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EARLY CHURCH

Ambrose
Ambrose, Pseudo
Andreas
Arethas
Aphrahat
Athanasius
Augustine
Barnabus
BarSerapion
Baruch, Pseudo
Bede
Chrysostom
Chrysostom, Pseudo
Clement, Alexandria
Clement, Rome
Clement, Pseudo
Cyprian
Ephraem
Epiphanes
Eusebius
Gregory
Hegesippus
Hippolytus
Ignatius
Irenaeus
Isidore
James
Jerome
King Jesus
Apostle John
Lactantius
Luke
Mark
Justin Martyr
Mathetes
Matthew
Melito
Oecumenius
Origen
Apostle Paul
Apostle Peter
Maurus Rabanus
Remigius
"Solomon"
Severus
St. Symeon
Tertullian
Theophylact
Victorinus

HISTORICAL PRETERISM
(Minor Fulfillment of Matt. 24/25 or Revelation in Past)

Joseph Addison
Oswald T. Allis
Thomas Aquinas
Karl Auberlen
Augustine
Albert Barnes
Karl Barth
G.K. Beale
Beasley-Murray
John Bengel
Wilhelm Bousset
John A. Broadus

David Brown
"Haddington Brown"
F.F. Bruce

Augustin Calmut
John Calvin
B.H. Carroll
Johannes Cocceius
Vern Crisler
Thomas Dekker
Wilhelm De Wette
Philip Doddridge
Isaak Dorner
Dutch Annotators
Alfred Edersheim
Jonathan Edwards

E.B. Elliott
Heinrich Ewald
Patrick Fairbairn
Js. Farquharson
A.R. Fausset
Robert Fleming
Hermann Gebhardt
Geneva Bible
Charles Homer Giblin
John Gill
William Gilpin
W.B. Godbey
Ezra Gould
Hank Hanegraaff
Hengstenberg
Matthew Henry
G.A. Henty
George Holford
Johann von Hug
William Hurte
J, F, and Brown
B.W. Johnson
John Jortin
Benjamin Keach
K.F. Keil
Henry Kett
Richard Knatchbull
Johann Lange

Cornelius Lapide
Nathaniel Lardner
Jean Le Clerc
Peter Leithart
Jack P. Lewis
Abiel Livermore
John Locke
Martin Luther

James MacDonald
James MacKnight
Dave MacPherson
Keith Mathison
Philip Mauro
Thomas Manton
Heinrich Meyer
J.D. Michaelis
Johann Neander
Sir Isaac Newton
Thomas Newton
Stafford North
Dr. John Owen
 Blaise Pascal
William W. Patton
Arthur Pink

Thomas Pyle
Maurus Rabanus
St. Remigius

Anne Rice
Kim Riddlebarger
J.C. Robertson
Edward Robinson
Andrew Sandlin
Johann Schabalie
Philip Schaff
Thomas Scott
C.J. Seraiah
Daniel Smith
Dr. John Smith
C.H. Spurgeon

Rudolph E. Stier
A.H. Strong
St. Symeon
Theophylact
Friedrich Tholuck
George Townsend
James Ussher
Wm. Warburton
Benjamin Warfield

Noah Webster
John Wesley
B.F. Westcott
William Whiston
Herman Witsius
N.T. Wright

John Wycliffe
Richard Wynne
C.F.J. Zullig

MODERN PRETERISTS
(Major Fulfillment of Matt. 24/25 or Revelation in Past)

Firmin Abauzit
Jay Adams
Luis Alcazar
Greg Bahnsen
Beausobre, L'Enfant
Jacques Bousset
John L. Bray
David Brewster
Dr. John Brown
Thomas Brown
Newcombe Cappe
David Chilton
Adam Clarke

Henry Cowles
Ephraim Currier
R.W. Dale
Gary DeMar
P.S. Desprez
Johann Eichhorn
Heneage Elsley
F.W. Farrar
Samuel Frost
Kenneth Gentry
Steve Gregg
Hugo Grotius
Francis X. Gumerlock
Henry Hammond
Hampden-Cook
Friedrich Hartwig
Adolph Hausrath
Thomas Hayne
J.G. Herder
Timothy Kenrick
J. Marcellus Kik
Samuel Lee
Peter Leithart
John Lightfoot
Benjamin Marshall
F.D. Maurice
Marion Morris
Ovid Need, Jr
Wm. Newcombe
N.A. Nisbett
Gary North
Randall Otto
Zachary Pearce
Andrew Perriman
Beilby Porteus
Ernst Renan
Gregory Sharpe
Fr. Spadafora
R.C. Sproul
Moses Stuart
Milton S. Terry
Herbert Thorndike
C. Vanderwaal
Foy Wallace
Israel P. Warren
Chas Wellbeloved
J.J. Wetstein
Richard Weymouth
Daniel Whitby
George Wilkins
E.P. Woodward
 

FUTURISTS
(Virtually No Fulfillment of Matt. 24/25 & Revelation in 1st C. - Types Only ; Also Included are "Higher Critics" Not Associated With Any Particular Eschatology)

Henry Alford
G.C. Berkower
Alan Patrick Boyd
John Bradford
Wm. Burkitt
George Caird
Conybeare/ Howson
John Crossan
John N. Darby
C.H. Dodd
E.B. Elliott
G.S. Faber
Jerry Falwell
Charles G. Finney
J.P. Green Sr.
Murray Harris
Thomas Ice

Benjamin Jowett
John N.D. Kelly

Hal Lindsey
John MacArthur
William Miller
Robert Mounce

Eduard Reuss

J.A.T. Robinson
George Rosenmuller
D.S. Russell
George Sandison
C.I. Scofield
Dr. John Smith

Norman Snaith
"Televangelists"
Thomas Torrance
Jack/Rex VanImpe
John Walvoord

Quakers : George Fox | Margaret Fell (Fox) | Isaac Penington


PRETERIST UNIVERSALISM | MODERN PRETERISM | PRETERIST IDEALISM

"Genea" (Generation)

"This generation <1074> shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled"

Matthew 24:34 | Norman Geisler and "This Generation" | "Generation Means Race" Theory | Matt 24:34 and Genea: The Scholars | This Generation

"the most difficult phrase to interpret in this complicated eschatological discourse.” (Joseph A. Fitzmyer)

It is commonly declared that the word "generation," in Matthew 24:34, means to imply that the "race" of the Jews would not pass, till all the mentioned events came to pass. There is no justification for such a position. C.I. Scofield, in his Bible's reference to this verse, recognized this, and actually SWITCHED the definition of the word from that of genea to to that of genos, which is an entirely different word! The following will show that there is a great distinction between the two, and that Matthew 24:34 means the age of people then living, and not the entire Jewish "race." The following quote by Chilton defines the sphere of this debate:

"Some have sought to get around the force of this text by saying that the word generation here really means race, and that Jesus was simply saying that the Jewish race would not die out until all these things took place. Is that true? I challenge you: Get out your concordance and look up every New Testament occurrence of the word generation (in Greek, genea) and see if it ever means 'race' in any other context. Here are all the references for the Gospels: Matthew 1:17; 11:16; 12:39, 41, 42, 45; 16:4; 17:17; 23:36; 24:34; Mark 8:12, 38; 9:19; 13:30; Luke 1:48, 50; 7:31; 9:41; 11:29, 30, 31, 32, 50, 51; 18:8; 17:25; 21:32. Not one of these references is speaking of the entire Jewish race over thousands of years; all use the word in its normal sense of the sum total of those living at the same time. It always refers to contemporaries. In fact, those who say it means "race" tend to acknowledge this fact, but explain that the word suddenly changes its meaning when Jesus uses it in Matthew 24!"

David Brown (1858)
"Does not this tell us plainly as words could do it, that the whole prophecy was meant to apply to the destruction of Jerusalem? There is but one way of setting this aside, but how forced it is, must, I think, appear to every unbiased mind. It is by translating, not 'this generation,' ...but 'this nation shall not pass away:" in other words, the Jewish nation shall survive all the things here predicted! Nothing but some fancied necessity, arising out of their view of the prophecy, could have led so many sensible men to put this gloss upon our Lord's words. Only try the effect of it upon the perfectly parallel announcement in the previous chapter: 'Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers.. Wherefore, behold, I send you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city... that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zecharias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation' ... Matt. xxiii. 32, 34-36). Does not the Lord here mean the then existing generation of the Israelites? Beyond all question he does; and if so, what can be plainer than that this is his meaning in the passage before us? (David Brown, p. 435)

" 'Many attempts,' says Dr. Urwick, 'have been made to anatomize this prophecy, and exhibit separately the parts which relate to the invasion of Jerusalem by Titus, and the parts which regard the judgment of the world at the last day. I have not met with any thing satisfactory in this way. If any man could have done it well, Bishop Horsley was the man: he had learning, ingenuity, power, and determination enough for it. Yet one cannot read the sermon in which he attempts to separate the prophecy of the 'coming' from the prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem, without feeling that a giant is grappling with a difficulty he cannot master. The statement of our Lord, 'Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till these things be fulfilled' puts it, I think, beyond question, that the whole range of the prediction was to have an accomplishment before the then race of human beings should all have died from the face of the earth ". (Christ's Second Coming, Will it be Pre-millennial?, p. 441)

Hank Hanegraaff (2004)
"I assure you, this generation will not pass away from the scene before all these things take place." (TLD p. 92)

"When Jesus says 'this generation' He doesn't mean 'that generation'.  He also doesn't mean 'that race'.. What He is talking about is the mother of all tribulations that the disciples were about to face."   (Voice of Reason 11/21)

F.F. Bruce
"The phrase "this generation" is found too often on Jesus' lips in this literal sense for us to suppose that it suddenly takes on a different meaning in the saying we are now examining. Moreover, if the generation of the end-time had been intended, 'that generation' would have been a more natural way of referring to it than 'this generation. (The Hard Sayings of Jesus, p. 227)

Olhausen
"The word genea is not used in the sense of nation in any one passage, either of the New Testament or of profane writers." (Com. ad loc.)

"Dr. Sykes"
"Any other interpretation would, indeed, be utterly groundless ; and that our Lord decisively foretells that the generation then existing should not be totally extinguished till it had wintessed his second and glorious appearance in the clouds of heaven." (Edward's Sermon on the Predictions of the Apostles, pp. 19-33)

 

 

Gary DeMar (1997)
"First, "this generation" always means the generation to whom Jesus is speaking.  It is the contemporary generation, the generation alive at the hearing of Jesus' words...  Those who deny that 'this generation' refers to the generation to whom Jesus was speaking in the Matthew 24 context must maintain that "this generation" means something different from the way it is used in other places in Matthew and the rest of the New Testament!" (Last Days Madness, p. 33)

"There is a logical problem if genea is translated “race.” Since “race” is a reference to the Jewish race, Matthew 24:34 would read this way: “This Jewish race will not pass away until all these things take place. When all these things take place, then Jewish race will pass away.” This doesn’t make any sense, especially for a premillennialist like Geisler who believes the Jews will reign with Jesus for a thousand years after the period described by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse." (Norman Geisler and "This Generation", 2007)

James Stuart Russell (1878)
"These are all the examples in which the expression 'this generation' occurs in the sayings of our Lord, and they establish beyond all reasonable question the reference of the words in the important declaration now before us. But suppose that we were to adopt the rendering proposed, and take genea as meaning a race, what point or significance would there be in the prediction then ? Can any one believe that the assertion so solemnly made by our Lord, 'Verily I say unto you,' etc., amounts to no more than this, 'The Hebrew race shall not become extinct till all these things be fulfilled '? Imagine a prophet in our own times predicting a great catastrophe in which London would be destroyed, St. Paul's and the Houses of Parliament levelled with the ground, and a fearful slaughter of the inhabitants be perpetrated; and that when asked, 'When shall these things come to pass ? ' he should reply, 'The Anglo-Saxon race shall not become extinct till all these things be fulfilled' ! Would this be a satisfactory answer ? Would not such an answer be considered derogatory to the prophet, and an affront to his hearers ? Would they not have reason to say, 'It is safe prophesying when the event is placed at an interminable distance ! ' But the bare supposition of such a sense in our Lord's prediction shows itself to be a reductio ad absurdum. Was it for this that the disciples were to wait and watch ? Was this the lesson son that the budding fig- tree taught? Was it not until the Jewish race was about to become extinct that they were to 'look up, and lift up their beads '? Such a hypothesis is its own refutation." (The Parousia)

 

 
Preterist Commentaries By Futurists

Gleason Archer
"Obviously these apocalyptic scenes and earth-shaking events did not take place within the generation of those who heard Christ's Olivet discourse. Therefore Jesus could not have been referring to his immediate audience when He made this prediction..." (Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, pg 338).

"...genea ('generation') was used as a synonym of genos ('race', 'stock', 'nation' , 'people'). This would then amount to a prediction that the Jewish race would not pass out of existence before the Second Advent." (ibid, pg 338-339)

Albert Barnes (1832)
"This generation, &c. - This age; this race of men. A generation is about thirty of forty years. The destruction of Jerusalem took place about forty years after this was spoken. See Notes on Mat. 16:28." (Notes, Matthew 24:34)

G.R. Beasly-Murray (1954)
(Mark 13:30) "The meaning of 'this generation' is now generally acknowledged. While in earlier Greek genea meant 'birth,' 'progeny,' and so 'race,' in the sense of those descended from a common ancestor, in the LXX it commonly translates the term dor, meaning 'age,' 'age of man,' or 'generation' in the sense of contemporaries. On the lips of Jesus 'this generation' always signifies the contemporaries of Jesus, but at the same time always carries an implicit criticism. For Mark the eschatological discourse expounds the implication of the prophecy of judgment in verse 2, and so implies the perversity of 'this generation,' which must suffer the doom predicted.

"This generation is not to pass away until 'all these things happen' (tauta panta genetai). The first term, tauta, appeared previously in verse 29: 'When you see these things happening...' A clearer precedent for tauta panta, however, appears in the question of the disciples in verse 4: 'When will all these things be, and what is the sign when all these things will be completed?' The response to the request for a sign has been given, above all in verses 14-15; the question concerning the 'when' is answered in verse 30. In view of Mark's setting of the statement, however, it is difficult to exclude from 'all these things' the description of the parousia in verses 24-27" (pp. 333-334).

J.C. Fenton (1963)
"Although attempts have been made to interpret this generation to the Jews, or as the human race in general, it is more likely that originally it meant the generation living at the time of Jesus." (St. Matthew, p. 391)

Henry Hudson
"Many commentators play around with the word 'generation' (genea), and thinking to avoid embarrassment, project its application to the generation which will be alive during the last days immediately preceding the Second Coming of the Messiah. Others, expand its meaning to include the whole nation of Israel, which, in spite of the intensity of the great tribulation, will nevertheless be preserved as a nation right up till the end of the present age. However, if Scripture be compared with Scripture, such verbal games are soon exposed as being nothing but armchair gymnastics (cf. Matthew 11:16; 12:41-45; 23:36; Luke 11:50, 51; Hebrews 3:10). The word is generally used to signify a people belonging to a paticular period of time, or more loosely, to a period defined by what might be considered as an average life span of a man." (Echoes of the Ministry, Vol. 11, No. 2, p. 32)

Jack P. Lewis (1976)
"The meaning of generation (genea) is crucial to the interpretation of the entire chapter. While Scofield, following Jerome, contended that it meant the Jewish race, there is only one possible case in the New Testament (Luke 16:8) where the lexicon suggests that genea means race.  There is a distinction between genos (race) and genea (generation).  Others have argued that genea means the final generation; that is, once the signs have started, all these happenings would transpire in one generation (cf. 23:36).  But elsewhere in Matthew genea means the people alive at one time and usually at the time of Jesus (1:17; 11:16; 12:39,41,45; 23:36; Mark 8:38; Luke 11:50f.; 17:25), and it doubtlessly means the same here.  " (The Gospel According to Matthew, Part 2; Living Word Commentary: Sweet Publishing, p. 128)

New Bible Commentary, 21st (1994)
"Christ's use of the words 'immediately after' does not leave room for a long delay (2,000 years or more before his literal second coming occurs, neither) does the explicit time-scale given in Matthew 24:34. The word 'parousia' does not occur in this section but is prominently reintroduced in the new paragraph which begins at Matthew 24:36, where its unknown time is contrasted with the clear statement that the events of this paragraph will take place within 'this generation" (Matthew 24:36). This section is therefore in direct continuity with what has gone before, the account of the siege of Jerusalem. Here we reach its climax." (P. 936)

"The NIV margin offers 'race' as an alternative to 'generation.' This suggestion is prompted more by embarrassment on the part of those who think Matthew 24:30 refers to the 'parousia' (second coming) rather than by any natural sense of the word 'genea'!" (New Bible Commentary, 21st Edition, edited by Wenham, Motyer, Carson, France, 937.)

Dr. E. Robinson (1843)
'The question now arises whether, under these limitations of time, a reference of our Lord's language to the day of judgment and the end of the world, in our sense of these terms, is possible. Those who maintain this view attempt to dispose of the difficulties arising from these limitations in different ways. Some assign to (genea) the meaning suddenly, as it is employed by the LXX in Job v. 3, for the Hebrew.  But even in this passage the purpose of the writer is simply to mark an immediate sequence -- to intimate that another and consequent event happens forthwith. Nor would anything be gained even could the word (genea) be thus disposed of, so long as the subsequent limitation to 'this generation' remained. And in this again others have tried to refer genea to the race of the Jews, or to the disciples of Christ, not only without the slightest ground, but contrary to all usage and all analogy. All these attempts to apply force to the meaning of the language are in vain, and are now abandoned by most commentators of note." (Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol. 1 - 1843)

C.S. Lewis (1960)
"It is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible." (Essay "The World's Last Night" (1960), found in The Essential C.S. Lewis, p. 385)

Greek Word Studies

'Generation Means Race' Theory - Commentary Excerpts

Generation

Gr. genea, (1074) "a generation; by implication an age (the period or the persons)"
AV - generation 37, time 2, age 2, nation 1; 42

 

1) fathered, birth, nativity
2) that which has been begotten, men of the same stock, a family

2a) the several ranks of natural descent, the successive members of a genealogy
2b) metaph. a group of men very like each other in endowments, pursuits, character
2b1) esp. in a bad sense, a perverse nation

3) the whole multitude of men living at the same time
4) an age (i.e. the time ordinarily occupied be each successive generation), a space of 30 - 33 years

 

Examples:

Matthew 23:36 "Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation <1074>."

Matthew 24:34 "Verily I say unto you, This generation <1074> shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled."

Luke 1:50 "And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation <1074> to generation <1074>."

Acts 14:16 "Who in times <1074> past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways."

Acts 13:36 "For David, after he had served his own generation <1074> by the will of God, fell on sleep..."

Acts 15:21 "For Moses of old time <1074> hath in every city them that preach him..."

 

 

Commonly Mistaken Words Which Are Translated "Generation":

Gr. genos (1085) "kin (abs. or con., lit. or fig., indiv. or coll."
AV - kind 5, kindred 3, offspring 3, nation 2, stock 2, born 2, diversity 1, misc. 3; 21

1) kindred

1a) offspring
1b) family
1c) stock, tribe, nation

1c1) i.e. nationality or descent from a particular people

1d) the aggregate of many individuals of the same nature, kind, sort

 

Examples:

Matthew 17:21 "Howbeit this kind <1085> goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. .."

Mark 7:26 "The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation <1085>.."

Acts 18:24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born <1085> at Alexandria, an eloquent man.."

I Peter 2:9 "But ye are a chosen generation <1085>, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, ..."

 

Gr. genemma (1081) "offspring; by anal. produce (lit. or fig.)"
AV - fruit 5, generation 4; 9

1) that which has been born or begotten

1a) the offspring or progeny of men or animals
1b) the fruits of the earth, the produce of agriculture

 

Matthew 12:34 "O generation <1081> of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh."

Matthew 23:33 "Ye serpents, ye generation <1081> of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? (notice that this is only three verses from v.36)

Matthew 26:29 "But I say unto you, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit <1081> of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father's kingdom."

 

Translations

King James: "Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled."

New English Bible: "I tell you this: the present generation will live to see it all."

Today's English Version: "Remember this! All these things will happen before the people now living have all died."

Moffatt's Translation: "I tell you truly, the present generation will not pass away, till all this happens."

Weymouth's Translation: "I tell you in solemn truth that the present generation will certainly not pass away until all this has taken place."

 

Five Greek Lexicons: genea.

(1) The interval of time between father & son... from thirty to forty years those living in any one period; this present generation.

(2) A generation of mankind, a step in genealogy.

(3) A generation, an interval in time.

(4) The whole multitude of men living at the same time--Mt xxiv.34... used esp. of the Jewish race living at one and the same period.

(5) The sum total of those born at the same time... all those living at the same time... contemporaries... Mt. 24:34.


Twenty-Five Bible Dictionaries: genea.

(1) Those born at the same time constitute a generation... contemporaries.

(2) Thus Herodotus says that "three generations of men make an hundred years."

(3) It is used of people living at the same time, and by extension... of the time itself... 40 years.

(4) Of the 43 references to genea in the NT... 25 (are) of its occurrences to the Jewish people in the time of Jesus.

(5) The whole multitude of men living at the same time. A period ordinarily occupied by each successive generation, say, of thirty or forty years.

(6) It mostly denotes "generation" in the sense of contemporaries... Mt. 24:34. This generation is to be understood temporally.

(7) The age or period of a body of contemporaries.... The generation lasts as long as any of the members survive.

(8) ... from thirty to forty years....

(9) ... the sum total of individuals forming a contemporary group.

(10) The period of time between the birth of parents and the birth of their children... most biblical writers seem to consider thirty to forty years a normal generation.

(11) ...the period from a man's birth to that of his son--and collectively the people who live in that period.

(12) ...the period of time between the birth of parents and the birth of their children... the term simply refers to all people living at a particular time.

(13) A body of people who live at the same time in a given period of history.

(14) ...from thirty to forty years... contemporaries.

(15) Used in the general sense of a period of time, the span of one human life, or those who live at a particular period of time.

(16) The "circle" of life, spanning from a man's birth to that of his son... forty years.

(17) Mt. 24:34--"This generation" equals the persons then living contemporary with Christ.

(18) The age or period of a body of contemporaries....

(19) Mt. 24:34--"This generation" equals the persons then living contemporary with Christ.

(20) ...about 25 years. A generation is all the people living at about the same period of time, Mt 24:34.

(21) In general, the word generation in the Bible refers to any contemporary group.

(22) It was fixed by some at 100 years, by others at 110, by others at 33, 25, and even at 20 years.

(23) Of all men living at any given time... Mt 24:34... a period of about 30 to 33 years.

(24) Matt xxiv.34, "This generation shall not pass...."   All who are at present living shall not be dead when this shall come to pass. There are some at this day living, who shall be witnesses of the evils which I have foretold shall befall the Jews.

(25) We must adhere to the ordinary usage, according to which dor signifies an age, or the men living in a particular age.


Six Bible Encyclopedias: genea.

(1) Genea refers to a period of time loosely defined as the time between a parent's prime and that of his child.... Those living at a given time in history are referred to as a generation.

(2) Matt. 24:34, genea means the generation or persons then living contemporary with Christ.

(3) Genea: It has the concept of the sum total of those born at the same time--contemporaries.

(4) Genea means the generation of persons then living contemporary with Christ.

(5) Matt. xxix.34, genea means the generation or persons then living contemporary with Christ.

(6) "The present generation" comprises all those who are now alive. Matt xxiv.34, some now living shall witness the event foretold. Our Lord uses the term to express a period of about 36 or 37 years... say about A.D. 70.


Sixteen Bible Commentaries: genea.

(1) ...verse 34 solemnly promises that Jesus will return while some of his contemporaries are still alive (a reprise of 16:28).... The gospel testimony provides strong support for this view: Jesus did not know all things.

(2) (This generation) can only with the greatest of difficulty be made to mean anything other than the generation living when Jesus spoke.

(3) "This generation" clearly designates the contemporaries of Jesus.

(4) The statement in verse 34 is a difficult one. If generation is to be taken in this strict sense, then "all these things" must be limited to the events culminating in A.D. 70.... The majority of the best scholars today insist that generation be taken in its strictest sense.

(5) Jesus was quite certain that they would happen within the then living generation.

(6) [Matthew] probably believed, however, that the end could come before all of Jesus' hearers had died.

(7) Further, he [Jesus] insists that his words are infallible, and that they are more certain than the material universe itself....

(8) This verse recalls 16.28, and affirms that some of the disciples would live to see the Parousia. This would presuppose a relatively early date for the event.... Was Jesus in error in his prediction of the nearness of the end?

(9) In the Old Testament a generation was reckoned as forty years. This is the natural way to take verse 34.... He plainly stated in verse 34 that those events would take place in that generation.... One may, of course, accuse Jesus of hopeless confusion.... It is impossible to escape the conclusion that Jesus, as Man, expected the end within the lifetime of his contemporaries.

(10) The hard fact still remains that if Jesus spoke the sayings of St. Mark xiii and St. Matthew xxiv... he misjudged the extent of his own knowledge and uttered a definite prediction which was not fulfilled.

(11) The Synoptists fell into the contradiction... of making Jesus declare at one moment that He did not know the time of the glorious Advent, and at another that it would infallibly happen within that generation.

(12) The affirmation that "all these things" will happen in this generation is clear, and there is no reason to alter the meaning of the word generation from its usual sense except a fear that the Scriptures may be in error if it is not so altered.

(13) Indeed, the fulfillment will take place before this present generation has passed away.

(14) Did Jesus expect the end within the lifetime of those who heard him speak? It seems quite certain that the early church so understood him.

(15) Matthew made it clear that some of the first disciples would live to see the Parousia.

(16) ... v. 34; there are those now alive, who shall see Jerusalem destroyed.

 

King James: "Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled."

New English Bible: "I tell you this: the present generation will live to see it all."

Today's English Version: "Remember this! All these things will happen before the people now living have all died."

Moffatt's Translation: "I tell you truly, the present generation will not pass away, till all this happens."

Weymouth's Translation: "I tell you in solemn truth that the present generation will certainly not pass away until all this has taken place."

 

Passages Using the Word genea

Mt 1:17 So all the generations <1074> from Abraham to David are fourteen generations <1074>; and from David until the carrying away into Babylon are fourteen generations <1074>; and from the carrying away into Babylon unto Christ are fourteen generations <1074>.

Lu 1:50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation <1074> to generation <1074>.

Lu 11:50 That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation <1074>;

Lu 11:51 From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation <1074>.

Ac 13:36 For David, after he had served his own generation <1074> by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:

Heb 3:10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation <1074>, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.


Matthew 24:34

What The Scholars Say

Mark Smith  July 2000

Truly I say to you, this generation [Greek: genea] will not pass away until all these things take place.

Matthew 24:34 NASB

Return for a moment to your pre-teen days. Every neighborhood had one of them, the kid whose sole goal was to win the game at all costs. This kid, if in the middle of a game and losing, would make up his own rules, or redefine words, whatever it took to ensure that he'd win the game. As we all moved up into high school, many of our games acquired referees, we matured enough to follow the rules, and these childish antics were halted.

Certain Christians, however, never matured enough to play by the rules, and instead, to save their savior from being a FALSE PROPHET, create out of thin air new definitions for old words. They try to change the standard definition of the New Testament word generation (from Matthew 24:34) from what it actually is into something else; a group of people that have things in common, and maybe a half dozen other variations- all equally bogus, and all designed to get their savior off the hook. For example, by one of these bogus definitions, Julius Caesar and I are of the same generation, as we both have "things in common" (eating, breathing, sleeping, etc.). The other bogus definitions are just as ridiculous. 

Because of this intellectually  dishonest abuse of language, some Christians need to have a "referee" curb their creativity in making up rules and definitions, which they make up solely to win arguments. Dictionaries already exist, scholars already have done the dog work, rules are already in place. These are our referees. And as you will see from what follows below, the vast majority of Christian scholarship shows that there is little doubt as to what the word "generation" (Greek: "genea") really means. 

The consensus of the referees will be stated below without comment, because no comments are necessary. Readers who want to know the sources of the quotations can match the numbers before the quotations with the numbers in the listings of translations, commentaries, lexicons, etc. at the end of the article. Enjoy!

 

Nine Christian Scholars & Authors: genea & Matthew 24:34.

(1)  Rev. Chuck Smith:    As a rule, a generation in the Bible lasts 40 years.

(2)  Dr. David Friedrich Strauss:    ...the word genea... was put to the torture....

(3) George Murry:    If the saying relates to the parousia, it sets the end time within the bounds of the first generation church. The phrase "this generation" should cause no difficulty for interpreters... It always signifies his [Jesus'] contemporaries.

(4)  Dr. Albert Schweitzer:    And He [Jesus] was to come, moreover, within the lifetime of the generation to which He had proclaimed the nearness of the Kingdom of God.

(5)  Gary DeMar:    No future generation of Jews is meant here.

(6)  Rev. Stuart Russell:    Next, our Lord sums up with an affirmation calculated to remove every vestige of doubt or uncertainty, "Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." One would reasonably suppose that after a note of time so clear and express there could not be room for controversy. Our Lord Himself has settled the question. Ninety-nine persons in every hundred would undoubtedly understand His words as meaning that the predicted catastrophe would fall within the lifetime of the existing generation. Not that all would live to witness it, but that most or many would. There can be no question that this would be the interpretation which the disciples would place upon the words.... His coming... would come to pass before the existing generation had wholly passed away, and within the limits of their own lifetime.

(7)  Edward Gibbon:    [Members of the primitive church] were obliged to expect the second and glorious coming of the Son of Man in the clouds before that generation was totally extinguished which had beheld his humble condition upon the earth.

(8)  Rev. Milton Terry:    The words immediately preceding them show the absurdity of applying them to another generation than that of the apostles: "When ye see these things coming to pass, know ye that he is nigh, even at the doors." The teaching of Jesus was emphatic beyond all rational question that that generation should not pass away before all those things of which they inquired should be fulfilled.

(9) Dr. William Lane Craig:    Two generations past the time of Jesus lands you in the 2nd Century.


Thirteen Scholars: The "Race" Argument.

(1) Douglas Hare:    Some have argued, for example, that "this generation" refers not to Jesus' contemporaries but to the Jewish nation or to the church. The linguistic evidence in favor of such proposals is not impressive.

(2) Alan Hugh M'Neile:    "This generation" cannot mean the Jews as a people, believers in Christ, or the future generation that will experience these things. It must be the particular generation of Jews to whom, or of whom, the words were spoken.... It is impossible to escape the conclusion that Jesus, as Man, expected the End within the lifetime of His contemporaries.

(3) Clifton Allen:     The meaning of "this generation" is much disputed. Efforts like those of Jerome, to make it mean the Jewish race, or of Origen and Chrysostom, to refer it to all Christians, are arbitrary, and are to be rejected. "This generation" refers to the contemporaries of Jesus.

(4) Heinrich Meyer:     Ver. 34. Declaration to the effect that all this is to take place before the generation then living should pass away. (It is) well-nigh absurd (the) manner in which it has been attempted to force into the word genea such meaning as: The Creation, The Human Race, The Jewish Nation, The Class of Men Consisting of My Believers, The Generation of the Elect Now in Question, The Future Generation Which is to Witness Those Events... (The Second Coming) is to occur during the lifetime of the generation then existing.

(5) R.T. France:     (Genea) has been taken to mean The Jewish Race, or Unbelieving Judaism. It is unlikely that such an improbable meaning for the noun would have been suggested at all without the constraint of apologetic embarrassment...! Jesus was wrong.

(6) Floyd Filson:     The end... will come within a generation. Attempts to translate genea as: Human Race, Jewish Race are misguided; the word refers to the generation living when Jesus spoke.

(7) P. Davids, F.F. Bruce, M. Brauch:      This has been regarded as a hard saying.... Plainly the idea that the human race is meant cannot be entertained; every description of (the end of the world) implies that human beings will be around to witness it.... Nor is there much more to be said for the idea the Jewish race is meant; there is no hint anywhere in the New Testament that the Jewish race will cease to exist before the end of the world. In any case, what point would there be in such a vague prediction? It would be as much as to say, "At some time in the indefinite future all these things will take place." Jesus' hearers could have understood him to mean only that "all these things" would take place within their generation.... The phrase always means the generation now living.

(8) Bible Commentary:      ...seems to require us here to translate the word genea as meaning "generation," not, as it is sometimes rendered, race or people. (Generation) is the usual meaning.

(9) Rev. Patrick Fairbairn:     It has been maintained by some that... our Lord identified generation with the Jewish race.... But that is a very forced explanation; and not a single example can be produced of an entirely similar use of the word. Whatever difficulties may hang around the interpretation of that part of Christ's discourse, it is impossible to understand by "the generation that was not to pass away" anything but the existing race of men living at the time when the word was spoken.

(10) Bruce Chilton:     Some have sought to get around the force of (Mt. 24:34) by saying that the word generation here really means race, and that Jesus was simply saying that the Jewish race would not die out until all these things took place. Is that true? I challenge you: Get out your concordance and look up every New Testament occurrence of the word generation, and see if it ever means "race" in any other context.... Not one of these references is speaking of the entire Jewish race over thousands of years; all use the word in its normal sense of the sum total of those living at the same time. It always refers to contemporaries. In fact, those who say it means "race" tend to acknowledge this fact, but explain that the word suddenly changes its meaning when Jesus uses it in Matthew 24! We can smile at such a transparent error ....

(11) Dr. Albert Schweitzer:     These words (Mt. 24:34) must be strained into meaning, not that generation, but the Jewish people. Thus by exegetical art they are saved forever, for the Jewish race will never die out.

(12) Rev.  Milton Terry:     The various meanings which, under the pressure of a dogmatic (crisis), have been put upon the phrase "this generation" must appear in the highest degree absurd to an unbiased critic. It has been explained (away) as meaning: The Human Race [Jerome], The Jewish Race [Dorner], The Race of Christian Believers [Chrysostom].

(13)  Rev.  Stuart Russell:     It has been contended by many that in (Mt 24:34) the word genea should be rendered "race" or "nation...." But we think... without any shadow of doubt that the expression "this generation" so often employed by our Lord, always refers solely and exclusively to His contemporaries, the Jewish people of His own period.


References

References for 52 Translations of Matthew 24:34.

1) New American Standard Bible, 2) The Holy Bible [Knox], 3) Concordant Literal New Testament, 4) The Modern Reader's Bible, 5) The Complete Bible: An American Translation, 6) The New Testament [Cunnington], 7) The Emphasized New Testament, 8) The New King James Bible, 9) The New Testament in Modern English, 10) The New International Version, 11) New Revised Standard Version, 12) Revised Standard Version, 13) The New Testament [Anderson], 14) Young's Literal Translation, 15) American Standard Version, 16) King James Version, 17) Bible in Basic English, 18) Darby Bible, 19) International Standard Version, 20) 21st Century King James Version, 21) A Literal Translation of The Bible, 22) Green's Modern King James Version, 23) The Bible in Living English, 24) The New Jerusalem Bible, 25) The New Testament [Revised Rheims], 26) The New World Translation, 27) The New American Bible, 28) An American Translation, 29) The Riverside New Testament, 30) The New Testament [Wesley], 31) The Good News According to Matthew, 32) The New Testament in Basic English, 33) The Authentic New Testament, 34) The Corrected English New Testament, 35) The Four Gospels: A New Translation, 36) The New Testament According To The Eastern Text, 37) [A pre-published translation from the Aramaic by Alexander], 38) God's New Covenant: A New Testament Translation, 39) Tyndale's New Testament, 40) The Twentieth Century New Testament, 41) The New Life Testament, 42) Centenary Translation of the New Testament, 43) The Holy Bible in Modern English, 44) The Bible: A New Translation, 45) The New English Bible, 46) The New Testament in Modern Speech, 47) The Berkeley Version, 48) The Scholar's Version, 49) Holy Bible: Contemporary English Version, 50) The Amplified New Testament, 51) The Everyday Bible, New Century Version, 52) Today's English Version.

References for 5 Greek Lexicons: genea.

1) Greek & English Lexicon of the New Testament [Robinson], 2) The New Analytical Greek Lexicon, 3) The Analytical Lexicon To The Greek New Testament [Mounce], 4) Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, 5) A Greek English Lexicon of the New Testament, Vol. 1 [Arndt & Gingrich].

References for 25 Bible Dictionaries: genea.

1) The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 2) The Imperial Bible Dictionary, 3) New Bible Dictionary, 4) Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament, 5) An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, 6) Theological Dictionary of the New Testament [Kittel], 7) The Westminster Dictionary of the Bible, 8) Smith's Bible Dictionary, 9) Harper's Bible Dictionary, 10) The Harper Collins Bible Dictionary, 11) The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, 12) Mercer Dictionary of the Bible, 13) Nelson's Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 14) Peloubet's Bible Dictionary, 15) Concise Dictionary of The Bible, 16) The Eerdmans Bible Dictionary, 17) Easton's Bible Dictionary, 18) Davis Dictionary of the Bible, 19) Today's Dictionary of the Bible, 20) A Dictionary of the Bible and Christian Doctrine in Everyday English, 21) Dictionary of The Bible, 22) A Biblical and Theological Dictionary, 23) A Dictionary of the Bible, 24) Cruden's Dictionary of Bible Terms, 25) The New Unger's Bible Dictionary.

References for 6 Bible Encylopedia: genea.

1) The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, 2) The Popular and Critical Bible Encyclopaedia, 3) Wycliffe Bible Encyclopedia, 4) Cyclopaedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, 5) The Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature, 6) The Comprehensive Critical & Explanatory Bible Encyclopaedia.

References for 16 Bible Commentaries: genea.

1) Matthew [Hare], 2) The Expositor's Bible Commentary, 3) Commentary on the Gospel of Mark [Wm Lane], 4) The Wesleyan Bible Commentary [Earle], 5) The Expositor's Greek Testament [Bruce], 6) The Interpreter's Bible, 7) The Gospel of Matthew [Robinson], 8) New Century Bible: The Gospel of Matthew, 9) Word Pictures in the New Testament [A.T. Robinson], 10) Primitive Christian Eschatology [Dewick], 11) The Eschatology of Jesus [Muirhead], 12) The Jerome Biblical Commentary, 13) The Interpreter's Bible [vol. 7], 14), The Interpreter's Bible [vol. 8], 15) Peake's Commentary, 16) The NIV Matthew Henry Commentary.

References for Nine Christian Scholars & Authors: genea & Matthew 24:34.

1) Future Survival, Chuck Smith, The Word for Today, Costa Mesa, CA 1978, page 17

2) The Life of Jesus Critically Examined, Dr. David Friedrich Strauss, Sigler Press, Ramsey, NJ  1994, page 587

3) Jesus and The Last Days, George Murray, Hendrickson Pub., Peabody, Mass. 1993, pages 443-444

4) The Quest of the Historical Jesus, Dr. Albert Schweitzer, Macmillian, NY, 1968, page 240

5) Last Days Madness, Gary DeMar, American Vision Inc., Atlanta, GA 1994, page 114

6) The Parousia, Stuart Russell, T. Fisher Unwin Pub., London, 1887, page 84

7) The Decline & Fall of the Roman Empire, Edward Gibbon, Penguin Books, NY  1985, page 276

8) Apocalypse of The Gospels, Milton Terry, (1819)

9) Dr. William Lane Craig lecture attended by Mark Smith, given at Hope Chapel, Hermosa Beach, CA, 1-11-99, statement @ 8:33 PM

 

References for 13 Scholars: The "Race" Argument.

1) Matthew, Douglas Hare, John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky, 1993, p. 281

2) The Gospel According to Saint Matthew, Alan Hugh M'Neile, Macmillan & Co., London 1949, p. 354-355

3) The Broadman Bible Commentary, Vol. 8, Clifton Allen, ed.,  Broadman Press, Nashville, TN  1969, p. 221

4) Critical and Exegetical Hand-Book To The Gospel of Matthew,  Heinrich Meyer (1883), Alpha Pub., Winona Lake, IN  1980, p. 426

5) The Gospel According to Matthew, R.T. France, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, 1985, p. 346

6) A Commentary on The Gospel According to St. Matthew, Floyd Filson, Adam & Charles Black Pub., London,  1960, p. 257

7) Hard Sayings of the Bible, W. Kaiser, P. Davids, F.F. Bruce, M. Brauch, InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Ill, 1996, pp. 445-448

8) Bible Commentary, Vol. 1, Charles Scribner's Sons, NY  1901, p. 144

9) The Imperial Bible Dictionary, Vol. II, Rev. Patrick Fairbairn, Blackie & Son, London, 1885, p. 352

10) The Great Tribulation, David Chilton, Dominion Press, Ft. Worth, TX  1987, p. 3

11) The Quest of the Historical Jesus, Dr. Albert Schweitzer, Macmillian, NY, 1968, p. 22

12) Apocalypse of The Gospels, Milton Terry (1819)

13) The Parousia, J. Stuart Russell, T. Fisher Unwin Pub., London, 1887, p. 85

 

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