Chapter

Luke 9:27

ESV But I tell you truly, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God.”
NIV Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God.'
NASB 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.'
CSB Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God."
NLT I tell you the truth, some standing here right now will not die before they see the Kingdom of God.'
KJV 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.

What does Luke 9:27 mean?

This is a highly controversial verse with a remarkably simple explanation. Taken out of context, it has been used to suggest a failure in Jesus' promises. Read in the passage, itself, its meaning becomes clear. Jesus has just talked about how He will come "in his glory and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels" (Luke 9:26). Although the disciples do not yet know when this will happen, we know this to be Jesus' second coming at the end of the tribulation. Matthew's parallel verse seems to affirm this: "Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom" (Matthew 16:28).

This verse, then, can be manipulated to imply that some of the disciples around Jesus—a group that probably includes more than just the Twelve—will be alive at Jesus' second coming. Since Jesus ascended to heaven and has not yet returned, two thousand years later, we know this can't be true. Is this an error, or was Jesus mistaken?

Commentators have presented several views:

•Jesus is wrong. This implies He had the same understanding of the Jewish Messiah as the disciples: that He would release the Jews from their captivity to Rome. But this view is a logical fallacy. Besides the fact that Jesus, as God, can't be wrong, if He did bring political freedom to the Jews, everyone would see it, not just the few who were not ashamed of Him.

•Jesus means His resurrection and ascension displayed the kingdom of God. Those events inaugurated the "already" stage of the kingdom in which He reigns in heaven and the Holy Spirit indwells the saved. Some of those standing there—those who are not ashamed of Him—will see the coming kingdom as the gospel spreads.

•Jesus means the transfiguration. Jesus doesn't say they will see the fulfillment of Luke 9:26 before they die; He says they'll see "the kingdom of God." In this view, He is referring not to the previous passage but to the next: to the transfiguration. Luke 9:28–36 records how Jesus takes Peter, James, and John to the top of a mountain. Moses and Elijah appear, and Jesus' appearance changes—He displays His glory. As the three disciples scramble to find an appropriate way to respond, they hear the voice of God the Father, saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!" (Luke 9:35).

•A final option is that the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 is an example of Jesus' authority to judge the world in the end times.

The case for the transfiguration is compelling, but the passages in Matthew and Mark add more nuance, particularly Mark (Mark 9:1). The tense of his verb "has come" refers to something that comes and continues. The transfiguration is the initial revelation of "the Son of Man coming in his kingdom" (Matthew 16:28). The church age is the continuation. Judas, for example, did not experience this because of his denial of Christ. The ultimate fulfillment of the kingdom will come at Jesus' second coming (Luke 9:26).
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