A Response to Sam Frost
Sam Frost of ROC ministries made an attempt to address Matthew 16:28 as it relates to the judgment and fulfillment of all Bible prophecy in AD70. We applaud his attempt but find it lacking in substantive proof. Our reasons are submitted below. For a full review of Frost’s Matthew 16:28 article, see his Reign of Christ Ministries.
Matthew 16:28, The Harmony Argument
Frost attempts to deny the force of Matthew 16:28 by setting up a straw man argument as though we attempt to prove the case primarily through paralleling texts and similarity of speech.
First, no preterist or advocate of Covenant eschatology of which I am aware, bases their arguments for Matthew 16:28 on such a weak foundation. Such is derived from hermeneutics principles, logical deductions based on Scripture and to quote a former debate opponent, “a good dose of common sense.”
How much sense does it make to have three separate comings of Christ in his kingdom, all of which were to occur within the lifetime of the disciples? None, unless such is needed to attempt a refutation of all Bible prophecy being fulfilled in AD70. Divide and conquer seems to be the mantra of futurists. Separate the texts and events at all costs!
Secondly, Frost asks, “Is seeing the kingdom of God”, [Matthew 16:28] “have seen the kingdom of God coming power”, [Mark 9:1] and the Son of Man coming in his kingdom” [Luke 9:27] all temporal equivalent and concepts?
Here is a question we would pose for Frost. Does “some standing here who shall not taste death” Matt. 16:28, “some standing here who will not taste death, Mark 9:1, refer to two different groups and times because one text uses “shall not” and the other uses “will not”? Does Sam use the dis-similarity of language here to force Jesus to be speaking to different groups at different times, perhaps one generation living then and one now or yet future?
Since Jesus limited the hearers in Mark to “this [first century] generation, (8:38) to what generation do the other two verses belong? With Frost’s reasoning, it must be apparent, they are not the same! This is incorrect.
The same problems apply here for the kingdom as we noted above. Consider the following. What could possibly be the difference in stating that “till they see the Son of man” (Matthew 16:28) and till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power? Is not the audience the same in both texts? Does not Jesus affirm that those who stood in His presence would not die until they see/have seen it? What’s the distinction in the audience? None!
One is describing an action that will occur in the future as either completed or incomplete (present at the time of occurrence). The other describes the same future event from the perspective of it definitely having occurred. Both texts involve the same generational audience.
It poses no more difficulty than that if a mother were to say to her son, “You shall not eat ice cream until you clean your plate.” Stated another way, “You shall not eat ice cream until you have eaten all your vegetables.” Would a 1st grade kid suppose his mother intended one statement meant in his lifetime and the other 2000 years later?
Matthew 16:28 Jesus Coming in His Kingdom
Third, since Frost admits that Matthew 16:28, speaks of Jesus coming “in his kingdom”, how is it that his kingdom could come without Jesus being on the throne? Where does the Bible teach any coming of the kingdom in the N.T. where Christ is not reigning on the throne, i.e. in the kingdom? Thus any coming of the kingdom, whether it mentions Christ or not, he is present on the throne. Can there be a kingdom without a king?
Coming of the Son of Man and Coming of the Kingdom Equal
Fourth, Jesus describes the coming of the Son of man as equal to the coming in the kingdom. Compare Luke 17:20-24. Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘See here!’ or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.
[Observe how Jesus discusses the coming of the kingdom as the desire to see one of the days of the “Son of Man.”]
“Then He said to the disciples, The days will come when you will desire to see one of the days of the Son of Man, and you will not see it. And they will say to you, ‘Look here!’ or ‘Look there’ Do not go after them or follow them. For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day.”
Now it is obvious that Jesus speaks to a first century audience and says the same thing about the parousia as he does above about the kingdom.
“Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or “look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it. For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matt. 24:26,27) Compare Luke 21:28 and 31 which place the coming of Christ in the clouds with the coming of the kingdom before the first century generation passes. This teaches the same as Matthew 16:28.
Observe also that Jesus uses “east and west” in Matthew above but uses “one part under heaven to the other part of heaven” in the Lukan text. According to Frost’s logic, they must refer to different events. Not!
Matthew 16:28 and John Calvin
Fifth, Calvin is invoked for his scholarly commentary on Matthew 16:28. To this we have two things to say. Sam misapplies the quote from Calvin who said basically that Pentecost, the sending of the Spirit and the working of miracles were the “beginnings” or “taste” of the new heavenly life.
Sam overstated Calvin’s words attempting to force them into a pre-AD70 coming of Christ. In so doing he contradicts himself on Matthew 16:28 and Calvin.
Frost writes on Matthew 16:28, that whatever Jesus means, all scholars agree the event must occur in the lifetime of the disciples. Next he adds this comment on Calvin. “AD 70 is not even in consideration here.”
That is Frost’s interpretation of Calvin who leaves the “endings” or “consummation” to the reader’s own judgment per the quote. The “beginnings” cannot be the end. Calvin made a clear distinction in what he called “the beginning” and that which he called the “taste of the newness of the heavenly life,” i.e. the end.
Now if the coming of the Holy Spirit and the working of miracles during the pre-parousia time that Christ sits on the throne are the beginnings, then what is the end or the consummation? That would most certainly be the time when Jesus comes in his kingdom. Such can be inferred from Calvin’s words.
That very point is taught in 1 Corinthians 1:7-8, where the saints are confirmed to the end and the day of Christ, the parousia. Miracles continued until Christ returned in his kingdom. Unless Frost can produce some miracles, his point falls woefully short of its goal. See my Kindle eBook on miracles, “Have You Spoken in Tongues”
Frost’s attempt to explain away the AD70 coming per the verse above and Calvin’s statement is very telling. It smacks of desperation. Since all scholars agree that whatever the event is, it must happen in the lifetime of the disciples, then it must follow that the consummation Calvin spoke about happens in the lifetime of the disciples.
Even Frost must agree with that conclusion not withstanding his reluctance and attempt to push it all into a Pentecost time frame. Calvin says the beginning is a “taste” of the end. Tasting the powers of the age to come is not the realization of the age to come as Hebrews 6:5 shows. Otherwise, Frost arrives at the end before Covenant eschatology advocates do.
That is true “hyperpreterism!” Frost offers us more true hyper-preterist arguments later.
Matthew 16:18 and the Greek Text
Sixth: Frost, raises some possible concerns about the Greek text and since he dismisses them as not-insurmountable, we accept his acknowledgement that there is no need to tamper with such trivialities.
Matthew 16:28 and Rewarding According to Works
Seventh, Frost now renounces his allegiance to the creeds on the final judgment by unwittingly disguising his objections with the cloak “popular understandings.” He knows that the creeds and the history of the “church” are the foundations upon which these “popular understandings” are based. Frost must therefore become anti-creedal to refute the connections of judgment terminology in Matthew 16:28 and Rev. 20:11-15.
He likewise concedes that the Matthew 16.28 text is one unit, indivisible from Matthew 16:27 and is fulfilled in the lifetime of the first century disciples.
Sam’s woes thicken when we invoke the divine God-inspired scholarly works of Isaiah. I’m sure he would agree that no “mind of man” can compete with the mind of God (Isaiah 55:8-9).
In Isaiah chapter 40, the prophet speaks of judgment upon Israel. He invokes the ministry of John, the Baptist, and alludes directly to the judgment John pronounced as also recorded in Matthew 3:1-11. Surely, Sam does not extend the judgment warnings of John, beyond AD70.
In Isaiah 40:6-8, Isaiah quotes their destruction under the metaphor of the people as grass that fades which stands in stark contrast to the word of God which abides forever. Peter quotes these very words in his first epistle, 1 Peter 1:24-25. They echo Matthew 24:34-35 and Matthew 16:28.
Clearly, the context of Isaiah 40:9, relates to Judah. After all, that is the region of John’s ministry. It is the southern kingdom to which Jesus and Peter preached in the last days of Israel. It is this contextual setting in which we find the quote mentioned in Matthew 16:27-28. It is lifted from Isaiah 40:10.
“Behold, the Lord God shall come with a strong hand, and His arm shall rule for Him; Behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him,” (emphasis added) Isaiah has therefore linked the judgment of Jerusalem with the coming of the Lord to reward the saints.
Isaiah 62:11-12 is a parallel text. “Indeed the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the world; “Say to the daughter of Zion, ‘Surely your salvation is coming; Behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him.” And they shall call them The Holy People, The Redeemed of the Lord; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken.”
The proclamation of salvation to the end of the world is the gospel which had to be preached to all the nations as a witness before the end came. That again ties us to Matthew 24:14, Mark. 13:10; Rom. 10:18, etc. It shows without question that the coming of Isaiah 40:10-11 and 62:11-12 to reward the saints is contextually inseparable from the coming upon Jerusalem in AD70.
Isaiah 40:10-11 and 62:11-12 is Matthew 16:27-28 and Matthew 24. Matthew 24 is the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70. Therefore, the coming to reward the each according to their works in AD70.
This is why Peter takes up the subject in his epistle. It lays the ground work for the judgment he expands upon in 1 Peter 4:5-7, connecting it with the resurrection and the end of all things. Peter said that the time had arrived for “the judgment” to begin at the house of God, i.e. the house of Israel and the temple. 1 Peter 4:17.
The Holy Spirit has wrapped Frost up in knots from which he cannot break loose in Matthew 16:28 without renouncing logic, the creeds, the scholars and the Old and New Testaments. It is an unenviable position.
Matthew 16:28 and the Commentaries
Frost says let’s read the commentaries. Of the making of such books there is no end. What conclusion does he draw from the commentaries? This, namely, that they are unsurprisingly all over the place. Since they do not offer us anything conclusive and since we can teach any doctrine imaginable from a commentary depending on whose it is, why not settle for a simple, “thus says the Lord.”
After all, once we’re done with the commentaries the exegete has to decide who or which is more rational and accurate. That’s the “good dose of common sense” we spoke of earlier. The commentaries offer nothing substantial in deciding the issue. They do give us insights by which we may arrive at our own individual judgment of their merit.
All of us are prone to choose the commentary which favors the opinion or doctrinal inclination we already hold in many cases. I doubt at this point that Frost would accept a scholarly commentary on Matthew 16:28 that posits a full preterist view.
Matthew 16:28 and Daniel 7:13-14
Ninth, Frost argues for a Pentecost/Ascension fulfillment of Daniel 7:13-14. Jesus quotes Daniel 7:13-14 in Matthew 24:30 and 26:64. In the latter, the High Priest and Sanhedrin court charged him with blasphemy for his testimony. According to Jesus, Daniel 7:13-14 is His coming in glory. According to Frost it is his going to receive glory!?!
Does Frost’s position on Daniel 7:13-14 charge Jesus with blasphemy? Does Frost deny Jesus’ own interpretation of the text? If the High Priest claimed Jesus lied for quoting Daniel 7:13-14 to refer to his coming in judgment, what does Frost’s interpretation suggest? Does he believe his view or the commentaries supersede the words of Christ?
I have always cautioned interpreters of Daniel 7:13-14, not to pry into the “unrevealed secrets” of God. Daniel has received a vision that gave him a BC-Excedrin migraine headache (7:15). To get rid of his pain over the vision, he did not consult with commentaries or seek his own wisdom. He asked the angel for assistance and the angel revealed to him the interpretation.
What is my point? The meaning of Daniel 7:13-14 is found, not in the vision per se, but in the words revealed by the angel. What the angel describes following Daniel’s headache is not an ascension scene but a judgment scene that is historically placed within the days of the 4th beast (Rome) and national Israel, (the little horn) who makes war with the saints until the time comes for the saints to possess the kingdom.
We know from Matthew 21:33-43, that the kingdom is given to the saints in AD70, following the destruction of the Jews. The scene is a court of judgment (Daniel 7:26). See Daniel 7:10. No such court, judgment or gathering of thousands times tens thousands with the “books opened” happened at the ascension. If so, someone has a quite an imagination. This is clearly the scene of Revelation 20:11-14.
What then do we have in Revelation? We have very emphatic time statements that incorporate all the above declaring the time had drawn near for these things to shortly be done. Jesus, by implication, and certainly a necessary one, repeats the prophecies of Isaiah 40:10 and 62:11, in Revelation 22:12. That means that he regarded the message of revelation as the fulfillment of those O.T. passages and Matthew 16:28 as occurring before some who stood with him died.
Matthew 16:28 Conclusion
The above demonstrates that Frost has made some glaring errors of judgment and interpretation on Matthew 16:28. We have addressed each of his points with scripture and what we believe to be sound logic and valid arguments. Matthew 16:28 therefore stands as indivisible and a definite pillar in establishing the first century unbreakable harmony of end times texts.
Matthew 16:28, a reply.