An Exposition of "This Generation" (Matthew 24:34) Part 2

By Michael J. Sullivan
We ended part 1 of our exposition of Matthew 24:34 by examining the strong lexical evidence that genea should be understood as the first century contemporary generation that Jesus was speaking to and therefore the language of Christ coming on the clouds, gathering His elect, and the de-creation cosmic imagery (“all these things”) should not be interpreted with a strict literalism.  Brown understanding the analogy of Scripture, was even forced to say that  such passages as 2 Peter 3 and 1 Thessalonians 4 could be interpreted through the lense of a first century “historical judgment.”  In other words, the more clear passages such as “this generation” should guide the exegete into understanding some of the seemingly more difficult passages that use apocalyptic language as being fulfillled as “historical judgments” – ie. AD 70, and not an end of time event.
We now turn our attention to examining some of the false interpretations of genea.
False Interpretations of “This Generation” Considered
1) “This race” will not pass a way
Of the 27 translations I looked at for genea, only one (WUESTNT) sought to translate it with having no regard to the context and with a futurist bias, “This nation shall by no means pass away until all these things take place.” And although the reader may find some documentation somewhere giving genea a meaning of “nation, stock, or race,” even those sources will or should admit that the predominant meaning is, “The whole multitude of men living at the same time” or “a period of “30 – 40 years.” It is difficult to understand how so many can be led astray in translating or interpreting genea as “race” when even the KJV and Strong’s Concordance admits that the word is used 42 times with the predominant translation being “generation,” – 37 times as “generation,” 2 times as “time,” 2 times as “age,” and only 1 time as “nation.”
This particular interpretation and translation has been popularized by Continue reading “An Exposition of "This Generation" (Matthew 24:34) Part 2”

An Exposition of "This Generation” (Matthew 24:34) Part 1

By Michael J. Sullivan

Introduction

In Matthew 24:34 the disciples are told that the signs, the coming of Jesus and the end of the age that the disciples previously asked about (“all these things”), would be fulfilled within their “this generation.” I will begin our study of Matthew 24:34 by quoting various translations that have correctly understood its meaning and from there we will examine accurate definitions from various Bible dictionaries and the lexical evidence. While examining if there is any warrant to interpreting genea in any other way than the contemporaries of Jesus, we will also be examining false interpretations of genea which allegedly teach: 1) that Jesus meant that the entire Jewish race would not pass away until all things were fulfilled. 2) Our contemporary generation which saw Israel become a nation in 1948 is the end time generation. 3) Jesus’ uses the phrase “this generation” to be referring to a future generation that is alive to witnesses these signs whenever they begin to be fulfilled. 4) Jesus is simply describing an evil generation of people that is descriptive of the last days generation – whoever that may be. We will also be looking at key texts in the NT to see how the word “generation” (Gk. genea) is used to give us an even clearer and more definitive interpretation of Matthew 24:34. And lastly, we will examine Matthew 24:34 as the anti-type or the projected terminal “last days” generation of Deuteronomy 32:5, 20. I will argue that Jesus’ use of “this generation” along with Paul’s and Peter’s (Philippians 2:15; Acts 2:40), needs to be seen in the overall context of the new exodus motif in which the Jews expected their Messiah to recapitulate another 40 year New Covenant redemption for Israel and in-gathering of the Continue reading “An Exposition of "This Generation” (Matthew 24:34) Part 1”