Atheist's Attacks

Answering Humanist's Accusations Against the Bible

Christian Resources

The Bible and Supposed False Prophecy

What About New Testament Prophecies?

THE HUMANIST'S CLAIMS: New Testament Prophecies Are Unfulfilled

In applying the Bible’s test for identifying false prophets, the conclusion is inescapable that Jesus was one of them. For example, he was wrong in predicting the world would end within the lifetime of his followers.

At Matthew 16:28, Jesus tells his disciples: “There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” The people who were standing there all died eventually, and they never saw Jesus return to establish a kingdom.

Similarly, Jesus is depicted at Mark 13:24-30 as listing signs that shall accompany the end of the world. These include the sun becoming darkened, the moon not giving any light, the stars of heaven falling, the son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory, and angels gathering the elect. Then Jesus announces: “Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.” His generation passed away long ago without the predicted events occurring.

The humanists seem to be relating the verses in Matthew and Mark to end times prophecies. Are these prophecies about the end times? Are Matthew 16:28 and Mark 13:24-30 even talking about the same thing?

Truly I say to you, there are some of those who are standing here who will not taste death until they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom. - Matthew 16:28

This is the last verse of chapter 16 in Matthew. What comes next? The transfiguration. This is a statement Jesus makes right before His transfiguration on the Mount of Olives. Jesus makes this same statement in Mark 9:1, right before Mark's description of the transfiguration.

And Jesus was saying to them, “Truly 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. - Mark 9:1

We see that Matthew 16:28 is not related to Mark 13:24-30, but to Mark 9:1. The two verses the humanist references were spoken at two different times, in two different circumstances. If we are going to understand them correctly, we need to look at each of them in their context.

Matthew 16:28

The humanists have correctly quoted this verse as a part of their accusation above. To start, we should note that the Greek word (Strong's 932) translated as "kingdom" also has the meaning of "sovereignty," "royal splendor" or "royal power."

In both Matthew and Mark these words of Jesus are not said in an end-times context, but in the context of teaching his disciples and us, about the cost of following Him. You could say that it was somewhat of a depressing lesson. "Deny yourself, and take up your cross." Jesus is talking about very serious pain. Then Jesus goes on to say they will die, "whoever wishes to save his life will lose it." This is tough news for His followers. Then He offers encouragement, some of them will see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom (His royal splendor). In less than a week the prophecy is fulfilled. Some—Peter, James and John—witness the glory of His kingdom and His royal splendor at His transfiguration at the transfiguration.

Mark 13:24-30

24-27: But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.

28-30: Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

31-33: Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come.

The key question here is, to whom does "this generation" refer to?

We can get that answer by starting with another question. Why is Jesus telling His disciples these things? That will give us the context. The answer is, because they asked this question:

Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?- Mark 13:4

Jesus answers as though He was talking to the people who will be alive during the future times He is describing. No one knows when that time will come. As far as the disciples were concerned, it might be within the next couple of years. As far as we are concerned, it could be within the next couple of years or even months. No one knows. Later in Mark 13 Jesus says, "But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone."

However, as the time for His return approaches there will be definite signs. The people living at that time will see those signs. The disciples asked, “What will be the signs…” so Jesus is describing the signs from the perspective of the people who will actually see them. Therefore, if we see these signs, we will know His return is near... and it is THAT generation who will not pass away until those things come to pass. In other words, Jesus is saying, "Once people begin to see these signs, My return is very close."

So "this generation" does not refer to the disciples Jesus is teaching at that moment. They will not see these signs. Jesus is referring to the people who will see the signs. Once the signs he is describing begin, the people of that generation will see His return. That means this is a prophecy about the future we have not yet seen.


The verses the humanist’s reference are talking about two different things. Once you know that, and what the topics are, they make sense. The prophecy in Mathew 16 has already been fulfilled and the one in Mark 13 will be fulfilled as the return of Jesus draws near.

Next Prophecy:

Jesus also erred in predicting the amount of time he would be in the tomb. At Matthew 12:40 he teaches: “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” Mark 15:42-45 shows that Jesus died on a Friday afternoon. But Mark 16:9 and Matthew 28:1 tell us he left the tomb sometime on Saturday night or Sunday morning. Either way, the amount of time was less than three nights.

How days were counted in Jesus' day is very similar to the way we count days today. Think of taking a "three day hike." What does that mean? Click here.


good news of the cross

The gospel is not social justice nor serving others. The gospel is love in action... Jesus Christ giving Himself so that you can be saved from the wrath of God.

Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.
- 1 Corinthians 15:1-8