What is the current light on the "Generation" issue???

by integ 16 Replies latest watchtower beliefs

  • integ


    On the watchtower official web site they still hold to the doctrine that "some of those alive in 1914 will be alive when the end comes" or something to that effect, which flies in the face of the 1995 WT article that speaks of "generation" as being something different.

    I brought this up to a witness and she said "No way. The Society wouldn't say that". Well...they DID, but what really is the current stance on this? What if I posed that question to an elder? Would he confirm or deny this "adjustment". Is it in fact an "adjustment" in belief?

    Are we led to believe that the society doesn't know it's on their website?, or perhaps they haven't gotten around to taking it off the site?

    Are they saying one thing to the public, and another to the rank and file? If so, isn't that something that would seriously cause a loyal dub to question things?

    Is it "Theocratic Warfare"?


    Your response to any or all of the above queries is indeed appreciated.



  • blondie

    Integ, that has been pointed out several times on JWD that the info on the website is outdated. Did you notice the date of the magazine? I guess they are too lazy to change it or to put up a new magazine article that is more current. I don't think many go to that site.

    How long a time period would these last days prove to be? Jesus said regarding the era that would experience the "beginning of pangs of distress" from 1914 onward: "This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur." ( Matthew 24:8 , 34-36 ) Thus, all the features of the last days must take place within the lifetime of one generation, the generation of 1914. So some people who were alive in 1914 will still be alive when this system comes to its end. That generation of people is now very advanced in years, indicating that there is not much time left before God brings this present system of things to an end.


    Published in 1993 (at the end of the page, 1995 date generation doctrine changed).


  • sir82

    The subject has been rather conspicuously avoided since it was introduced in 1995. I can't think of a single mention of it. I'd be very surprised if there were more than 3 references to Matthew 24:34 in the past 10 years on the CD-ROM.

    Updating the website, on the list of Bethel priorities, ranks somewhere between "polishing the mirrors at the Patterson Inn" and "rinsing the vegetables for tonight's dinner".

  • Honesty

    Imagine a person who has recently been afflicted with a serious illness or a divorce or death of a close loved one or the loss of their possessions due to a natural disaster or armed conflict and you have the perfect Watchtower target or 'mark' to be exploited and controlled.

    They know full well that it is on their website.

    It's just the typical Watchtower Bait and Switch tactic they employ to entice unsuspecting people into their web of deceit.

  • V

    I have brought the webpage up a prominent elder before. All the response I got was a shrug of the shoulder.

    Weirdly, the elder got a bit nervous when I approached with the printed web page in hand. Does the Society's demonisation of the internet affect response to their own site?

  • blondie

    Here are the references to the updated 1914 generation doctrine since 1996. Notice that it stops in 2000. The last few quotes show how the WTS applies information from Wohl's "The Generation of 1914" pre-1995 and post. They can twist anything to suit their doctrine.


    w00 1/1 p. 10 par. 18 Serving With the Watchman ***


    As the years pass, Jehovah continues to give us further clarification of truth, including a clearer understanding of his prophetic word. (Proverbs 4:18) In recent years, we have been encouraged to look again with deeper understanding at—among other things—the generation that will not pass away before the end comes, the parable of the sheep and the goats, the disgusting thing and when it will stand in a holy place, the new covenant, the transfiguration, and the temple vision of the book of Ezekiel. It may be difficult at times to understand such updated explanations, but the reasons for them become clear in due course. If a Christian does not fully understand a new explanation of a scripture, he does well humbly to echo the words of the prophet Micah: "I will show a waiting attitude for the God of my salvation."—Micah 7:7.


    w99 5/1 pp. 10-12 "These Things Must Take Place" ***


    Would See It


    Many Jews felt that their system of worship, centered on the temple, would long continue. But Jesus said: "Learn from the fig tree . . . this point: Just as soon as its young branch grows tender and it puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. Likewise also you, when you see all these things, know that he is near at the doors. Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away."—Matthew 24:32-35.


    In the years leading up to 66 C.E., Christians would have seen many of the preliminary elements of the composite sign being fulfilled—wars, famines, even an extensive preaching of the good news of the Kingdom. (Acts 11:28; Colossians 1:23) When, though, would the end come? What did Jesus mean when he said: ‘This generation [Greek, ge·ne·a´] will not pass away’? Jesus had often called the contemporaneous mass of opposing Jews, including religious leaders, ‘a wicked, adulterous generation.’ (Matthew 11:16; 12:39, 45; 16:4; 17:17; 23:36) So when, on the Mount of Olives, he again spoke of "this generation," he evidently did not mean the entire race of Jews throughout history; nor did he mean his followers, even though they were "a chosen race." (1 Peter 2:9) Neither was Jesus saying that "this generation" is a period of time.


    Rather, Jesus had in mind the opposing Jews back then who would experience the fulfillment of the sign he gave. Regarding the reference to "this generation" at Luke 21:32, Professor Joel B. Green notes: "In the Third Gospel, ‘this generation’ (and related phrases) has regularly signified a category of people who are resistant to the purpose of God. . . . [It refers] to people who stubbornly turn their backs on the divine purpose."


    The wicked generation of Jewish opposers who could observe the sign being fulfilled would also experience the end. (Matthew 24:6, 13, 14) And that they did! In 70 C.E., the Roman army returned, led by Titus, son of Emperor Vespasian. The suffering of the Jews who were again bottled up in the city is almost beyond belief. Eyewitness Flavius Josephus reports that by the time the Romans demolished the city, about 1,100,000 Jews had died and some 100,000 were taken captive, most of those soon to perish horribly from starvation or in Roman theaters. Truly, the tribulation of 66-70 C.E. was the greatest that Jerusalem and the Jewish system had ever experienced or would ever experience. How different the outcome was for Christians who had heeded Jesus’ prophetic warning and had left Jerusalem after the departure of the Roman armies in 66 C.E.! The anointed Christian "chosen ones" were "saved," or kept safe, in 70 C.E.—Matthew 24:16, 22.


    w99 5/1 p. 12 par. 16 "These Things Must Take Place" ***


    For decades now, Jehovah’s Witnesses have taught that the current fulfillment of the sign proves that a "great tribulation" is yet to come. The present wicked "generation" will see that tribulation. It seems that there will again be an opening phase (an attack on all false religion), just as Gallus’ attack in 66 C.E. opened the tribulation on Jerusalem. Then, after an interval of unspecified length, the end will come—destruction on a worldwide scale, paralleling that in 70 C.E.


    w99 5/1 "These Things Must Take Place" ***

    See the study articles in the Watchtower issues of February 15, 1994; October 15 and November 1, 1995; and August 15, 1996.

    British scholar G. R. Beasley-Murray observes: "The phrase ‘this generation’ should cause no difficulty for interpreters. While admittedly genea in earlier Greek meant birth, progeny, and so race, . . . in the [Greek Septuagint] it most frequently translated the Hebrew term dôr, meaning age, age of humankind, or generation in the sense of contemporaries. . . . In sayings attributed to Jesus the term appears to have a twofold connotation: on the one hand it always signifies his contemporaries, and on the other hand it always carries an implicit criticism."


    w99 10/1 p. 29 Fortified to Say No to Wrongdoing ***

    In fact, Jesus said that the "generation" sponsoring this wickedness will be the very one that God will do away with in a "great tribulation." (Matthew 24:3, 21, 34) So if we want to be spared through that tribulation, we need to know right from wrong according to God’s standards; and, of course, we also need the moral strength to say no to wrongdoing in all its forms. Though this is not easy, Jehovah has furnished us with some encouraging examples in Bible times and today.

    *** w97 1/1 p. 12 par. 3 The Greater Glory of Jehovah’s House ***

    It will not be late," says the prophet. Jesus said that the present wicked generation would not pass away until "all these things occur." (Matthew 24:34) Does our updated understanding of his words mean that our preaching activity is not so pressing? The facts show that just the opposite is the case! Our contemporary generation is plunging into a state of wickedness and corruption unparalleled in all previous history. (Compare Acts 2:40.) We should be at our work urgently. (2 Timothy 4:2) All the prophecies on the timing of the great tribulation show that it will come suddenly, instantly, stealthily—like a thief. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4; Revelation 3:3; 16:15) "On this account you too prove yourselves ready, because at an hour that you do not think to be it, the Son of man is coming." (Matthew 24:44) As this godless generation of mankind hovers on the brink of annihilation, surely we should not want to throw away our precious hope of eternal life by returning to "rolling in the mire" of worldly distractions!—2 Peter 2:22; 3:10; Luke 21:32-36.

    *** w97 5/1 p. 29 Questions From Readers ***

    Could it be said that the recently updated understanding of the word "generation" at Matthew 24:34 allows for the idea that the end of the system of things could be delayed into the distant future?

    That is certainly not the case. On the contrary, the recent improved understanding of this matter should help us to keep in constant expectation of the end. How so?

    Well, as The Watchtower of November 1, 1995, explained, Jesus applied the phrase "this generation" to contemporary wicked people. (Matthew 11:7, 16-19; 12:39, 45; 17:14-17; Acts 2:5, 6, 14, 40) It was not, as such, a description of a fixed length of time beginning with a specific date.

    In fact, "Questions From Readers" in that same issue of The Watchtower focused on two key points: "A generation of people cannot be viewed as a period having a fixed number of years" and, "The people of a generation live for a relatively brief period."

    We often use "generation" in this way. For example, we might say, ‘The soldiers of Napoléon’s generation knew nothing about airplanes and atom bombs.’ Would we be referring just to soldiers who were born in the very same year as Napoléon was? Would we be referring merely to those French soldiers who died before Napoléon did? Of course not; nor would we by such a use of "generation" be trying to fix a set number of years. We would, though, be referring to a relatively short period, not hundreds of years from Napoléon’s time into the future.

    It is similar with our understanding of what Jesus said in his prophecy given on the Mount of Olives. The fulfillment of the different features of that prophecy proves that the end of this system is close. (Matthew 24:32, 33) Remember that according to Revelation 12:9, 10, with the establishment of God’s heavenly Kingdom in 1914, Satan was cast down to the vicinity of the earth. Revelation adds that Satan now has great anger. Why? Because he knows "he has a short period of time."—Revelation 12:12.

    It was thus appropriate that The Watchtower of November 1 carried the subheading "Keep on the Watch!" The following paragraph aptly said: "We do not need to know the exact timing of events. Rather, our focus must be on being watchful, cultivating strong faith, and keeping busy in Jehovah’s service—not on calculating a date." Then it quoted Jesus’ words: "Keep looking, keep awake, for you do not know when the appointed time is. But what I say to you I say to all, Keep on the watch."—Mark 13:33, 37.

    *** w97 6/1 p. 28 Questions From Readers ***

    "The Watchtower" of November 1, 1995, focused on what Jesus said about "this generation," as we read at Matthew 24:34. Does this mean that there is some question about whether God’s Kingdom was set up in heaven in 1914?

    That discussion in The Watchtower offered no change at all in our fundamental teaching about 1914. Jesus set out the sign to mark his presence in Kingdom power. We have ample evidence that this sign has been in course of fulfillment since 1914. The facts about wars, famines, plagues, earthquakes, and other evidences bear out that since 1914, Jesus has been active as King of God’s Kingdom. This indicates that since then we have been in the conclusion of the system of things.

    What, then, was The Watchtower clarifying? Well, the key was the sense in which Jesus used the word "generation" at Matthew 24:34. That passage reads: "Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur." What did Jesus mean by "generation," both in his day and in ours?

    Many scriptures confirm that Jesus did not use "generation" with regard to some small or distinct group, meaning only the Jewish leaders or only his loyal disciples. Rather, he used "generation" in condemning the masses of Jews who rejected him. Happily, though, individuals could do what the apostle Peter urged on the day of Pentecost, repent and "get saved from this crooked generation."—Acts 2:40.

    In that statement, Peter was clearly not being precise as to any fixed age or length of time, nor was he tying the "generation" to any certain date. He did not say that people should get saved from the generation that was born in the same year Jesus was or the generation that was born in 29 C.E. Peter was speaking about the unbelieving Jews of that period—some perhaps being rather young, others being older—who had been exposed to Jesus’ teaching, had seen or heard of his miracles, and had not accepted him as Messiah.

    That evidently is how Peter understood Jesus’ use of "generation" when he and three other apostles were with Jesus on the Mount of Olives. According to Jesus’ prophetic statement, Jews of that period—basically, Jesus’ contemporaries—were going to experience or hear of wars, earthquakes, famines, and other evidences that the end of the Jewish system was near. In fact, that generation did not pass before the end came in 70 C.E.—Matthew 24:3-14, 34.

    It must be acknowledged that we have not always taken Jesus’ words in that sense. There is a tendency for imperfect humans to want to be specific about the date when the end will come. Recall that even the apostles sought more specifics, asking: "Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?"—Acts 1:6.

    With similar sincere intentions, God’s servants in modern times have tried to derive from what Jesus said about "generation" some clear time element calculated from 1914. For instance, one line of reasoning has been that a generation can be 70 or 80 years, made up of people old enough to grasp the significance of the first world war and other developments; thus we can calculate more or less how near the end is.

    However well-meaning such thinking was, did it comply with the advice Jesus went on to give? Jesus said: "Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father. . . . Keep on the watch, therefore, because you do not know on what day your Lord is coming."—Matthew 24:36-42.

    So the recent information in The Watchtower about "this generation" did not change our understanding of what occurred in 1914. But it did give us a clearer grasp of Jesus’ use of the term "generation," helping us to see that his usage was no basis for calculating—counting from 1914—how close to the end we are.

    *** w97 8/1 p. 12 par. 16 Serving Loyally With Jehovah’s Organization ***

    In contrast, Jehovah’s people in modern times have proved themselves loyal through times of change. As the light of revealed truth continues to brighten, adjustments are made. (Proverbs 4:18) Recently, "the faithful and discreet slave" has helped us to refine our understanding of the term "generation" used at Matthew 24:34 and of the timing of the judgment of "the sheep" and "the goats" mentioned at Matthew 25:31-46, as well as of our view toward certain types of civilian service. (Matthew 24:45) No doubt some apostates would have been delighted if many of Jehovah’s Witnesses had stuck rigidly to the previous understanding of such subjects and refused to progress. Nothing of the kind has happened. Why? Jehovah’s people are loyal.

    *** it-1 p. 918 Generation *** (1988) Probably needs an updating label

    Later that same day, Jesus again used practically the same words, saying: "Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur." (Mt 24:34) In this instance, Jesus was answering a question regarding the desolation of Jerusalem and its temple as well as regarding the sign of his presence and of the conclusion of the system of things. Before his reference to "this generation," however, he had focused his remarks specifically on his "coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" and the nearness of the Kingdom of God. Immediately afterward, he continued with references to his "presence." (Mt 24:30, 37, 39; Lu 21:27, 31) Jesus was using the word "generation" with reference to humans whose lives would in some way be associated with the foretold events.—Mt 24.

    The people of this 20th-century generation living since 1914 have experienced these many terrifying events concurrently and in concentrated measure—international wars, great earthquakes, terrible pestilences, widespread famine, persecution of Christians, and other conditions that Jesus outlined in Matthew chapter 24, Mark chapter 13, and Luke chapter 21.

    *** w04 2/1 p. 20 par. 9 "The Scene of This World Is Changing" ***

    Has "the scene of this world" really changed so much since 1914? In the book The Generation of 1914, Professor Robert Wohl observes: "Those who lived through the war could never rid themselves of the belief that one world had ended and another begun in August 1914." Confirming this, Dr. Jorge A. Costa e Silva, as the mental-health director for the World Health Organization, wrote: "We live in a time of extremely fast changes, which end up causing anxiety and stress at levels never before seen in mankind’s history." Has that been your personal experience?

    *** w95 11/1 p. 18 par. 7 A Time to Keep Awake ***

    In line with the above, professor of history Robert Wohl wrote in his book The Generation of 1914: "A historical generation is not defined by its chronological limits . . . It is not a zone of dates." But he pointed out that World War I created "an overwhelming sense of rupture with the past," and he added: "Those who lived through the war could never rid themselves of the belief that one world had ended and another begun in August 1914." How true that is! It focuses on the crux of the matter. "This generation" of mankind since 1914 has experienced appalling changes. It has seen the earth drenched with the blood of millions. Warfare, genocide, terrorism, crime, and lawlessness have erupted worldwide. Famine, disease, and immorality have stalked our globe. Jesus prophesied: "You also, when you [his disciples] see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I say to you, This generation will by no means pass away until all things occur."—Luke 21:31, 32.

    *** w84 5/15 pp. 4-5 1914—The Generation That Will Not Pass Away ***

    In his book The Generation of 1914, professor of history Robert Wohl presents an unusual definition when he states: "A historical generation is not defined by its chronological limits or its borders. It is not a zone of dates . . . It is more like a magnetic field at the center of which lies an experience or a series of experiences. . . . What is essential to the formation of a generational consciousness is some common frame of reference that provides a sense of rupture with the past . . . This frame of reference is always derived from great historical events like wars, revolutions, plagues, famines, and economic crises."

    From that point of view, the Great War of 1914-18 and its aftermath certainly formed a "frame of reference" to mark a generation. As professor Wohl comments: World War I created "an overwhelming sense of rupture with the past. Those who lived through the war could never rid themselves of the belief that one world had ended and another begun in August 1914."

    Jesus used the word "generation" many times in different settings and with various meanings. But what did he mean when he spoke of a ‘generation that would not pass away’? Some have interpreted "generation" to mean a period of 30, 40, 70 or even 120 years. However, a generation is really related to people and events, rather than to a fixed number of years.

    *** w80 10/15 p. 31 Questions From Readers ***

    In this connection, the magazine The Economist of March 15, 1980, gave an interesting review of a book entitled "The Generation of 1914" by Robert Wohl. It made this significant remark: "Eventually Mr. Wohl voices his own opinions about the generation of 1914. In a terse and condensed last chapter he suggests that generations are not mathematically definable in terms of numbers of years, but cluster around major historical crises, of which the first world war is the supreme example." This lines up very well with the Scriptural viewpoint that Jehovah’s Witnesses take on "the generation of 1914."

    Yes, there was a generation of people that was living in 1914, and that saw the major historical changes from an era of comparative tranquillity to the present era of war, lawlessness and ruination. Many who are now Jehovah’s Witnesses were among them. Truly, 1914 marked "the supreme example" of change, for that year set in motion the foretold "beginning of pangs of distress" among the nations. Many persons are still alive who can tell us how catastrophically conditions on earth changed in the year 1914. And the world continues to plunge into worse and worse trouble. We can be happy, therefore, for Jesus’ assurance that there will be survivors of "the generation of 1914"—that this generation will not have completely passed away—when the "great tribulation" rings down the curtain on this wicked world system.

  • cognizant dissident
    cognizant dissident

    Personally, I think they are leaving up the old light on purpose. They also have the new light printed in the Watchtowers since 1995. Now, no matter which scenario happens, they got it covered. They can point to either pre 95 or post 95 articles and say, "See! We said that all along." We are Jehovah's true prophets.

    It's kind of like when the weatherman predicts a 50% chance of rain and 50% chance of sun. Either way, he's right on the money! He can't lose.


  • blondie

    Do you wonder why the absence of the doctrine in "What does the Bible Really Teach" book, the new book for people studying with JWs?

    They also put in Matthew 24:45-47 but not Matthew 24:34.

  • DannyHaszard

    Believers in the 1914 generations thingy grow old & die

    Satan the ruler of the Watchtower cult doesn't grow old and die and can progressively adapt.

    I myself went door to door for 33 years and expounded/promoted the 1914 gen thingy as demanded by my Watchtower masters .It was all a lie i told strangers on their private doorsteps,and i am really pissed off about it.

  • cyberdyne systems 101
    cyberdyne systems 101

    I am amazed to go to their site and see this old light being given out as truth!!! What a dumbass organisation! I can remember saying to one Elder how we can only go back so far on the cd rom, saying they dont want us to look too far back - and I was completely nieve about what was really in all that literature of the past that our 'generation' didnt get to see. It really does show that the Society is more important than the truth, otherwise how come the elderly ones that have seen so many changes keep going - sure there are loads of peripheral reasons, but still if you base your whole life and future on this, it should be so obviously a sham, unfortunately when all you take in is propaganda, reasoning ability outside of the walls becomes imposible

    CS 101

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