Matthew 24:34 not fulfilled in the first century
Matthew 24 was written by an unidentified group 15 years after the destruction of Jerusalem. At that time, indeed throughout the first century, there was intense expectation that the "end" was imminent, within sight of their own generation.
The group that wrote "Matthew" took their cues from the story written by "Mark", who wrote at the time of the insurrection and destruction of Jerusalem in 70 CE.
None of these writers, living 40 and 50 years after the Jesus-event, either saw Jesus or heard him. Their stories are religiously crafted and structured messages to their own communities. In the case of the "Matthew" school, they wrote from a distance, possibly in Syria. They had experienced the expulsion from Jerusalem and its destruction.
Because they expressed their opinions about signs in the sky, that does not mean they were correct. There are many such Jewish writings, including the very influential 1 Enoch, which speaks in a similar fashion, and one needs to read them to gain a proper context.
Finally (that will please some), by "the world", "all of the earth", "all mankind", an d so on, the writers' visions extended no further than either their own land and its people or perhaps as far as the nations surrounding the Mediterranean. I leave you to work out the meaning of the words "Medi" and "terranean".
Thank you for the links Bobcat.
"This generation" on the lips of Jesus invariably refers to his own contemporaries in all four gospels. Here is a short study in Matthews gospel.
MATTHEW 24 STUDY
Which generation was Christ referring to in Matthew 24:34?
The Greek word “genea” (pronounced ghen-eh-ah') appears thirteen times in Matthew's gospel. Four times it is used to delineate “one set of parents to the next”. Ignoring Matthew 24:34 for the moment, in every other appearance, including 6 of the instances Matthew places the definite article “this” (houtos) before “generation”, “this generation” (houtos genea), in context, clearly cover the same group of people -i.e. “Christ's contemporaries”
- Mt 11:16 But to what shall I compare this generation? It is like children sitting in the market places, who call out to the other children, (the persons then living contemporary with Christ)
- Mt 12:41 The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.(the persons then living contemporary with Christ)
- Mt 12:42 "The Queen of the South will rise up with this generation at the judgment and will condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. (the persons then living contemporary with Christ).
- Mt 12:45 "Then it goes and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself.... That is the way it will also be with this evil generation ." (the persons then living contemporary with Christ)
- Mt 17:17 And Jesus answered and said, "You unbelieving and perverted generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? ..." (the persons then living contemporary with Christ)
- Mt 23:36 "Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
- Reading Mt.23:36 in context again shows " the persons then living contemporary with Christ are being referred to:
- 29. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and garnish the tombs of the righteous, 30 and say, If we had been in the days of our fathers, we should not have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets. 31 Wherefore ye witness to yourselves, that ye are sons of them that slew the prophets. 32 Fill ye up then the measure of your fathers. :33 Ye serpents, ye offspring of vipers, how shall ye escape the judgment of Gehenna? 34 Therefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: some of them shall ye kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city: 35 that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of Abel the righteous unto the blood of Zachariah son of Barachiah, whom ye slew between the sanctuary and the altar. 36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. (the persons then living contemporary with Christ)
- Mt 24:34
- "Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
Why would most of the prophecy be literal and the last part be figurative?
Some believe that Jesus was referring to events scheduled for the end of time when He speaks of the time of the end...whereas the scripture corrects this idea. (not sure where I got some of this btw)
Time of the End / End of the Age:
‘Tell us, what will be the sign of your Presence and the conclusion of the system of things?’ (Matthew 24:3 NWT)
Re: The phrase “conclusion of the system of things.” The Greek form used in this verse is synteleias tou aionos. Where did Matthew get such a word as synteleias to put in the mouths of the disciples for his Greek manuscript? The same word was used in the Greek Septuagint at Daniel 9:27:
‘And one week shall establish the covenant with many: and in the midst of the week my sacrifice and drink-offering shall be taken away: and on the Temple shall be the abomination of desolation; and at the end (synteleias) of the time an end (synteleia) shall be put to the desolation.’
This text has applies to Messiah’s death in 33 AD and points to the subsequent destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus himself paraphrases this verse at Matthew 24:15. And, so, the “conclusion” of the system of things” was the end or conclusion of the Jewish age including Temple worship and not “the end of the world.” 2000 years in the future.
The whole phrase synteleia ton aionon, nearly identical to that in Matthew 24:3 is found at Hebrews 9:26:
‘But now he has manifested himself once for all time at the conclusion of the systems of things to put sin away through the sacrifice of himself.’
The Apostle Paul would have written Hebrews 9:6 with Daniel 9:27 in mind. This would also have been in the disciples’ minds as they asked their second question at Matthew 24:3. (Compare also 1 Corinthians 10:11) The disciples could have only had the end of Jerusalem in mind and not some generation far into the future. The “last days” were those upon Jerusalem and its Holy Temple. These “last days” had an “end” or “consummation” described in the Greek word synteleia.
Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
Jesus "evidently" could not have meant the anointed generation of latest wt version, because the anointed will pass away long before all these things take place. ending in 2075?
The anointed did not pass away before the end in 070; so, why would they now?
wt will be milking that Math. 24-25 cow for a long time to come.
Good question NowWhat!
Jesus’ Use of Figurative Language Use of Figurative Language by Robert H. Stein
"Jesus is identified as a “teacher” forty-five times in the Gospels and with the similar Aramaic term, “Rabbi” another fourteen. He was a master teacher, who captured the attention of his audience, and spoke with an evident authority. People loved to listen to him, in part because the exciting manner of his teaching. Jesus evidently prepared his teaching, putting it into literary forms using the metaphorical, exaggerating, impressionistic language of a culture that loved to tell stories. This helped his listeners remember easily what he taught. It is evident that Jesus thought his hearers were capable of understanding figurative language and he expected them to do so, and that the Gospel writers thought and expected the same of their readers. This however is not always easy. Jesus said that he spoke in parables (and by implication, other figures of speech as well) so that the disciples could understand, but that his meanings would be masked from others. That Jesus, God’s Son, taught using such a variety of figures of speech – should indicate to us that we must be aware of their use through all the Bible."
Me again: So much depended on the audience and subject being addressed. You will note that there is far more figurative language in Matthew's (Olivet discourse) account that in Luke's. For example, Luke interprets "the abomination of desolation" as armies surrounding Jerusalem as the cue to flee the city. Whereas Matthew talks about those enduring to the end being saved, Luke spells out the fact that this would be a physical deliverance, "but there shall not an hair of your head perish".
Every time Jesus used the term "this generation" in the gospels he was not speaking of the anointed, but his unbelieving Christ rejecting contemporaries.
Bobcat: How did you come to understand Matthew 24 as you do?
In my case it was through reading Marcellus Kik's book entitled "Matthew 24.
The "generation" was Jesus' own.
(at the risk of getting verbally abused for posting something biblical)
The Temple Prophecy
The Two Questions
Warning for His Generation
Prophecy for His Generation
The Answer to the First Question
The Warning for the Last Days
Jesus Eludes to an Earlier Lesson
The Answer to the Second Question
Defines the Timing of the End of Jerusalem
Jesus Contrasts His Generation with The End of the World
Basis of Salvation
Those Saved vs Those Lost Illustrated
The Virgins; Christian's attitude
The Talents; Christian's activity
The Sheep &The Goats; Jesus' will be decisive
Jesus on the Mount of Olives
On his way out of the temple grounds, one of Jesus' disciples began to boast of the Temple's design and sought a response from Him saying "Teacher, do you see our temple and its buildings and the many beautiful stones with which we have adorned it?" Jesus responded sternly, "Do YOU see them? I tell you the truth, a day will come and all of it will be torn down so that no such pretty stone will sit atop the other stones."
Now, He was sitting down on the Mount of Olives with the Temple in view and Peter, James, John and Andrew, they who had been with him the longest, came close to Him in private. The others lacked courage to inquire further. One of these four then asked "Lord, when will these things befall Jerusalem? Also, what then will be the sign of your coming at the end of the world?"
Jesus began with a warning of the deceptions they were to face, saying "Watch yourselves that you are not misled, for many will come claiming to be Christ saying 'the time has come' and those who will follow them will be many in number. From them you will hear about wars and rumors of war, but do not be afraid. Things such as this must continue happening, but the end for Jerusalem is not yet, as one nation will have to rise against another nation, one kingdom against another kingdom. Also there will be famines and earthquakes in many places as well as astronomical events that frighten. These things are false alarm, as are the beginnings of birth pains for them who await a child."
"First, you will suffer for the sake of my name. You will be given over to the authority of the Sanhedrins, flayed in the synagogue and put in prison. You will also be brought before governors and kings to bear witness about me, yet do not worry about what you will say, for the Holy Spirit will provide you words which all those who oppose you will be unable to refute."
"Also, from among you, many will hate and betray each other. Brother will hand over brother to be killed, also a father his own child. Children will deliver parents to death. But know that not a hair of your heads will perish."
"False prophets will rise up and mislead many and because the majority of people will become lawless, most in 'The Way' will be weakened and lose their love for me. But some will have faith until Jerusalem's end and thus they will gain their lives. First also, the good news of the Kingdom will be proclaimed to all in the known world, and after this Jerusalem's end will come."
"So then, when you see armies surround Jerusalem, know that the time is close for it to be destroyed. Yet, it is when you behold the abomination of desolation, as spoken of by Daniel the prophet, wrongly standing in a holy place, think deeply about this, it is then that all in Judea must flee to the mountains with haste, and those near her should not enter in. A man on his rooftop must not come down into his home to first gather his belongings. A man in his field must not go back home to retrieve his coat. These will be the days of vengeance, that all the things written will be fulfilled.
The sword will strike them down, and they will be taken captive to all nations. Jerusalem will be trampled by the nations until their fullness of time. She who is heavy with child or with infants at the breast will have travail. Pray that your escape will not be in wintertime or on the Sabbath, as the time will have come for great distress upon this people such as has not occurred since the world began, nor will there ever be again. If there would not be provided a time for escape, then none of you would survive, but for the sake of those chosen it will be so."
The Lord now turned and began to say, "Before the end of this world comes, at the time my Father chooses, at that time also there will come false messiahs and so called prophets who will say 'See, the Christ is here or there' and these ones will produce signs and omens to try to lead away even the chosen if possible. I say then, watch out, I have told it long before it happens.
So then, if someone teaches, 'the Lord hides there, in the wilderness', you should not go searching. Or if they say 'he hides in a house', do not believe it. For the Son of Man will not cower out of sight, but will come as if bright lightening filling the entire sky from east to west, such that all will behold.
“Remember, where the carcass is, there the eagles will be led together, immediately as the troubled time begins. At the last day, the sun will become dark, the moon likewise and also the stars shall fall dark in the heavens as the power of the luminaries will cease. In this manner the sign of the Son of man will appear in the sky. Then all the peoples of all the nations will beat themselves, and become like a storm in the sea as they will faint in fear of what is coming on the Earth. Then they must see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and much glory. Then He will send off his angels with a great trumpet and they will lead His chosen ones together from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. As these things begin, raise yourselves up, as your deliverance has come."
Pay attention to yourselves then so that you do not become weighed down with overeating and overdrinking and the anxiety life brings, for it will come upon all on the face of the Earth. Keep praying so that you can be strong through it all and stand before the Son of Man.
He juxtaposed with an illustration saying, "Take a lesson from the fig tree as well as the other trees. When you see branches getting soft and leaves breaking forth, you know that summer is near. In the same manner, when you yourselves see all the things I spoke of for you, know also that the kingdom of Rome is near at the gate. So that you know the time, I tell you the truth that your generation will not die off until all things take place. Be sure, for heaven and Earth would pass away before my word would fail. However then, as to the last day and hour for the world, this nobody knows, not the angles nor even the Son, only the Father.
It is like a man who had to travel abroad and left his home in the care of his slaves, leaving each one to his work, the door-keeper to the watch. Keep on the watch then, for you don't know when the master of the house is coming, perhaps later on in the day or even at midnight, or at cockcrowing in early morning. Watch for him so he doesn't find you sleeping."
“When the Son of Man comes, it will be the same way as it was during the days of Noah, before the flood came. People ate and drank, men and women married, until Noah went into the ark. People failed to practice righteousness and so the flood came and they were swept away. As that was, so it will be when the Son of Man comes.
On that day there will be two men working in a field, one will be taken along but the other left. There will be two women together grinding in the mill, one taken but the other left. So then, keep watching yourselves as you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.
Understand, that if the person at home had known the time when a thief was coming, he would have stayed awake to prevent someone digging through his things. With this knowledge, you be ready because at an hour that you think it unlikely the Son of Man is coming. These words I am telling all who follow me.”
“Who really is the faithful and wise slave whom the lord set down in charge to make sure the other servants ate on time? How happy that slave will be if, when the lord comes back, he is found doing his job. I tell you the truth; the master will put him in authority over all his belongings.
But if the bad slave says in his heart 'my master is taking his time' and then starts to beat his fellow slaves and to eat and drink with the drunkards, then the lord of that slave will come on a day that he doesn't expect and at an hour he doesn't know, and he will cut that slave down and his part will be with the hypocrites. With them he will weep and grind his teeth.”
“Then the kingdom of the heavens will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise, as the foolish took their lamps but took no extra oil with them, whereas the wise took oil in their jars with their lamps. The bridegroom was a taking his time in coming, and so they all nodded and went to sleep. But in the middle of the night there came the call, 'Look, the bridegroom! Get on your way to meet him.'
Then all the virgins arose and made their lamps ready, the foolish saying to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, because our lamps are about to go out.' The wise answered them saying, 'Perhaps there's not enough for us both. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.' While the foolish were going off to buy oil, the bridegroom came and the virgins that were ready entered in with him to the marriage festivities. The door was then shut.
Afterwards the rest of the virgins also came, saying, 'Lord, lord, open the door to us!' In answer he said, 'I tell you the truth, I do not know you.' Therefore, stay awake, because you don't know the day or the hour."
“It is the same as when a man prepared to travel abroad and summoned his slaves, committing to them his belongings. To one he gave five talents, to another two, to still another but one, to each one according to his own ability, and he travelled abroad.
Immediately, the one that received the five talents got going and did business with them and gained five more. In the same way, the one that received the two gained two more. But the one that received just one, he went off and dug a hole in the ground and hid the silver money of his lord.
After a long time, the master of those slaves came back and had words with them. So, the one that had received five talents came forward and brought five more talents, saying, 'Master, you committed five talents to me; see, I gained five talents more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things. I will set you down in authority over many things. Enter into the joy of your master.'
Next, the one that had received two talents came forward and said, 'Master, you put with me two talents; see, I gained two talents more.' His master said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful slave! Since you were faithful over a few things, I will set you down over many things. Enter into the joy of your master.'
Having come forward, the one that had received just one talent said, 'Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow and gathering where you did not winnow. So I grew afraid and went off and buried the talent in the ground. See, you have what is yours.'”
In reply his lord said to him, 'Wicked and sluggish slave, you knew, did you, that I am reaping where I am not sowing and gathering where I did not winnow? In that case, you should have given over my silver monies to the bankers, and having come back I would likely have what is mine with interest. Therefore, take away the talent from him and give it to the one that has the ten talents. For to everyone that has, more will be given and he will have abundance, but as for him that does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him. And throw the useless slave out into the darkness. There is where weeping and the gnashing of teeth will be.'”
“When the Son of Man comes in glory and all the angels with Him, then He will sit down on His glorious throne and all the nations will be gathered in front of Him, and He will separate people one from another, just as a shepherd separates the sheep from the kids. And He will stand the sheep on his right hand, but the kids on His left hand.
Then the king will say to those on his right hand, 'Come, you whom my Father has blessed, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the founding of the world. For I hungered and you gave me something to eat; I got thirsty and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger and you gathered me in; naked, and you clothed me. I fell sick and you looked after me. I was in prison and you came to me.'
Then the righteous ones will answer him saying, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty, and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and gather you in; or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to you?' And in reply the king will say to them, 'I tell you the truth, To the extent that you did it to one of the least of my brothers, you did it to me.'
Then he will say in turn, to those on his left, 'Be going your way from me, you who have been cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels. For I became hungry, but you gave me nothing to eat and I got thirsty, but you gave me nothing to drink. I was a stranger, but you did not gather me in; naked, but you did not clothe me; sick and in prison, but you did not look after me.'
Then they also will answer with the words, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison and did not render you service?' Then he will answer them with the words, 'I tell you the truth, just as you did not do it to the least ones of my brothers, you did not do it to me.' And these will be cut off forever, but the righteous ones into everlasting life.”
When Jesus finished saying all this, he said to the disciples, "You know that in two days time it will be Passover and the Son of man is to be delivered over to be hanged among the timbers.”
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