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John Reece
09-09-2015, 08:06 AM
Please: Do not post any cabala in this thread.

Text: Matthew 24:34 (NA27):

ἀμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη ἕως ἂν πάντα ταῦτα γένηται.

Transliteration (Accordance):

amēn legō hymin hoti ou mē parelthȩ̄ hē genea hautē heōs an panta tauta genētai.

Translation (ESV):

Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

Grammatical Analysis (Zerwick/BDAG, meanings in this context):

οὐ μή : with subjunctive strong negative: will not.
παρέλθῃ : aorist subjunctive of παρέρχομαι pass by, pass away, disappear.
γενεά : generation.
ἕως ἂν πάντα ταῦτα γένηται : until all these these things will have taken place.

From The Gospel of Matthew (NCNT: Eerdmans, 2007), by R. T. France:


34 Jesus’ answer to the disciples’ question “When?” does not offer a specific date, but it does conclude with a definite time within which “these things” (verse 3)* will take place, and that time-scale is introduced with all the solemnity of an amen-saying (see on 5:18), compounded by the emphatic negative construction which I have rather woodenly represented by “certainly not.” “Generation,” as elsewhere in Matthew, is a temporal term (note especially its use in 1:17 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+1%3A17&version=ESV)). “This generation” has been used frequently in this gospel for Jesus’ contemporaries, especially in a context of God’s impending judgment: see 11:16 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+11%3A16&version=ESV); 12:39 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+12%3A39&version=ESV), 41–42 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+12%3A41-42&version=ESV), 45 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+12%3A45&version=ESV); 16:4 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+16%3A4&version=ESV); 17:17 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+17%3A17&version=ESV) and especially 23:36 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+23%3A36&version=ESV) where God’s judgment on “this generation” leads up to Jesus’ first prediction of the devastation of the temple in 23:38 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+23%3A38&version=ESV). It may safely be concluded that if it had not been for the embarrassment caused by supposing that Jesus was here talking about his parousia no one would have thought of suggesting any other meaning for “this generation,” such as “the Jewish race” or “human beings in general” or “all the generations of Judaism that reject him” or even “this kind” (meaning scribes, Pharisees and Sadducees). Such broad senses, even if they were lexically possible, would offer no help in response to the disciples’ question “When?” Now that we have seen that the reference is to the destruction of the temple, which did as a matter of fact take place some 40 years later while many of Jesus’ contemporaries must have been still alive, all such contrived renderings may be laid to rest. This verse refers to the same time-scale as 16:28 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+16%3A28&version=ESV) (which was also concerned with the fulfillment of Dan 7:13–14 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=dan+7%3A13-14&version=ESV)): “some of those standing here will certainly not taste death before …” (cf. also 10:23 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+10%3A23&version=ESV), with the same Daniel reference: “you will not go through all the towns of Israel before …”).**

*A. Gibbs, Jerusalem 205–206, notes and defends a shift in the sense of “these things” between verses 33 and 34: in verse 33 it refers to the preliminary events of the siege, in verse 34 the whole complex of events including the actual destruction of the temple (as in the disciples’ question in verse 3) (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+24%3A3&version=ESV).
**E. Lövestam, in J. Lambrecht, ed., L’Apocalypse johannique 412–413, suggests that a recognition of the OT background to “this generation” in Jesus’ teaching (see p. 433, n. 47) enables its use here to be extended as far as the unknown time of the parousia; but this is to ignore both the clearly temporal nature of the disciples’ question and the clear temporal limitations expressed in other words in the parallel passages noted above.

Among the "contrived" interpretations of Matthew 24:34 down through the ages is that of Hal Lindsey, author of The Late Great Planet Earth in 1970; from Wikipedia (color emphasis added):


Premise and plot

The Late Great Planet Earth is a treatment of literalist, premillennial, dispensational eschatology. As such, it compared end-time prophecies in the Bible with then-current events in an attempt to broadly predict future scenarios leading to the rapture of believers before the tribulation and Second Coming of Christ to establish his thousand-year (i.e. millennial) Kingdom on Earth. Focusing on key passages in the books of Daniel, Ezekiel and Revelation, Lindsey originally suggested the possibility that these climactic events might play out in the 1980s, which he interpreted as one generation from the foundation of modern Israel in 1948, a pivotal event in some conservative evangelical schools of eschatological thought. Cover art on the Bantam edition boldly suggested that the 1970s were the "era of the Antichrist as foretold by Moses and Jesus," and called the book "a penetrating look at incredible ancient prophecies involving this generation." Descriptions of alleged "fulfilled" prophecy were offered as proof of the infallibility of God's Word, and evidence that "unfulfilled" prophecies would soon find their denouement in God's plan for the planet.

He cited an increase in the frequency of famines, wars and earthquakes, as key events leading up to the end of the world. He also foretold a Soviet invasion of Israel (War of Gog and Magog). Lindsey also predicted that the European Economic Community, which preceded the European Union, was destined (according to Biblical prophecy) to become a "United States of Europe", which in turn he says is destined to become a "Revived Roman Empire" ruled by the Antichrist. Lindsey wrote that he had concluded, since there was no apparent mention of America in the books of Daniel or Revelation, that America would not be a major player on the geopolitical stage by the time the tribulations of the end times arrived. He found little in the Bible that could represent America, but he suggested that Ezekiel 38:13 could be speaking of America in part.

Although Lindsey did not claim to know the dates of future events with any certainty, he suggested that Matthew 24:32-34 indicated that Jesus' return might be within "one generation" of the rebirth of the state of Israel, and the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple, and Lindsey asserted that "in the Bible" one generation is forty years. Some readers took this as an indication that the Tribulation or the Rapture would occur no later than 1988 (http://www.amazon.com/reasons-Why-Rapture-Will-1988/dp/B00073BM8O). In his 1980 work The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon, Lindsey predicted that "the decade of the 1980s could very well be the last decade of history as we know it"

The reason why Hal Lindsey and his ilk turn out to be mistaken in their predictions with regard to time is that they misinterpret what the Scriptures actually say and mean with regard to time.

Faber
09-09-2015, 09:38 AM
αὕτη is definitely the key word. You should have included that in the Grammatical Analysis.

robrecht
09-09-2015, 09:48 AM
αὕτη is definitely the key word. You should have included that in the Grammatical Analysis.
Zerwick only includes grammatical forms or vocabulary that might be difficult for a reader who has already mastered an introductory course in Greek. There are some on-line parsing guides that give such details on every word.

Geert van den Bos
09-09-2015, 01:41 PM
“An evil and adulterous generation" (Matthew 12:39) presupposes a generation that is not evil and adulterous. It says nothing about time, and also nothing about sequence, like if there first was a generation, now passed away, that was not evil and adulterous.

The Olivet discourse is directed towards Jesus' disciples, even to his disciples privately.

They asked for a sign, like evil and adulterous generations use to do.

So "this generation" in v.34 does not refer to a "first-century" generation or to all men living by the time Jesus was about to be crucified, but to the disciples that not yet did believe the "See I am with you all the days until the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20)

i.e. the end is of no interest.

v. 2, Οὐ βλέπετε ταῦτα πάντα== don't look at all these things! (The question-mark was only added later)

That this is the meaning of it might be clear from v.4 where βλέπετε is repeated:

Βλέπετε μή τις ὑμᾶς πλανήσῃ: Watch out that no one leads you astray.

i.e. Watch out for Preterists.

The thread starter specifically requested that no cabala be posted in this thread, so I am removing this post accordingly. Please do not post any more cabala here.

John Reece
09-09-2015, 05:51 PM
Zerwick only includes grammatical forms or vocabulary that might be difficult for a reader who has already mastered an introductory course in Greek. There are some on-line parsing guides that give such details on every word.

:thumb: It would be too tedious for me to include every Greek word in every post in the Greek language threads I am all too used to posting.

However, Faber makes a good point in this case, in which the αὕτη ([hautē] = feminine of οὗτος [houtos] = this) is the key word with regard to facetious and fallacious objections to the plain and simple language of the text.

Here is BDAG's entry relevant to the occurrence in Matthew 24:34:


2. as adjective pertaining to an entity perceived as present or near in the discourse, this b. following the substantive that has the article..

In Matthew 24:34, the phrase is ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη = article + substantive + adjective this generation.

The exegesis by R. T. France in the opening post (http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?8347-Matthew-24-34&p=242438&viewfull=1#post242438) is perfectly correct. However, for a second opinion, I turn to the third volume of The International Critical Commentary (ICC): Matthew 19-28, by W. D. Davies and D. C. Allison:


.... "All these things" refers to the eschatological scenario as outlined in verses 4-31 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+24%3A4-31&version=ESV) and declares that it shall come to pass before Jesus' 'generation' has gone. In favor of this is the imminent eschatological expectation of many early Christians (cf. especially 10:23 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+10%3A23&version=ESV) and Mark 9:1 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mar+9%3A1&version=ESV)) as well as in John 21:20-23 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=joh+21%3A20-23&version=ESV), which reflects the belief that Jesus would come before all his disciples had died. So most modern commentators.

....

.... γενεά plainly refers to Jesus' contemporaries in 11:16 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+11%3A16&version=ESV); 12:39 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+12%3A39&version=ESV), 41 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+12%3A41&version=ESV), 42 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+12%3A42&version=ESV), 45 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+12%3A45&version=ESV), 16:4 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+16%3A4&version=ESV); and 17:17 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+17%3A17&version=ESV) as well as in the close parallel in 23:36 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+23%3A36&version=ESV), and the placement in our verse after a prophecy of the parousia is suggestive. If it be objected that this makes for a false prophecy and raises the issue of 2 Peter 3.3-4, we can only reply that some of Jesus' contemporaries were perhaps still alive when Matthew wrote, so he did not have the problem we do. In summary, then, the last judgment will fall upon 'this generation' as earlier judgments fell upon the generation of the flood and the generation of the wilderness.

24.34 = Mark 13.30 accurately reflects the teaching of Jesus himself. Whether or not our saying was created out of the tradition behind 10.23 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mat+10%3A23&version=ESV) and Mark 9.1 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=mar+9%3A1&version=ESV) or represents a separate logion, the best explanation for the church's Naherwartung ["expectation of an imminent event"] and John 21:20-3 (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=joh+21%3A20-23&version=ESV) is that Jesus himself used the language of imminence.

Catholicity
09-12-2015, 06:49 PM
That's interesting, I had always read the scripture as "this generation" referring to the Apostles, but so many in my youth group seemed to be in hysterics with the "coming end time"

John Reece
09-12-2015, 07:45 PM
That's interesting, I had always read the scripture as "this generation" referring to the Apostles, but so many in my youth group seemed to be in hysterics with the "coming end time"

Thanks for the comment, Catholicity.

Rushing Jaws
04-17-2016, 01:22 PM
Is there any reason "this generation" cannot refer:
both to the immediate hearers of Our Lord when He said those words -
and also, to the Christian hearers of the Gospel being read ?

St Matthew presents his material elsewhere in a way that gives it a "double focus", so to speak - the blessing on St Peter at his confession of the Identity of Our Lord, can be read as:

1. a blessing on St Peter at that moment
2. a blessing on the Christian hearers of that part of the Gospel
3. a blessing on those in time to come - whether future to St Matthew or to those in group 2 - who would make the confession of Our Lord's Identity their own.

St Matthew is very fond of representing Our Lord as Messianic King: maybe the Gospel, with its summons to repentance and its warning of the wrath to come, is to be read as a royal ultimatum for "this generation" and every generation to come, that would, so long as it lasted, be "this generation" ?

In support of this three-fold reference of those words "this generation", perhaps the three-fold division of "Messianic time" is relevant - for instance, Our Lord:

1. has come in the past
2. is the Coming One in the present
3. will come again at the Last Day.

This three-fold division applies to many things, like salvation - so maybe it applies here too ?

John Reece
04-18-2016, 08:06 AM
Is there any reason "this generation" cannot refer:
both to the immediate hearers of Our Lord when He said those words -
and also, to the Christian hearers of the Gospel being read ?

Yes: the reason is that the text quite specifically defines the meaning of "this generation" in this context with a specificity that excludes other possible interpretations in other contexts.

See here (http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?8347-Matthew-24-34&p=242438&viewfull=1#post242438) and here (http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/showthread.php?8347-Matthew-24-34&p=242825&viewfull=1#post242825).