Matthew 24:34 not fulfilled in the first century

by Jules Saturn 35 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • Jules Saturn
    Jules Saturn

    I was discussing with an elder the generation teaching and telling him when Jesus Christ says in Matthew 24:34 “Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things happen.” he was referring to the generation from the first century in 33 AD and these events that were to take place took place with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.

    Now the elder tells me to go back to a few verses to from verses 29-33 which read:

    “Immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened,+ and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.+ 30 Then the sign of the Son of man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will beat themselves in grief,+ and they will see the Son of man+ coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.*+31 And he will send out his angels with a great trumpet sound, and they will gather his chosen ones together from the four winds, from one extremity of the heavens to their other extremity.+

    32 “Now learn this illustration from the fig tree: Just as soon as its young branch grows tender and sprouts its leaves, you know that summer is near.+33 Likewise also you, when you see all these things, know that he is near at the doors.+

    He then explains to me that this did not take place in the first century because yes, while Jerusalem was destroyed and earthquakes and all the things Jesus spoke of did occur, they did not witness the sign of the Son of man. He also explained that in verse 31 which refers to the angel and his great trumpet sound, that sounds directly from the book of Revelation, so the connection is being made there with the context of what we see today in our world.

    What do you think?


  • wizzstick

    I think millions of people have been waiting for almost 2,000 years for this.

    Earlier in Matthew 16: 28 he said:

    Truly I say to you that there are some of those standing here who will not taste death at all until first they see the Son of man coming in his Kingdom.

    And they all died.

    Maybe...JC was a false prophet?

  • nowwhat?

    I would say "thanks Jesus for making it clear as mud!"

  • Vanderhoven7

    The Onslaught on Jerusalem and its Aftermath (described in figurative language):
    27 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days there will be signs in the sun, moon and stars, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give her light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and on the earth there will be distress of nations, in perplexity for the roaring of the sea and the billows, men fainting for fear, and for expectation of the things which are coming on the world, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken,”
    28“And then will appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven, and then will all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”
    29 “And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations, and Jerusalem will be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. And except those days had been shortened, no flesh would have been saved, but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened.”
    30 “Wherever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.”
    31 “And He will send forth his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”
    32 “But when these things begin to come about, look up, and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near.”

    Commentary on Matthew 24:


    Most people assume the vivid language must describe the end of
    the world. But notice that this apocalyptic language is preceded
    by the word "IMMEDIATELY". It was immediately after the
    tribulation of those days that the sun would be darkened etc. The
    Jewish nation was about to be darkened; virtually obliterated.
    God, in His righteous wrath was removing the Jewish nation from
    His heavens. As the moon, Judaism would no longer reflect the
    Light of God; its stars, the prophets and Fathers would no longer
    shine for Israel of the flesh.

    find the same language in the OT depicting the destruction of
    Babylon , Egypt, Tyre and Idumea. (Matthew 24: M. Kik writes:

    Is.13:9, 10 is a prediction of God's judgment on Babylon
    "Behold the day of the Lord cometh, cruel both with wrath and
    and fierce anger to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the
    sinners thereof out of it. For the stars of heaven and the
    constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be
    darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light
    to shine.

    If the Holy Spirit speaking through the prophet Isaiah uses such
    figurative language to describe the downfall of a heathen nation
    like Babylon, how much more would not such language be used to
    describe the downfall of the chosen nation of Israel?

    If the Holy Spirit speaking through the prophet Isaiah uses such
    figurative language to describe the downfall of such an
    insignificant nation as Idumea, how much more would not such
    language be used to describe the downfall of the chosen nation of

    Ez.32:2, 7,8 Ezekiel's prediction of God's judgment on Egypt
    incorporates similar vivid language.
    "Son of man, take up a lamentation for Pharaoh king of Egypt...
    And when I shall put thee out, I will cover the heaven, and I
    will make the stars thereof dark; I will cover the sun with a
    cloud, and the moon shall not give her light. All the bright
    lights of heaven will I make dark over thee, and set darkness
    upon thy land, saith the Lord God.

    If the Holy Spirit speaking through the prophet Ezekiel uses such
    figurative language to describe the downfall of a heathen nation
    like Egypt, how much more would not such language be used to
    describe the downfall of the chosen nation of Israel?"
    Acts 32:16-21 Is.19:1 Ps.97:2,3 Mat.26:64

    Dan.8:10-11, speaking of the conquest of Rome over Israel, says:
    And it (one horn) waxed great, even to the host of heaven;
    and it cast down some of the host and of the stars to the ground,
    and stamped on them. Yea, he magnified himself even to the prince
    of the host, and by him the daily sacrifice was taken away, and the
    place of the sanctuary cast down. (See also Jer.4:26 Mt.26:64

    Note that it is "the sign of the Son of Man in heaven", not the Son
    of man visiting the earth. At the destruction of Jerusalem, the sign
    or precursor to His coming to destroy was found in the fulfillment
    of these predicted calamities and finally the surrounding of
    Jerusalem by the Roman armies. Of course as these calamities and
    ultimate destruction, befell them, the tribes would mourn. The
    Jews were eventually left without temple, city, sacrifice or
    priesthood as was prophesied by Daniel.


    Does the phrase "coming (not parousia) in the clouds"
    necessarily refer to a personal coming to earth? We should not
    read that thought into the text. Is. 19:1 states "See the Lord rides
    on a swift cloud and is coming to Egypt: and the idols of Egypt
    shall be moved at His presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in
    the midst of it" Although this verse speaks of the Lord riding on a
    cloud and of His presence, we know that the Egyptians did not see
    the Lord in a personal and visible way. The expression is rather
    used to indicate a coming in judgment against Egypt. Jesus
    coming in the clouds against Israel thus refers to a similar kind of

    The clouds of heaven obscure or shut heaven from man's view.
    They were to see the Lord Jesus coming to judgment with power.
    This power was manifest in the destruction. The word glory refers
    to the visible display of his honor, power and majesty.

    That Jesus destroyed the city in 70 AD is accurate. As Daniel 9:27
    reveals; because of the over spreading of abominations, he, the
    Lord and Messiah himself would make it desolate. Titus was
    merely his instrument.


    The trumpet represents a proclamation. In this case it is the
    gospel. The term angelos is frequently used in the New Testament
    to refer to earthly messengers (i.e. the followers of Christ)
    Lu.7:24, 9:32, Mk.1:2 II Cor. 8:33 They carry the gospel
    message and gather the elect into the kingdom throughout the
    earth (from one end of heaven to the other).



    The Christians Christ addressed were to KNOW the time of
    Jerusalem's destruction; so they could take immediate flight to the
    mountains. They knew that the Abomination of desolation
    referred to the surrounding gentile armies that would make
    Jerusalem a desolation (compare Mat.24: 15, 16 with Luke 21:21-
    24). That was the cue/sign. And that is why no Christian perished
    in the destruction!


    There would be a complete fulfillment of every detail of this
    prophecy to the generation to which Christ referred.

  • Finkelstein

    Its easy to make shit up, all it takes is bit of imagination, that's what the ancients did to create power relevance to their select god(s) composed through their knowledge and ignorance of the world they lived in.

    Look at what the mighty WTS did through its endeavoring imagination and ignorance too.

  • Anders Andersen
    Anders Andersen

    That's the beauty of prophecy: they're vague enough to be applied in retrospect to many events in history, and if no event fits the vague description believers can continue to point to the future.

    Instead of admitting that Jesus' prophecy failed, believers can now claim that there has to be future fulfillment. Because there's always the future. And nobody can prove evente won't happen in the future.

    Believers love ideas that can't be disproven. It means they don't have that uncomfortable feeling you get when ignoring facts.

  • ScenicViewer

    Thanks to Vanderhoven7 for providing an alternate explanation to that of JWs.

    That all of these things would happen "immediately" after the other things described is definitely a point of contention to the JW interpretation. To them immediately means 2000 years later and counting, and that's a problem.

  • Bobcat

    Hi Jules,

    I'll second Vanderhoven's expressed view. Here and here are posts (on another site) I made on the literary structure of that section of Matthew that also point to a first century Jewish generation being referred to at Mt 24:34. "This generation" of Mt 24:34 forms an inclusio with "this generation" of Mt 23:36.

    I think Vanderhoven also clued in on translation issues: "All the tribes of the earth" could just as easily be rendered, "all the tribes of the land." But translators often believe just as your elder, that the phrase is referring to a future event, not the first century. Same with the phrase, "then they will see the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. (See Greek verse order here.)

    The "sign" is of "the Son of Man in heaven." This is an allusion to Dan 7:13. Just a few days later Jesus associated the accusation that he would destroy the temple with this allusion to Daniel 7:13. (Mt 26:59-64) The "sign" was the destruction of the temple and city, which gave evidence that Jesus was also who he said he was and had the ruling authority to make the fulfillment come true. To the religious leaders back then, the destruction of the temple and city of Jerusalem was impossible since they were God's people. To even suggest such a thing was next to blasphemy.

    In reality, your elder, by saying Mt 24:29-31 did not have a first century fulfillment, is expressing a lack of faith in Jesus. Jesus said, "Most truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things occur." The "most truly" (or "truly truly") is emphatic that "these things" would occur within that "generation." Even if the elder can't see how Mt 24:29-31 had a first century fulfillment, he should have the faith that there must have been some fulfillment.

    Your elder's lack of faith is rooted in the WT's lack of faith that Jesus began ruling after he returned to heaven in the first century. See here for links to scriptural indications that this happened after Jesus' resurrection. The WT maintains that this did not happen until 1914.

    On the 'trumpet blast' referred to at Mt 24:31, see here (and about two thirds of the way down in the post where the 1st trumpet in Rev 8:7 is referred to).

    On Mt 24:29 and its parallel in Luke 21:25-26, see here in connection with the verses foretelling the Roman Civil War of 68-69 AD. Of interest is the possibility that Matthew's account was more for Jewish disciples, whereas, the gentile Luke, writing to the gentile Theophilus, gives much more detail (metaphorical, to be sure) about the Roman Civil War. Thus, Matthew 24:29 has only the cryptic reference to Isa 13:10. But Luke elaborates on the effects on "the inhabited earth" (Greek oikoumené) which in Luke's writings is almost always used in reference to the Roman empire. (Lu 2:1; Acts 11:28; 17:6 19:27; 24:5)

  • wolfman85

    Supernatural events were reported by Josephus writings during the period AD 66- AD 70. Some of these events are proof of the fulfillment of the first century. Here is a copy-paste of some Josephus writings about it. Omens of Destruction

    They are:

    Star and Comet
    Light Around the Altar
    Cow Gives Birth to Lamb
    The Eastern Gate
    Miraculous Phenomenon of Chariots in the Air
    Sound of a Great Multitude
    Jesus son of Ananias: A Voice from the East

    War 6.5.3 288-309

    Thus were the miserable people persuaded by these deceivers, and such as belied God himself; while they did not attend nor give credit to the signs that were so evident, and did so plainly foretell their future desolation, but, like men infatuated, without either eyes to see or minds to consider, did not regard the denunciations that God made to them.

    Star and Comet

    Thus there was a star resembling a sword, which stood over the city, and a comet, that continued a whole year.

    Light Around the Altar

    Thus also before the Jews' rebellion, and before those commotions which preceded the war, when the people were come in great crowds to the feast of unleavened bread, on the eighth day of the month Xanthicus, [Nisan, April, about a week before Passover] and at the ninth hour of the night, so great a light shone round the altar and the holy house, that it appeared to be bright day time; which lasted for half an hour. This light seemed to be a good sign to the unskillful, but was so interpreted by the sacred scribes, as to portend those events that followed immediately upon it.
    Cow Gives Birth to Lamb

    At the same festival also, a heifer, as she was led by the high priest to be sacrificed, brought forth a lamb in the midst of the temple.
    The Eastern Gate

    Moreover, the eastern gate of the inner temple, which was of brass, and vastly heavy, and had been with difficulty shut by twenty men, and rested upon a basis armed with iron, and had bolts fastened very deep into the firm floor, which was there made of one entire stone, was seen to be opened of its own accord about the sixth hour of the night. Now those that kept watch in the temple came hereupon running to the captain of the temple, and told him of it; who then came up thither, and not without great difficulty was able to shut the gate again.
    This also appeared to the vulgar to be a very happy prodigy, as if God did thereby open them the gate of happiness. But the men of learning understood it, that the security of their holy house was dissolved of its own accord, and that the gate was opened for the advantage of their enemies. So these publicly declared that the signal foreshowed the desolation that was coming upon them.
    Miraculous Phenomenon of Chariots in the Air

    Besides these, a few days after that feast, on the one and twentieth day of the month Artemisius, [Iyar, May or June] a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared: I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sun-setting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities.

    Sound of a Great Multitude

    Moreover, at that feast which we call Pentecost, as the priests were going by night into the inner [court of the temple,] as their custom was, to perform their sacred ministrations, they said that, in the first place, they felt a quaking, and heard a great noise, and after that they heard a sound as of a great multitude, saying, "Let us remove hence."

    Jesus son of Ananias: A Voice from the East

    But, what is still more terrible, there was one Jesus, the son of Ananus, a plebeian and a husbandman, who, four years before the war began, and at a time when the city was in very great peace and prosperity, came to that feast whereon it is our custom for every one to make tabernacles to God in the temple [Sukkot, autumn, 62 CE], began on a sudden to cry aloud,

    "A voice from the east,
    a voice from the west,
    a voice from the four winds,
    a voice against Jerusalem and the Holy House,
    a voice against the bridegrooms and the brides,
    and a voice against this whole people!"

    This was his cry, as he went about by day and by night, in all the lanes of the city.
    However, certain of the most eminent among the populace had great indignation at this dire cry of his, and took up the man, and gave him a great number of severe stripes; yet did not he either say any thing for himself, or any thing peculiar to those that chastised him, but still went on with the same words which he cried before.
    Hereupon the magistrates, supposing, as the case proved to be, that this was a sort of divine fury in the man, brought him to the Roman procurator, where he was whipped till his bones were laid bare; yet he did not make any supplication for himself, nor shed any tears, but turning his voice to the most lamentable tone possible, at every stroke of the whip his answer was,

    "Woe, woe to Jerusalem!"

    And when Albinus (for he was then our procurator) asked him, Who he was? and whence he came? and why he uttered such words? he made no manner of reply to what he said, but still did not leave off his melancholy ditty, till Albinus took him to be a madman, and dismissed him.
    Now, during all the time that passed before the war began, this man did not go near any of the citizens, nor was seen by them while he said so; but he every day uttered these lamentable words, as if it were his premeditated vow,

    "Woe, woe to Jerusalem!"

    Nor did he give ill words to any of those that beat him every day, nor good words to those that gave him food; but this was his reply to all men, and indeed no other than a melancholy presage of what was to come.
    This cry of his was the loudest at the festivals; and he continued this ditty for seven years and five months, without growing hoarse, or being tired therewith, until the very time that he saw his presage in earnest fulfilled in our siege, when it ceased; for as he was going round upon the wall, he cried out with his utmost force,

    "Woe, woe to the city again, and to the people, and to the Holy House!"

    And just as he added at the last,

    "Woe, woe to myself also!"

    there came a stone out of one of the engines, and smote him, and killed him immediately; and as he was uttering the very same presages he gave up the ghost.

  • Crazyguy

    Who’s to say these things didn’t occur, the Romans could of easily blown trumpets when attacking Jerusalem. The son/Sun of man did come in the clouds for all to see .

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