Sitting in the London School of Theology library yesterday I was flicking through David Turner’s Baker Exegetical Commentary on Matthew and came across his discussion of this passage:
For the Son of Man is going to come with his angels in the glory of his Father, and then he will repay each person according to what he has done. Truly, I say to you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom. (Matt. 16:27–28)
Turner thinks that verse 27 “clearly refers to the coming of Jesus to the earth and the final judgment”, listing a number of passages in support: the parable of the harvest at the “close of the age” (Matt. 13:40-41), Jesus’ statement about the coming of the Son of Man in the Olivet discourse (24:30-31), the judgment of the nations, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne accompanied by his angels (25:31), and Jesus’ retort to the high priest that he will “see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of Power and coming on the clouds of heaven” (26:64).
Turner then notes the problem of verse 28, which is ‘perplexing because it stresses the certainty of this future coming by stating that some of Jesus’s contemporaries will live to see “the Son of Man coming in his kingdom”’.