Mark 9:1 is one of those texts that has baffled interpreters for centuries: And he said to them, ?I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come with power.? What does this tell us about the kingdom and, if anything, about the kingdom’s relationship to the church?
1. There are a few texts that, while we cannot treat each one here, deserve to be brought to together because each emphasizes what can only be called the “imminency” of the kingdom of God. That is, Jesus teaches that there will be something dramatic and it will happen soon. Those texts are Luke 19:11; 17:20; Mark 13:20-22 and especially Mark 9:1; Matthew 10:23 and Mark 13:30.
2. The question always leads to this: What is it that will happen imminently? The views vary wildly and widely.
3. Mark 9:1 says the kingdom of God will come with power. Some see this as:
The Transfiguration (which happens six days later in Mark 9:2-13): this view is at least contextual if it is also a rather immediate event when one would have thought Jesus was predicting something a little further down the road.
The Destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD (here “with power” would be close to “in judgment” or “in vindication” and “in enthronement”).
4. Also in context: these words assure the disciples that, like Jesus, suffering will eventually be swallowed up in victory. Thus from Mark 8: 34 “Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: ?If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. 35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. 36 What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? 37 Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? 38 If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.?
Matthew’s parallel is very much along the same line of thinking: Son of Man coming and kingdom coming with power are connected.
5. If one follows the contextual flow from chp 8, the kingdom coming with power is connected to the Son of Man coming in his Father’s glory with the angels.
6. I draw this tentative conclusion (tentative because this is a complex saying and it would take pages and pages to work out any resolution): kingdom here refers to the act of God in judgment in 70AD which, as I understand “Son of Man coming,” refers to the inaugural enthronement of Jesus before the Ancient of Days. (I have my doubts that this text refers only to the Transfiguration and there were no angels at the Transfiguration. There is perhaps here an elasticity to “kingdom with power” that could include any significant display of God’s saving and judging power at work — transfiguration, cross, resurrection, Pentecost, 70AD and Parousia.)
7. Kingdom and Church? It does not appear to me that anything is said unless we see in “Son of Man” not only Jesus but all the saints with him. In which case then Mark 9:1 would indicate also the vindication of the Saints of the Most High. The themes here are judgment, power, enthronement, rule, dominion, glory, etc.. And it is imminent.
8. What then does kingdom mean here? A decisive, significant act of God in saving and judging and enthroning. Whatever it means, it happened in the lifetime of some of his disciples. Therefore, before 90 AD at the latest. I think it is best to see it referring to the act of God in judgment and vindication at 70AD.