The Kingdom Teachings of Jesus, Part IV (The Coming of the Son of Man)
The Coming Kingdom of the Son of Man
"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. Very I say to you, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom."(Matthew 16:27-28)
The text introduces five items of interest:
1. The coming of the Son of Man.
2. Accompanied by angels.
3. A Time of judgment.
4. The imminence of the coming.
5. The coming is The Kingdom of the Son Of Man.
Because of limited space and time for this article we will jumped right into our topic. I will attempt to move from one point to another in an orderly fashion that will maintain continuity of thought, and yet cover the wide scope of material introduced by the two verses under consideration.
1. THE COMING OF THE SON OF MAN. ∼ Verse 27 opens with an announcement that, “The Son of man shall come.” The title “Son of Man” will be discussed in number 5 of this paper; here, we will look at “the coming.”
There are two Greek words used in the New Testament for the “coming” of Christ. Most of the time the two words intend two different types of comings. The two words are: erchomai and parousia.
Erchomai: (Strong’s #NT 2064) is used only in the present or imperfect tense. Present tense involves a continual action. It is this word that is employed if an other than physical coming of Christ is intended.
Parousia: (Strong’s #NT 3952); this word is employed when the physical advent (appearance) of Jesus is intended. However, the word is not limited to the physical coming; it can apply to any appearance of Christ. The main point of the word is: a particular time is in view.
The word for coming, used in our text, is: erchomai. Here, the sense is: shall be coming. This coming alludes to His coming at Pentecost A.D. 30, and that, since that time Jesus has continually been coming in His Kingdom. This erchomai class coming includes, but not exclusively, Pentecost A.D. 30, the judgment on Jerusalem in A.D. 70, the deaths of the saints when Jesus comes for them (John 14:1-3), and the judgment of the nations (Matthew 25:31 and following, compared to Daniel 7:9-28) which will culminate with the parousia, when the kingdoms of the beast are taken away, and the children of the kingdom of the Son of Man shine forth as the sun (see Matthew 13:41-43).
2. ACCOMPANIED BY ANGELS. ∼ The knowledge that the Lord God administers His affairs through the medium of angels is so well established in Holy Scripture we will not take the space to develop the position at this point, but will assume it.
There is, however, an eyewitness to the presence of angels at the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The Jewish historian Josephus recorded actually seeing an army of angelic host warring above the city of Jerusalem at the time of its siege.
“...a few days after that feast, on the twenty-first day of the month Artemisius [Jyar], a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sunsetting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding cities.” (Flavius Josephus, “The Wars of the Jews” 6.6.3)
3. A TIME OF JUDGMENT. ∼ The statement from verse 27: “and then he shall reward every man according to his works” does not have the Great White Throne Judgment (see Revelation 20:11-15) in view. The reason this can be stated with such certainty is the statement in verse 28: “There be some standing here, which shall not taste death to they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” What judgment does this text have in view, if not the judgment on the house of Israel that took place during the lifetime of some of those hearing Jesus speak. The “works” Christ is speaking of here is the acceptance or rejection of His person as the Messiah of Israel. It would be breaking the law of context to apply this “coming,” which is a coming of judgment, to any other event except Christ’s coming in judgment upon the Jewish people in A.D. 70. It is this “coming” in judgment of which Christ prophesied in Matthew 23: 2, 29-39, and also in chapter 24.
4. THE IMMINENCE OF THE COMING. ∼ In our text Jesus states that there were some “standing” in His presence that would not “taste of death” (die) before He returned in His kingdom. The natural import of His words would be: Sometime in the future—not immediately, and yet not so distant as to be beyond the lifespan of all persons present. His coming in judgment on Jerusalem (Judaism), which resulted in the complete and total destruction of the Temple, forty years later, seems to fit this prophecy quite perfectly.
Some feel that the vision on the Mount of Transfiguration fulfilled this particular prophecy of Jesus (see Matthew chapter 17). The Transfiguration took place a week after Christ made the prediction. It is hardly likely that this was Jesus’ intention, because of the window placed on the prophecy, namely—some (not all) of his hearers would not die before it happened. To consider the fulfillment of the prophecy to have taken place just one week after given would make the words of Jesus nonsensical and places Him in a very foolish light.
In the same context (of his return) Jesus tells the chief priests, the elders, and the whole council (Sanhedrin)—including the high Priest: “Hereafter shall you see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in clouds of heaven” (Matthew 26:64). Again, it is an “erchomai” class coming that is in view here. Obviously, Jesus does not have His physical return (spoken about in Acts 1:11 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18) in mind, either in Matthew 16:27-28 or Matthew 26:64.
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. Vearly I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste death, till they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.
Jesus said unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall you see the Son of Man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.
Christ has not yet, 2000 years later, come in any personal-physical sense (a parousia), but he has been coming (erchomai class coming) ever since Pentecost A.D. 30. The “coming” Jesus spoke to the Sanhedrin about was His coming in judgment on the Jews: in the destruction of their temple at the close of Jesus’ generation (see Matthew 24:34).
5. THE “COMING” IS OF THE KINGDOM OF THE “SON OF MAN.” ∼ To understand this point one must look to the book of Daniel chapter 7, and verses 13 and following. In fact, it is here we must go, if we wish to understand the way Jesus uses the title: “Son of Man.”
In his seventh chapter, Daniel introduces five different world kingdoms. The first four kingdoms are likened to beasts. That is, they have the nature of the beasts which was chosen to represent them. They are the world empires ruled by human government, as inspired by the devil. Daniel’s fifth kingdom is the “kingdom of the son of man.” Now, the KJV capitalizes the word “son,” but that is a mistake. This error leads to an unfortunate interpretation of the text. The term “son of man” is used by Daniel in the same sense as the phrase was used by the prophet Ezekiel: namely, to indicate a male, human, person. Daniel’s intentions are to set the kingdoms of man apart from the Kingdom of God by likening the secular kingdoms to beasts, and the heavenly kingdom to a human being—which has been created in the likeness of God.
(We will present Daniel’s teaching on the “Kingdom of the Son of Man” in the next paper.)
So, when Jesus speaks of the coming of the Kingdom of the Son of Man, he is speaking of the Kingdom of Daniel’s prophecy. It is important to recognize that the reason Jesus took to Himself the title “Son of Man” was precisely to associate Himself with Daniel’s Kingdom of the Son of Man. By ascribing the cognomen to Himself, Jesus was saying: “I am the fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy.” I am the King of the kingdom. It is Me Who will receive the kingdom from The Ancient of Days.”
Therefore, we know that the coming of Daniel’s prophesied kingdom (Daniel 7:13-14), and all that it entails, took place during the lifetime of (at least some of) those who heard the words of Jesus.
The text that we have been studying in this letter is the only direct reference to the “kingdom of the Son of Man” found in the Gospels; therefore, our next study will be concerning the Daniel prophecy, that is the genesis of this cognomen.
Beloved, it is my constant prayer that Christ hold you close to Himself. I ask you to continue to pray for me, that the Spirit may have free ride-of-way in my heart and mind.
☩ Jerry Hayes
Jesus Teaching Mt 16:27-28
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Enjoy this book by Bishop Jerry Hayes
After spending over forty years in the dispensational doctrine, and having raise my children in that theological framework, I became a convinced adherent to a "kingdom" theology that recognizes the Church as the Israel of God, and that the first century actually saw the fulfillment of most of Matthew chapter 24. "Letters to My Children on Apostolic Kingdom Theology" is a compilation of twenty four letters written to my children explaining my journey, and showing how we were led astray from the apostolic teaching of Scripture to embrace a view recently come into the Lord's church, of which the apostles knew nothing. These "Letters" provide a systematic approach to Apostolic Eschatological study of Scripture. It is sure to interest all students of Scriptures. ☩ Jerry Hayes