Getting understanding about the New Generation Light from a JW Elder

by garyneal 96 Replies latest members private

  • garyneal

    This is a series of e-mails between an elder at my mother-in-law's congregation and myself concerning the generation teaching presented by the Watchtower Society. I met this guy, who I will refer to as "Scholar," back when my wife and I was researching 607 B.C.E.. This elder was presented to me to defend the 607 B.C.E. chronology when my wife and her parents failed to do so (see this thread).

    Bluecanary knows this guy, BTW as he must have been a prominant elder from our hometown. Anyway, see the next posts for the exchange.

  • garyneal

    Hello Scholar,

    I have not heard back from you regarding my last e-mail that I sent you. I got your business card and was wondering if you can explain a particular Watchtower teaching to me.

    What is the significance of 1914 and the generation who saw it? I heard it is linked to Matthew 24:34, could you shed some light on exactly what this is all about? I've heard a similar interpretation from another church in regards to 1948 and Jerusalem becoming a nation again and I wanted to compare notes.


    Gary Neal

  • garyneal

    Hi Gary

    It is good to hear from you. I did receive your earlier email. I was waiting for your question, I guess. Please give me a little time to compose something and give you some references.



  • garyneal

    Okay, Scholar. Thanks for your response.

    A week went by and he did not reply. I was not for sure why but I figured it was time to give him a push because they were about to roll out new light the Sunday coming up.


    It's been a week since I heard from you. I'm not sure if you've done any research or not but here is how the generation teaching for 1948 goes. Apparently, Jerusalem became a nation again in 1948, and according to some interpretations of the Bible, when this event occurs, Christ's return is right at the door. Now, they fix on Matthew 24:34 where Jesus stated that this generation will by no means pass away until these events occur. Their (fundamentalists) interpretation of that scripture means that the generation of people alive to discern the events of 1948 and Jerusalem becoming a nation again will not die out completely until Christ returns.

    More or less. That was how it was explained to me. The year 1948 is now 62 years old and the people alive at that time are now quite elderly. If they should all pass away before Christ returns, well, Houston we have a problem.

    So how does the generation and 1914 compare?


  • garyneal

    His response to this was a big copy and paste from his WT material on his iPod.

    Hi Gary

    I am sorry it has been a while. I have been involved with the interior design of a Kingdom Hall being built in Gordonsville, VA, and haven’t had a lot of free time.

    So, I will give you a partial answer now and more later. Below my seven comments I have reprinted an article from our Bible reference work Insight On The Scriptures, volume I, entitled Israel of God. This is to comment on the “fundamentalist” or literalist view that the 1948 establishment of Israel constituted the end of the “Gentile Times” or the “appointed times of the nations” that Jesus spoke about, and which Daniel prophesied about in the Tree Dream. That dream presented the Seven Times chronology, about which you and I spoke, and after which the Kingdom would be restored to Israel.

    1-It is good to remember that the Tree Dream in its fulfillment would result in a restoring of the Kingdom to Israel after the passage of Seven Times, which we calculate to be 2520 years.

    2-The promise was made to King David that his kingdom would be to “time Indefinite” and would not turn aside from his House, or family.

    3-When the angel Gabriel announced to Mary the conception and birth of Jesus, he said Jesus would have the throne of David. At that time there was no Jewish king in David’s line, as the Jews were dominated by the Romans and their puppet kings, the Herod family. Jesus was a lineal descendent of David.

    4-As the article below makes clear, the “kingdom” was to be taken away from the Jews and given to a nation producing the right fruitage of that kingdom. That “new nation” was Israel in a spiritual sense, made up of all those who became spirit anointed sons of God, whether natural born Jews or Gentile Christians. Jesus was to be the king of a new Israel, and it no longer mattered what a person’s natural birth ethnicity was. People of all nations were acceptable provided they accepted Jesus as Ransom and King. Acts 10:34,35,45.

    5-Religious Jews today, like many in the first century, do not accept Jesus as Christ and King in a religious sense. And even in a political sense theirs is not a theocratic state. It is a secular state. They have no special standing with God, so that the establishment of the state of Israel is inconsequential to the biblical prophecies about a restored Kingdom. The 1948 establishment of the state of Israel was a political fulfillment of the “ Balfour Declaration of 1917 : An official letter from the British Foreign Office headed by Lord Arthur Balfour , the UK's Foreign Secretary (from December 1916 to October 1919), to Baron Rothschild , who was seen as a representative of the Jewish people. The letter stated that the British government "view[ed] with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country."

    The British Government had attained standing to assert this desired objective as a result of having defeated the Ottoman Turkish Empire in World War I, and gained controlling influence In the Middle East, Suez, etc. The political objective was to sustain a Western presence in this part of the world.

    6-God’s purpose in “choosing” Abraham’s descendants as a special people to be preserved, had an objective, namely to produce a “seed” who would bless all nationalities of mankind. (Genesis 3:15; Genesis 22:15; Galatians 3:29; Romans 9:7,8; Revelation 12:7-13, 17)This Revelation account occurs in context with the establishment of God’s Kingdom by the heavenly enthronement of Jesus, and the end of the Seven Times of the Gentiles in 1914. After this time, the Devil is cast to the Earth where he is said to have great anger knowing he has a short period of time. We believe we are living through that “short period of time”, and that world events show they constitute the last days of 1 Timothy 3:1-5, and further fulfill the sign of Jesus presence as explained in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. The Great Tribulation comes after this short period of time.

    7-Since God’s purpose in choosing the Jews ended in a fleshly sense once the Christ was revealed, and since people of all nations can only have salvation by accepting Jesus as Christ and King, and since the state of Israel and the Jews do not accept Christ, then we conclude that their various political intrigues are simply an interesting side-show and a political anomaly no more significant than the 70 year Communist experiment in Russia. The natural Jews still exist, but they are no longer the chosen people. That purpose was fulfilled in Jesus, and Jehovah God has moved on.

    Please read the article below, and I will write again in a few days about the “generation” question.



    This expression, found only once in Scripture, refers to spiritual Israel rather than to racial descendants of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. (Ge 32:22-28) The Bible speaks of “Israel in a fleshly way” (1Co 10:18), as well as spiritual Israel made up of those for whom descent from Abraham is not a requirement. (Mt 3:9) The apostle Paul, when using the expression “the Israel of God,” shows that it has nothing to do with whether one is a circumcised descendant of Abraham or not.—Ga 6:15, 16.

    The prophet Hosea foretold that God, in rejecting the nation of natural Israel in favor of this spiritual nation, which includes Gentiles, would say “to those not my people: ‘You are my people.’” (Ho 2:23; Ro 9:22-25) In due time the Kingdom of God was taken away from the nation of natural Jews and given to a spiritual nation bringing forth Kingdom fruitage. (Mt 21:43) To be sure, natural Jews were included in spiritual Israel. The apostles and others who received holy spirit at Pentecost in 33 C.E. (about 120), those added on that day (about 3,000), and those that later increased the number to about 5,000 were all Jews and proselytes. (Ac 1:13-15; 2:41; 4:4) But even at that, they were, as Isaiah described them, “a mere remnant” saved out of that cast-off nation.—Isa 10:21, 22; Ro 9:27.

    Other scriptures elaborate on this matter. With the breaking off of some “natural branches” of the figurative olive tree, there was a grafting in of “wild” non-Israelite ones, so that there was no racial or class distinction among those that “are really Abraham’s seed, heirs with reference to a promise.” (Ro 11:17-24; Ga 3:28, 29) “Not all who spring from Israel are really ‘Israel.’” “For he is not a Jew who is one on the outside, nor is circumcision that which is on the outside upon the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one on the inside, and his circumcision is that of the heart by spirit.” (Ro 9:6; 2:28, 29) Natural Israel failed to produce the required number, so God “turned his attention to the nations to take out of them a people for his name” (Ac 15:14), concerning whom it was said, “You were once not a people, but are now God’s people.” (1Pe 2:10) The apostle Peter quoted what had been said to natural Israel and applied it to this spiritual Israel of God, saying it is in reality “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for special possession.”—Ex 19:5, 6; 1Pe 2:9.

    The 12 tribes mentioned in Revelation chapter 7 must refer to this spiritual Israel for several valid reasons. The listing does not match that of natural Israel at Numbers chapter 1. Also Jerusalem’s temple and priesthood and all the tribal records of natural Israel were permanently destroyed, lost forever, long before John had his vision in 96 C.E. But more important, John received his vision upon a background of the aforementioned developments from and after Pentecost 33 C.E. In the light of such events, John’s vision of those standing on the heavenly Mount Zion with the Lamb (whom natural Israel had rejected) revealed the number of this spiritual Israel of God to be 144,000 “bought from among mankind.”—Re 7:4; 14:1, 4.

  • garyneal

    I figured maybe I need to come to a common understand first on the word generation, so my reply is as follows:

    Please read the article below, and I will write again in a few days about the “generation” question.

    Scholar, can I help you out with this? The nice thing about having a WT-CD is the ability to find text quickly in all the publications.


    A generation commonly refers to all persons who were born about the same time. (Ex 1:6; Mt 11:16)

    Do you agree with this?

  • garyneal

    This is the common use of the term in English. However, see also the three whole study articles in the November 1, 1995 Watchtower; the article “These Things Must Take Place in the May 1, 1999 Watchtower; the article “Christ’s Presence-What Does It Mean to You?” in the February 15, 2008 Watchtower, and the article to be studied this weekend from the 2010 Watchtower. These discuss the expanded (not common) uses of the term generation, in the original languages, and whether or not it may always be used to infer a specific time frame.

    Take a look at these and we can converse more.


    A common understanding of generation, hmmmm.... Sounds like there is going to be some sort of gymnastics going on with this. And he knows about the noo LIGHT, so I cannot surprise him. This was my reply:


    The articles you mention and some quotes:


    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) The apostle Paul admonishes us: “Keep doing all things free from murmurings and arguments, that you may come to be blameless and innocent, children of God without a blemish in among a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you are shining as illuminators in the world.” —Philippians 2:14, 15; Colossians 3:5-10; 1 John 2:15-17.

    Does this mean wicked people in the generation? The second article seems to corroborate it.


    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.

    However, this article takes a different angle on it. Suggesting the anointed. This is similar to the teachings of the Christian churches who believe that Christians who are alive when the tribulation begins are of the "generation" that Christ Jesus spoke of.


    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.”

    This part of the article seems to confirm it.


    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 suggests that some who are Christ’s anointed brothers will still be alive on earth when the foretold great tribulation begins.

    Now, I need to take a look at the 2010 article but I have to admit my confusion. The generation teaching makes little sense as we cannot seem to apply it to a particular group. That is if any of the above quotes are any indication.

    Just to be more thorough, I look at some of the past Watchtower publications and they firmly hold to the generation being the ones alive to witness the events of 1914. Here are some of the quotes from some of those articles.


    Remember, Jesus said of those living through the last days, starting in 1914: “Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.” (Matthew 24:34) Yes, peace will really come within this generation but not through the nations’ efforts. The firmly established, just, and righteous peace promised by Jehovah God can come only through the approaching rule of his Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ.—Isaiah 9:7.


    Likewise today, most of the generation of 1914 has passed away. However, there are still millions on earth who were born in that year or prior to it. And although their numbers are dwindling, Jesus’ words will come true, “this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.” This is yet another reason for believing that Jehovah’s thieflike day is imminent.


    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.


  • garyneal

    I'll be working on the Gordonsville Kingdom Hall this weekend and after that I can take up this discussion again. For now I would point out that in one of those articles, it was pointed out that in the first century application of Jesus' lengthy discussion, he spoke of "this wicked generation", meaning the unbelievers of his day. Yet later in the discussion the context shifted to suggest his remarks changed to focus on the generation of believers. A lot to unravel here.

    Sent from my iPod

    This was my reply:

    Thanks for your time and patience. I will look for that 2010 article and comment on it later

    Wow, more gymnastics on "generation." I decided to look at the article and I asked my wife for her assistance. She showed me her WT where she underlined the generation teaching. Of course, she believes this is no big thing but this is of no consequence to my exchange with Scholar. Sunday night, I finally replied after having looked at the article:

    Hey Scholar,

    My wife showed me the study article that was discussed today. She also underlined portions that pertained to what it was describing as what a generation meant. Here are some highlights I gathered from it and since I did not want to type out everything, I just went to and copied and pasted the points to share here.

    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 the doors.” (emphasis mine)

    This part definitely confirms what I've heard in other churches and even confirms another idea proposed by some Christians. One, is that that the "generation" that Jesus spoke of is the generation alive to see the great tribulation. The other is that people throughout the centuries were believing that they were living in the last days.

    Next paragraph:

    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 who were 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. (emphasis mine)

    What in the world does this mean? I have to admit, this really threw me for a loop. What exactly does overlap mean and how is it related to those living in 1914? The only scripture cited in this paragraph in Exodus 1:6. Remember when I asked if you agreed with this statement from the Insite book? As shown below, it too cites the same verse of scripture to point to a generation with no indication of overlap.

    *** it-1p.917Generation***

    A generation commonly refers to all persons who were born about the same time. (Ex 1:6; Mt 11:16)

    So let's review. When Jesus said generation in Matthew 24:34, He was referring to:

    • Up until 1995 -- The anointed ones who were alive to see the events in 1914.
    • 1995 to 2008 -- The wicked people of that generation.
    • 2008 to 2010 -- The anointed who are around to see the great tribulation.
    • 2010 -- The anointed alive to see 1914 and the anointed to see the great tribulation (apparently not of the same generation).

    Is this correct?


  • garyneal

    That's all I have for now. I am currently awaiting his response to my last e-mail.

  • Olin Moyles Ghost
    Olin Moyles Ghost

    Thanks for sharing. As a non-JW, you're in an unusual position of being able to press a JW about doctrinal issues without being dismissed as an "apostate." I find it interesting that the "Scholar" directed you to the old light in the 1995 and 1999 WT articles in addition to the more recent articles. He's either (1) sloppy, or (2) trying to be somewhat honest about the "evolutionary" nature of this doctrine.

    It will be interesting to see how he explains the current light. So far, it seems that he's trying to avoid discussing it. I don't blame him. I wouldn't want to be forced to defend the current teaching. It's just silly--almost cartoonish.

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