And of course none of these tell us with much confidence what Jesus actually said and believed almost four decades earlier. Clearly all early Christians believed it would be 'soon' in the sense of "any day now"; that there was a sense of urgency to their mission. Christians have believed that in every century since then too, usually without assuming specific time-frames. So were the early Christians (besides Matthew) and more specifically was Jesus wrong about a particular time-frame?
I don't think there's sufficient evidence to reach a conclusion one way or another.
Mark 8:38, 9:1
â€œ 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Fatherâ€™s glory with the holy angels.â€�
9 And he said to them, â€œTruly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see that the kingdom of God has come with power.â€�
It's clear if not biased that Mark believed the second coming of Christ is near too.
The first phrase clearly hints to the Judgment Day.
It's clear if not biased that Jesus words here(the two phrases) talk of the same event.
Unfortunately what you're doing there is picking two sentences out of the whole gospel in an effort to make 'kingdom of God' mean something entirely different to the meaning Mark establishes earlier:
- Mark 4:10 When he was alone, the Twelve and the others around him asked him about the parables. 11 He told them, â€œThe secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. . . .
14 The farmer sows the word. 15 Some people are like seed along the path, where the word is sown. As soon as they hear it, Satan comes and takes away the word that was sown in them. 16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy. 17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 18 Still others, like seed sown among thorns, hear the word; 19 but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful. 20 Others, like seed sown on good soil, hear the word, accept it, and produce a cropâ€”some thirty, some sixty, some a hundred times what was sown.â€� . . . .
26 He also said, â€œThis is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the ground. 27 Night and day, whether he sleeps or gets up, the seed sprouts and grows, though he does not know how. 28 All by itself the soil produces grainâ€”first the stalk, then the head, then the full kernel in the head. 29 As soon as the grain is ripe, he puts the sickle to it, because the harvest has come.â€�
30 Again he said, â€œWhat shall we say the kingdom of God is like, or what parable shall we use to describe it? 31 It is like a mustard seed, which is the smallest of all seeds on earth. 32 Yet when planted, it grows and becomes the largest of all garden plants, with such big branches that the birds can perch in its shade.â€�
For Mark the 'kingdom of God' is a message which is spread by disciples, growing in believers' hearts. This is thoroughly established throughout the gospel:
> The very opening verses, describing John, refer to him as the one who would precede "the messenger of the covenant" (cf. Malachi 3:1);
> John himself is said to have described Jesus as one who would "baptize you with the Holy Spirit";
> Jesus' first message is "The time has come" and "The kingdom of God has come near" (not decades away when Mark wrote);
> Jesus tells the first disciples he calls that he was going to make them "fish for people," again an emphasis on the message
, not some distant eschaton;
> He says that the reason he came was to preach (1:38), not to usher in a new government on earth.
All of this is in the very first chapter of the book. Then Mark continues, showing that Jesus' message was about
- forgiveness of sins (2:1-11),
- calling all to God, not ministering to the righteous (2:12-17),
- bringing a new message, new wine, not the old that his hearers already knew (2:18-22),
- and crucially, most controversially, about reinterpreting or arguably even replacing the old laws they were used to (two stories about the Sabbath, 2:23-3:6).
If we know anything about the early church - anything at all - we should be able to understand what Mark is conveying here: That as the "messenger of the covenant," Jesus' mission and purpose was to introduce the new
covenant which had been prophecied by Jeremiah (Jer. 31:31-34) which does indeed explicitly talk about replacing the old laws, forgiveness of sins, and elevating even the least of God's people - all of which Mark has Jesus doing right from the beginning.
So that's what the 'kingdom of God' is, in Mark's view.
Now let's look at this later passage and see whether or not we can torture it into saying what you think it means:
- Mark 8:27 Jesus went out, along with His disciples, to the villages of Caesarea Philippi; and on the way He questioned His disciples, saying to them, â€œWho do people say that I am?â€� They told Him, saying, â€œJohn the Baptist; and others say Elijah; but others, one of the prophets.â€� And He continued by questioning them, â€œBut who do you say that I am?â€� Peter answered and said to Him, â€œYou are the Christ.â€� And He warned them to tell no one about Him.
And He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. And He was stating the matter plainly. And Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But turning around and seeing His disciples, He rebuked Peter and said, â€œGet behind Me, Satan; for you are not setting your mind on Godâ€™s interests, but manâ€™s.â€�
And He summoned the crowd with His disciples, and said to them, â€œIf anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospelâ€™s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.â€�
And Jesus was saying to them, â€œTruly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God after it has come with power.â€�
There is a very clear progression within this section which you're missing when you quote only two verses:
> First Jesus asks what do people think of me, what do you think my mission is?
> Then he drops the bombshell that it definitely is not
the traditional expectations of Messiah - definitely not the earthly government/eschaton many Jews expected.
> Then goes into even further detail explaining that not only was he himself going to die, but his followers too should prepare themselves for suffering and loss.
> Finally he explains not only why they should persevere (because eventually
he will return), but also how
they will be enabled to persevere when the kingdom of God - the message and presence of the new covenant - has come to them with power, the "baptism of the Holy Spirit" which John earlier spoke of.
The main thrust of the passage is not about some glorious reign of Christ on earth; it is about correcting those expectations and preparing them instead for suffering
. Verse 38 which you have fixated on is the odd part out, simply an aside to further encourage believers' endurance against adversity. Trying to interpret the whole passage in light of that verse is wildly inappropriate; and as if seeing it all in context were not enough, Mark himself separated
the bit about the 'kingdom of god present with power' from the bit about Jesus' return.