Why did Jesus make it sound like he was going to come back in that generation? (Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Matthew 24:12:34)
Hello, Josh! This passage has indeed confused many, including myself, so this is a great question. There are a couple different takes on this passage. There are many who think that the “these things” that were to take place already happened, that the tribulation and the desolation Jesus speaks of are in the past. Usually that view is taken, though, in order to support a specific view of all biblical prophecy as history, and those who take this view interpret all of Revelation symbolically. Interpreting for the end of fitting what the Scripture says into one’s assumptions ends up distorting what the Scripture actually means. Looking at the passage that lists the “these things” that take place, it is very obvious they have not and that they are future events still to come.
The other explanation is the generation to which Jesus is referring is the generation that will see those things, not the audience he is actually speaking to at the time. The way the passage is written, Jesus is telling “you” that “this generation,” referring to the generation living at the time of the mentioned signs, will not pass away until all those things take place. It is quite possible that the “you” to whom Jesus speaks, too, are not just his disciples of his time, but a ‘you’ that collectively refers to all his disciples–the disciples of Jesus’ present and the disciples that were to come in the future. The way Jesus speaks throughout the entire chapter seems to indicate he was speaking to and for an audience that extends beyond the one in front of him and beyond the time in which they were then standing. Quite possible and easy to do when you’re the Son of God
Thank you for asking this question. Hopefully others will chime in and we can have a good discussion.
Let me know your thoughts…
(So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?”
John 21:23,) (Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Mark 13:30,) these are two verses that would go along with that theme. I saw skeptics write about this topic, they say it’s a recurring theme in the new testament. I have noticed it before but just brushed it off. Usually when I read scripture I brush off things that don’t make sense and just assume that they are true, but I just don’t understand or am not interpreting it property. But sometimes i read articles online that make me question my assumptions. What do you guys think?
This is a great question. I remember discussing this, like 2-3 years ago, with someone from my small group. I was stumped and decided to look it up first and come back later.
Here’s my humble findings: The Greek word used is “genea” (Strong’s 1074) which could stand for race (people group), family generation (age, era).
So it could well be translated to "Truly, I say to you, these people will not pass away until all these things take place. Meaning it is not a generation(one lifelihood of a person), but it is this group people, could be the Jews, or believers.
This use of the genea word could be found in Luke 16:8, “… for the sons of this age are more shrewd in relation to their own kind (genea) than the sons of light.” We can’t translate it as “generation”, which is to say, only in that “generation” are the ppl of this age more shrewd than the sons of light? I don’t think that’s how it was meant.
Another understanding we can see in MSG version of Matt 24:34: “…this age continues until all these things take place.” Meaning we are all in that “end times” generational age, starting from Jesus til He comes back again. The mark of the end of that generational age, will be “all these things” taking place. This context is easier understood when we read the previous verses about the fig tree. When its branches bud and leaves sprout, we know summer is near.
Outside of these 2 understanding, I personally couldn’t back it up credibly in accordance to the bible, but I’m no expert in eschatology, so I could be very wrong, and I look forward to learn other equally or more credible interpretation from others.
Please feel free to CMIIW too. Hope it helps, or at least add depth to your understanding of this verse.
Blessings in Christ,
Great post, Roy @RoySujanto !
Yes! I did come across this at one point at a different time that I was looking into this passage, and I completely forgot about it until now. Thank you for bringing this up! Personally, I actually think I favor this understanding of the passage