the Kingdom and glory from the Father as prophesied in Daniel 7:13-14. This looks quite probable. The Son of Man as the Resurrected Lord announces all authority given to Him (Matthew 28:18). Yet, this receiving is not the same as His coming in His kingdom. Still, among the ones who stood there, the disciples were the ones who did see Christ in His power after the resurrection. There is no doubt that Christ as King now reigns till all the enemies are made His footstool (Heb.10:13; 1Cor.15:25). But, His Coming in glory to judge the world is a future event (Matt.24:30).
5. What About the Ones Who Didn’t Die? We know of Enoch and Elijah in the Old Testament who never tasted death. Now, we read in the next passage: “after six days 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.” (Matthew 17:1-3). Elijah, specifically, as we know never tasted death. Could it be that Jesus is referring to Elijah and Enoch as standing here? In fact, Enoch already had a vision of the Lord coming in glory (Jude 1:14-15). Were they standing there? Not impossible, seeing that heaven is not about geographical location.
“When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” (Matthew 10:23)
This is a mixed commission, for while it commissions the disciples to not go beyond the house of Israel, it also talks of their persecution by the rulers (which only happened later on). The commission is also eschatological and embraces the Last Days of the Tribulation, which is amplified further in Matthew 24. So, it is not the 12 Disciples who are meant literally, but the witnessing church founded on the apostles and the prophets. “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (Mat 24:14 NKJ). The reference to the towns of Israel, however, put the focus on the Jewish nation.
Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. (Mar 13:30 NKJ)
Some have understood “This generation” as meaning the generation that sees the re-formation of the State of Israel in May 1948 (or the budding of the fig tree mentioned in Mark 13: 28,29).
John Gill understands “these things” as “the destruction of Jerusalem, the signs of it, and what, should immediately follow upon it.” [AD 70 and beyond]. However, the passage more specifically talks about signs of the Last Day, including the abomination of desolation prophesied by Daniel (Mark 13:14).
Apparently, it seems that “this generation” must be interpreted as “these kind of people” (i.e. of one nature), especially referring to the rebellious house of Israel.
“But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like little children sitting in the marketplaces who call to their playmates, We piped to you [playing wedding], and you did not dance; we wailed dirges [playing funeral], and you did not mourn and beat your breasts and weep aloud.” (Matt.11:16-17)
“The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, Someone more and greater than Jonah is here!” (Matt.12:41)
And He groaned and sighed deeply in His spirit and said, Why does this generation demand a sign? Positively I say to you, no sign shall be given this generation. (Mark 8:12).
“You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.” (Act 7:51-53 NKJ)
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! Because you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, and say,`If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.’ Therefore you are witnesses against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers’ guilt. Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. (Matt 23:29-36 NKJ)