Adam Clarke and Matthew 16:28

Matthew 16:28 is often used by the preterists in an attempt to show that the Second Coming was the destruction of Jerusalem. They do that by reading Mt 16:28 where it says, “There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” They claim that “coming in His kingdom” is the Second Coming, and it would happen in the lifetime of His auditioners. They point out that it is not even possible that this verse is talking about the apostle John (one of those standing there as Jesus spoke) remaining until the end of the world (Jn 21:23), because “some” is plural. They claim that Matthew 16:28 has to be Christ coming in wrath at the destruction of Jerusalem and therefore, the Second Coming has already happened. If the Second Coming has already happened, then the resurrection, the inheritance, the Judgment, the new heavens and new earth, the bloody moon, the black as sackcloth sun, and any other end time prophecy has already been fulfilled.

Because Adam Clarke, who wrote a famous whole-bible commentary, believes Matthew 24 contains a prediction of the utter destruction of the city and temple of Jerusalem, and the subversion of the whole political constitution of the Jews, he is a darling of the preterists ( I introduce Clarke here, because he presents significant evidence against the preterists’ position on Mathew 16:28. Clarke says four Greek manuscripts (Syriac, Coptic, Ethioptic, and Saxon) plus one copy of the Itala and several of the church fathers read “glory” instead of “kingdom”. Also, three of the manuscripts and the versions mentioned add the words “of His Father”, so the text would read, “There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in the glory of His Father”. Clarke says that this reading harmonizes better with the idea presented in Daniel 7:13-14, which reads,

Daniel 7:13 “I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.
14  And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”

Notice that the context of Daniel 7 is Christ coming with a the clouds of heaven TO the Ancient of Days. Jesus left the earth in cloud (Acts 1:9) on His way to the Father (Jn 16:28). He therefore came to heaven to the the Ancient of Days with the clouds of heaven. Then is when Jesus got the kingdom (Acts 2:34-35). He was crowned, received the Holy Spirit (Jn 15:26), and sent the Holy Spirit to the disciples on the Day of Pentecost. That Day of Pentecost is when Clarke says Matthew 16:28 began to be fulfilled.

Clarke says in reference to verse 28, “This verse seems to confirm the above explanation, as our Lord evidently speaks of the establishment of the Christian church after the day of Pentecost, and its final triumph after the destruction of the Jewish polity.” So, we can gather two things from Clarke that damage his position: 1) Christ’s coming in the glory of His Father has to do with Christ’s coming to the Father in Daniel 7, and 2) the coming of Christ in the glory of His Father began on the day of Pentecost.

So, according to Clarke, the coming of Christ of which Jesus spoke was NOT the destruction of Jerusalem, but was a process that began at Pentecost with the establishment of the Church. Furthermore, the coming was Christ coming to heaven, not Christ coming at the destruction of Jerusalem. Clarke says the “coming” in Matthew 16:28 is a process, and he thereby admits Matthew 16:28 is not “the day” that the Bible describes as “the day of the Lord”. Clarke’s evidence therefore is that Matthew’s process of the “coming in His kingdom” is not the same thing as the singular “day of the Lord” of which the prophets speak (Isa 13:9, Joel 2:1, etc.).

When Jesus comes again, He will come TO the earth, not TO the Father (Lk 19:12. Micah 2:12-13). Paul says that the coming for which Christians wait is the day of our Lord Jesus Christ, and it was a day for which Paul in AD 54, when he wrote 1 Corinthians, was still waiting.

About James Johnson

Bible student for 60 years. Preacher of the gospel for over 40 years. Author of commentary on Revelation, All Power to the Lamb. Married with children. Worked in aerospace and computer engineering for over 40 years.
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