Thursday, September 15, 2016

Matthew 24:34 - The Generation That Passes Away

Matthew 24:34 Most assuredly I tell you, this generation will not pass away, until all these things are accomplished.
Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. -- World English.
See also Mark 13:30,31; Luke 21:32,33.
There has been a lot of speculation as to what "this generation" means in Matthew 24:34. We believe that when Jesus said "this generation [genea]" he was referring to the corrupt Adamic generation that Paul spoke of in Philippians 2:15.

The Greek word for generation here most often refers to a specific generation of people living a specific time. Yet, it can also be applied in a broader sense to a generation suffering under a certain condemnation. In Philippians 2:14,15, we read:
Philippians 2:14 Do all things without murmurings and divisive reasonings,
Philippians 2:15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you are seen as lights in the world.
Here Paul speaks of a crooked and perverse generation, and associates this generation with “the world” in which the sons of God shine as lights. The word translated from the Greek as “world” here is the Greek word that is often transliterated as “kosmos”. This is the word that John used in John 1:10, when he spoke of the world that had been made through the Logos, the Word. This is the word that Jesus used in John 17:5, and it is the word that Paul used in Romans 5:12, when speaking of the world into which sin had come through one man. It is therefore speaking of the world of mankind, and it is this world and the present generation existing ever since Adam sinned that Paul is speaking of. It is this generation, this creation, that God has subjected to the sun of vanity and is under a bondage of corruption, made to be in a perverse and a crooked condition from which it cannot make itself straight (just, justified). -- Ecclesiastes 1:2,13-15; 7:13; Romans 1:24,28; 3:9,10,23; 5:12-19; 8:20-22.
It is into this world of mankind that Jesus came, and it was while he was in the world that Jesus was its light. (John 3:10-12,19; 8:12; 9:5) It is then this world, this generation of Adam, that has become perverse and crooked that the sons of God are to serve as lights, and thus it is this generation that Jesus was speaking of in Matthew 24:34 as not passing away until all had been accomplished. This may be seen in the next verse:

Matthew 24:35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Thus, we believe that this generation of Matthew 24:34 pertains to the whole creation of 
Romans 8:22, which creation has been subjected to vanity, and is under bondage to corruption: the Adamic generation that is of the heaven and earth that is to pass away.

In speaking of this generation as passing away [Parerchomai], Jesus uses the same expression as he used when speaking of the present heavens and earth passing away. (Matthew 5:18; Mark 13:31) Thus, in the context of Jesus' words concerning all these things as happening before "this generation" passes away, he parallels the passing away of "his generation" with the passing away of the heavens and earth.

Hebrews 1:10 speaks of the foundation of this heavens and earth as being laid down by Jesus, referring to the time of the creation of world of mankind, thus of the time spoken of in the six days of creation. (John 1:10) John uses a similar word in 1 John 2:17, where he speaks of the world passing away. Peter uses the same expression as Jesus in speaking of the present heavens as passing away, although he is referring to 'heavens' as having existed from the flood of Noah's day, not as from the original creation. (2 Peter 3:10) However, Peter earlier speaks of the corruption that is in the world (kosmos) through lust (elevated desire). (2 Peter 1:4) That corruption that is in the world (kosmos) came through the sin of Adam and Eve: Eve's desire for knowledge and to become like God, and Adam's desire to please his wife rather than his Creator. Paul uses the word kosmos, saying that sin entered into the world (kosmos) through one man. (Romans 5:12-19) And Paul refers to this creation as the "whole creation" or "all creation" that has been subjected to vanity and that is in bondage to corruption. (Romans 8:20-22) Solomon wrote of this generation as being under the sun of vanity and crookedness. (Ecclesiastes 1:2,13-15; 7:13) Thus, it is this creation through Adam, this generation through Adam, this corrupt world/creation through Adam, this heavens and earth that "shall perish" (Hebrews 1:11), but shall not pass away until all thing are fulfilled. In becoming free from the bondage of corruption, the old passes away, present crooked creation will pass away so that a new creation, a new heavens and new earth, come into being, even as the believer in this age becomes reckoned as a new creation before the passing away of the world in general. -- 2 Corinthians 5:17; Hebrews 1:12; Revelation 21:1-5.

Some have thought that "this generation" refers specifically to the Jewish people as a "race". Others have thought it refers to the "new creation", those regenerated through the holy spirit. Some have thought it applies to a specific people living during one generation, of say, 100 years or so. The thought in the Studies in the Scriptures, Volume 4, Study 12, "The Battle of Armageddon", states:
Certain Christian writers have been led to claim that the words "this generation" really meant, this race, the Jews, shall not pass away until all these predictions have been fulfilled.

But we must dissent from this interpretation for several reasons:

(1) 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. [D603]

Notice that in the New Testament when the word generation is used in the sense of race or posterity, it is always from the Greek gennema (as in Matt. 3:7; 12:34; 23:33; Luke 3:7) or from genos (as in 1 Pet. 2:9). But 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. We cite in proof-- Matt. 1:17; 11:16; 12:41; 23:36; Luke 11:50,51; 16:8; Acts 13:36; Col. 1:26; Heb. 3:10.
The author of the above would disagree with our conclusion presented earlier, but we believe that by looking at the context, and including Philippians 2:14,15, as well as many other scriptures as we have presented, that our conclusion is correct: the generation that is to pass away is the crooked and perverse generation that has extended all the way back to Adam.
Titus 3:5 presents the form that is often rendered as "regeneration."

Peter expresses the same thought of regeneration as recorded in 1 Peter 2:9 (see 1 Peter 2:2, where he speaks of the believers as newborn babes). In other words, Peter, although he used different words, was referring to the same thing that Paul referred to when Paul spoke of the new creation, and that as new creatures they were a chosen-out/picked out generation. (1 Corinthians 5:17). The word Eklektos, usually rendered "chosen" means more than just chosen, as part of the word is formed from "EK", which means "out of".

The "chosen" are picked out of the world by Jesus. -- John 15:19.

Having become a new creation, as new-born babes, they are counted (reckoned/imputed/considered) as justified and alive -- with the glory of terrestrial life (1 Corinthians 15:40; Romans 6:11), as though already in the age to come, when all things are made new. -- 1 Corinthians 5:17; Revelation 1:1-5.

They are indeed picked out of the world as a new generation, a generation not belonging to the wicked generation of Adam (Acts 2:40), called to become "children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation." -- Philippians 2:15.

Nevertheless, when we look at gennema in Matthew 3:7; 12:34; 23:33; Luke 3:7, and in comparison with other scriptures, we should see that Jesus is not referring to "race" or "nationality" as such, as though to the Jewish nation, but rather to the standing of these Jews in relationship to God. As long as they continued in disobedience, they were children of disobedience, and thus offspring of vipers, as the rest of humanity condemned in Adam. (Ephesians 2:2,3) That they are considered a part of the "world" (kosmos) can be seen by Jesus' words in John 12:47,48, where Jesus parallels the "world" with those who rejected him. At that time, Jesus had only gone to the house of Israel, and thus the words could only apply to Jews who had rejected him. Such Jews, instead of obtaining the righteousness offered through the Law to any who could obey that Law, the Law only actually showed up their disobedience, and thereby their continuance as offspring of vipers. (Romans 3:20; 5:20; 9:31) Israel was indeed the offspring of Abraham, who had been justified by means of his faith, and of his particular obedience in harmony with that faith. -- Romans 4:3,13; 4:15.
We should remember that, as a nation, Israel was indeed called a 'holy nation' (Exodus 19:6; Isaiah 49:7), a nation set apart, chosen by God, out of the world. As individuals, however, they are not of a holy generation simply by being of that holy nation, or by having the law, since obedience, and not just hearing, was required. (Leviticus 18:5; Deuteronomy 31:12; Romans 2:12,13; 10:5; Galatians 3:12) Jesus did recognize (reckon) justified Abraham as the father of the disobedient Jews by physical ancestry, but he also said that Satan was their father. (John 8:38-56) We can thus assume that, as a race, as a nation, Jesus spoke of Abraham as the father of Israel, but as disobedient children who were not individually justified by faith, they continued to be children of wrath, a generation of vipers.

At any rate, our conclusion is that when Jesus said this "generation will not pass away" until all things are fulfilled (Matthew 24:34; Mark 13:30; Luke 21:32), he was saying that the offspring condemned in Adam will not pass away until all things had been fulfilled. This harmonizes with his following statement that "Heaven and earth will pass away." (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33) The present heaven and earth [the present ecclesiastical and social order that has been corrupted through lust -- 1 Peter 1:4] is the "generation" that Jesus speaks of as passing away.
See our study: