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Matthew 24:34 says "I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.".

I am a Christian, and it is my duty to seek out truth, not plainly accept what I hear or what other people say it is. So I've read this verse, and it really had me confused. Taking it by word and its plain meaning. I can read this as:

  • 'this generation' = people He was talking to
  • 'these things' = judgement day/end times

It's clearly obvious that 'this generation' have already passed away, his disciples/followers/people at that time are already dead by now, and the world hasn't come to an end yet. What does this verse really mean?

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I think this is related and good to read as a reference, but not the same question at all: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/24577/… –  The Freemason Mar 25 at 12:09

5 Answers 5

up vote 7 down vote accepted

The word "generation" there in Greek is γενεα (genea), which can also refer to a family, stock, nation. (Strongs, definition 2b) The NASB also has a footnote here next to "generation" saying "Or race". I've always interpreted it, therefore, as meaning that the Jewish people will continue to exist until the second coming.

Another form of the same word, γενος, is used in 1 Peter 2:9 where the KJV says "But ye are a chosen generation..." and the NASB, NRSV, ESV, pretty much all the modern translations, say "But you are a chosen race..."

Some people object to this interpretation because of the other verses that are clearly talking about the people of that time not dying until they see the kingdom come.

Matthew 16:28 "Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom."

Mark 9:1 "And he said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power."

Luke 9:27 "But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God."

But I maintain that these are about the coming of the kingdom in the form of the establishment of the church on Pentecost, whereas Matthew 24:34 is about the end of the world. And so I believe they are speaking about different groups of people. You will notice also that these other verses don't use the word "generation."

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Interestingly the note I refer to in the NASB is found on biblegateway.com but not in my hard copy of the NASB. However, both online and my hard copy of the NLT has a similar note "Or this age, or this nation." –  david brainerd Mar 25 at 3:57
So do you see somewhere in Matt. 24 about the church and Pentecost? I just don't see it, because He's answering the question of when the temple will be torn down. –  Steve Sep 15 at 0:06

Matthew 24 is dedicated to end time events. Continuing to verse 35, But the day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. These verses are referring to the generation that sees the signs of his coming. The generation that witnesses these signs will be the last generation.

Isaiah 13;9-11 Behold the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine. And I will punish the world for their evil, and the wicked for their iniquity: and I will cause the arrogancy of the proud to cease, and will lay low the haughtiness of the terrible.

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How does this answer the question? –  Scott Severance Mar 28 at 0:05
I should have been clearer. I will edit the piece. –  V. Rollins Mar 28 at 18:11

It refers to the fall of Jerusalem in AD70, when the Kingdom was taken away from the Jews and given to a nation (the Church of God, composed of believing Jews and Gentiles) bringing forth its fruits; and the Jewish dispensation was shaken out as it had been shaken in, but we receive(d) a kingdom that cannot be shaken.

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This answer would be a lot better if you could add references showing that this is a common understanding, and who teaches/believes it. On this site, we're not looking for personal interpretation, but rather focusing on what various Christian groups teach. See How we are different than other sites? and What makes a good supported answer? –  David Stratton Apr 1 at 4:40

This verse could be understood in two ways, either of which is correct:

  1. As the living word of God, this applies to the unfaithful, sinful and yet unrepentant among the generation that sees the last days.
  2. This applies to that generation, i.e. the generation that was hearing the sermon; it's only to us that death seems to be the end, but Jesus Christ showed us that death is only a temporary phenomenon. So indeed, the unfaithful, sinful and yet unrepentant among the generation that Jesus Christ was speaking to, would not pass away permanently until these things happened; they would certainly wake up, face the judgement, and face the second death, which is the real and permanent death.
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You were first born into Your generation. When you were born again You were born into Jesus generation which still exists today, When he comes back his generation will still be alive and well all though it will contain completely different people than it first had when he said this. Jesus was the first born into the Jesus generation and it is his generation that will do all of Gods will and are the people who will full all the Prophecies. Therefore this is how and why this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.

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Can you please provide scriptural proof for your analysis, especially that Jesus has a generation? –  Steve Sep 14 at 14:36

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