Mark 9:1 "seeing the kingdom having come in power"

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Stefan Kristensen
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Mark 9:1 "seeing the kingdom having come in power"

Post by Stefan Kristensen » Tue Oct 09, 2018 4:41 am


8:28 "Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."

9:1 And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God having come in power.”

It is now perfectly clear to me that Mark 9:1 is not meant as a comforting address to the faithful, but instead as a stark prediction/warning to the unfaithful.

There is a big difference, then, in "seeing" the kingdom having come in power, and being part of the kingdom having come in power! It depends on whether you have been unfaithful, i.e. not "denying oneself", or faithful and denying yourself, even through humiliation in this life. You don't want to be the ones on the outside "seeing" the kingdom when it has been established!

Of this I am thoroughly convinced. Further, I think that Jesus is not just addressing anyone who does not embrace the Christian truth, but specifically those who, like the example of Peter just before (8:33), recognize Jesus as the messiah, but won't embrace the harsh life of "denying oneself", which can include dying by execution, like Jesus himself.

Thus: In Mark 8:38 Jesus is talking about those who recognize Jesus as the messiah, as their ruler, and as such wishes to be "behind" him, i.e. "follow" him as their king (and not just "follow" him as a teacher, which has been the meaning of this concept in the narrative up until now), but who find shame in the their ruler's humiliation, i.e. his rejection, torture and death, which will soon be a reality. And these 'Christians', who belong to "this adulturous and faithless generation", will be rejected by this humiliated ruler, when he is going to appear in his glory.

So there is intended a juxtaposition here in this verse of the 'son of man', meaning the glorious ruler messiah, in his presently visible humilated form on the one hand, and the 'son of man' in his eventually revealed glorious form. It takes the spiritual vision that comes from faith to 'see' his glory now in his humiliated form.

That is why Mark is speaking about the "shame" of these wannabe followers of the messiah and the "glory" of 'the son of man'. Because the shamefulness of these people comes from the element of Jesus' humiliation, that he is supposed to be the king, but he is instead humiliated, and so must his subjects be. Therefore there is a direct connection between the words "ashamed" and "glory".

Because "ashamed" has to do with the present humiliated form of the 'son of man', or messiah as the followers understand it. When they see the messiah in the form of the glorious, heavenly figure spoken of in Dan 7, then they will understand that they should not have been ashamed after all. At the present, because of their unfaith, they can't 'see' that he is the king, the messiah, or, they don't believe it, but eventually they are going to see his glory. Of course, then it's too late!

Then they will realise, that it is true what Jesus has just said: "The one who wishes to save his life [in the flesh] will lose it [at the judgement, not living on in a glorious incorruptible body], and the one who loses his life [in the flesh] because of me and the gospel will save it [at the judgement, living on in a glorious incorruptible body]" (8:35)

They didn't want to follow the messiah because of the shame of the humiliation that goes with it, "denying oneself" (8:34), and so they are going to save their asses from humiliation, even humiliation to the point of death. So some of them will live to see the messiah when he actually comes in his royal glory, in his glorious incorruptible resurrected body, and then they'll think "oh, crap!" And even though they had escaped death, unlike the martyrs, they are going to taste death now! Or rather, they are going to face judgement, like all other humans, and the faitful who took upon them the shameful humiliation in the flesh and even died, will acquire new glorious bodies by the power of God's force, his "dynamis".

This concept, God's "force" ("δυναμις") is generally in the NT used to describe the concrete force by which resurrection takes place, meaning the concrete creation of the new bodies with which the faithful will be clothed to enter the kingdom of God. Therefore when the judgement comes, the unfaithful will be destroyed, but the faithful will receive these glorious eternally living bodies created through God's "dynamis", just like he creates every form of life through this "dynamis". And when all the faithful have been clothed with their bodies, then they will constitute the "kingdom of God having come in force ("dynamis")".

And that is when the unfaithful are going to witness this scene, the faithful clothed in their eternally living resurrected glorious bodies! At this point the faithful who had suffered humiliation in the flesh can now really enjoy how their unfaithful fellow humans realize that they were wrong and the faithful were right and rub it in their faces! And then the unfaithful are taken into the dungeon for destruction, i.e. "losing his life", which Jesus has just warned about in the verses preceeding 8:38-9:1. The unfaithful had thought to themselves that they saved their life, but those of them who have not died from old age or in some other way when the son of man and the judgement comes, will indeed "lose" their life now. The second death.

So they may think that they will not "taste death", because they escape death in the flesh, but after the judgement, when they see all the resurreced faithful clothed in their glorious bodies, when "they see the kingdom of God having come in force", then they will taste death after all.


And this whole thing is exactly what Jesus talks about in 9:1:
9:1 And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God having come in power."

The whole emphasis is on "until". They will not taste death "until"! Meaning, then they will taste death.

And then comes the Transfiguration where some of the disciples are lucky to witness the resurrection before time. They get to "see" what the unfaithful will only "see" when it is too late. The same thing in 13:27 and 14:62. The unfaithful will "see" it when it's too late, and realize it when it's too late, when instead they should have been able to 'see' it now with spiritual vision that is given through faith.
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Stefan Kristensen
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Re: Mark 9:1 "seeing the kingdom having come in power"

Post by Stefan Kristensen » Tue Oct 09, 2018 5:33 am

I have an idea that Etienne Trocme in 1964 was maybe the first one to propose that the phrase "some standing here" are not the good guys but the bad guys. I believe, though, that unlike me he took the phrase "not taste death until seeing" simply to mean "will live to see", whereas I argue that it is specifically worded to refer to the second death, which Jesus has been speaking about in 8:35.

But practically no one has taken notice of Trocme's proposal, and everyone seems to take it for granted that Jesus is speaking about disciples that will "see the kingdom of God having come in power", especially with all the speculation surrounding the connection with the following Transfiguration. I believe that there is a strong connection, as I explain, but it pertains to the faithful seeing what the unfaithful cannot see, or will only see when it's too late. This theme of the unfaithful seeing (and regretting) their unfaitfulness at the judgement (and the faithful enjoying the judgement of the unfaithful) also appears in some Jewish apocalypses, I belive.

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Re: Mark 9:1 "seeing the kingdom having come in power"

Post by Stefan Kristensen » Tue Oct 09, 2018 6:37 am

If the phrase "taste death" is specifically meant to convey the sense of death in the flesh, as is often proposed, then that can still work for my reading, that this refers to the 'second death' spoken of in 8:35. Because I think that it is possible that the NT witnesses to the idea that at the parousia there will be a resurrection where all will be subjected to judgement, and the ones who are condemned will be resurrected in the flesh to receive judgement in the flesh. They will eperience the 'second death' - in the flesh. The ones who are rewarded will be not be resurrected in the flesh but in the new, non-fleshly resurrection body and receive their reward of being with Christ and God in the kingdom for ever.

I think 1 Cor 5:10 says this:
For all of us must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each may receive the things through the body for the deeds he has done, whether good or bad.

Τους γαρ παντας ημας φανερωθηναι δει εμπροσθεν του βηματος του Χριστου, ινα κομισηται εκαστος τα δια του σωματος προς α επραξεν, ειτε αγαθον ειτε φαυλον.

This is a very difficult sentence grammatically, and my translation here, I think, is the most true to the grammatical construction. The normal translation is: "that each may receive the things for the deeds he has done through the body". Paul doesnt' specify at all what "each" will "receive", only the all-inclusive "τα", that I translate here as "the things" for lack of a better expression. And I think that's because he is referring both to rewards received by those that have done good, and punishment received by those who have done bad.

The most natural grammatical understanding of this verse, I think, is that Paul says that each will receive "the things", i.e. one's punishment or reward, "through the body". And I think he pointing to reward of being "clothed" in a new imperishable body, i.e. on top of the fleshly body, because that is the whole context of the passage:
For while we are still in this tent [=fleshly body], we groan under our burden, because we wish not to be unclothed [=to lose the "tent", to die in the flesh] but to be further clothed on top of it [the "tent", the fleshly body], so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.
(2 Cor 5:4)

He is speaking about the pain of experiencing death in the flesh, which is not preferable, but since he knows that he will receive a new heavenly, non-fleshly body, he will be able to accept the pain that comes with fleshly death. He would of course rather avoid martyrdom and remain alive until the time of the parousia and the "judgement seat of Christ", so that he is still in his fleshly body, his "tent", at this time, and it will then be "swallowed up" (through the force of God, mind you) to "clothe" him in an immortal body, i.e. clothed "on top" of the current body, instead of first becoming "naked" (5:3), i.e. dying in the flesh, "to be unclothed" and then be clothed again.

I think it's clear at the Transfiguration that Peter's mention of "tents" is a reference to fleshly bodies, whereas Jesus' change of clothing is a reference to the changing into non-fleshly, heavenly body.

So in 2 Cor 5:10 it seems to me that Paul is naturally speaking about the eschatological reward/judgement in terms of what will happen to one's body. The faithful will receive their reward "through the body" by having their bodies resurrected/transformed into non-fleshly bodies - but, apparantly, the unfaithful will likewise receive their condemnation "through the body": the second death. This doesn't concern Paul in this passage, though, he is just concerned with the reward of the faithful "through the body".

Therefore, if that is the idea of Paul, i.e. that the unfaithful will be punished in the flesh for the 'second death' after the judgement, then why not Mark 9:1? So the unfaithful will "taste death" in the flesh, after the judgement, even for those who had lived on to witness the parousia and so avoided "tasting death" until then.

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Ben C. Smith
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Re: Mark 9:1 "seeing the kingdom having come in power"

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Oct 09, 2018 7:17 am

Stefan Kristensen wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 4:41 am

8:28 "Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."

9:1 And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God having come in power.”

It is now perfectly clear to me that Mark 9:1 is not meant as a comforting address to the faithful, but instead as a stark prediction/warning to the unfaithful.

There is a big difference, then, in "seeing" the kingdom having come in power, and being part of the kingdom having come in power! It depends on whether you have been unfaithful, i.e. not "denying oneself", or faithful and denying yourself, even through humiliation in this life. You don't want to be the ones on the outside "seeing" the kingdom when it has been established!

Of this I am thoroughly convinced. Further, I think that Jesus is not just addressing anyone who does not embrace the Christian truth, but specifically those who, like the example of Peter just before (8:33), recognize Jesus as the messiah, but won't embrace the harsh life of "denying oneself", which can include dying by execution, like Jesus himself.

....

So they may think that they will not "taste death", because they escape death in the flesh, but after the judgement, when they see all the resurrected faithful clothed in their glorious bodies, when "they see the kingdom of God having come in force", then they will taste death after all.
"Some standing here." On your interpretation, were Peter and/or a few of the other disciples "standing here" still alive, then, when Mark 9.1 was penned?

Also, unrelatedly, Matthew 28.20 has Jesus saying that he will be with the disciples "until the consummation of the age." Does the "until" imply that he will not be with them after the consummation?
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Re: Mark 9:1 "seeing the kingdom having come in power"

Post by Stefan Kristensen » Tue Oct 09, 2018 8:00 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 7:17 am
Stefan Kristensen wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 4:41 am

8:28 "Those who are ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of them the Son of Man will also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."

9:1 And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God having come in power.”

It is now perfectly clear to me that Mark 9:1 is not meant as a comforting address to the faithful, but instead as a stark prediction/warning to the unfaithful.

There is a big difference, then, in "seeing" the kingdom having come in power, and being part of the kingdom having come in power! It depends on whether you have been unfaithful, i.e. not "denying oneself", or faithful and denying yourself, even through humiliation in this life. You don't want to be the ones on the outside "seeing" the kingdom when it has been established!

Of this I am thoroughly convinced. Further, I think that Jesus is not just addressing anyone who does not embrace the Christian truth, but specifically those who, like the example of Peter just before (8:33), recognize Jesus as the messiah, but won't embrace the harsh life of "denying oneself", which can include dying by execution, like Jesus himself.

....

So they may think that they will not "taste death", because they escape death in the flesh, but after the judgement, when they see all the resurrected faithful clothed in their glorious bodies, when "they see the kingdom of God having come in force", then they will taste death after all.
"Some standing here." On your interpretation, were Peter and/or a few of the other disciples "standing here" still alive, then, when Mark 9.1 was penned?
For my interpretation, it's irrelevant whether Peter or the other 'real' disciples were alive, because that's not the ones Jesus are addressing, according to my interpretation. He is specifically addressing the "disciples" that are not disciples at all, i.e. those not capable of "following" Jesus. And according to Mark Peter was able to do this, to be a disciple and "follow" Jesus. The incident in 8:33 is merely an exemplary incident.

According to Mark, as I understand, there are no Christians as of yet, there are no one who "follows" Jesus as of yet. The "way" has not been prepared yet, only when "the disciples and Peter" get the spirit and see the risen Jesus. That's when it all begins, with their gift of the spirit. The whole of Mark's story is just a preperatory period. No one is "saved" in this period, and no one is "following" Jesus in the proper sense, only in the literal, symbolic sense. They are not able to "follow" Jesus in the sense that Jesus is speaking about until he has risen so they can receive the spirit, which is of course outside of Mark's story. Except that I think "the disciples and Peter" is meant as a reference to Peter having met the risen Jesus before the others (kind of like 1 Cor 15:5). Just as Jesus must "come after" John the Baptist, so that Jesus' ministry can only commence when John is "handed over". So also Jesus' disciples must "follow after" Jesus, not just in the imitatio sense of doing what he does, following the "way", but also in the temporal sense: his successors.

But no, I think that at the time of Mark Peter was dead, and that there was a tradition concerning Peter's recent martyrdom that Mark has in mind. I think that's why martyrdom is such a big element in the whole "following" theme.

And, more speculative, I suggest that the conversion of Peter as the first ever (cf. "the disciples and Peter") is perhaps narrated in the same way that many other events that happens after Jesus' death are narrated, i.e. on the sub-level. E.g. the commission of the twelve in Mark 3:13ff/6:7ff. The "giving of authority" to the apostles in this event, I think, is a sub-narration of the giving of the spirit at their meeting with the risen Jesus. The sub-narration of Peter's martyrdom, I tentatively suggest, happens in his denial of Christ. The two cockcrows symbolize dawns, specifically saturday and sunday morning, so the third denial of Peter is sunday. And this is probably a new suggestion here: Read carefully what Peter says, as his denials of Christ progress in a very specific manner, ending with what is actually a denial of himself!
14:70 Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, “Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.”
14:71 But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know this man you are talking about.”

Is this a clever way to sub-narrate Peter's self-denial? Nobody is talking explicitly about Jesus here, they are talking about Peter. And Peter denies "this man you are talking about". On the face of it, literally, he is actually denying himself! It's a very suggestive and inventive reading, if I may say so myself, but why not? :)

At the incident itself, he is of course denying Christ. But mayby, just maybe, Mark is here sub-narrating Peter's self-denial on the sunday of Jesus' resurrection? His conversion? Peter then "threw over and wept". Nobody knows what that means, but perhaps it's a reference to clothing, because it is cold, cf. Peter warming himself at the fire. If so, then that could perhaps be another reference to his conversion. Now, compare this thing to John 21.
Also, unrelatedly, Matthew 28.20 has Jesus saying that he will be with the disciples "until the consummation of the age." Does the "until" imply that he will not be with them after the consummation?
No, I don't see any reason that this case of "until" should have this meaning.

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Re: Mark 9:1 "seeing the kingdom having come in power"

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Oct 09, 2018 8:06 am

Thanks.

Any interpretation of "some standing here" which does not apply to those actually standing there (= the disciples) in the narrative strikes me as having to strive too hard to evade the obvious.
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Re: Mark 9:1 "seeing the kingdom having come in power"

Post by Stefan Kristensen » Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:13 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 8:06 am
Thanks.

Any interpretation of "some standing here" which does not apply to those actually standing there (= the disciples) in the narrative strikes me as having to strive too hard to evade the obvious.
Not sure what you mean? Those actually standing there are not just disciples. I think that's exactly why Jesus this one time gathers "the crowd" himself:
8:34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
...
9:1 And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power."

It is in no way whatsoever obvious that he is addressing his disciples and not those in "the crowd".
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Re: Mark 9:1 "seeing the kingdom having come in power"

Post by Ben C. Smith » Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:18 am

Stefan Kristensen wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:13 am
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 8:06 am
Thanks.

Any interpretation of "some standing here" which does not apply to those actually standing there (= the disciples) in the narrative strikes me as having to strive too hard to evade the obvious.
Not sure what you mean? Those actually standing there are not just disciples. I think that's exactly why Jesus this one time gathers "the crowd" himself:
8:34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
...
9:1 And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power."

We can include the crowds, sure. I am just saying, the verse has to hail from a time when it is realistic that "some standing here" are still alive.
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Re: Mark 9:1 "seeing the kingdom having come in power"

Post by Stefan Kristensen » Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:19 am

Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:18 am
Stefan Kristensen wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:13 am
Ben C. Smith wrote:
Tue Oct 09, 2018 8:06 am
Thanks.

Any interpretation of "some standing here" which does not apply to those actually standing there (= the disciples) in the narrative strikes me as having to strive too hard to evade the obvious.
Not sure what you mean? Those actually standing there are not just disciples. I think that's exactly why Jesus this one time gathers "the crowd" himself:
8:34 He called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.
...
9:1 And he said to them, “Truly I tell you, there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see that the kingdom of God has come with power."

We can include the crowds, sure. I am just saying, the verse has to hail from a time when it is realistic that "some standing here" are still alive.
I agree. That doesn't concern my interpretation. In fact it is necessary for my interpretation. I think Mark thought that the parousia was imminent.

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Re: Mark 9:1 "seeing the kingdom having come in power"

Post by Stefan Kristensen » Tue Oct 09, 2018 9:52 am

Ben, does the time frame set in Mark 9:1 indicate that this verse has to be earlier than AD 70 in your opinion? In my opinion not, I think it could’ve been written after the destruction of the temple and still refer to contemporsries of Jesus as still being alive. I think it’s the same as Mark 13:30.

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