'This Generation Will Not Pass'
Many are puzzled by Jesus Christ's words, "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place" (Matthew 24:34).
Did He mean that generation of His disciples? Two biblical reasons eliminate this possibility.
The first one is the context. Jesus had just said, "So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!" (verse 33).
Did His disciples "see all these things" in their generation? Certainly not. They were not in a generation that had the ability to destroy all of mankind. Jesus said of the final, end-time generation, "And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved" (verse 22). Clearly the weapons of that day were not sufficient to bring this prophecy to pass.
Although Christ's disciples did see wars, famines, plagues and persecutions, and some even lived to see the destruction of Jerusalem, these were not the total fulfillment of Jesus Christ's words. They were not the prophesied global events that would directly lead to Jesus Christ's return.
Second, Jesus continually told His disciples that only God the Father knew exactly when the end time would begin. He said, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (Mark 13:32). If Jesus knew the end time would be in their generation, He would have been contradicting Himself. He said even He didn't know the precise time. What He did know was the end-time events would all occur within the lifetime of one generation.
Even after Jesus was resurrected and appeared to His disciples, they asked Him, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" Jesus responded, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority" (Acts 1:6-7).
Jesus' disciples did not witness the time of the end. That was not the time God had established for it to occur. Only one generation will witness all the mounting global conditions described in God's Word. That generation will see the arrival of the specific 3 1/2 year period that will usher out "this present evil age" and usher in the Kingdom of God. But many will perish before those horrible days come to a close.
What, then, did Christ mean when He said "this generation will not pass away"? He was merely explaining that, once all the prophesied world conditions are present, they will not continue indefinitely. World conditions will be so threatening that they cannot continue indefinitely or we would be in danger of extinction.
These events will not pass from one generation to another. Once the prophesied conditions exist, all will be fulfilled—including the return of Jesus Christ—within the lifetime of one generation.
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