The Kingdom of Christ came 2000 years ago, quietly,
peacefully, without fanfare - and without fail. There
were no parades down Main Street, no fireworks
marking the event, no great political speeches. Only a
few men saw it, and even they didn't realize what was
going on. The Jews of that day expected more, as do
Bible scholars today; they continually scan the
prophetic horizons for the unusual and the
spectacular, and overlook one of the most significant
events since Creation. The Bible doesn't give us the
story in big, blue, letters. We have to step back
and dig a little.
V5 "These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded
them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles,
and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not."
V6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of
Israel. V7. And as ye go, preach, saying, The
kingdom of heaven is at hand. V23 But when they
persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for
verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over
the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.
The Second Coming has been preached for years, to the
exclusion of almost anything else, until any Scriptural
mention of Christ coming or going almost anywhere automatically
generates a picture in our minds of the Second Coming. "Till the Son of
man be come" obviously is no exception. So when Bible commentators
see that, they focus only on the future, and read no further.
But between the First Advent and the Second Coming there were
a number of Christ's comings. These Scriptures deal with
Christ coming into His kingdom. This is not a future event;
it won't happen after that mythical seven year "Great Tribulation," or
after the "rapture" of the Church, or after 144000 fantastic Jewish
witnesses surpass the Church in bringing souls to Christ; it
happened 2000 years ago.
Jesus sent the twelve Israelites out over the nation,
and said that they, not their descendants, will not have
gone over all the cities till the Son of man comes. And
He didn't say that their mission would be interrupted,
and placed in suspended animation for the duration of the
Church. It would happen when some of the disciples were
still alive, but after the remainder had tasted of death.
There are other Scripture verses pointing to the coming of
the kingdom before His Second Coming in glory. The first
one is in Matthew. "Verily I say unto you, There be some
standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the
Son of man coming in his kingdom" (Matt 16:28).
Here Jesus said that some of the disciples, though not
all, would live to see the Son of man coming in His
kingdom. If we interpret literally, and consider all relevant
Scriptures, we will not see the Transfiguration as a "miniature
preview" of the coming kingdom.
Mark, on the same event, writes, "And he said unto
them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of
them that stand here, which shall not taste of
death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come
with power" (Mark 9:1)
. The word to remember
here is power
And Luke says this: "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" (Luke 9:27).
Without question these three
Gospel passages affirm that the disciples would
actually see Jesus coming, He would be in His
kingdom and they would see Him. He would have
power, great power. In fact, He would have all the
power in the whole universe. But it all happened too
quietly. There weren't any
fireworks or marching bands when it happened, so most
Bible scholars suspect that Jesus made a wrong guess
about the time. Liberals, with dulled conscience,
don't mind saying it, others
couch their unbelief in pious sounding gibberish.
The Wycliff Bible commentators
align themselves with Scofield and dispensational
futurism, who could think only in terms of the Second
Coming: "These words seemingly require the return
of Christ within the lifetime of the apostles, but He did
not come. The most logical explanation is that Jesus
was speaking of the Transfiguration as a sample of
the coming of the Kingdom." (p. 1044,1045). (that's that
"miniature preview" we mentioned earlier)
Another was Dr. A.C. Gaebelein, close friend of
Scofield. He was so sure that the Lord Jesus Christ
goofed that he gives the Holy Spirit credit for his and
Scofield's wild interpretation. He writes: "We can
learn...that the transfiguration as interpreted not by
men but by the Holy Spirit, is the pattern of the power
and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ...Some of those
standing there did not taste death until they saw Him
coming, for after six days Peter, James and John
beheld Him in His power and Glory, a pattern of the
Son of Man coming in His kingdom." (Gospel of
Matthew, p 361).
Such is the most common
interpretation of Matthew 16:28 in the Church today,
but it's far from literal, and far from biblical. First
of all, Jesus said that they would see Him in His Kingdom,
not in some kind of "pattern." In the second place the
Transfiguration happened only about six days later while all the
apostles were still alive. And Jesus said that not all of
them would be alive. Scholars didn't check the
Scriptures to see whether Jesus was right or wrong,
they simply assumed that He was wrong, and went about to
"cover up His mistake" as best they could.
The obvious step would have been to search the
Scriptures for a time when one or more of the apostles
tasted death before the others did. And as we all
know, one apostle, Judas Iscariot, betrayed Jesus and
then hanged himself. He tasted death. The time was
after the Transfiguration, and shortly before Jesus was
crucified, died, and was buried - all that happened almost 2000 years
ago, and the Second Coming hasn't taken place yet. Jesus, after His
resurrection, came to the eleven disciples: "And
Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All
power is given unto me in heaven and in earth"
"All power" is a great deal of power.
When was this power given to Him? "And declared
to be the Son of God with power, according to the
spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the
dead" (Rom. 1:4):
Many scholars refuse to accept the
fact that Jesus received power at His resurrection,
preferring the perverse view offered by the NIV, and other
modern translations, which turn the verse around, and
say that "with power He was declared to be the Son of
God." That's a mistranslation, and it's devious. He wasn't
declared with power to be the Son of God, He was declared to
be the Son of God with power, or possessing power.
And it happened at His resurrection.
Ephesians 1 is almost a repeat of Romans 1:4. V19: "And
what is the exceeding greatness of his power to
us-ward who believe, according to the working of
his mighty power, 20 Which he wrought in Christ,
when he raised him from the dead, and set him at
his own right hand in the heavenly places, 21 Far
above all principality, and power, and might, and
dominion, and every name that is named, not only
in this world, but also in that which is to come: 22
And hath put all things under his feet, and gave
him to be the head over all things to the church, 23
Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all
By a literal interpretation, and using the God-given
principle of searching the Bible for relevant passages
("Here a little and there a little" - Isaiah 28:9-13), all
the facts fall neatly into place. Jesus was in possession
of all power in all the universe, and every kingdom on
earth, and everything in heaven, at the time of His
resurrection. Eleven disciples (one had tasted of
death) saw the Son of man coming in His kingdom
shortly thereafter (Matthew 28:18). The kingdom was
set up right on schedule; it was not postponed. And
yet, most of Israel had no part in the Kingdom.
All agree that Christ came to offer the kingdom to
Israel. And all agree that, because Israel rejected the
King and the kingdom, the nation did not receive it.
But scholars cannot accept the obvious, that all the
promises God made to Israel in the Old Testament
came to nought. Believing the promises to be without
condition, yet seeing that the kingdom was not
delivered as promised, they invented the "postponed
kingdom" theory. To make that seem plausible, many
Scriptures needed to have been muddied. And so we
have a future scenario, a coming Antichrist, a seven
year "Great Tribulation," the great gap between the
69th and 70th weeks of Daniel, and so forth.
The big problem with this theory is that, if the
promise had been unconditional, God, being a God of
integrity, could neither have cancelled nor postponed
the kingdom. "Unconditional" means that, no matter
what Israel did or didn't do, she would have received
the promise right on schedule. Today Israel, a nation
of unbelievers, would have been the top spiritual nation in
the world. What a frightful scenario! But God is not as
dumb as some dispensationalists would like to believe.
He knows man inside out, and made no unconditional
covenants with him. He would not trap Himself into agreements
with unstable, unpredictable, sinful man
which would have wreaked havoc upon the whole world.
But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because
he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man:
for he knew what was in man (John 2:24).
Because the promise was NOT unconditional, and because Israel
betrayed and crucified Him, the kingdom was taken from them, and
given to another nation (Matthew 21:43). That's us. Are we
doing all we can to propagate God's truth?