In Matt. 24:34) Jesus said that this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.
This statement is of vital importance to our understanding of Matthew 24. Jesus is speaking to His disciples. He is telling them what will happen in their generation (“genea” – people living at the same period – approx. 40 years). He is not telling them that what will happen 2000 years in the future. We must accept His word that at least some of the first century disciples would see ALL these things occur (Read Luke 21:20-22; Matt. 16:27-28).
Important fact: The Greek word Jesus used for generation is “Genea.” In the highly respected Arndt & Gingrick Greek to English NT Lexicon the word Genea means –> sum total of those born at the same time, expanded to include all the living at a given time. Contemporaries.
The Biblical reference to the length of a generation is arguably 40 years. In Matt. 1:17 we are given a reference point, as it was 586 years since the captivity in Babylon until the time of Christ, and we are told that it was 14 generations = 41.9 years per generation. We are also given such indicators as: Num. 32:13 where God said Israel was to wonder in the wilderness 40 years until all of that generation had died. See the confirmation of this in Heb. 3:8-10.
These following verses provide us with the reign of the first three kings of Israel: Saul = Acts 13:21; David = 2 Sam. 5:4; Solomon = 1 Kings 11:42.
Critical à not one single time in the New Testament is the Greek word for generation “Genea” ever translated as “race,” or anything other than the “contemporaries” definition listed above. See the following verses: Matt. 11:16; Mark 8:12, 9:19; Luke 11:29, 17:24-25; Acts 2:40, 13:36; and Matt. 23:36.
- So why would some people try to change the clear Biblical meaning of Matt. 24:34, especially when Jesus Christ just came out of the temple in Matt. 23:36 condemning that very generation He was just speaking to? I believe the Biblical evidence is clear.
Jesus told His disciples that His prophecies would be fulfilled in their GENERATION. That included the forty year transition period between His first and second comings in the first century AD. Those first century Jews were a special GENERATION in God’s plans.
That was the GENERATION in which He personally entered human history as the Son of God in the flesh and began His public ministry in AD 26-30. It was that GENERATION of Jews, who rejected the Messiah as He walked among them. He performed many miracles and fulfilled all of the prophecies regarding the promised Messiah.
That was also the last GENERATION of the Jewish age. It was the GENERATION that was involved in the foundation of His New Covenant spiritual gospel kingdom, which became fully established in AD 70. It was the only GENERATION throughout all human generations that witnessed the ministry of the Son of God in Person.
It was the only GENERATION that saw the crucifixion of Christ; the resurrection of Christ, the ascension of Christ; the second coming return of Christ; the resurrection and judgment of the just and the unjust; and the utter destruction of the Old Covenant religious system, including the city of Jerusalem and the temple.
Jesus told His disciples that it was a “wicked and adulterous Jewish GENERATION” (Matt. 16:4); it was a “faithless and perverse GENERATION” (Matt. 17:17). Jesus said that it was a GENERATION that says: “John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine, and you say, ‘he has a demon.’ The Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘look, a glutton and a winebibber, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’” (Luke 7:31-35).
Jesus said that it was an “evil GENERATION” (Luke 11:29); it was a GENERATION that would be “condemned in the judgment” (Luke 11:30-32); the blood of all the prophets from the foundation of the world would be “required” of that GENERATION (Luke 11:50-51); it was that GENERATION alone that “rejected” the Lord Jesus Christ in their presence. (Luke 17:25).
Apostle Paul wrote that the first century of unbelieving people were a “crooked and perverse” GENERATION. However, that first century GENERATION OF BELIEVERS were “lights in the world.” (Phil. 2:15). Apostle Peter wrote that those first century saints were a “chosen GENERATION” of special people to proclaim God’s praises. (1 Pet. 2:9).
Jesus told His disciples what the signs would be leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple; the end of the Jewish age; and His second coming Parousia (Matt. 24:3). After describing these events in Matthew 24:4-32, He said:
“33So YOU also, when YOU see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! 34Assuredly, I say to YOU, THIS GENERATION will by no means PASS AWAY till all these things take place.” (Matt. 24:33-34; Mark 13:30; Luke 21:32).
We are told by the Lord and the apostles that in that first century GENERATION, in which Jesus lived and walked the earth, they were unique people in history. These were chosen people (Apostles, etc.) to do mighty things for God’s glory; and also specially wicked people (Pharisees, Jewish leaders, etc.) to receive greater judgment than any other GENERATION in history (Matt. 23:36; Matt. 12:41-42, 45). That GENERATION of Jews was given much; and they were also held especially accountable by God in the final judgments in AD 70.
Related full “Study Series” (available upon request if not hyperlinked):
[For a more in-depth study see eschatology “Study Series 7 Lesson 5 Matt. 24:32-44”]