Few doctrinal interpretations have done more damage to the trust Jehovah’s Witnesses have placed in the men heading up the Organization than that of Matthew 24:34. In my lifetime, it has undergone a reinterpretation on average once every ten years, usually about the middle of the decade. Its latest incarnation has required us to accept a completely new and unscriptural—not to mention nonsensical—definition of the term “generation”. Following the logic that this new definition makes possible, we can claim, for example, that British soldiers who in 1815 were fighting Napoleon Bonaparte at the battle of Waterloo (in present day Belgium) were part of the same generation of British soldiers who also fought in Belgium during the First World War in 1914. Of course we wouldn’t want to make that claim in front of any accredited historian; not if we wanted maintain some semblance of credibility.
Since we will not let go of 1914 as the start of Christ’s presence and since our interpretation of Matthew 24:34 is tied to that year, we have been forced to come up with this transparent attempt to shore up a failing doctrine. Based on conversations, comments, and emails, I have little doubt that this latest reinterpretation has been a tipping point for many faithful Jehovah’s Witnesses. Such ones know that it cannot be true and yet are trying to balance that against the belief that the Governing Body is serving as God’s appointed channel of communication. Cognitive dissonance 101!
The question remains, What did Jesus mean when he said that this generation would by no means pass away before all these things occurred?
If you have been following our forum, you will know that we have made several stabs at understanding this prophetic statement of our Lord. They all fell short of the mark in my opinion, but I couldn’t figure out why. I have recently come to realize that part of the problem was a lingering bias of mine that had crept into the equation. There is no doubt in my mind based on what Jesus says in the following verse (35) that this prophecy was intended as a reassurance to his disciples. My mistake was in assuming that he was reassuring them about the length of time certain events would take to transpire. This preconception is obviously a carryover from years of studying JW publications on the subject. Often, the trouble with a preconception is that one isn’t even aware that one is making it. Preconceptions often masquerade as fundamental truth. As such, they form the bedrock upon which great, often complex, intellectual constructs have been built. Then comes the day, as it always must, when one realizes that one’s tidy little belief structure is built on sand. It turns out to be a house of cards. (I’ve just mixed enough metaphors to make a cake. And there I go again.)
About a year ago, I came up with an alternate understanding of Matthew 24:34, but never published it because it didn’t fit within my preconceived framework of truth. I now realize that I was wrong to do so, and I would like to explore it with you. There is nothing new under the sun, and I know I’m not the first to come up with what I’m about to present. Many have walked this path before me. All that is of no consequence, but what is important is that we find an understanding that gets all the pieces of the puzzle to fit together harmoniously. You will please let us know at the end if you think we’ve succeeded.
Our Premise and Our Criteria
In short, our premise is to have no premise, no preconceptions, not starting assumptions. On the other hand, we do have criteria that must be met if we are to consider our understanding to be valid and acceptable. Therefore, our first criterion is that all the scriptural elements fit together without the need to conjecture up an assumption. I have grown very suspect of any explanation of Scripture that depends on what-ifs, suppositions, and assumptions. It is too easy for the human ego to creep in and vastly divert the ultimate conclusions that are reached.
Occam’s razor postulates that the simplest explanation is likely to be the true one. That’s a generalization of his rule, but essentially what he was saying was that the more assumptions one has to make to get a theory to work the less likely it will turn out to be true.
Our second criterion is that the final explanation must harmonize with all other relevant scriptures.
So let us take a new look at Matthew 24:34 without bias and preconception. Not an easy task, I’ll give you that. Nevertheless, if we proceed with humility and in faith, prayerfully asking for Jehovah’s spirit in keeping with 1 Corinthians 2:10[i], then we may trust that the truth will be revealed. If we do not have His spirit, our research will be futile, because then our own spirit will dominate and lead us to an understanding that will be both self-serving and misleading.
About “This” – Houtos
Let us begin with the term itself: “this generation”. Before looking at the meaning of the noun, let’s first try to define what “this” represents. “This” from a Greek word transliterated as houtos. It is a demonstrative pronoun and in meaning and usage is very similar to its English counterpart. It refers to something present or in front of the speaker whether physically or metaphorically. It is also used to refer to the subject of a discussion. The term “this generation” occurs 18 times in the Christian Scriptures. Here is the list of those occurrences so you can drop them into your Watchtower Library program search box to bring up the text: Matthew 11:16; 12:41, 42; 23:36; 24:34; Mark 8:12; 13:30; Luke 7:31; 11:29, 30, 31, 32, 50, 51; 17:25; 21:32.
Mark 13:30 and Luke 21:32 are parallel texts to Matthew 24:34. In all three, it is not immediately clear who comprise the generation being referred to, so we’ll put them aside for the moment and look at the other references.
Read the preceding verses of the other three references from Matthew. Note that in each case representative members of the group that comprised the generation Jesus was referring to were present. Therefore, it makes sense to use the demonstrative pronoun “this” rather than its counterpart “that”, which would be used to refer to a remote or distant group of people; people not present.
In Mark 8:11, we find the Pharisees disputing with Jesus and seeking a sign. It follows therefore that he was referring to those present as well as the group they represented by his use of the demonstrative pronoun, houtos.
Two diverse groups of people are identified in the context of Luke 7:29-31: People who declared God as righteous and the Pharisees who “disregarded the counsel of God”. It was the second group—present before him—that Jesus referred to as “this generation”.
The remaining occurrences of “this generation” in the book of Luke also refer clearly to groups of individuals present at the time Jesus used the term.
What we see from the foregoing is that every other time Jesus used the term “this generation”, he used “this” to refer to individuals that were present before him. Even if he were referring to a larger group, some representatives of that group were present, so the use of “this” (houtos) was called for.
As already stated, we have had many different interpretations regarding Matthew 23:34 since the time of Rutherford down to our day, but one thing all of them have in common is a link to the year 1914. Given how Jesus consistently employed houtos, it is doubtful that he would have used the term to refer to a group of individuals almost two millennia in the future; none of them being present at the time of his writing.[ii] We must remember that Jesus’ words were always carefully chosen—they form part of the inspired word of God. ‘That generation’ would have been more appropriate to describe a group in the distant future, yet he did not use the term. He said “this”.
We must therefore conclude that the most likely and consistent reason Jesus used the demonstrative pronoun houtos at Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30 and Luke 21:32 was because he was referring to the only group present, this disciples, soon to become anointed Christians.
About “Generation” – Genea
The problem that immediately comes to mind with the aforementioned conclusion is that the disciples present with him did not see “all these things”. For example, the events described in Matthew 24:29-31 have not yet occurred. The problem gets even more confusing when we factor in the events described at Matthew 24:15-22 which clearly describe the destruction of Jerusalem from 66 to 70 C.E. How can “this generation” witness “all these things” when the time span involved measures close to 2,000 years?
Some have tried to answer this by concluding that Jesus meant genos or race, referring to anointed Christians as a chosen race. (1 Peter 2:9) The trouble with this is that Jesus didn’t get his words wrong. He said generation, not race. To try to explain a single generation spanning two millennia by changing the wording of the Lord is to tamper with the things written. Not an acceptable option.
The Organization has tried to get around this time-span discrepancy by assuming a dual fulfillment. We say that the events described in Matthew 24:15-22 are a minor fulfillment of the great tribulation, with the major fulfillment yet to occur. Therefore, “this generation” that saw 1914 will also see the major fulfillment, the great tribulation yet to come. The trouble with this is that it is pure speculation and worse, speculation that raises more questions than it answers.
Jesus clearly describes the first century great tribulation upon the city of Jerusalem and states that “this generation” would see this as one of “all these things” before it passes away. So to make our interpretation fit, we have to go beyond the assumption of a dual fulfillment, and assume that only the latter fulfillment, the major one, is involved in fulfillment of Matthew 24:34; not the first century great tribulation. So even though Jesus said that this generation before him would see all these things including the specifically prophesied destruction of Jerusalem, we have to say, NO! that’s not included. However our problems don’t end there. To make matters worse, the dual fulfillment doesn’t fit with the events of history. We can’t just cherry pick one element of his prophecy and say there was a dual fulfillment for that alone. So we conclude that the wars and reports of wars, earthquakes, famines and pestilences all occurred within a 30-year period from Christ’s death until the attack upon Jerusalem in 66 CE. This ignores the facts of history that show the early Christian congregation benefited from a time of unusual piece called the Pax Romana. The facts of history indicate that the number of wars during that 30-year period actually declined, notably. But our dual fulfillment headaches are not over yet. It has to be recognized that there was no fulfillment whatsoever of the events described in verses 29-31. Certainly the sign of the Son of Man did not make its appearance in the heavens either before or after the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE. So our dual fulfillment theory is a bust.
Let us remember the principle of Occam’s razor and see if there is another solution that doesn’t require us to make speculative assumptions that are not supported by Scripture nor the events of history.
The English word “generation” is derived from a Greek root, genea. It has several definitions, as is the case with most words. What we are looking for is a definition that allows all the pieces to fit easily.
We find it in the first definition listed in the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary:
I. That which is generated.
1. The offspring of the same parent or parents regarded as a single step or stage in descent; such a step or stage.
b. Offspring, progeny; descendants.
Does this definition coincide with the word’s use in the Christian Scriptures? At Matthew 23:33 the Pharisees are called “offspring of vipers”. The word used is gennemata which means “generated ones”. At verse 36 of the same chapter, he calls them “this generation”. This indicates the relationship between offspring and generation. Along similar lines, Ps 112:2 says, “Mighty in the earth his offspring will become. As for the generation of the upright ones, it will be blessed.” The offspring of Jehovah is the generation of Jehovah; i.e. the ones Jehovah generates or gives birth to. Psalm 102:18 refers to “the future generation” and “the people that is to be created”. The entire created people comprise a single generation. Ps 22:30,31 speaks of “a seed [that] will serve him”. This is to “be declared concerning Jehovah to the generation…To the people that is to be born.”
That last verse is particularly interesting in light of Jesus words at John 3:3 where he says that no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born again. The word “born” comes from a verb which is derived from genea. He is saying that our salvation depends on us being regenerated. God now becomes our father and we are born or generated by him, to become his progeny.
The most fundamental meaning of the word in both Greek and Hebrew relates to the offspring of a father. We think of generation in the sense of time because we live such short lives. One father produces a generation of children and then 20 to 30 years later, they in turn produce another generation of children. It’s hard not to think of the word outside the context of time periods. However, that is a meaning we have imposed culturally on the word. Genea does not carry with it the idea of a time period, only the idea of the generation of progeny.
Jehovah produces a seed, a generation, all children from a single father. “This generation” was present when Jesus spoke the words of the prophecy concerning the sign of his presence and of the conclusion of the system of things. “This generation” saw the events he foretold would occur during the first century and it will also see all the other elemental features of that prophecy. So the reassurance given to us at Matthew 24:35 was not an assurance regarding the duration of the events foretold to occur in Matthew 24:4-31, but rather the assurance that the generation of the anointed would not cease before all these things occurred.
To recap, this generation refers to the generation of anointed ones that are born again. These ones have Jehovah as their father, and being sons of a single father they comprise a single generation. As a generation they witness all the events foretold to occur by Jesus at Matthew 24:4-31. This understanding allows us to take the most common usage of the word “this”, houtos, and the basic meaning of the word “generation”, genea, without making any assumptions. While the concept of a 2,000-year-long generation may seem foreign to us, let us remember the adage: “When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains however improbable must be the truth.” It is merely a cultural bias that might cause us to disregard this explanation in favor of one involving the limited duration of generations involving human fathers and children.
Looking for Scriptural Harmony
It is not enough that we have found an explanation free of speculative assumptions. It must also harmonize with the rest of Scripture. Is this the case? To accept this new understanding, we must have complete harmony with relevant scriptural passages. Otherwise, we will have to keep looking.
Our former and current official interpretations have not and do not fully harmonize with Scripture and the historical record. For instance, using “this generation” as a means of measuring time conflicts with Jesus’ words at Acts 1:7. There we are told that we “are not permitted to know the times or periods that the Father has sent by his own authority.” (NET Bible) Isn’t that what we have always tried to do, much to our embarrassment? It may appear that Jehovah is slow respecting the fulfillment of his promise, but in fact he is patient because he does not want any to be destroyed. (2 Pet. 3:9) Knowing this, we have reasoned that if we can determine the maximum time duration for a generation, and if we can also determine the start point (1914, for instance) then we can have a pretty good idea when the end is coming because, let’s face it, Jehovah will likely give people the most time possible to repent. So we publish in our magazines our time estimates, blithely ignoring the fact that doing so violates Acts 1:7.[iii]
Our new understanding, on the other hand, eliminates the time span calculation entirely and therefore does not conflict with the injunction against us knowing the times and the seasons that fall within God’s jurisdiction.
There is also scriptural harmony with the idea of us needing a reassurance as provided by Jesus at Matthew 24:35. Consider these words:
(Revelation 6:10, 11) . . .“Until when, Sovereign Lord holy and true, are you refraining from judging and avenging our blood upon those who dwell on the earth?” 11 And a white robe was given to each of them; and they were told to rest a little while longer, until the number was filled also of their fellow slaves and their brothers who were about to be killed as they also had been.
Jehovah is waiting, holding off the four winds of destruction, until such time as the full number of the seed, his offspring, “this generation” is filled. (Rev. 7:3)
(Matthew 28:20) . . .look! I am with YOU all the days until the conclusion of the system of things.”
When Jesus spoke those words, there were his 11 faithful apostles present. He would not be with the 11 all the days until the conclusion of the system of things. But as the generation of the righteous ones, the children of God, he would indeed be present with them all the days.
The identifying and gathering of the seed is arguably the central theme of the Bible. From Genesis 3:15 to the closing pages of Revelation, everything ties into that. So it would be natural that when that number is reached, when the final ones are gathered, the end can come. Given the importance of the final sealing, it is completely consistent that Jesus should reassure us that the seed, the generation of God, will continue to exist right to the very end.
Since we’re looking to harmonize all things, we cannot overlook Matthew 24:33 which reads: “Likewise also YOU, when YOU see all these things, know that he is near at the doors.” Does this not to imply a time element? Not at all. While the generation itself endures for hundreds of years, representatives of this generation will be alive at the time when the remaining elements or features of the sign of Jesus’ imminent arrival and presence take place. As the progressive features detailed from Matthew 24:29 onward occur, those privileged to witness them will know that he is near the doors.
A Final Word
I have struggled with the incongruities of our official interpretation of Matthew 23:34 all my Christian life. Now, for the first time, I feel at peace regarding the meaning of Jesus’ words. Everything fits; credulity is not stretched in the least; contrivances and speculation have been set aside; and finally, we are free of the artificial urgency and guilt imposed by believing in manmade time calculations.
[…] Bible readers and scholars for centuries. I myself took a stab at it back in December with an article in which I believed I had found a way, with the help of others, of making all the pieces fit. The […]
Here is the thought: Eve produces a first generation. (Genesis 4:1) . . .Now Adam had intercourse with Eve his wife and she became pregnant. In time she gave birth to Cain and said: “I have produced (generated original word) a man with the aid of Jehovah. . . *** it-1 p. 917 Generation *** When used with reference to family relationships, a generation can refer to a group of descendants, as sons and daughters or grandsons and granddaughters. A generation may mean a class of persons, that is, those characterized by certain qualities or conditions. The Bible speaks of… Read more »
Apollos, you might find this interesting, it pretty much corroborates many of the same conclusions arrived at in this thread in regards to parousia: From: Alan M Feuerbacher Date: Wed, 30 Aug 1995 21:31:12 PDT Subject: parousia John Albu wrote: >Concerning the meaning of parousia, Israel P. Warren, D.D., wrote in his >work The Parousia, Portland, Maine (1879), pp. 12-15: > … > “From this view of the word it is evident, I think, that neither >the English word ‘coming’ nor the Latin ‘advent’ is the best >representative of the original. They do not conform to its etymology; >they do… Read more »
Thanks Alex. That adds a lot of corroboration to the research so far. Barclay’s “New Testament Words” sheds some similar light if you can get your hands on a copy.
It is unfortunate that those who try to uphold a 1914 invisible parousia have obscured the full range of the meaning of the word. There are some truly awful arguments presented in the Reasoning Book in this regard.
Matthew 24: 25-28 25 “Behold, I have told you beforehand. 26 If therefore they tell you, ‘Behold, he is in the wilderness,’ don’t go out; ‘Behold, he is in the inner rooms,’ don’t believe it. (don’t believe it because the is not present until he comes) 27 For as the lightning flashes from the east, and is seen even to the west, so will be the coming (parousia) of the Son of Man. 28 For wherever the carcass is, there is where the vultures + gather together. Apollos, how do you harmonize that scripture with a 1000 year parousia? Remember… Read more »
I notice my English is not very good there. Let me try that again:
1. Mt. v.25, 26: (don’t believe Jesus is …… present ….. because he hasn’t come yet)
2. Mt. v.27: the parousia will be like a flash of lightning. how do you harmonize that with a parousia of 1000 years long? Isn’t an arrival or coming more like a flash of lightning?
3. Would Jesus only be present during the 1000 year reign as you state? Is he not present since the first century as head of the Christian congregation? Remember Jesus talked to anointed.
All good points Alex. The point about translating parousia is that its meaning encompasses the grand entrance of the King followed by his subsequent presence. Whether the emphasis is on one or the other of these is determined by the context. So in Matt 24:27 it is clearly talking about the grand entrance. The same is true of v37, but it is because we (JW’s) claim it to be the subsequent presence that a different meaning is imposed on the verse. A similar contextual meaning occurs when using the English word “visit”. I made some observations about that in an… Read more »
Meleti, I understand this verse to be a comfort verse that is properly understood if you compare with 1 Co 15: 51, 52. Not all of us falling asleep in death is equivalent to this generation not passing away. Thus I understand it clearly applying to all anointed, not just Jews. There is a Wt reasoning that the comfort is especially to the anointed who would live and expect the last trumpet in their lifetime. In other words, this would become a comfort to the anointed who believe they live in the last days. A comfort to endure till the… Read more »
Hi Alex, and welcome to the discussion forum. I had never thought to relate 1 Cor. 15:51,52 to Mat. 24:34. It does appear to fit as you point out. Your later point about it also having an application for Christians living during the last days is something I’ve thought about a lot lately. If you were to change “last days” to “conclusion of the system of things” or “end of the world”, I would be more inclined to agree. My belief is that the parousia of Christ has yet to arrive, but I do see the possibility for a different… Read more »
The two possibilities I see are: 1. All anointed are the generation, starting with the Jews in the new covenant down to the ones that did not fall asleep in death until “all these things” have occurred. 2. Anointed who are alive when the parousia starts and do not pass away until the erkhomai. Wt subscribes to the logic of option 2, however the generation of 1914 has already died, so it follows the parousia did not start then. On the other hand, possibility 1 assumes Jesus presence started invisibly in 33 CE down to his coming. (Maybe I’m mistaken… Read more »
>>As for me, natural death itself will be just as good if I remain faithful.
Amen to that, Alex.
The duration of the season can be calculated as time of erkhomai minus time of parousia.
What makes you believe that parousia precedes erkomai?
Apollos, thank you for that question. On closer look, it seems that the WT has misled my understanding, and parts of my last post are invalidated by this. There is an inherit understanding to the word presence in the English language that conveys the thought of duration, versus coming that conveys the understanding a momentary event. It is obvious that if one comes, he is also present. The parousia however is linked to to an event, not a duration, because a flash of lightning is not a drawn-out period: Matthew 24: 27 for, just as lightning will start from the… Read more »
I agree that there is a distinction between parousia and erkhomai. But my conclusions (so far) are that Jesus’ erkhomai is the commencement of his parousia of 1000 years. I cannot find any scriptural reason to see it differently.
It is a simple explanation that seems to work perfectly well with all relevant passages. That is unless you need to claim multiple earlier comings or presences in order to support the idea that special authority was bestowed upon you at an earlier date. Not “you” personally Alex of course 🙂
Personally, the more I study Hebrew, the more I see that the Greeks confused us with abstracts we were never built to know. Okay, maybe I am starting to sound like a broken record but even records were designed to function better on turntables. Basically, the Greeks confused us by replacing the turntables of time with timetables of esoteric unending debates. When Ecclesiastes 3:11 said, “Even time indefinite he has put in their heart, that mankind may never find out the work that the [true] God has made from the start to the finish,” it meant just that. We were… Read more »
[…] Generation” and the Jewish People. It challenges the key conclusion drawn in my previous post, “This Generation”—Getting All the Pieces to Fit. I appreciate Apollos’ attempt to present an alternate finding to this question, because it has […]
[…] response to some comments exchanged on Meleti’s thought provoking article “This Generation”—Getting All the Pieces to Fit I promised to explore this idea […]
I just wanted to endorse miken’s proposition that the generation could simply refer to the Jewish nation. Meleti – You may recall that I raised this as a possibility quite some time ago, but you primarily rejected it because of your premise that a reassurance was involved. Now that you are prepared to remove that barrier I do think that it is worthy of further consideration. You made the statement that “[the Jews] role in the outworking of Jehovah’s prophecy is irrelevant”. I think miken makes a good response about Romans 11, and it shouldn’t be so quickly dismissed. If… Read more »
It is true that Rutherford felt the Jews had a role to play as a nation. I don’t see this. Their role as a nation or people passed once they rejected the Christ. However, I’m willing to look at the relevant scriptures to see if there’s a case to be made.
I think Russell believed it. Rutherford ran with it a bit, and then did a sharp about turn – probably around the same time as he wrote to Hitler and tried to claim that the Nazis and Witnesses had noble goals in common. I’m certainly not married to such an understanding of “this generation”, but I think it might be as good as any other explanation. I will try to make a more complete case for it when I have some time, but when I do so please understand that I am just presenting a possibility rather than a personal… Read more »
Rutherford wrote a book in 1925 titled “Comfort for the Jews”. I haven’t read it but understand it was an appeal to them showing their place in the fulfillment of modern-day prophecy.
Yes, I’m aware of that. But the idea didn’t start with him, and he changed his mind part way through his presidency.
Actually, the idea didn’t start with Russell either and most fundamentalists today see some special role for the Jewish nation. I remember a humorous episode of the Bill Maher show when he was interviewing a right wing Baptist. He was discussing the political lobbying of these Christian political groups and how they keep pushing the US to get involved on the side of Israel, because the state of Israel figured in Bible prophecy. He got the guy to admit that they believed the final battle would start there. So he joked that the fundamentalists support Israel because they believe God… Read more »
Yes, I knew that Russell didn’t start it. That’s why I phrased it as Russell believed it, rather than Russell conceived it.
I had seen your exchange with Joel and yes, it is a good example of same passage/two conclusions. There it is with the interpretation factor again. I will definitely try to contribute something a bit more detailed on this soon.
I hadn’t meant to imply you didn’t, but the subtlety of your phrasing might have been missed by some readers, so better to clarify things.
LOL. And I only mentioned Russell’s belief in response to “It is true that Rutherford felt the Jews had a role to play as a nation”, even though I hadn’t mentioned Rutherford. I thought that statement made it sound like I was endorsing a belief that Rutherford started. Another point you raised was “the state of Israel, or the Jews as a nation”. If Matt 23:34 is in any way linked then I think it would have to be “the Jews as a nation” rather than the fundamentalist belief in the role of the state of Israel that you point… Read more »
I agree that the “state of Israel” cannot be made to fit. I wonder if the same can be said for the Jews as a nation. I’m thinking of all those condemnations of ancient nations by, was it Ezequiel or Jeremiah or some of the minor prophets?… Whatever. The point is that those nations were said to pass away and they did, though descendents of them continue til this day. Present day Iraq in place of Babylon and the Chaldeans. So I don’t see how we can consider the Jews as a nation to be a valid candidate for “this… Read more »
Having reread Romans 11, I think it is possible to make a scriptural case for “the Jews as a nation” reasoning. I will try to do so in the form of an article, but go easy on me in reply. My objective would only be to see how well it stands up in discussion. I was thinking too about the comparison with the pronouncements against the surrounding nations, and to my mind there is a significant distinction in that those descendents don’t identify themselves as distinctly Babylonian or Chaldean. Both the genetic and cultural links have been allowed to simply… Read more »
Of course neither of them believed that “this generation” had anything to do with the Jews as far as I’m aware. It’s probably obvious, but worth mentioning.
Thanks meleti i also think that is the meaning of the term generation much as we use the term genetics today it doesnt refer to any time period however the word is used mainly with a negative connotation see matthew 23 kev
Thank you for sharing that, Mike. I’ve never looked at “disgusting thing” in that context. There are 17 occurrences of “disgusting thing” in the NWT. It’s interesting to look through them all. A definite theme develops. This is certainly worth examining further.
Thank you, Meleti I think you have identified the heart of the problem.We assume that Jesus Christ is using the term this generation in a literal genetic time frame, i.e. 40, 70, 80 years or as you put it(generations involving human fathers and children’s). As JWs we do this because of our insistence that 1914 is the beginning of the last days.Once, we have removed this bias(through reasoning)We can see that there is no reason to understand, that the “last days” have not been with us for the last 2000 years.Then, as you have reasoned from scripture, “this generation” just… Read more »
“So when you see standing in the holy place ‘the abomination that causes desolation,’ spoken of through the prophet Daniel–let the reader understand–
excellent artical and will post the link to this on sites that are discussing this very issue, thank you!!
And thank you for doing that.
I have read this a few times and plan to use this as a basis for my personal study. This is the most refreshing,scriptual and easily understood explanation that I have come across with this scripture. I enjoyed it throughly! Additionally, It’s not just the 1914 doctrine tied in the GB’s explanation in my opinion. It’s the doctrine of the 144,000 anointed class. They have to make the explanation also fit around the anointed’s lifespan which is aggravating. Their explanation of this scripture has always been weird and far fetched. It’s embarrassing.
We know that Jesus’ words had dual fulfillments – first to the end of Jewish system of things and then later to the end of this world system. Why should we limit “this generation” as applying to only the end of the world system generation? For example, didn’t Jesus also speak of there being great tribulation such as has not occurred before nor will occur again? If we take this description of the great tribulation literally then there can only ever be one great tribulation – the first century one. Yet we know that are two. So what if Jesus’… Read more »
You raise some valid points. I acknowledge that it appears there is a dual fulfillment of the great tribulation because John also mentions one. The wars, earthquakes, etc. are not signs of his presence, but a warning not to take such things as a false indicator that he is about to arrive. Mat. 24:14 can’t have a dual fulfillment. Neither can Mat. 24:23-31. Since the generation sees “all these things” I can’t see how there could be two of them, because then neither would see “all these things”, but only a part of “all these things”. Matthew lays out his… Read more »
Something just occurred to me as I reread the first line of your comment: “We know that Jesus’ words had dual fulfillments…” Do we? Perhaps we should say “dual” but separate or distinct. Dual gives us the idea that an element was fulfilled twice. The Organization teaches us the verses 4-8 were fulfilled in the first century and from 1914 onward. However, history teaches us otherwise. No dual fulfillment. Verses 9-13 were fulfilled in the first century and experienced continual fulfillment down through the centuries until our day. Verse 14 has yet to be fulfilled despite the Governing Body’s words… Read more »
I enjoy the open discussion amongst brothers on this site. I love reading what others think and I’ve learned many new things. It’s encouraging. With that, here is my take on Jesus’ words. I believe “this generation” Jesus mentioned are all those who see the sign of the Son of man. This occurs after the great tribulation. He uses generation to let his followers knew that after the sign appears in the heavens only a short time will pass before their deliverance. Notice that all of Jesus’ words in Matt 24, Luke 13 etc are in response to the question… Read more »
I agree Sargon, it always pains me when I hear some of the friends say “I can’t wait for the new system!” or something similar. Not that I feel it is wrong to desire to live in a world where righteousness is the order of the day, but I do feel that many serve with a date in view, rather than as it should be, serving Jehovah because it is the right way to live, wherever you find yourself in History. I am going to look again at this issue as Meleti has aroused my interest, I was erring on… Read more »
I concur with you both. I think our overemphasis on times and dates has more to do with keeping the rank and file in check. It can cause some, even many, to serve with a wrong motive. For example, if the GB abandoned 1914 and the latest interpretation of Mat. 24:34 and said, “Armageddon could come tomorrow or in a 100 years, we just don’t know”, would there be a cooling off or a mass exodus such as occurred following 1925 and 1975? If we are serving for the reasons you brothers point out, that would not be the case,… Read more »
First I’d like to make a prophecy: this year will by no means pass away until this article you wrote receives 100 replies. 🙂 Excellent job. Though I don’t agree with your conclusions, they are logical and well thought out. I am however dismayed by the GBs refusal to execute the 1914 doctrine. All the mental alchemy required to fit Jesus’s words into a specific 1914 timeframe have destroyed the faith of many. The GB bears a heavy responsibility for this. If they were to do away with 1914 then they could really promote a view of “this generation” that… Read more »
There is another possible explanation for the “generation” of matt 24:34. As has been pointed out Jesus used “this generation” mostly in reference to the Jews. The Greek Genea can also refer, according to Strong No 1074 (1b), as “a race of people, possessed of similar characteristics, pursuits etc. cf Matt 17:17; Mk 9:19; Lk 9:41; 16:8; Acts 2:40. At 1(d) “especially of those of the Jewish race living at the same period” Matt11:16. God promised Abraham as part of his covenant that his seed (the Jewish nation) would posses the land they were given “to time indefinite” Gen 17:7,8.… Read more »
The fact that Jesus used the word “generation” a number of times when speaking of the Pharisees gives us no reason to assume its usage must be restricted to them. The Strong No. 1074 1b introduces a valid possibility, but the definition works just as well for the chosen race of anointed ones. (1 Pet. 2:9) So that isn’t conclusive. If we are to accept definition 1b we still need something else to help us decide which race is being referred to. I do not see the scriptural basis for believing the Abrahamic covenant indicates that the Jewish nation comprises… Read more »
I agree Meliti that because of their lack of faith in Christ the Jews generally lost divine favour although in Romans 11:5 Paul refers to a remnant of Christian Jews living then. However the question arises was this to be a permanent situation. I do not see how Romans 11 can refer to anyone other than the nation of Israel and their natural descendants, certainly not to a so called “spiritual Israel”. In verse 23 Paul writes that if the Jews do not persist in their unbelief, they can be grafted in again and in verse 25 Israel’s hardening is… Read more »
I see where you’re coming from, Miken. A cautionary note first. You say: “Subsequently he [Rutherford] received “new light” from angels!! and began to formulate the official position you now hold.” Why would you say that I hold the same position on this as Rutherford? I haven’t really stated my position on this yet? I will give you my position. Whether it conforms to some degree with Rutherford or anyone else is incidental, because my position is based solely on my understanding of Scripture. If I am in error, of course you are free to use Scripture to correct my… Read more »
Hi Meleti, And I agree, particularly where you say, “It is possible and in harmony with Scripture to conclude that the seed was selected from Abel forward.” My view has reformed substantially since reviewing the rigid timeline structure of WT reasoning. While true that John the Baptist was a lesser one in the Kingdom of the heavens (prior to Jesus’ death and resurrection) and David had not yet been resurrected (Acts 2:34), what prevents Christ from redeeming all those worthy of greater honor as kingdom heirs throughout any era? We really do need to release our minds from “box-thinking” (and… Read more »
“Boxthink”, I like it.
Maybe just maybe Jesus got it wrong! He was trying to show that the events were imminent. It’s hard to wrap my mind with the idea that Jesus meant a 2000+ year long time frame.
If you believe Jesus could get such things wrong, then there’s no reason to believe in the inspired nature of the Bible, which means there is no basis for confidence in anything in Scripture and therefore no reason for us to have any hope, such as the hope the dead will rise. We might as well “eat and drink, for tomorrow we are to die.” (1 Cor. 15:32)
To put my previously point more concisely: “This generation” is not necessarily characterized by being alive DURING “all these things”. Rather, it could be characterized by being alive AFTER “all these things” have occurred or when the last of “all these things” have occurred.
So you’re saying “this generation” refers to the anointed – those generated as sons of God – that they would continue to exist on earth right down to the end. Did you mention Matthew 16:18? That text seems to harmonize with your point. It says: “Also, I say to you, You are Peter, and on this rock-mass I will build my congregation, and the gates of Ha′des will not overpower it.” “The gates of Hades will not overpower it.” In other words, the congregation of anointed ones will never die off because there will be some alive when the end… Read more »
Your mention of Matt 24:34 being fulfilled by John is intriguing and in harmony with John 21:22, 23: Jesus said to him: “If it is my will for him to remain until I come, of what concern is that to you? You continue following me.” 23 So the saying went out among the brothers that this disciple would not die. However, Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but he said: “If it is my will for him to remain until I come, of what concern is that to you?” It is interesting to note that the… Read more »
>>it still involves applying a somewhat unconventional, unlikely or obscure interpretation of the word generation. Thank you, Jude, for reminding me of the other reason I rejected this understanding a year ago. I had meant to include that in the article, but forgot. You’re quite right. I wouldn’t call it an obscure interpretation (meaning) of the word “generation” though, because it comes right out of the dictionary. But if you mean an obscure or unconventional application of one of the word’s definitions, I concur. I believed (re-enter the bias here) that the Bible was meant to be understood by the… Read more »
My reference to the transfiguration was not to suggest that the transfiguation was a possible fulfillment of the “this generation” promise. Rather, I was using Jesus statement about some not dying before they see him come and its fulfillment in the transfiguration event to illustrate the feasibility of thinking that the “this generation” promise could, in a similar manner, possibly have been fulfilled by John receiving the Revelation vision.
Sorry, I missed that point. I get it now and it is an interesting take on things. To be honest, I can’t disprove it, so it has to enter into our library of feasible theories. Thanks!
I’ve just realized why this can’t work. If Mat. 24:34 is fulfilled in the Revelation to John, then so must Mat. 24:32, 33 be fulfilled. However, if verse 34’s occurrence of “all these things” is metaphorically fulfilled by the vision given to John, then how can verse 33’s seeing “all these things” be fulfilled metaphorically since Jesus wasn’t near at the doors in the first century. The three verses are tied together and so much have a related fulfillment. But it was a neat idea while it lasted. 🙂