Verse 28. "There be some-which shall not taste of death" - This verse seems to confirm the above explanation, as our Lord evidently speaks of the establishment of the Christian Church after the day of pentecost, and its final triumph after the destruction of the Jewish polity; as if he had said, "Some of you, my disciples, shall continue to live until these things take place." The destruction of Jerusalem, and the Jewish economy, which our Lord here predicts, took place about forty-three years after this: and some of the persons now with him doubtless survived that period, and witnessed the extension of the Messiah's kingdom; and our Lord told them these things before, that when they came to pass they might be confirmed in the faith, and expect an exact fulfillment of all the other promises and prophecies which concerned the extension and support of the kingdom of Christ.
To his kingdom, or in his kingdom. Instead of basileia, kingdom, four MSS., later Syriac, Coptic, Ethiopic, Saxon, and one copy of the Itala, with several of the primitive fathers, read doxh, glory: and to this is added, tou patrov autou, of his Father, by three MSS. and the versions mentioned before. This makes the passage a little more conformable to the passage already quoted from Daniel; and it must appear, very clearly, that the whole passage speaks not of a future judgment, but of the destruction of the Jewish polity, and the glorious spread of Christianity in the earth, by the preaching of Christ crucified by the apostles and their immediate successors in the Christian Church.
1. THE disciples, by being constantly with their Master, were not only guarded against error, but were taught the whole truth: we should neglect no opportunity of waiting upon God; while Jesus continues to teach, our ear and heart should be open to receive his instructions. That what we have already received may be effectual, we must continue to hear and pray on. Let us beware of the error of the Pharisees! They minded only external performances, and those things by which they might acquire esteem and reputation among men; thus, humility and love, the very soul of religion, were neglected by them: they had their reward-the approbation of those who were as destitute of vital religion as themselves. Let us beware also of the error of the Sadducees, who, believing no other felicity but what depended on the good things of this world, became the flatterers and slaves of those who could bestow them, and so, like the Pharisees, had their portion only in this life. All false religions and false principles conduct to the same end, however contrary they appear to each other. No two sects could be more opposed to each other than the Sadducees and Pharisees, yet their doctrines lead to the same end-they are both wedded to this world, and separated from God in the next.
2. From the circumstance mentioned in the conclusion of this chapter, we may easily see the nature of the kingdom and reign of Christ: it is truly spiritual and Divine; having for its object the present holiness and future happiness of mankind. Worldly pomp, as well as worldly maxims, were to be excluded from it. Christianity forbids all worldly expectations, and promises blessedness to those alone who bear the cross, leading a life of mortification and self- denial. Jesus Christ has left us an example that we should follow his steps. How did he live?-What views did he entertain?-In what light did he view worldly pomp and splendour? These are questions which the most superficial reader may, without difficulty, answer to his immediate conviction. And has not Christ said that the disciple is not ABOVE the Master? If HE humbled himself, how can he look upon those who, professing faith in his name, are conformed to the world and mind earthly things? These disciples affect to be above their Lord; and as they neither bear his cross, nor follow him in the regeneration, they must look for another heaven than that in which he sits at the right hand of God. This is an awful subject; but how few of those called Christians lay it to heart! 3. The term CHURCH in Greek ekklhsia, occurs for the first time in ver. 18. The word simply means an assembly or congregation, the nature of which is to be understood from connecting circumstances; for the word ekklhsia, as well as the terms congregation and assembly, may be applied to any concourse of people, good or bad; gathered together for lawful or unlawful purposes. Hence, it is used, Acts xix. 32, for the mob, or confused rabble, gathered together against Paul, ekklhsia sugkecumenh, which the town-clerk distinguished, Acts xix. 39, from a lawful assembly, ennomw ekklesia. The Greek word ekklhsia seems to be derived from ekkalew, to call out of, or from, i.e. an assembly gathered out of a multitude; and must have some other word joined to it, to determine its nature: viz. the Church of God; the congregation collected by God, and devoted to his service. The Church of Christ: the whole company of Christians wheresoever found; because, by the preaching of the Gospel, they are called out of the spirit and maxims of the world, to live according to the precepts of the Christian religion. This is sometimes called the Catholic or universal Church, because constituted of all the professors of Christianity in the world, to whatever sects or parties they may belong: and hence the absurdity of applying the term Catholic, which signifies universal, to that very small portion of it, the Church of Rome. In primitive times, before Christians had any stated buildings, they worshipped in private houses; the people that had been converted to God meeting together in some one dwelling-house of a fellow- convert, more convenient and capacious than the rest; hence the Church that was in the house of Aquila and Priscilla, Rom. xvi. 3, 5, and 1 Cor. xvi. 19, and the Church that was in the house of Nymphas, Colossiansiv. 15. Now, as these houses were dedicated to the worship of God, each was termed kuriou oikov kuriou oikos, the house of the Lord; which word, in process of time, became contracted into kurioik kurioik, and kuriakh, kuriake; and hence the kirk of our northern neighbours, and kirik of our Saxon ancestors, from which, by corruption, changing the hard Saxon c into ch, we have made the word church. This term, though it be generally used to signify the people worshipping in a particular place, yet by a metonymy, the container being put for the contained, we apply it, as it was originally, to the building which contains the worshipping people.
In the proper use of this word there can be no such thing as THE church, exclusively; there may be A church, and the CHURCHES, signifying a particular congregation, or the different assemblies of religious people: and hence, the Church of Rome, by applying it exclusively to itself, abuses the term, and acts as ridiculously as it does absurdly. Church is very properly defined in the 19th article of the Church of England, to be "a congregation of faithful men, in the which the pure word of God is preached, and the sacraments duly administered, according to Christ's ordinance."