Death of a Different Flavor?

An Alternate Solution to the Problem of Matthew 16:20-28
Matt Barber

Here is my interpretation of Matt 16:20-28 which eliminates it from being one of the passages used to support the claim that Christ taught that He'd return in the lifetime of His followers. References are from the NKJV.

In Matt 16:20-28 Christ says there are some standing around who would not taste death till He comes. The question is, WHY? Answer: because in the context of the theology being espoused, they will be the ones who will lose their lives for Christ and subsequently not taste death. The reference to "not tasting death" doesn't mean physical death, it means that eternal life starts now and continues on forever for the obediant believer. The terminology of eternal life starting now and a person never dying is found prevelantly in John's gospel.

Allow me to make a composit statement of Matt 16:25 and Matt 16:28 and compare it with similar theology.

..whoever loses his life for My sake...shall not taste death. (Matt 16:25, 28)

..if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death. (John 8:51)

..You say, If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death. (John 8:52)

..This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. (John 6:50)

..whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. (John 11:26)

..he who hears My word...has passed from death into life. (John 5:24)

..he who does the will of God abides forever. (1 John 2:17)

..whoever finds the interpretation of these sayings shall not taste death. (Thomas 1)

..he who believes in Me has everlasting life. (John 6:47).

We get further insight into the teaching of "losing your life" in John 12:25 where the connection is made between losing your life and eternal life. For example:

[John 12:25] He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life (not taste death).

[Luke 17:33] Whoever seeks to save his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it (not taste death).

But who are those who will taste death, or not have eternal life? In the same story in Mark 8:32-9:1, notice that Christ isn't only talking to the twelve disciples. He's talking to a larger crowd in that He calls the "people" to Himself.

[Mark 8:34] When He had called the people to Himself, with His disciples also, He said to them, "Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

Who were the people Christ called to Himself? In Acts 1:15, 21, 22, Peter says that there were other disciples that accompanied them from the time of John the Baptist to the ascension. Therefore Jesus had more than twelve disciples and lost some of them from disbelief. Notice the similarity between the comments that Jesus makes about the disciples in Matt 16:28 and John 6:60-64.

[John 6:64] "But there are SOME of you who do not believe." For Jesus knew from the BEGINNING who THEY were who did not believe, and WHO would betray Him.

So from the beginning there were those who did not believe.


I think that in Matt 16:28 Christ is mentioning not tasting death in conjuction with the teaching on losing your life in Matt 16:25. He means the same thing as He means by the statement "...if anyone keeps My word he shall not see death. (John 8:51)" e.g., Those who lose their lives will not see/taste death. He's not talking about physical death, He's talking about the fact that for the obediant, eternal life starts now.

This also explains this mysterious statement in John 21:23 where Christ says of John, "If I will that he remain till I come, what is that to you?" I believe that John remaining till Christ comes and those in Matt. 16:20-28 not tasting death till He comes is refering to the teaching of eternal life starting now as referenced in the quotes above.