“I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” (Mat. 24:34 NET Bible)
At that time Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because You have hidden these things from the wise and intellectual and have revealed them to babes. (Mat. 11:25 NWT)
It seems that with each passing decade, a new interpretation of Matthew 24:34 is published in The Watchtower. We will be studying the latest iteration this coming weekend. The necessity for all these “adjustments” flows from our focus on using this verse as a means to calculate how close the end is. Sadly, these prophetic failures have undermined the value of this important assurance given us by Christ. What he said, he said for a reason. Our Organization, in its craving to provoke a state of extreme urgency among the rank and file, has sequestered the value of Christ’s words to its own ends—specifically, to inspire greater loyalty to our leaders.
The correct application of Christ’s assurance—his guarantee if you will—has puzzled 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 result was a tight and factually consistent (from this writer’s point of view at least) understanding that was intellectually very satisfying to me—at least at first. However, as the weeks went by, I found that it was not emotionally satisfying. I kept thinking about Jesus’ words at Matthew 11:25 (see above). He knew his disciples. These were the babes of the world; the little children. The spirit would reveal truth to them what the wise and intellectual could not see.
I began to look for a simpler explanation.
As I stated in my December article, if even one premise on which any argument is based is wrong, what seems to be as solid as a brick building becomes nothing more than a house of cards. One of the key premises for my understanding was that “all these things” referred to in Mat. 24:34 included everything prophesied by Jesus in verses 4 thru 31. (Incidentally, that is also the official understanding of our Organization.) I now see reason to doubt that, and that changes everything.
I will explain.
What the Disciples Asked
“Tell us, when shall these be? and what is the sign of thy presence, and of the full end of the age?” (Mat. 24:3 Young’s Literal Translation)
They were asking when the temple would be destroyed; something Jesus had just prophesied would happen. They were also asking for signs; signs to denote his arrival in kingly power (his presence, Greek: parousia); and signs to signal the end of the world.
It is very likely that the disciples imagined these events to be either concurrent or that they would all fall within a short space of time.
Jesus’ Response—A Warning
Jesus could not disabuse them of this notion without letting the cat out of the bag and revealing things there were not meant to know. Like his Father, Jesus knew the heart of man. He could see the danger presented by a misplaced zeal for knowing the times and the seasons of God; the damage to faith that prophetic disconfirmation could cause. So instead of directly answering their question, he first addressed this human weakness by issuing a series of warnings.
Vs. 4 “Watch out that no one misleads you.”
They had just asked when the end of the world would come, and the first words out of his mouth are “watch out that no one misleads you”? That says a lot. His concern was for their welfare. He knew that the issue of his return and the end of the world would be the means by which many could be misled—would be misled. In fact, that’s precisely what he says next.
Vs. 5 “For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and they will mislead many.”
We do well to bear in mind that “Christ” means “anointed one”. So many would claim to be the anointed one of Jesus and would use this self-appointment to mislead many. However, if a self-proclaimed anointed one is to mislead, he must have a message. This puts the next verses into context.
Vs. 6-8 “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. Make sure that you are not alarmed, for this must happen, but the end is still to come. 7 For nation will rise up in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these things are the beginning of birth pains.
Jesus is specifically warning his disciples not to be misled into thinking he is at the door when they see wars, earthquakes and the like, especially if some self-appointed anointed one (Christ, Greek: Christos) is telling them these events have special prophetic significance.
From the time of Christ Jesus, there have been many times when Christians have been led to believe the end of the world had arrived due to the impact of natural and manmade catastrophes. For example, it was a common belief in Europe following the 100-years war and during the Black Plague that the end of the world had arrived. To see just how often Christians have failed to heed Jesus’ warning and just how many false Christs (anointed ones) have surfaced over the centuries, check out this Wikipedia topic.
Since wars, earthquakes, famines and pestilences have been going on for centuries, these do not constitute a sign of Christ’s imminent arrival.
Next Jesus warns his disciples of the trials that will befall them.
Vs. 9, 10 “Then they will hand you over to be persecuted and will kill you. You will be hated by all the nations because of my name. 10 Then many will be led into sin, and they will betray one another and hate one another.”
All these things would befall his disciples and history shows that from his death, down to our day, true Christians have been persecuted and betrayed and hated.
Since the persecution of Christians has been going on for centuries, this does not constitute a sign of Christ’s return.
Vs. 11-14 “And many false prophets will appear and deceive many, 12 and because lawlessness will increase so much, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the person who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached throughout the whole inhabited earth as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
Not claiming to be anointed ones (false Christs) these prophets nevertheless make false predictions causing many to be misled. The prevalence of lawlessness into the Christian congregation causes many to lose their love. (2 Thess. 2:6-10) We need look no farther than the atrocious war record of Christendom to see these words of our Lord were, and are, fulfilled. With all these dire prediction, Jesus now gives words of encouragement by saying that endurance is the key to salvation.
Finally, he predicts that the good news will be preached in all the nations before the end comes.
The presence of false prophets, the loveless and lawless state of the Christian congregation, and the preaching of the good news has been occurring from the time of Christ down to our day. Therefore, these words do not constitute a sign of his impending presence.
Jesus Answers the First Question
Vs. 15 “So when you see the abomination of desolation– spoken about by Daniel the prophet – standing in the holy place (let the reader understand)…”
This is the answer to the first part of their question. That’s it! One verse! What follows doesn’t tell them when these things will be, but rather what to do when they occur; something they never asked about, but something they needed to know. Again, Jesus is loving his disciples and providing for them.
After giving them instructions on how to escape from the wrath coming upon Jerusalem, together with a reassurance that a window of opportunity for escape will open up (vs. 22), Jesus then goes on to again talk about false Christs and false prophets. However, this time he links the misleading nature of their teachings to his presence.
A New Warning
Vs. 23-28 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There he is!’ do not believe him. 24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 25 Remember, I have told you ahead of time. 26 So then, if someone says to you, ‘Look, he is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or ‘Look, he is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe him. 27 For just like the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so the coming of the Son of Man will be. 28 Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
Is Jesus finally coming round to answering the second and third part of his disciples’ question? Not yet. Apparently, the danger of being misled is so great that he again warns them of it. However, this time those who would mislead are not using catastrophic events like wars, famines, pestilences and earthquakes. No! Now these false prophets and false anointed ones are performing what they call great signs and wonders and claiming to know where Christ is. They proclaim he is already present, already ruling, but in a hidden way. The rest of the world will not know this, but the faithful who will follow these ones will be let in on the secret. “He is out in the wilderness,” they say, or “hidden in some secret inner chamber.” Jesus tell us to give them no hearing ear. He tells us that we not will need some self-proclaimed messiah to tell us when his presence has arrived. He compares it to sky lightening. You don’t even have to be looking directly at the sky to know that this type of lightening has flashed. To drive home that point, he uses yet another analogy that would be well within the experience of all his listeners. Anyone can see birds of carrion circling from a great distance. No one has to interpret that sign for us to know there is a dead body below. One needs no special knowledge, not membership in some exclusive club, to recognize a flash of lightening or a group of circling birds. Likewise, his presence will be self-evident to the world, not just his disciples.
Jesus Answers Parts 2 and 3
Vs. 29-31 “Immediately after the suffering of those days, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven will be shaken. 30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man arriving on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send his angels with a loud trumpet blast, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Now Jesus gets to answering the second and third parts of the question. The sign of his presence and of the end of the age will include the darkening of the sun and moon and the falling of the stars. (Since stars cannot literally fall from heaven, we will have to wait and see how this is fulfilled just as the first century Christians had to wait to see who the disgusting thing really was.) It will include the sign of the Son of Man in the heavens, and then finally, the visible manifestation of Jesus arriving in the clouds.
(It is noteworthy aside that Jesus gives his disciples no direction for their salvation as he did for the time of Jerusalem’s destruction. Perhaps this is because that part is already taken care of by the angelic-directed ‘gathering of the chosen’. – Mat. 24:31)
Vs. 32-35 “Learn this parable from the fig tree: Whenever its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So also you, when you see all these things, know that he is near, right at the door. 34 I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
No self-proclaimed anointed one, nor self-appointed prophet is needed for anyone to know that summer is near. This is what Jesus is saying in vs. 32. Anyone can read the seasonal signs. He then says that you, not your leaders, or some guru, or some Pope, or some Judge, or some Governing Body, but you can see for yourself by the signs that he is near, “right at the door”.
The signs indicating Jesus is right at the door, his kingly presence imminent, are listed in verses 29 thru 31. They are not the events that he warns us about misreading; the events he lists in verses 4 thru 14. Those events have been ongoing since the days of the apostles, so they couldn’t constitute a sign of his presence. The events of verses 29 thru 31 have yet to occur and will only occur once. They are the sign.
Therefore, when he adds in verse 34 that a single generation will witness “all these things”, he is referring to the things spoken of in verses 29 to 31 only.
This leads one to the inevitable conclusion that the occurrence of these signs will occur over a span of time. Thus the need for a reassurance. The tribulation that came upon Jerusalem in the first century lasted for years. It is hard to believe that the destruction of the entire global system of things will be an overnight affair.
Hence the need for Jesus reassuring words.
If I say that I’m part of the hippie generation, you will not conclude that I was born in the late 60’s, nor will you believe that I was a 40-year old when the Beatles released their Sgt. Pepper’s album. You will understand that I was of a particular age at a particular time in history. That generation is gone, even though those who made it up are still alive. When the average person speaks of a generation, he isn’t speaking of a span of time measured by a collective lifetime. The figure of 70 or 80 years doesn’t come to mind. If you say Napolean’s generation or Kennedy’s generation, you know that you are referring to events that identify a relatively brief period of history. This is the common meaning and it takes no doctrinal degree nor scholarly research to define it. It is the understanding that the “little children” get instinctively.
Jesus has hidden the meaning of his words from the wise and intellectual ones. His warning words have all come true and many have been misled into believing the false prophecies of self-appointed, self-anointed ones. However, when the time comes to apply the words of Matthew 24:34—when we will really need a divine reassurance that if we just hold on that our salvation will arrive, and will not be late—the little ones, the infants, the babes, will get it.
Matthew 24:34 is not there to give us a means to calculate how close the end is. It is not there to provide us with a way to get around the injunction at Acts 1:7. It is there to give us a guarantee, one with divine backing, that once we start to see the signs, the end will come within that generation—a relatively brief period of time that we can endure.
I asked one brother that it made no sense and it is just wrong. He looked at me and said nothing. I asked him I read Matthew 23-25 more times then anything in the Bible. And there is no scripture proof this Overlapping is just Nonsense and really Wrong… He said it makes sense to him. I asked show me in the bible…No answer
Hi Buster, They need the Generation doctrine to continue as a means to calculate how close to the end we are. They need to keep the rank-and-file JW anxious that the end is just a few years away so that the fear will cause him to continue to put faith in and obey the Governing Body. He is led to believe that if he is not in the organization when the end comes, he’ll die. So as ridiculous as this latest interpretation is, they need it to control their flock. However, continuing to create and recreate false expectations is wearing… Read more »
I love this long long discussion.. It is very refreshing and thoughtful. I love that over nearly from 1879 to 2014 we still don’t have this peg down on THIS GENERATION. I love how the Organization is trying the best to try to change there minds from 1995 to 2015 on this Generation. But what really fry’s my bottom is how the watchtower April 15, 2010 Jesus Evidently Meant …… How in all that is holy Know what Jesus Meant after nearly 2000 years…. Why can’t they say we just don’t know and leave it in Jesus and Jehovah hand…..… Read more »
I have thoroughly addressed the dilemma surrounding this generation question, which is a big JW issue, but in reality ought not exist if properly examined and not denomi-nationalised. What do I do now? Please examine the details on the following quote from my webpage: http://www.sanctifyname.com/generation.html : ____________________________________________________________________ For all Christians interested in the meaning and duration of: Generation — and its end-time significance or otherwise. Matthew 24:34: “Assuredly, I say to you. this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. ASV From Strong’s Expanded Dictionary of Bible Words: 1074 genea from (a presumed derivative… Read more »
I agree with Barnes commentary on this scripture and I like the John Wesley commentary as well- “And do this – Fulfil the law of love in all the instances above mentioned. Knowing the season – Full of grace, but hasting away. That it is high time to awake out of sleep – How beautifully is the metaphor carried on! This life, a night; the resurrection, the day; the gospel shining on the heart, the dawn of this day; we are to awake out of sleep; to rise up and throw away our night – clothes, fit only for darkness,… Read more »
During the question dealing on the new interpretation of this generation, we were not really forthcoming with comments. At a point the Wt. conductor caught my smile . Probably he felt I understood moments like that( having served as a watchtower conductor for some period). After a comment was made he was tactful not to pursue the matter any further. What’s your take on Rom. 13:11? For the moment I am more comfortable with Barnes commentary. For two reasons: 1. It rules out the fact that Apostle Paul was speculating. 2. It does not allow any person to use it… Read more »
A lot of brothers, especially older one, seem to be uncomfortable with it. Remember that Circuit Assembly part about “this generation”? It called for an interview with an older long-time elder specifically. Most deal with the cognitive dissonance it created by ignoring it, and when it’s brought up in an article, they refrain from participating. It’s a quiet rebellion. They rebel by not taking part. We’ll see if the Governing Body will leave it at that.
Thanks for raising Romans 13:11. I concur with you view and with Barnes commentary.
Wt conductor asked audience a question , if they think that this explanation of generation is clearer. Some people in audience did shake their head in disagreement, but others made comments in definitive agreement ( we can’t really bring out anything contrary Wt teaching so this is not surprising ) and one older sister commented that we don’t know the hour so we shouldn’t really say anything definitive. Also using Rom 13:11 to justify that we know the season is I think out of context.
A Shameful Comment
From today’s study, paragraph 15: “The first group was on hand in 1914, and they readily discerned the sign of Christ’s presence in that year.” This is a complete misrepresentation of the facts, an utter falsehood. The Bible Students under C.T.Russell believed the Presence of Christ began in 1874. They believed 1914 would mark the start of the great tribulation. It wasn’t until the late 1920s that we began to teach 1914 as the start of Christ’s presence.
(I am sorry I missed this when I did the post.)
Meleti thanks for your opinion on acts 7v 56 thats very interesting as well .also thanks bobcat for your encouragement .I have got the new commentry on the bible but didnt notice till today matthews commentry is by France .Thanks i will check out matthew 2 .Thanks again meleti for your website your doing a great job . I find it enthralling to have these discussions about the scriptures kev
The first group was still alive in 1920. I see no lies here.
The lie is that the article claims the first group was on hand in 1914 (true) and they readily discerned the sign of Christ’s presence in that year (false). In 1914 the year they “readily (yet mistakenly) discerned as the sign of Christ’s presence was 1874. The article causes us to think that in 1914, those anointed one on hand believed or discerned that Christ’s presence began in that year. Not true. What they thought began in that year was the great tribulation. The Governing Body know that in 1914 the brothers believed that the presence of Christ was already… Read more »
What a joke that study was. One brother said, “If you don’t understand it, don’t worry about it, because it will probably change again in a couple of years”.
Interestingly Jesus made this very significant remark that is often disregarded: “One day the Pharisees asked Jesus, “When will the Kingdom of God come?” Jesus replied, “The Kingdom of God can’t be detected by visible signs.” – LUKE 17:20 (NLT) Therefore, visible signs couldn’t be used to determine the “coming” or the “presence” of the Kingdom. That’s why Jesus gave the stern warning to his disciples: “Be ready, because the Son of Man will return when you least expect him” – Luke 12:40 Those who would reply in watching the “signs of times” so to determine when the “time is… Read more »
You still are not answering the questions I asked. I’m sure you feel your case is strong and your reasoning sound. However, I’ve found over the past two years on this forum that when someone ignores answering questions that prove difficult for the case they are making, it leads observers to believe their reasoning is weak. Please don’t take that the wrong way. I point it out only because our goal here is to arrive at truth. As to your point about Luke 17:20, you are not presenting the facts. The rendering “can’t be detected by visible signs” does not… Read more »
Wow. Ive just read RT frances commemtry on matthew 24 v 29 to 35 m . I used to think there could be no way that those verses could have been fullfilled in the first century . Now im not so sure i think its possible . I also think jesus reply to the sanhedrin at 26 v 64 are interesting . Yet i say to you men from hence forth you will see the son of man sitting at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven . That could be ano indication of a… Read more »
Jesus words to the Sanhedrin were never fulfilled in the sense of them getting a vision into heaven of Jesus at God’s right hand, but they were fulfilled in the first century when first Stephen declared to them his vision. (Acts 7:56, 57) . . .“Look! I see the heavens opened up and the Son of man standing at God’s right hand.” 57 At this they cried out at the top of their voices and put their hands over their ears and rushed at him all together. That was what caused them to murder him. Subsequently, they witnessed the manifestation of Jesus’ new… Read more »
Kev: France’s commentary (NICNT-Matthew) is the best one on Mathew I’ve seen. There are still some things in it I have a difference with, but he seems like he tries to stay within the context in the whole thing (not just Matthew 24). He is also willing to admit when there seem to be several possible solutions to difficult passages. For the forty or so bucks I paid for it, I consider it one of my best references. One of my differences with him in Matthew 24 is that he does not consider Gallus’s movement against Jerusalem in Nov. 66… Read more »
The commentary (R. T. France) on the whole of Matthew 24 & 25 is quite good reading – albeit, lengthy.
Also, check out how he discusses the ‘star of Bethlehem’ in Matthew 2 (including his translation of Mt 2:2). Very interesting reading!
Meleti, I’m working and can only peek in now and then, and not in the mindset to really sit down and give you a thoughtful thorough reply. It’s not me thinking that “my” case is strong; it’s more me thinking that the case for a future fulfillment is rather weak, considering the internal evidence of the Scriptures. I have been slowly leaning more and more towards a preterist approach to Jesus’ words in Matthew chapter 24. I don’t see how that can hurt Christianity. However, it does challenge and possibly destroy the apocalyptic views of the future that are so… Read more »
Also, remember that the geographical context of Jesus’s words is JUDEA. therefore, the ‘tribes of the earth’ [greek: yes, literally: soil] do not refer to the entire planet earth, but the same soil, or land, in the context of the prophecy, and that is JUDEA. Therefore, the “tribes of the earth” are the peoples living in Judea, presumably, the Jews, although I wouldn’t rule out others.
not “yes” but “greek: ges” (sorry)
Similarly, οἰκουμένῃ (“inhabited earth”) from Matthew 24:14 was often used to refer to “the Roman empire” or “the world as known to the people of ancient times,” or even just “Palestine and adjacent countries.” (AMG’s Greek-English Dictionary, p. 1033; Cmp. Lk 2:1; Ac 11:28; 17:6) It fits easily within Paul’s saying in Colossians 1:23, which itself cannot be taken literally (“all creation”).
Perhaps the biggest tragedy of Christianity is that most (including the apostles Paul and Peter and John the writer of Revelation) failed to recognize the coming and presence of Jesus through the operation of the Holy Spirit, and instead have been waiting for an apocalyptical, spectacular return of Jesus.
Jesus clearly spoke to the people of his generation, their contemporaries. That generation would see the fulfillment of his prophecies. Tragically, when those prophecies didn’t fulfill in the manner the disciples had been expecting, they resorted to apocalyptical speculations that still ensnare Christians to this day and time.
Wow bobcat and edenone thats interesting about the allusion to matthew 26 v 64 i hadnt connected that before with .matthew 24 for some reason . Thanks alot kev
edenone1, you haven’t answered my questions. Questions which need to be answered if you are going to provide Biblical and historical support your beliefs. Instead you are making categorical statements that call into question the inspired status of Bible writers like Paul, Peter and John.
Thanks meleti its correct what you said about the great tribulation .being a cleansing time for gods people. Kev
To Bobcat, A major problem for those who believe Luke 21 and Matthew 24 are like transparencies which can be matched up with one another but who nonetheless must supply answers to those attacking Biblical inspiration is this scripture: (Matt 24:21) “for then shall be great tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, nor ever shall be.” It is common knowledge that what happened in 70CE does not fit such a description. The holocaust of the last century as well as other events both among God’s people and those who do not… Read more »
Daytona: I’m afraid I still can’t go along with your thesis. Luke 21:29-33 encapsulates all the events of Luke 21:20-28 to take place within “this generation.” And in verse 33 Jesus gives a virtual oath that his words will take place. From a literary perspective, verses 25-28 do not have to be chronologically after verses 20-24. They can be simply describing another aspect of “these things.” Verses 20-24 describe things happening among the Jews. Verses 25-26 describe events taking place among the Gentiles. Note the difference between the simple conjunction (καὶ, “and”/”also”) that begins verse 25 and how verse 27… Read more »
Keeping things simple not because we should but because most of the time in scripture the simplest answer is the more correct one. For instance, as we all know Christ gave all honor and credit to his Father though he was to be honored as we honor the Father. How to deal with this supposed contradiction has been the source of countless writings and books but for no purpose. The simplest answer is the correct one; Jehovah is the Father, Jesus is the Son these terms, Father and Son, were not picked from thin air but have meaning as we… Read more »
If (Matthew 24:30 NWT) ” . . .And then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven. . .” would more literally be rendered “and then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven.” This is an allusion to Daniel 7:13, 14. It is the “Son of man” that is “in heaven,” not “the sign.” Then, this changes the reading completely. The translation becomes “”…Then it will appear the sign that the son of man is in heaven”. Since Jesus promised this: “I can guarantee this truth: Those who believe in me will do… Read more »
An interesting take on things, Eden. However, if it was fulfilled back then, how do you reconcile the tribes beating themselves in grief and their seeing the Son of man coming in the clouds in power and glory?
Wow, many comments. Sometime more confusing, sometimes clarifying 🙂 Anyway, I decided to read the whole event again but this time I started in chapter 23. Main reason for this is mentioned in Mt. 24:3: 3 As he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, his disciples came to him privately and said, “Tell us, when will these things happen? And what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” The disciples were saying THESE things. This is plural and to something that has been said before. What has been said before. Well, yes,… Read more »
Consider Daniel 7:13: “In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence.” Daniel saw in a vision – not in a real, palpable context – the son of man “coming with the clouds of heaven”. We take the term “coming” with the current english meaning – as something or someone approaching US. Therefore, we presume that Jesus “coming” means a traject starting in heavens [where the clouds are] into US [the ones observing,… Read more »
What proof is there that “all the tribes of the earth” refers to the 12 tribes? Further, what proof is there that they were aware the Son of Man had entered with the clouds of heaven so that they could mourn? Is there evidence of the 12 tribes of Israel expressing grief as seeing Jesus enter into the heavens? Or evidence that they witnessed such an event at all? Also, what proof is there that we are have been in the presence of Christ since then? How do you harmonize this interpretation with all the references in Scripture the presence… Read more »
Eden, (greetings) R. T. France makes a similar statement about 24:30 (“and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory”) as you did (and I concur with you). He says: This saying [from Mt 24:30] belongs to the group of three Matthean allusions (16:28; 24:30; 26:64) which are shared with mark (8:38; 13:26; 14:62), and which have certain significant features in common: all of them speak of a “coming of the Son of Man” which is visible, which is associated with power, and which is to take place within the… Read more »
Bobcat, are you suggesting a dual fulfillment, or do you believe all of Matthew 24 was fulfilled completely in the first century?
Meleti: No, neither of those (dual fulfillment/1st century only). My reply to Eden was in connection with Matthew 24:30 only. Personally, I view 24:4-35 as being the answer to the disciples first question (“when will these things be” – the destruction of the temple and city). And 24:36-25:46 as being the answer to the second question (“what will be the sign of your parousia and the conclusion of the system of things” The literary division in the discourse occurs in the opening words of 24:36, Περὶ δὲ. (See my second post where I discuss Mt 24:36 and peri de here:… Read more »
What first century fulfillment do you give Mat. 24:29-31?
Meleti: What first century fulfillment do you give Mat. 24:29-31? Here is a brief synopsis: Matthew 24:29 = Luke 21:25, 26. As shown by Luke, this describes action taking place among the Gentiles. It describes the historical event called “The Year of the Four Emperors.” Its starting point is roughly the suicide of Nero in June 68 AD. Its ending point (roughly) is December 69 AD, with the victory of Vespasian over his rivals. (Galba, Otho, and Vitellius were the three emperors in between Nero and Vespasian. Matthew 24:29 is an allusion to Isaiah 13:10 & 34:4. Both contexts describe… Read more »
Hi Bobcat, I’ve taken the liberty of opening a topic on discussthetruth.com and pasted this comment there, with yours above as a quote. If I’ve overstep my bounds, let me know and I’ll remove the quote. I just wanted to provide context for my comment. I’m duplicating it here so those who don’t visit the other forum can see the two sides. This is an interesting topic and deserves the benefit of an open discussion to resolve, so I thought it best to move it there to escape the limitations of the commenting feature of Beroean Pickets. I’m hoping that… Read more »
If (Matthew 24:30 NWT) ” . . .And then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven. . .” would more literally be rendered “and then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven.” This is an allusion to Daniel 7:13, 14. It is the “Son of man” that is “in heaven,” not “the sign.” Then, this changes the reading completely. The translation becomes “”…Then it will appear the sign that the son of man is in heaven”. Since Jesus promised this: “I can guarantee this truth: Those who believe in me will do… Read more »
I dont know daytona whats the answer give us a clue. Kev
Placing our complete trust in God’s ability to inspire and guide his people toward where they must go; we read the Gospels not as records penned by men who are writing to represent their community but rather as records inspired of God. So…placing that trust then on Matthew and Luke we can ask why did Jehovah cause those men to write as they did? Why are Matthew 24 and Luke 21 different? And why did Jehovah cause Luke to place some important matter in Luke 17 rather than Luke 21? Here is food for thought: The days of Noah culminated… Read more »
There is strong evidence that Luke was written before the destruction of Jerusalem, so that would make his account of those events prophetic, like Matthew’s, not historical. Additionally, the political situation in 66 C.E. meant that fleeing from the city urgently in obedience to Christ’s directive was crucial. Waiting even a short time would greatly hinder ones efforts to leave as the Zealots were recruiting men and materials for the inevitable return engagement with the Romans.
I leave it in Jehovah’s hands then. Hopefully a lurker or two will benefit from the post.
I think we should realize that Matthew, Mark, Luke and John all wrote after Jesus died. In contrast to prophets in the past like Isaiah who wrote what was told to them to writes, the NT writers were inspired to give a regard of the events that happened in Jesus’ life. As such, it was always a sort of history because by the time they wrote them, many things had already happened. John was even written (according to RNWT) after destruction of Jerusalem. With regard to contents, I agree that Jesus made statements regarding the events to happen soon (in… Read more »
To menrov, I am in general agreement with your post. Jehovah God can inspire a historian just as he can inspire a prophet. Moses’ writings (which for the most part were historical) were somewhat amended after his lifetime, that though did not mean that because the writer was looking back his writing was not inspired. Luke could in hindsight write an inspired record. There is nothing mysterious about this nor is it outside of the Bible norm. Neither does that mean that his record could not include prophetic material that is not historical. It is this combination of prophetic and… Read more »
Since prophecy is only history written in advance I go with this understanding.
On the matter of our asking anything in the NAME of Christ or the spirit, the term “in the name of,” from Hebraic perspective meant in the CHARACTER of. Thus we would not be asking for anything that would be out of CHARACTER for Jesus, the spirit or the Father to do. All of this applies to the expression “in the NAME of” from a Jewish (in fact all middle-eastern) culture.
Another interesting question: Why does Luke place the urgency mentioned in Matthew 24 not in Luke chapter 21 but in Luke chapter 17: “On that day let the person that is on the housetop but whose movable things are in the house not come down to pick these up, and the person out in the field, let him likewise not return to the things behind.”
Is this placement of scripture inspired? Yes. We are charged with finding why Jehovah placed it so.
What Luke has in 17:26-37 is broken up into 3 places in Matthew 24. Luke 17:26-30, 34, 35 = Matthew 24:37-41. Note how Matthew abbreviates, leaving out Lot. But then combines this with ‘one being taken, the other left behind,’ which in Luke is connected with fleeing from the field and housetop. Luke 17:31 = Matthew 24:16-20. Matthew expands on what Luke has regarding the sudden fleeing from the housetop and field. Matthew includes concerns about pregnant women and the Sabbath. Luke has the ‘Lot’s wife’ saying and the saying about ‘saving one’s soul.’ Luke 17:37 = Matthew 24:28. In… Read more »
Here’s an interesting question: Why does Luke 21 place the days of Noah in Luke chapter 17 rather than in his last days of Jerusalem account in Luke chapter21?
Meleti, I took some time to reread the article after reading the chapter. I will have probably quite some thoughts and questions I’d like to write as they arise. I think one of the difficulties I found in this chapter was the way Jesus’ answers to two questions found their way together, in such a related fashion that, indeed, additional caution would be needed to determine which statements relate to Jerusalem’s destruction and which others to the “end of ages”. Specially, thinking that the statements were composed probably quite some time later. For instance, “rumours of war”, independently, could be… Read more »
You raise some interesting questions. Certainly there is room for alternate understandings of genea. If you click the “this generation” category like on this page, you’ll see we’ve grappled with a few of them over the months.
As for the F&DS, well, there’s a topic that takes some time to get into. Again, we’ve written extensively on it, and many comments have expanded on the topic. The category link, Identifying the Slave will take you there.
Thank you Meleti, I’ll expand my search on these categories.
The answer to who the parable of the F&DS refers to is right in the first (chronologically speaking) version of it in Luke. The account in Luke 12 takes place roughly 6 months or so prior to the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 and Mark 13. In Luke 12:32-34 Jesus tells the disciples that God has approved of giving them the kingdom. As a consequence, they should make the kingdom their main treasure in life. In verses 35-38 Jesus uses an illustration involving the master-slave relationship. They should be like busy, hard-working slaves that are awaiting their master’s return. There… Read more »
There are some who subscribe to the theory that Satan fell long before the death of Christ. Some quote Luke 10 verse 18. …Satan already fallen like lightening from heaven.
Just about the dual fullfilment theory . I think there are too many verses in the first part of matthew 24 that seem peculiar to the first century and some verses toward the end that can only be in the future . I think this makes a dual fullfilment difficult . Kev
btw menrov as to your wordstudy of οὐ μή, look up Thayers: The particle of οὐ μή in combination augment the force of the negation and signify not at all, in no way, by no means. Look at other usages of this in scripture: Matthew 5:18 …till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or tittle shall in no wise pass Matthew 5:26 thou shalt by no means … Luke 18:17 …Whosoever shall not recieve the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein. This expression is used 94x in the New Testament 😉 Also… Read more »
INOG, thanks for feedback. Like I said, I am exploring the verse and I see the points you make. I know the Double Fulfillment view but I am struggling with that. Do you know any other verse where Jesus is saying or explaining something that can be seen as a double fulfillment ? How I read Jesus words and teachings, it is rather straightforward. He uses illustrations or parables but I do not know which of illustrations would have double fulfillment. If not all things He foretold has happened in that period, then it is not really a double fulfillment.… Read more »
I have trouble with dual fulfillments as well partly due to the GB’s dual fulfillment crazes. I would love to see an example of any prophecy in the Bible fulfilled twice.
I agree that the single fulfillment Meleti presents reconciles with scripture. I just believe that this “generation” debate stems from Christians hijacking the “last days” prophecy from the Jews. I really don’t get why there is so much focus on this passage.
Even with that said Meleti your article is well constructed and makes more sense than any premise I’ve come across.
What we go into here is double fulfillment. If you study the passage at hand you realize that not all things are fulfilled during the first century, though many things are. In my view it gets really hard to harmonize scripture if you don’t take the dual fulfillment principle into account.
I would respectfully disagree. I believe much of the trouble we have got ourselves into over the decades is due to the belief that there is a dual fulfillment. I now believe that in the case of Matthew 24:3-36, there are no dual fulfillments. Everything resolves nicely if we assume a single fulfillment for all these things.
If you don’t believe in double fulfillment of that passage you are left to explain: “And if those days had not been cut short, no one would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” “For at that time there will be great suffering, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.” “Immediately after the suffering of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of heaven… Read more »
I think a discussion thread on the possible dual fulfillment of Mt. 24:15-22 would be a good idea.
I think it is very well possible that Matthew 24:15-22 (and Luke 21:20-24) had only one fulfillment, back in 66-70. The chosen ones were those who fled from the city when those days were cut short (when the armies withdrew).
And verses 29-31 would only have one fulfillment – in the future.
It would be so nice and simple if the whole chapter just had one fulfillment.. the 2 fulfillment-thing makes the whole chapter quite messy to explain.
In need of grace i think theres questions that have to be asked either way when we spteak of a dual or single fullfilment . While verse 21 for then there wiLl be great tribulation such has not occured since the worlds beginning until now no nor will occur again. While the reasonig goes right its in the context of first century jerusalem so its speaking of its destruction in the first century but it wasnt greater than the flood so it must mean something else as well we know jesus was also speaking of his prescence so its also… Read more »
The destruction of Jerusalem wasn’t greater than the destruction by the Flood. Yet Jesus’ words cannot fail to be true. I think the key is in the word tribulation. The flood wasn’t a tribulation in the sense it is used throughout the Christian Scriptures. Tribulation means a time of test and trial and is always associated in the Bible with God’s people. So tribulation refines, separating the valuable minerals from the dross. I think that if we focus on that we will see the true intent of Jesus words.
Meleti, not to make this more complicated but I had another look at the verse on biblehub and select interlinear analysis. Here is the result: Strong’s Transliteration Greek English Morphology 281 [e] amēn ἀμὴν Truly Heb 3004 [e] legō λέγω I say V-PIA-1S 4771 [e] hymin ὑμῖν to you, PPro-D2P 3754 [e] hoti ὅτι that Conj 3756 [e] ou οὐ no Adv 3361 [e] mē μὴ not Adv 3928 [e] parelthē παρέλθῃ will have passed away V-ASA-3S 3588 [e] hē ἡ the Art-NFS 1074 [e] genea γενεὰ generation N-NFS 3778 [e] hautē αὕτη this, DPro-NFS 2193 [e] heōs ἕως until… Read more »
‘These’ is the plural of ‘this’, correct? Jesus spoke about seeing ‘these things’ with reference to future events that had not happened yet because they were in the immediate context of the conversation. In a similar vein the word, ‘this’ does not have to refer to something that is concretely present, temporally speaking. It can refer to something that is present only in the immediate context of a conversation. Jesus was speaking about events that would immediately precede his final coming so he can certainly use ‘this’ to describe the generation that would see those future events being mentioned in… Read more »
I see that Jesus was talking about things to happen. Point is, would Jesus be referring to things to happen say 2000 years later or to things to happen say 40 years later? Still future but in case of 40 years, THIS would then refer to the generation at that moment.
Verses 29-31 have yet to be fulfilled. Verses 32 and 33 speak of identifying the season and relate to the sign spoken of in verses 29-31. So when Jesus says “YOU”, he is speaking not just to those present who would not live to see the sign of his presence, but to those disciples who would. Therefore, the “this” in “this generation” like the “these” in “all these things” refers to a generation not yet in existence.
If you are right, then actually Jesus did try to explain to them that none of their questions would happen in their lives. Except for the part regarding fleeing to the mountains. I still do not believe in a double fulfillment as that would be for his disciples impossible to understand even most disappointing if some things happened but not all. I can see that if none of the events happened then, they would realize it would be for the time after them. Possibly because I do not speak the greek of that period I still find it difficult to… Read more »
You make an excellent point, Anonymous. Thank you for that.
“What I noticed is that it says NO NOT which looks like a double negative / denial.
And also it says THE GENERATION THIS.”
You must remember that English grammar is not the same as Koine grammar, so you can’t use English rules of grammar to decipher Koine greek.
I agree and hence I was seeking some input on this. My mother tongue is not English but Dutch and in Dutch we have again other rules…..
Thanks for feedback
A few notes on renderings: ou me is an intensive negative. This is why the NWT has “by no means” in Matthew 24:34. Check BibleHub here: http://biblehub.com/matthew/24-34.htm. The NIV, HCSB, and Weymouth renderings attempt to bring out the force of the intensive negative. Most of the others just go with a simple negative expression. Their are things about the NWT I disagree with, but the effort by the NWT to bring out such intricacies is on the plus side in my book. “The tribes of the earth” could just as well be rendered “the tribes of the land.” Most translations… Read more »
You really could be correct here. But verse 14 got me thinking. You wrote: “The presence of false prophets, the loveless and lawless state of the Christian congregation, and the preaching of the good news has been occurring from the time of Christ down to our day.” Good news of the kingdom – who has preached that during the last 2000 years? Not Christendom, they even don’t know what that kingdom is. Plus they have preached many falsehoods during all these many centuries and still continue to do so. I wonder if it was just a coincidence that Jesus mentioned… Read more »
You mention the good news of the Kingdom as a feature that sets Jehovah’s Witnesses apart from the rest and which fulfills Matthew 24:14. What is the good news of the kingdom? In part it is that Jesus will establish a kingdom using Christians taken from the earth? We have mistakenly taught that kingdom was set up in 1914. We’ve also “shut up the kingdom of the heavens before men” by declaring that only a select few can enter. (Mat. 23:13) So by the criteria of teaching the true nature of the kingdom, we do not qualify either.
The good news HAS been preached. It’s just been suppressed by organizations of men who hunted down and persecuted the true preachers and teachers. Our main problem is not seeing that many have already died faithfully. The problem with organizations is they keep date-stamping its parameters.
The good news of the Kingdom is what is mentioned in Daniel 2:44. 1914 is wrong and we don’t have all the other details right either. But at least we teach that God’s Kingdom is something real that will do something very real, it will end all the suffering Not so many other worldwide religions or groups preach this kind of good news.
First of all, other churches have also taught about the end of the world. There are various versions, but the essentials are there. Additionally, the good news isn’t just the good news of the kingdom. Actually, the phrase “good news of the kingdom” occurs 6 times in the Christian Scriptures. However, the term good news either with a qualifier like “about the Christ” or “about Jesus” or “of God”, or without a qualifier occurs over 100 times. So we over simply it. There are elements of the good news about the Christ which we do not correctly teach or which… Read more »
Niteflyer, Could you please substantiate your claim that……..”Good news of the kingdom – who has preached that during the last 2000 years? Not Christendom, they even don’t know what that kingdom is. Plus they have preached many falsehoods during all these many centuries and still continue to do so…….” This is not accurate. The society speaks of many (loose quote) who have come down through the centuries, through all sorts of religious denominations, who have sought the truth contained within the bible, fought to have it unchained from the pulpit and printed…… Historically, these men did a huge preaching effort… Read more »
True there has been a lot of individuals and smaller groups through the centuries who have done as you said and who were persecuted, killed etc. I was not talking about them but the main churches of Christendom who have mislead millions of people because of their false teachings like Trinity etc and who haven’t taught the truth about what God’s Kingdom really is and what it will accomplish.
Bob Hewson – you comment – “There is some discussion as to the standing of the writers of “Beroean Pickets” can you please confirm your understanding of your situation? I have been told that you are basically JW’s that have concerns with your organizations interpretation on different matters and you then publish these concerns on line under “Beroean Pickets”! Is this the true situation or are you in fact ex-JW’s that are just trying to knock the society?” – which sounds to me like – ” We the committee – overseeing the task of being the moral overlords of Truth… Read more »
Nothing is wrong with that Africaine, nothing at all. You’re on the money there. In fact, it is our duty to question and ascertain that all teachings line up with what Christ taught. Thanks for your comment.
By the way, all the posters and moderators on the site are Jehovah’s Witnesses. All are elders or have served as such until recently.
Well . . . . not counting our elder sisters . . . 🙂
Meleti, I agree with your conclusions 210%
I had actually expressed a similar understanding to yours here: http://meletivivlon.com/2013/12/20/this-generation-getting-all-the-pieces-to-fit/#comment-6709
Yes i am suggesting that meleti i think its a possibility The conversation at matthew 24 seems to flow from the denunciation of the pharisees and of the people of jerusalem in general .verse 33 of matthew 23 describes the people as offspring of vipers or serpents generation of vipers KJV i think this could well be identifying them with the seed of the serpent .greek gennema strongs 1081 offspring .fruit generation .although matthew 23 v36 and chapter 24 v 34 is g 1074 genea by implication an age generation nation time its a derivative of genos 1085 meaning kin… Read more »
“this generation” cannot be used to calculation the approximate time of Jesus’ arrival. Yet, that is precisely what we are trying to do, again, with this week’s Watchtower study.” Doing so despite Jesus words at Luke 21:8 “Look out that you are not misled, for many will come on the basis of my name, saying, ‘I am he’ and ‘The due time has approached’. Do not go after them”. We have a governing body ( the faithful and discreet slave) who claim to be Jesus Christ’s only true representatives on earth (see below) who through their overlapping generation definition are… Read more »
Funny, I must have studied that article and never really realized what was written, until now. So, the GB is equal to Jesus. Jesus never tried to be equal to His father but the GB obviously thinks it can make itself equal to Jesus. In other words, why list to Jesus if you now can listen to the GB…..
“this generation” cannot be used to calculation the approximate time of Jesus’ arrival. Yet, that is precisely what we are trying to do, again, with this week’s Watchtower study. And doing this despite Jesus words at Luke 21:8 “Look out that you are not misled, for many will come on the basis of my name, saying ‘I am he’, and ‘The due time has approached’. Do not go after them.” So we have a governing body the “faithful and discreet slave”, who claim that they are the only true representatives of Jesus Christ on earth (see below) and continue to… Read more »
In my December article, I postulated that the generation refers to all the anointed from the time of Christ down to our day. Others suggested that it refers to the Jews, and others to a wicked component of the Jews. In this latest article, I’m suggesting that it refers to the people alive (whether anointed, wicked opposers, or just plain folk, makes no matter) at the time of the signs predicted in Matthew 24:29-31. The plain truth is that none of those definitions really matters in the final analysis. Matthew 24:34 is a reassurance. So whichever of the foregoing definitions… Read more »
Meleti, I agree with this final argument. It is probably not possible to come to a final conclusion of the definition or meaning of the word generation. I also believe that His reply to the disciples was meant to give comfort, reassurance. The generation of the disciples experienced the Jerusalem destruction. As such, I agree that the generation alive when Jesus presence or coming is evident, that generation will experience the end as well. To use the word generation to determine that we are close to the end, is indeed not what Jesus had intended when he replied. Also, like… Read more »
Thanks meleti .seems more believable than the current watchtower interpretation .your application of verse 4 to 8 are interesting .You are going tlo hear of wars ect by whom it probably is by those who are trying to mislead .The false prophets and christs I think there is no doubt that the sign of jesus prescence verse 3 has to be the one mentioned at verses 29 to 30 and not the wars ect as we have been lead to believe . I have thought that for a long time actually . I think the lighting mentioned at verse 27… Read more »
Thanks, Kev. You raise an interesting point. Matthew 23:35 speaks of all the righteous blood spilled from Abel to Zechariah. The Jews didn’t kill Abel. So it could be argued that Jesus’ use of “generation” at vs. 36 applies to a generation that goes beyond the Jews. He could be referring to the generation (“generated ones”) or offspring of Satan. On the other hand, Jesus speaks of Jerusalem in the next verse. So the generation he’s speaking of could also be in the more common use, that is, the Jews who would kill him. That would fit since this same… Read more »
“However, why make them responsible for the blood of Abel. Perhaps because Abel was killed by Satan’s seed. Cain killed his brother because Abel’s sacrifice was acceptable to God and Cain’s was not. It was about worship of God, religion. Abel became the first martyr or witness.” You nailed it Meleti, Cain and Abel didn’t need to be related in time. In fact our biggest mistake is in continually trying to factor time as though we can spare ourselves by knowing how to measure it. The element of timing events has nothing to do faith. Satan rules time so it’s… Read more »
This is one of the most interesting and informative articles I came across about this subject. Thank you for this.
Agreed. My initial reaction was “Wow. This is the simplest and most direct explanation I’ve ever seen.” It actually makes sense. I have a deep respect for your Bible research and appreciate the time and effort that you have put into sharing this with us.
What scriptural basis do we have as Jehovah’s witnesses to teach that the fall of babylon the great and the great tribulation are related? I have yet to find any.
There is some discussion as to the standing of the writers of “Beroean Pickets” can you please confirm your understanding of your situation?
I have been told that you are basically JW’s that have concerns with your organizations interpretation on different matters and you then publish these concerns on line under “Beroean Pickets”! Is this the true situation or are you in fact ex-JW’s that are just trying to knock the society?
Please supply me with an honest answer as i am very interested.
Could you tell us amongst whom this discussion is going on? To answer your question, both Apollos and I as well as the moderators of Beroean Pickets and discussthetruth.com are all JWs in good standing. Some of us serve as elders, though others out of a personal, conscientious decision have decided to step down from positions of oversight in the congregation. We love the brotherhood and we love truth. Anyone reading the articles on the site will see that our position is based solely on what the Scriptures say. At times this brings our understanding into conflict with the official… Read more »
Really appreciate this article, because I think you have distilled the verses very well and far better than my own notes. As I read and re-read it the one thing that stood out like a beacon for me, were verses 6-8. “6You will hear of wars and rumors of wars. Make sure that you are not alarmed, for this must happen, but the end is still to come. 7For nation will rise up in arms against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines and earthquakes in various places. 8All these things are the beginning of birth pains.”… Read more »
An interesting possibility. But what about the words “Immediately after the suffering of those days”? Which “those days” is Jesus referring to?
An interesting question and one I was hoping someone would ask, so thank you, niteflyer. The NWT uses “tribulation”. Personally, I like that better, though “suffering” also works. It is just that tribulation is used throughout the Christian Scriptures in connection with the congregation to refer to a suffering that results in a test or trial that refines. Our official JW take on this is that it refers to the great tribulation (phase one) which we believe refers to the worldwide destruction of false religion with Jehovah’s Witnesses standing on the sidelines safe and sound and smiling blissfully. If that… Read more »