Home>Generation Means Race

“Generation Means Race” Theory Of Matthew 24:34

“Verily I say unto you, this generation (genea, not genos) shall not pass, till all be fulfilled.”

Matthew 24:34 and Genea: What the Scholars Say

David Brown (1858)
“Does not this tell us plainly as words could do it, that the whole prophecy was meant to apply to the destruction of Jerusalem? There is but one way of setting this aside, but how forced it is, must, I think, appear to every unbiased mind. It is by translating, not ‘this generation,’ …but ‘this nation shall not pass away:” in other words, the Jewish nation shall survive all the things here predicted! Nothing but some fancied necessity, arising out of their view of the prophecy, could have led so many sensible men to put this gloss upon our Lord’s words. Only try the effect of it upon the perfectly parallel announcement in the previous chapter: ‘Fill ye up them the measure of your fathers.. Wherefore, behold, I send you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city… that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zecharias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation‘ … Matt. xxiii. 32, 34-36). Does not the Lord here mean the then existing generation of the Israelites? Beyond all question he does; and if so, what can be plainer than that this is his meaning in the passage before us? (Christ’s Second Coming, Will it be Pre-millennial?p. 435)

David Chilton (1996)
“Some have sought to get around the force of this text by saying that the word generation here really means race, and that Jesus was simply saying that the Jewish race would not die out until all these things took place. Is that true? I challenge you: Get out your concordance and look up every New Testament occurrence of the word generation (in Greek, genea) and see if it ever means ‘race’ in any other context. Here are all the references for the Gospels: Matthew 1:1711:1612:3941424516:417:1723:3624:34Mark 8:12389:1913:30Luke 1:48507:319:4111:29303132505118:817:2521:32Not one of these references is speaking of the entire Jewish race over thousands of years; all use the word in its normal sense of the sum total of those living at the same time. It always refers to contemporaries. (In fact, those who say it means “race” tend to acknowledge this fact, but explain that the word suddenly changes its meaning when Jesus uses it in Matthew 24! We can smile at such a transparent error, but we should also remember that this is very serious. We are dealing with the Word of the living God.).” (The Great Tribulation, p. 3)

J.C. Fenton (1863)
“Although attempts have been made to interpret this generation to the Jews, or as the human race in general, it is more likely that originally it meant the generation living at the time of Jesus.” (p. 391)

John Gill (1809)
“Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass
, etc. Not the generation of men in general; as if these sense was, that mankind should not cease, until the accomplishment of these things; nor the generation, or people of the Jews, who should continue to be a people, until all were fulfilled; nor the generation of Christians; as if the meaning was, that there would always be a set of Christians, or believers of Christ in the world, till all these events came to pass; but it respects that present age, or generation of men then living in it; and the sense is, that all the men of that age should not die, but some should live till all things were fulfilled; see Matt. xvi.27-28, as many did, and as there is reason to believe they might, and must, since all these things had their accomplishment, in and about forty years after this: and certain it is that John, one of the disciples of Christ outlived the time by many years; and, as Dr. Lightfoot observes, many of the Jewish doctors now living, when Christ spoke these words, lived until the city was destoryed; as Rabbi Simeon, who perished with it, R. Jochanan be Zaccai, who outlived it, R. Zadoch, R. Ishmael, and others: this is a full and clear proof, that not any thing that is said before, related to the second coming of Christ, the day of judgment, and the end of the world; but that all belong to the coming of the Son of man, in the destruction of Jerusalem, and to the end of the Jewish state.” (vol 2, 1809, p. 240)

Steve Gregg
“Some evangelicals – being made unnecessarily uncomfortable by these statements and wishing to salvage their status as true predictions of the Second Coming – have interpreted the expression “this generation” in various ways. The phrase has been made out to mean ” this race,” or “the generation that sees the signs of the Second Coming,” etc. – despite the fact that Jesus spoke of “this generation” in at least four other verses in Matthew in which no meaning can be ascribed to the expression but “those living at this time.” In any case, the similar phrase, “there are some standing here who shall not taste death till…” is not so easy to reinterpet. Both passages seem to tell us that something called the coming of the Son of man was to occur within the generation of Jesus’ followers.”  (Revelation, p.24)

Ezra Gould (1896)
“there is general consent now that the prophecy is restricted in time to that generation, v. 30. In general, the historical interpretation of this prophecy is fairly settled.” (Commentary on Mark, p.249)

Henry Hudson (??)
“Many commentators play around with the word ‘generation’ (genea), and thinking to avoid embarrassment, project its application to the generation which will be alive during the last days immediately preceding the Second Coming of the Messiah. Others, expand its meaning to include the whole nation of Israel, which, in spite of the intensity of the great tribulation, will nevertheless be preserved as a nation right up till the end of the present age. However, if Scripture be compared with Scripture, such verbal games are soon exposed as being nothing but armchair gymnastics (cf. Matthew 11:1612:41-4523:36Luke 11:5051Hebrews 3:10). The word is generally used to signify a people belonging to a particular period of time, or more loosely, to a period defined by what might be considered as an average life span of a man.” (p. 32)

“…the whole of the xxivth of Matthew, and particularly the 36th and following verses, relate solely to the destruction of Jerusalem, exclusively of a second coming, and of the end of the world.” (Echos of the Ministry., p.131)

Dr. E. Robinson (1843)
‘The question now arises whether, under these limitations of time, a reference of our Lord’s language to the day of judgment and the end of the world, in our sense of these terms, is possible. Those who maintain this view attempt to dispose of the difficulties arising from these limitations in different ways. Some assign to (genea) the meaning suddenly, as it is employed by the LXX in Job v. 3, for the Hebrew.  But even in this passage the purpose of the writer is simply to mark an immediate sequence — to intimate that another and consequent event happens forthwith. Nor would anything be gained even could the word (genea) be thus disposed of, so long as the subsequent limitation to ‘this generation’ remained. And in this again others have tried to refer genea to the race of the Jews, or to the disciples of Christ, not only without the slightest ground, but contrary to all usage and all analogy. All these attempts to apply force to the meaning of the language are in vain, and are now abandoned by most commentators of note.” (Bibliotheca Sacra, Vol. 1 – 1843)

Theophylact (11th-12th Cent.)
“Or else, “This generation shall not pass away,” that is, the generation of Christians, “until all things be fulfilled,” which were spoken concerning Jerusalem and the coming of Antichrist; for He does not mean the generation of the Apostles, for the greater part of the Apostles did not live up to the destruction of Jerusalem. But He says this of the generation of Christians, wishing to console His disciples, lest they should believe that the faith should fail at that time; for the immoveable elements shall first fail, before the words of Christ fail”


G.R. Beasly-Murray (1954)
“The meaning of ‘this generation’ is now generally acknowledged. While in earlier Greek genea meant ‘birth,’ ‘progeny,’ and so ‘race,’ in the sense of those descended from a common ancestor, in the LXX it commonly translates the term dor, meaning ‘age,’ ‘age of man,’ or ‘generation’ in the sense of contemporaries. On the lips of Jesus ‘this generation’ always signifies the contemporaries of Jesus, but at the same time always carries an implicit criticism. For Mark the eschatological discourse expounds the implication of the prophecy of judgment in verse 2, and so implies the perversity of ‘this generation,’ which must suffer the doom predicted. (Jesus and the Kingdom of God, pp. 333-334).

Bede (731)
“By generation He either means the whole race of mankind, or specially the Jews.” (Golden Chain, in loc.)

Geneva Bible Notes (1599)
Matthew 24:34
 Verily I say unto you, This {t} generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
(t) This age: the word “generation” or “age” is here being used for the men of this age.” (in loc.)

Thomas Ice (1999)
“While it is true that other uses of “this generation” refer to Christ’s contemporaries, that is because they are historical texts.  The use of “this generation” in the Olivet Discourse in the fig tree passages are prophetic texts.  In fact, when one compares the historical use of “this generation” at the beginning of the Olivet Discourse in Matthew 23:36 (which is an undisputed reference to A.D.70) with the prophetic use in 24:34, a contrast is obvious.” [Ice and Gentry,  The Great Tribulation Past or Future (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1999), 103-104.]

“Ice tries to distinguish Jesus’ use of “this generation” in Matthew 23:36 from the same phrase in 24:34 on the basis that 23:36 is “historical” while 24:34 is “prophetical.” Bute note: (1) Both are prophetic.  In Matthew 23 Jesus prophesies future persecution for his own disciples (23:34) and the catastrophic calamity to befall the Pharisees in A.D.70 (23:35).  Declaring future events in advance is, by definition, “prophetic.” [Ice and Gentry,  The Great Tribulation Past or Future (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1999), 182.]

Hal Lindsey
“What generation?  Obviously, in context, the generation that would see the signs — chief among them the rebirth of Israel.  A generation in the Bible is something like forty years.  If this is a correct deduction, then within forty years or so of 1948, all these things could take place.  Many scholars who have studied Bible prophecy all their lives believe that this is so.” (The Late Great Planet Earth, p. 54)