Why did Jesus say that some of the apostles would not taste death?


In the Gospel of Matthew 16:28: “”Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.”” Since that time, many generations of people have died, even though Jesus has yet to return. Does the reference of death here mean eternal death or did Jesus make a mistake by saying this to His disciples. Did He mean that the 11 disciples would not taste eternal death?

Those were the final words of chapter 16. Immediately, chapter 17 follows and gives us the answer your question.

1 Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves. 2 And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. 3 And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. 4 Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here ; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” 5 While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, “This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased ; listen to Him!” 6 When the disciples heard this, they fell face down to the ground and were terrified. 7 And Jesus came to them and touched them and said, “Get up, and do not be afraid.” 8 And lifting up their eyes, they saw no one except Jesus Himself alone. 9 As they were coming down from the mountain, Jesus commanded them, saying, “Tell the vision to no one until the Son of Man has risen from the dead.” (Matthew 17)

Peter, James, and John are 3 of the 12 disciples who were present when Jesus shared the words that some of them would not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom. The next day, those 3 were taking to the mountain side and they saw Jesus “coming in His kingdom. Here are some of the elements that characterize the Lord’s presence in His kingdom as the 3 witnessed what happened on the mountain side.

  1. Jesus’ face shone like the sun.
  2. Jesus’ clothes became white as light.
  3. Moses and Elijah (who were already in the Kingdom) were there speaking with Jesus.
  4. God the Father spoke to the Son.

Therefore, the 3 apostles who were present with Christ on the mountain side were the “ones” who would not taste death until they saw the coming of the Son of Man in His kingdom. May the Lord bless us with faith that saves so that we can take part in the Lord’s coming kingdom.

Translation by: Erik Brewer