Having seen the latest development from the Society,
concerning the teaching about “ this generation” I wish
ti post the following material:
"This generation "
A synopsis of all previous
from the year :
1882 to the current year 2010
Matthew 24:34; Luke 31:32
1***APRIL, 1882 :
[R334 : page 1] VOL. III. PITTSBURGH, PA., APRIL, 1882. NO. 10. [page 1] ZION'S Watch Tower AND HERALD OF CHRIST'S PRESENCE.
R342 : page 6] "THIS GENERATION." "Verily I say unto you this generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled." Matt. 24:34. This passage has puzzled us many times, and our experience may be the same as some others with regard to it, but we think we have the solution of it now. It may not be new to some, but it is to us. However, it is not because it is new, but because it is true (as we believe) that it satisfies us.
.... We think Jesus, as he was not talking to the multitude, used plain language, no figure nor symbol, but that the whole difficulty centres in the meaning of the word generation.
.... We understand that he used the word generation in distinction from the word re generation; in other words, that he gave them to understand that he would be present before the re generation, and before the people of this ageshould pass away ("this generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled") for ( ver. 38 )
2***year 1889 (7 years later)
"The Battle of Armageddon" COPYRIGHT 1889.
WATCH TOWER BIBLE & TRACT SOCIETY,BROOKLYN. N.Y., U.S.A.
... STUDY XII. OUR LORD'S GREAT PROPHECY. MATT. 24;MARK 13; LUKE 21:5-36; 17:20-37.
page 603 ... 2) Our Lord could not have meant the Jewish race, and it would have been improper to have used a Greek word signifying race , because the Jewish race was not the subject of the apostles' inquiry nor of our Lord's prophecy in reply.
.... In other words, the signs mentioned will occur within a generation-epoch in the close of the age.
...page 605 ... When ye shall see all these things," and since "the sign of the Son of Man in heaven," and the budding fig tree, and the gathering of "the elect" are counted among the signs, it would not be inconsistent to reckon the "generation" from 1878 to 1914 — 36½ years — about the average of human life to-day.
3***year 1927 (45 years later )
The Watch Tower, February 15 th , 1927, page 62
Question: In Matthew 24:34 Jesus said: "Verily I
say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all
these things be fulfilled." What did he mean by "this generation" ?
Answer: It could hardly be said that he meant any human being living on the earth at that time. He was giving testimony concerning things that were to transpire at the end of the world. That was a long way off. No generation of the human race has ever existed as long as a thousand years. It follows then that Jesus must have meant something else. What could he have meant ?
At the Jordan Jehovah started a new generation,a new creation, of which Christ Jesus is the Head.
Jesus selected twelve disciples, who were with him for three and one-half years. Eleven of these we have every reason to believe , constitute a part of that new creation.
In 1 Peter 2:9 the apostle, speaking to the church
of course, referred to those who are faithful. The irresistible conclusion therefore is that Jesus referred to the new creation when he said: "This generation shall not pass until all these things be fulfilled."
This thenwould be a strong indication that some members of the new creation will be on the earth at the time of Armageddon. “
4***year 1929 (47 years later )
Life (published in the year 1929, Page 330) :
JEHOVAH GOD The Gracious Giver of Life Everlasting This Book Is Dedicated
"The gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord." Copyrighted 1929 byJ.F.Rutherford
Made in U.S.A. ....
as applying to the Jewish people, note the further words of Jesus in answer to the question concerning his presence and the end of the world: "Now learn a parable of the fig tree: When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors." — Matt. 24:32,33.
Jesus indicated that the true followers of Christwho would compose the remnant on earth at the end of the world would observe these things, and that, if continuing faithful to the end, they would see the kingdom of God established in complete glory: "Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." (Matt. 24: 34)
5***year 1930 (48 years later )
The Watch Tower, November 1st , 1930, page 332
" Speaking of world happenings since A. D. 1914, Jesus said (and his words apply to Christians living since that date) : “When ye see these things come to pass [as prophesied], know ye that the
kingdom of God is nigh at hand.” (Luke 21: 31) So, inside the lifetime of the present living generation the Lord Jesus will put into effect for all mankind the value of his ransom sacrifice which he laid down for all. "
6***year 1942 (60 years later )
The Watchtower, July 1 st , 1942 page 204 par. 43
“ ...after the winter of Armageddon the remnant and their companions will come forth from their protected place under God’s hiding and enter into the lorious season of the Kingdom in its undisputed ower over earth. (Job 37: 22-24) Pointing to the events of our time since 1914 Jesus said : "Behold the fig tree, and all the trees ; when they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation[including the remnant] shall not pass away tillall be fulfilled." (Luke 21:29-32)
7***year 1949 (67 years later )
The Watchtower, July 15 th , 1949 page 215, par. 19
“...the generation of Jesus’ earthly days did not thus see him arriving in Kingdom power. But that
generation was a prophetic illustration. It has its modern counterpart in our generation from A.D. 1914forward. This generation is the one that sees the Son of man coming with the clouds of heaven as foretold by Daniel, because in 1914, the year marking the end of the Gentile times, Jehovah God gave the Kingdom to him whose right it is.”
8***year 1995 (113 years later )
A great change was made with the publicatio of study articles:
***w95 11/1 pp. 10-15 Saved From a “Wicked Generation”
***w95 11/1 pp. 16-21 A Time to Keep Awake
***w95 11/1 pp. 30-31 Questions From Readers
At1 Peter 2:9, the “King James Version” calls anointed Christians “a chosen generation.” Should this affect our view of Jesus’ use of “generation” recorded at Matthew 24:34?
Key point of the 1995
"... more precise viewpoint.."
( w9511/1 page 19 § 15 A Time to Keep Awake )
I " 3 Let us now consider the circumstances that surrounded the first fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy. This will help us better to understand the parallel fulfillment today. "
( w9511/1 pp. 10 §3 Saved From a “Wicked Generation”)
II .... “This Generation”—What Is It?
9 When four apostles seated with Jesus on the Mount of Olives heard his prophecy about “the conclusion of the system of things,” how would they understand the expression “this generation”? In the Gospels the word “generation” is translated from the Greek word ge·ne·a´, which current lexicons define in these terms: “Lit[erally] those descended fr[om] a common ancestor.” (Walter Bauer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament ) “That which has been begotten, a family; . . . successive members of a genealogy . . . or of a race of people . . . or of the whole multitude of men living at the same time, Matt. 24:34; Mark 13:30; Luke 1:48; 21:32; Phil. 2:15, and especially of those of the Jewish race living at the same period.” (W. E. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words ) “That which has been begotten, men of the same stock, a family; . . . the whole multitude of men living at the same time: Mt. xxiv. 34; Mk. xiii. 30; Lk. i. 48 . . . used esp[ecially] of the Jewish race living at one and the same period.”—J. H. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament .
10 Thus Vine and Thayer both cite Matthew 24:34 in defining “this generation” ( he ge·ne·a´ hau´te ) as “the whole multitude of men living at the same time.” The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (1964) gives support to this definition, stating: “The use of ‘generation’ by Jesus expresses his comprehensive purpose: he aims at the whole people and is conscious of their solidarity in sin. ” Truly a “solidarity in sin” was apparent in the Jewish nation when Jesus was on earth, just as it marks the world system today.- 11 Of course, Christians studying this matter guide their thinking primarily by how Jesus used the Greek expression he ge·ne·a´ hau´te, or “this generation.” He used it consistently in a negative way. ( w95 11/1 page . 10 §9-11 a Saved From a “Wicked Generation”)
III “This Generation” Identified
18 What, then, is the “generation” so frequently referred to by Jesus in the presence of his disciples? What did they understand by his words: “This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur”? Surely, Jesus was not departing from his established use of the term “this generation,” which he consistently applied to the contemporary masses with their “blind guides” who together made up the Jewish nation. (Matthew 15:14)
( w95 11/1 page 15 §18 Saved From a “Wicked Generation”)
IV "... Eager to see the end of this evil system, Jehovah’s people have at times speculated about the time when the “great tribulation” would break out, even tying this to calculations of what is the lifetime of a generation since 1914. However, we “bring a heart of wisdom in,” not by speculating about how many years or days make up a generation, but by thinking about how we “count our days” in bringing joyful praise to Jehovah. (Psalm 90:12) . Rather than provide a rule for measuring time, the term “generation” as used by Jesus refers principally to contemporary people of a certain historical period, with their identifying characteristics.
( w95 11/1 page 16 § 6 A Time to Keep Awake )
V “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.
( w95 11/1 page 17 § 7 A Time to Keep Awake )
VI ' ... The Kingdom is at hand, and so is Jehovah’s day and hour for executing judgment on this wicked generation!—Proverbs 3:25; 10:24, 25.
( w95 11/1 page 18 § 9 A Time to Keep Awake )
VII § 11.. In Jesus’ day the apostate Jewish people that were rejecting Jesus was “this generation.” —Genesis 6:11, 12; 7:1 .
12 Therefore, in the final fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy today, “this generation” apparently refers to the peoples of earth who see the sign of Christ’s presence but fail to mend their ways. In contrast, we as Jesus’ disciples refuse to be molded by the life-style of “this generation.” Though in the world, we must be no part of it, “for the appointed time is near.” (Revelation 1:3; John 17:16)
Questions on paragraphs 12, 13. (a) What today is “this generation” that must pass away? ( w95 11/1 page 20 § 11,12 A Time to Keep Awake )
VIII "... No human can say when that end will be, but we know that the end of “this generation” of wicked people will come once the witness has been given to God’s satisfaction “to the most distant part of the earth.”—Acts 1:8.
( w95 11/1 page 20 § 13 A Time to Keep Awake )
IX § 15 Does our more precise viewpoint on “this generation” mean that Armageddon is further away than we had thought? Not at all! Though we at no time have known the “day and hour,” Jehovah God has always known it, and he does not change. (Malachi 3:6)
( w95 11/1 page 20 § 15 A Time to Keep Awake )
X § 20 “The time left is reduced,” said the apostle Paul. It is time, therefore, to keep ever awake and busy in Jehovah’s work, as we endure trials and hatreds imposed by a wicked generation of mankind. (1 Corinthians 7:29; Matthew 10:22; 24:13, 14) Let us keep on the watch, observing all the things foretold in the Bible to come upon “this generation.” (Luke 21:31-33)
( w95 11/1 page 20 § 20 A Time to Keep Awake )
XI *Footnote on §6 See Volume 1, page 918, of Insight on the Scriptures, published by the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society of New York, Inc. *** it-1 pp. 918 Generation ***
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 .
XII *w95 11/1 pp. 30-31 Questions From Readers
At1 Peter 2:9, the “King James Version” calls anointed Christians “a chosen generation.” Should this affect our view of Jesus’ use of “generation” recorded at Matthew 24:34?
The word “generation” does appear in the rendering of both passages in certain translations.
According to the KingJamesVersion, the apostle Peter wrote: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” And Jesus foretold: “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”—1 Peter 2:9; Matthew 24:34.
In the former passage, the apostle Peter used the Greek word ge´nos, whereas in the text of Jesus’ statement, we find ge·ne·a´. These two Greek words may appear to be similar, and they are linked to a common root; yet, they are different words, and they have different meanings. The NewWorldTranslationoftheHolyScriptures—WithReferences says in a footnote to 1 Peter 2:9: “‘Race.’ Gr., ge´nos; different from ge·ne·a´, ‘generation,’ as in Mt 24:34.” A corresponding footnote is found to Matthew 24:34.
As those footnotes indicate, ge´nos is appropriately translated by the English word “race,” as commonly found in English versions.
At 1 Peter 2:9, Peter applied the prophecy found at Isaiah 61:6 to anointed Christians with the heavenly hope. These are drawn from many nations and tribes, but natural backgrounds are put behind them as they become part of the nation of spiritual Israel. (Romans 10:12; Galatians 3:28, 29; 6:16; Revelation 5:9, 10)
Peter identified them as becoming, in a spiritual sense, a distinct group—“a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for special possession.”
But in the Greek text of Jesus’ words found at Matthew 24:34, we find the word ge·ne·a´. It is widely recognized that Jesus was referring, not to any “race” of people, but to the people living at a certain period of time.
Almost a hundred years ago, Charles T. Russell, first president of the Watch Tower Society, made this clear, writing:
“Although the words ‘generation’ and ‘race’ may be said to come from a common root or starting point, yet they are not the same; and in Scriptural usage the two words are quite distinct. . . . In the three different records of this prophecy our Lord is credited with using a wholly different Greek word (genea) which does not mean race, but has the same significance as our English word generation. Other uses of this Greek word (genea) prove that it is not used with the significance of race, but in reference to people living contemporaneously.”—
The DayofVengeance, pages 602-3.
More recently, AHandbookontheGospelofMatthew (1988), designed for Bible translators, said: “[The NewInternationalVersion] translates thisgeneration literally but follows with a footnote, ‘Or race.’
And one New Testament scholar believes that
‘Matthew means not just the first generation after Jesus but all the generations of Judaism that reject him.’
However, there is no linguistic evidence to substantiate either of these conclusions, and they must be brushed aside as attempts to avoid the obvious meaning.
In its original setting the reference was solely to Jesus’ own contemporaries.”
As discussed on pages 10 to 15, Jesus condemned the generation of Jews of his time, his contemporaries who rejected him. (Luke 9:41; 11:32; 17:25) He often used qualifiers such as “wicked and adulterous,” “faithless and twisted,” and “adulterous and sinful” in describing that generation. (Matthew 12:39; 17:17; Mark 8:38) When Jesus used “generation” for the last time, he was on the Mount of Olives with four apostles. (Mark 13:3)
Those men, who were not yet anointed with spirit nor part of a Christian congregation, certainly did not constitute either a “generation” or a race of people.
They were, though, very familiar with Jesus’ use of the term “generation” in referring to his contemporaries .
So they logically would understand what he had in mind when he mentioned “this generation” for the last time. The apostle Peter, who was present, thereafter urged Jews: “Get saved from this crooked generation.”—Acts 2:40.
We have often published evidence that many things Jesus foretold in this same discourse (such as wars, earthquakes, and famines) were fulfilled between his uttering the prophecy and the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E.
Many, but not all. There is no evidence, for example, that after the Romans attacked Jerusalem (66-70 C.E.) “the sign of the Son of man” appeared, causing “all the tribes of the earth” to beat themselves. (Matthew 24:30)
Hence, that fulfillment between 33 C.E. and 70 C.E. must have been merely an initial one, not the full or large-scale fulfillment to which Jesus was also pointing.
In the introduction to his translation of Josephus’ work TheJewishWar, G. A. Williamson writes: “The disciples, Matthew tells us, had asked [Jesus] a double question—about the destruction of the Temple and about His own final coming—and He gave them a double answer, the first part of which most vividly foretold the occurrences destined to be so fully described by Josephus.”
Yes, in the initial fulfillment, “this generation” evidently meant the same as it did at other times—the contemporaneous generation of unbelieving Jews. That “generation” would not pass away without experiencing what Jesus foretold.
As Williamson commented, this proved true in the decades leading up to Jerusalem’s destruction, as an eyewitness historian, Josephus, described.
In the second or larger fulfillment, “this generation” would logically also be the contemporaneous people.
As the article beginning on page 16 establishes, we need not conclude that Jesus was referring to a set number of years making up a “generation.”
On the contrary, two key things can be said about any time implied by “generation.”
(1) A generation of people cannot be viewed as a period having a fixed number of years, as is the case with time designations meaning a set number of years (decade or century).
(2) The people of a generation live for a relatively brief period, not one of great length.
Consequently, when the apostles heard Jesus refer to “this generation,” what would they think?
While we, with the benefit of hindsight, know that Jerusalem’s destruction in the “great tribulation” came 37 years later, the apostles hearing Jesus could not know that.
Rather, his mention of “generation” would have conveyed to them, not the idea of a period of great length, but the people living over a relatively limited period of time.
The same is true in our case. How fitting, then, are Jesus’ follow-up words: “Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father. . . . 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 24:36, 44.
In the expression “this generation,” a form of the demonstrative pronoun hou´tos well corresponds to the English word “this.” It can refer to something present or before the speaker. But it can also have other meanings. The ExegeticalDictionaryoftheNewTestament (1991) notes: “The word [hou´tos] designates an immediate fact. Thus the [aionhou´tos] is the ‘presentlyexisting world’ . . . and the [genea´haute] is the ‘generation nowliving’ (e.g., Matt 12:41f., 45; 24:34).”
Dr. George B. Winer writes: “The pronoun [hou´tos] sometimes refers, not to the noun locally nearest, but to one more remote, which, as the principal subject, was mentally the nearest, the most present to the writer’s thoughts.”—AGrammaroftheIdiomoftheNewTestament, 7th edition, 1897.
XIII *** w97 6/1 page 28 Questions From Readers *
“TheWatchtower” 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?
What, then, was TheWatchtower 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 atthistime?”—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 TheWatchtower 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.
*** w99 5/1 page 10 § 11-13 "These Things Must Take Place" ***
ContemporariesWould See It
11 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. TrulyIsaytoyouthatthisgenerationwillbynomeanspassawayuntilallthesethingsoccur. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away.”—Matthew 24:32-35.
12 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 didhe mean his followers, even though they were “a chosen race.” (1 Peter 2:9) Neither wasJesus saying that “this generation” is a period of time.
13 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.”
12, 13. How would the disciples have understood Jesus’ reference to “this generation”?
14 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.
14. What did that “generation” experience, but how was there a different outcome for Christians?
9***year 2008 (126 years later )
Once again the Society modified the position, only 13 years after the more precise view point, another "understanding is published in ‘The Watchtower’ :
'The Watchtower' February 15th, 2008 pages . 21-25
CHRIST'S PRESENCE -WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?
"What will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?'1'-MATT. 24:3.
NEARLY two thousand years ago, a question was raised by four of Jesus' apostles in a private conversation with their Master on the Mount of Olives. They asked: "When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?" (Matt. 24:3) In that question, the apostles used two very interesting expressions, "your presence" and "the conclusion of the system of things." To what do those expressions refer?
2 To take the second expression first, con-sider the term "conclusion," the translation of the Greek word syn-te'lei-a. In the New World Translation, this word is consistently rendered "conclusion," whereas a related Greek word, te'los, is translated "end." The difference in the meaning of these two words can be illustrated by describing a talk given at the Kingdom Hall. The conclusion of the
talk is the last section, in which the speaker spends a little time reminding the audience of what he has been discussing and then shows how that information applies to them. The end of the talk is when the speaker walks off the platform. In a similar way, Biblically speaking, the term "the conclusion of the system of things" refers to the period of time leading up to and including its end.
3 What of the "presence" that the apostles asked about? This is the translation of the Greek word pa-rou-si'a.*Christ's pa-rou-si'a, or presence, started with Jesus' installation as King in heaven in 1914 and continues on to include the "great tribulation," during which he comes to destroy the wicked. (Matt. 24:21) Many different things, including "the
(end of page 21)
last days" of this wicked system of things, the gathering of the chosen ones, and their resurrection to heavenly life, occur during this presence of Jesus. (2 Tim. 3:1; 1 Cor. 15:23; 1 Thess. 4:15-17; 2 Thess. 2:1)
It could be said that the period constituting "the conclusion of the system of things" (syn-te'lei-a) corre-sponds to or runs parallel with the period called Christ's presence (pa-rou-si'a).
An Extended Period of Time
4 The fact that the word pa-rou-si'a refers to an extended period of time harmonizes with what Jesus said with regard to his presence.(Read Matthew 24:37-39.) Notice that Jesus did not liken his presence to the relatively short period of time during which the Flood occurred in Noah's day. Rather, he compared his presence to the much longer period of time that led up to the Flood. Included therein were Noah's building of the ark and his preaching work, right up until the time that the Flood finally arrived. Those events occurred over many decades. In a similar way, Christ's presence includes the events leading up to and including the great tribulation. -2 Thess. 1:6-9.
5 Other Bible prophecies make it evident that Christ's presence refers to an extended period of time and not merely to his coming to destroy the wicked. The book of Revelation portrays Jesus as riding on a white horse and being given a crown. (Read Revelation 6: 1-8.) After being crowned as King in 1914, Jesus is pictured as going "forth conquering and to complete his conquest." The account then shows that he is followed by riders seated on different-colored horses. These prophetically represent war, food shortages, and
pestilence, all of which have occurred over the extended period of time that is referred to as "the last days." We are seeing the fulfillment of this prophecy in our lifetime.
6 Revelation chapter 12 provides further details concerning the establishment of God's Kingdom in heaven. There we read of a battle in the in-visible realm. Michael—Jesus Christ in his heavenly position—and his an-gels fight against the Devil and his demons. As a result, Satan the Devil and his hordes are cast down to the earth. At that point, the account tells us, the Devil has great anger, "knowing he has a short period of time." (Read Revelation 12:7-12.) Clearly, then, the establishment of Christ's Kingdom in heaven is followed by a period of time that is marked by increased "woe" for the earth and its inhabitants.
7 The second psalm likewise speaks pro-phetically of the installation of Jesus as King upon heavenly Mount Zion. (Read Psalm 2: 5-9; 110:1, 2.) However, this psalm also indicates that there is a period of time when earth's rulers, along with their subjects, are given an opportunity to submit to Christ's rule. They are admonished to "exercise in-sight" and to allow themselves to be "corrected." Yes, during that time "happy are all those taking refuge in him [God]" by serving Jehovah and his appointed King. So, then, a window of opportunity is opened during Jesus' presence in kingly power.—Ps. 2:10-12.
(end of page 22)
Recognizing the Sign
8 When asked by the Pharisees about the time the Kingdom would come, Jesus an-swered that it would not come "with striking observableness" from their viewpoint. (Luke 17:20, 21) Unbelievers would not un-derstand. How could they? They did not even recognize Jesus as their future King. So who would both recognize the sign of Christ's presence and understand its significance?
9 Jesus went on to say that his disciples would see the sign just as clearly as they would see "lightning, by its flashing, [which] shines from one part under heaven to anoth-er part." (Read Luke 17:24-29.) It is of interest to note that Matthew 24:23-27 directly links the same point with the sign of Christ's presence.
The Generation Seeing the Sign
10 Previously, this journal has explained that in the first century, "this generation" mentioned at Matthew 24:34 meant "the contemporaneous generation of unbelieving Jews." * That explanation seemed reasonablebecause all other recorded uses that Jesus made of the term "generation" had a negative connotation, and in most cases, Jesus used a negative adjective, such as "wicked," to describe the generation. (Matt. 12:39; 17: 17; Mark 8:38) Thus, it was felt that in the modern-day fulfillment, Jesus was referring to the wicked "generation" of unbelievers who would see both the features that would characterize "the conclusion of the system of things" (syn-te'lei-a) and the system's end (te'/os).
11 It is true that when Jesus used the word "generation" negatively, he was speaking to or about the wicked people of his day.
But was that necessarily true of his statement recorded at Matthew 24:34?
Recall that four of Jesus' disciples had approached him "privately." (Matt. 24:3)
Since Jesus did not use negative qualifiers when speaking to them about "this generation," the apostles would no doubt have understood that they and their fellow disciples were to be part of the "generation"that would not pass away "until all these things [would] occur."
12 On what basis may we draw that conclusion? By carefully considering the context. As (end of page 23)
recorded at Matthew 24:32, 33, Jesus said: "Now learn from the fig tree as an illustration 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." (Compare Mark 13:28-30; Luke 21:30-32.) Then, at Matthew 24:34, we read: "Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur."
13Jesus said that it was his disciples, soon to be anointed with holy spirit, who should be able to draw certain conclusions when they saw "all these things" occur. So Jesus must have been referringto his disciples when he made the statement: "This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur."
"Unlike unbelievers, Jesus' disciples would not only see the sign but also understand its significance. They would "learn" from the features of that sign and "know" their true meaning. They would fully appreciate that "he is near at the doors."
While it is true that both unbelieving Jews and faithful anointed Christians saw a limited fulfillment of Jesus' words in the first century, only his anointed followers back then could learn from these events—could understand the true meaning of what they saw.
15 Those without spiritual understanding today have felt that there has been no "strik-ing observableness" with regard to the sign of Jesus' presence. They reason that every-thing is continuing on as it did in the past. (2 Pet. 3:4)
On the other hand, Christ's faithful anointed brothers, the modern-day John class, have recognized this sign as if it were a flash of lightning and have understood its truemeaning.
As a class, these anointed ones make up the modern-day "generation" of contemporaries that will not pass away "until all these things occur."*
This suggeststhat some who are Christ's anointed brothers will still be alive on earth when the foretold great tribulation begins.
"This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur"
(end of page 24)
%"Keep on the Watch"
16 More is needed, though, than merely recognizing the sign. Jesus went on to say: "What I say to you I say to all, Keep on the watch." (Mark 13:37) This is of utmost im-portance to all of us today whether of the anointed or of the great crowd.
Nine decades have passed since Jesus was installed as King in heaven in 1914. As challenging as it may be, we must prove ourselves ready and keep on the watch. Understanding that Christ is present invisibly in Kingdom power helps us to do that. It also alerts us to the fact that soon he will come to destroy his enemies "at an hour that [we] do not think likely."—Luke 12:40.
17Our understanding of the meaning of Christ's presence helps to intensify our feelings of urgency. We know that Jesus is al-ready present and has been reigning invisi-bly as King in heaven since 1914.
Soon he will come to destroy the wicked and bring about vast changes to this entire globe. We should therefore be more determined than ever to take an active part in the work that Jesus foretold when he said: "This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the in-habited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end [te'los] will come."—Matt. 24:14.
How Would You Answer?
• How do we know that Jesus' presence is an extended period of time?
• Who recognize the sign of Jesus' presence and understand what it means?
• The modern-day generation mentioned at Matthew 24:34 is made up of whom?
• Why are we unable to calculate the exact length of "this generation"?
(end of page 24)
1. What interesting question did Jesus' apostles ask him?
2. What is the underlying meaning of the word "conclusion"?
3. What are some of the things that occur during Jesus' presence?
*' The meaning oi pa-rou-si'a is seen from the contrast that is made between the "presence" and "absence" of the apostle Paul both at 2 Corinthians 10:10, 11 and at Philippians 2:12. For a detailed discussion, see Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 2, pages 676-9
4. How does Jesus' presence find a parallel in the events of Noah's day?
5. How do the words recorded in Revelation chap-ter 6 indicate that Jesus' presence is an extended period of time?
6. What does Revelation chapter 12 help us to understand about Christ's presence?
7. What does the second psalm speak about, and what opportunity is described therein?
22 THE WATCHTOWER • FEBRUARY 15, 2008
8, 9. Who would recognize the sign of Christ's presence and understand its meaning?
* See The Watchtower, November 1,1995, pages 11-15, 19,30,31.
10, 11. (a) What explanation was previously given concerning the. " generation " mentioned at Matthew 24:34? (b) Who would Jesus' disciples have no doubt understood to be included in that " generation"?
12. What does the context reveal concerning those to whom Jesus was referring when he used the term " generation"?
13, 14. Why can we say that the " generation" that Jesus referred to must have been his disciples?
* The time period during which "this generation" lives seems to correspond to the period covered by the first vision in the book of Revelation. (Rev. 1:10-3:22) This feature of the Lord's day extends from 1914 until the last of the faithful anointed ones dies and is resurrected. —See Revelation—Its Grand Climax At Hand! page 24, paragraph 4.
*** re 24 5 John Beholds the Glorified Jesus ***
4 Hence, this first vision and the counsel it contains are for the Lord’s day, from 1914 onward. This timing is supported by the fact that, later in Revelation, the record describes the execution of God’s true and righteous judgments—events in which the Lord Jesus plays an outstanding part. (Revelation 11:18; 16:15; 17:1; 19:2, 11)
If the fulfillment of the first vision began in 1914, when does it end? As the messages themselves show, the organization addressed is God’s congregation of anointed ones on earth. The fulfillment of this first vision ends, then, when the last faithful member of that anointed congregation dies and is raised to heavenly life. Nevertheless, the Lord’s Day, with blessings to the earthly other sheep, continues till the end of Jesus Christ’s Millennial Rule.—John 10:16; Revelation 20:4, 5.
15. (a) Who make up the modern-day " generation" that Jesus referred to? (b) Why are we not able to calculate the exact length of "this generation"? (See the box on page 25.)
Can We Calculate — the Length of
The word " generation" usually refers to people of various ages whose lives overlap during a particular time period or event.
For example, Ex-odus 1:6 tells us: "Eventually ]oseph died, and also all his brothers and all that generation."Joseph and his brothers varied in age, but they shared a common experience during the same time period. Included in "thatgeneration" were some of Joseph's brothers who were born before him. Some of these outlived Jo-seph. (Gen. 50:24) Others of "that generation," such as Benjamin, were born w after Joseph was born and may have lived on after he died.
So when the term " generation" is used with reference to people living at a particular time, the exact length of thattime cannot be stated except that it does have an end and would not be excessively long. Therefore, by using the term "this generation," as recorded at Matthew 24:34, Jesus did not give his disci-ples a formula to enable them to determine when "the last days" would end. Rather, Je-sus went on to emphasize that they would not know "that day and hour."—2 Tim. 3:1; Matt. 24:36.
16. What must all of Christ's disciples do?
17. How should this understanding make us feel, and what should we be determined to do?
THE WATCHTOWER • FEBRUARY 15, 2008 25
*** w84 5/15 3 1914-Just History? Or Does It Affect You? ***
“IN THE Bosnian town of Sarajevo on the morning of June 28, 1914, a chauffeur misunderstood his instructions, made the wrong turn, . . . and so doing delivered his passengers to a point where a waiting assassin did not have to take aim to gun them down.
“Two rounds from one pistol and the world rocked. The crime was the small stone that, loosened, brings the avalanche. There followed four years of universal violence. Millions met untimely death.”—TheAmericanHeritageHistoryofWorldWarI.
That assassination of Archduke Francis Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Sophie, precipitated events that have marked 1914 as a turning point in mankind’s history. And those events have affected you. Why? Because the “avalanche” was the Great War of 1914-18. Since then the “rocks” of war and violence have not ceased to fall.
Regarding the significance of World War I, English author J. B. Priestley wrote: “If you were born in 1894, as I was, you suddenly saw a great jagged crack in the looking-glass. After that your mind could not escape from the idea of a world that ended in 1914 and another one that began about 1919, with a wilderness of smoke and fury . . . lying between them.”
The survivors of the “sacrificed generation” of 1914, as it has been called, have lived through momentous times that started with trenches and cannons and that are ending with intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of causing world destruction. This “progress” fits in with Jesus Christ’s prophetic words: “Nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; . . . and on the earth there will be dismay among the nations and bewilderment at the roar of the surging sea. Men’s courage will fail completely as they realise what is threatening the world, for the very powers of heaven will be shaken.”—Luke 21:10, 25, 26, Phillips.
These words of Jesus are part of the composite sign that marks “the end of this world.”
As has often been shown in this journal, since 1914 this prophecy has been undergoing fulfillment on a grand scale . But Jesus added something very significant about the generation of 1914 . What was it? He said: “When you see these things occurring, knowthatthekingdomofGodisnear. Truly I say to you, This generationwill bynomeanspassawayuntilallthingsoccur.”—Matthew 24:3, Ph; Luke 21:29-32.
How do these words apply to the fast-disappearing generation of 1914? What events are awaited? And how will they affect you?
Robert Wohl, in TheGenerationof1914.
*** w84 5/15 4-7 1914-The Generation That Will Not Pass Away ***
“THIS generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur,” said Jesus. (Matthew 24:34) But what is meant by the word “generation”?
In his book TheGenerationof1914, 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.
The Greek word rendered “generation” in the Bible has been defined as, “Those born at the same time . . . Associated with this is the meaning: the body of one’s contemporaries, an age.” (TheNewInternationalDictionaryofNewTestamentTheology) “The sum total of those born at the same time, expanded to include all those living at a given time generation,contemporaries.” (AGreek-EnglishLexiconoftheNewTestament from Walter Bauer’s Fifth Edition, 1958)
These definitions embrace both those born around the time of a historic event and all those alive at that time.
If Jesus used “generation” in that sense and we apply it to 1914, then the babies of that generation are now 70 years old or older. And others alive in 1914 are in their 80’s or 90’s, a few even having reached a hundred. There are still many millions of that generation alive. Some of them “will by no means pass away until all things occur.”—Luke 21:32.
Since 1914 we have already lived through two world wars and many other major conflicts, along with famines, earthquakes, pestilences and the like. (Luke 21:10, 11) Yet Jesus said: “This generation will by no means pass away until allthesethingsoccur.” (Matthew 24:34) Therefore, you might ask: What other major events remain to be seen by the generation of 1914? And can these actually take place in the time period that remains for that generation?
Especially since 1919 have Jehovah’s Witnesses been fulfilling on a remarkable scale and against earth-wide opposition Jesus’ prophecy: “This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14) Yes, this is the work that has to be completed to Jehovah’s satisfaction before the end comes.
What other events must take place in the period left for the generation of 1914? The Bible clearly points to certain major developments that will lead into and form a part of the “great tribulation” that culminates in Armageddon, “the war of the great day of God the Almighty.” (Matthew 24:21; Revelation 16:14, 16)
It is urgent that you know what these developments are and that you take necessary protective action before it is too late.—Zephaniah 2:3.
One of these developments was prophesied by the apostle Paul when he stated: “You yourselves know quite well that Jehovah’s day is coming exactly as a thief in the night. Whenever it is that they are saying: ‘Peace and security!’ then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them.” This prophecy makes it clear that, just prior to the end of this system of things, “peace and security” will be declared in some exceptional way, whether by the United Nations or independently by political and religious leaders. What will follow that declaration? Paul said: “Then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them.”—1 Thessalonians 5:2, 3.
Could that destruction affect you? Well, do you belong to one of the world’s many religions? Do you know how God views those religions? What is their future?
Under the symbol of a “great harlot” named “Babylon the Great,” the inspired apostle John described a system that has benefited for centuries from intimate association with “the kings of the earth” who wield political power. This “harlot” has also benefited from dealings with “the traveling merchants,” that is, the world’s commercial element. What system is this that has also lorded it over the “peoples and crowds and nations and tongues”? It is false religion! Yes, all religions that are false from Jehovah God’s standpoint constitute this “great harlot,” who is actually a world empire. But what does the immediate future hold for her?—Revelation 17:1-8, 15; 18:15-17.
Revelation 17:16 indicates that radical political elements within the United Nations (the “scarlet-colored wild beast”) will hate the religious harlot and devastate her. Already, powerful atheistic and antireligious elements in the UN have taken steps to stamp out religion within their domain.
But more drastic action is expected in the near future when these political elements devastate not only Christendom but also the other great religious systems. Logically, the anti-God forces will also attack Jehovah’s Witnesses who faithfully proclaim God’s Kingdom. This will be tantamount to attacking God himself and will provoke retaliation—God’s war of Armageddon!—Revelation 17:3, 12-16; 16:14-16; Ezekiel 38:10-12, 18-23; Zechariah 2:8.
From a purely human viewpoint, it could appear that these developments could hardly take place before the generation of 1914 disappears from the scene. But fulfillment of all the foretold events affecting the generation of 1914 does not depend on comparatively slow human action. Jehovah’s prophetic wordthrough Christ Jesus is: “This generation [of 1914] will by no means pass away until all things occur.” (Luke 21:32) And Jehovah, who is the source of inspired and unfailing prophecy, will bring about the fulfillment of his Son’s words in a relatively short time.—Isaiah 46:9, 10; 55:10, 11.
Are there any past examples of Bible prophecies’ being fulfilled in the face of human disbelief and skepticism? Yes, and we can briefly examine one of these. In the year 33 C.E., Jesus foretold regarding Jerusalem and its temple: “As for these things that you are beholding, the days will come in which not a stone upon a stone will be left here and not be thrown down. Furthermore, when you see Jerusalem surrounded by encamped armies, then know that the desolating of her has drawn near.”—Luke 21:6, 20.
Thirty-three years later, the Roman army, under Cestius Gallus, attacked Jerusalem and was at the point of victory. Inexplicably, however, General Gallus ordered his troops to retreat. As a consequence, some of the Jews must have thought that their sacred city would not suffer destruction. But such a thought was short-lived. Four years later, the Roman armies under Titus came back and destroyed Jerusalem and its temple.
Thus Jesus’ prophecy came true right down to fine detail. As G. A. Williamson said in his introduction to Josephus’ TheJewishWar: “Had we no other sources of information than the gospels we should be tempted to suspect that the warnings of Jesus were couched in hyperbolical [exaggerated] language . . . Was it possible that of that mighty Temple not one stone should be left upon another, that should not be cast down? It was indeed possible; it is historical fact. The destruction was utter and complete . . . The whole tragic story had been foretold with startling accuracy.”
Just as Jesus’ prophecies regarding Jerusalem were fulfilled within the life span of the generation of the year 33 C.E., so his prophecies regarding “the time of the end” will be fulfilled within the life span of the generation of 1914. (Daniel 12:4) This means that marvelous prospects lie before not only that generation but all those living today. Why? Because Jesus also said regarding the significant events affecting that generation: “When you see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near.”—Luke 21:28, 31.
The nearness of God’s Kingdom today spells the end of the present divisive political, religious and commercial systems. It means the ushering in of a righteous new government for all obedient mankind. You can choose everlasting life under this arrangement of “new heavens and a new earth.” (2 Peter 3:13; John 17:3) Yes, you may live to see this promised New Order, along with survivors of the generation of 1914—the generation that will not pass away.
“One world had ended and another begun in August 1914”
‘When they say “Peace and security!” sudden destruction will be upon them’
You, along with survivors of the generation of 1914, may live to see a New Order
10***year 2010 (128 years later )
Then when everything seemed calm, the Society striked again as we can see
with the latest:
10 THE WATCHTOWER ? APRIL 15, 2010
Bible truths to light. (Prov. 4:18) Thismagazine
has long been used by “the faithful and
discreet slave” as the primary channel for
dispensing increased light. (Matt. 24:45) For
example, consider our understanding of
those who make up “this generation” mentioned
by Jesus. (Read Matthew 24:32-34.)
To what generation did Jesus refer? The article
“Christ’s Presence—What Does It Mean
to You?” explained that Jesus was referring,
not to the wicked, but to his disciples, who
were soon to be anointed with holy spirit._
Jesus’ anointed followers, both in the first
century and in our day, would be the ones
who would not only see the sign but also
discern its meaning—that Jesus “is near at
14 What does this explanation mean to
us? Although we cannot measure the exact
length of “this generation,” we do well to
keep in mind several things about the word
“generation”: It usually refers to people of
varying ages whose lives overlap during a
particular time period; it is not excessively
long; and it has an end. (Ex. 1:6) How, then,
are we to understand Jesus’ words about
“this generation”? He evidently meant that
the lives of the anointed whowere on hand
when the sign began to become evident in
1914 would overlap with the lives of other
anointed ones who would see the start of
the great tribulation. That generation had a
beginning, and it surely will have an end.
_ See TheWatchtower, February 15, 2008, pages 21-25.
by Jesus? (b) Give an example showing that
the holy spirit is at work in bringing Bible truths to
All these different meaning coming and going, forward, back to the side, and back again !! If one thinks that we are at this point after128 years of teaching, from an organization which claims to be God’s spirit directed.
I do hope youy have found the trip back in the stream of timle interesting.
Greetings to all,
P.S. I do have compiled a longer version with references pages and complete paragraphs. If anyone whishes to have a copy, pm a request.
Following a request, I’ve posted the same information on JWSupport Forum