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Old 08-19-2001, 09:58 AM   #1
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Lightbulb Why "this generation" in Mat 24:34 does NOT have to mean the current generation!

I just read Brian Rainey's article regarding the greek word genea (generation) at This Greek word is used in the New Testament to refer to generations other than the contemporary one:

Acts 13:36 For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, and was laid to his fathers, and saw corruption:

Hebrews 3:10 Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.

Because of this, the context of "genea" must be used to determine which generation is being spoken of. This means that our whole argument must center around the little word "autay," translated 'this" in Matthew 24:34. I am sure that most will agree with me that how we use the word "this" in English is irrelevant to our argument. Instead, it is how the people who wrote the NT used the word "autay," translated "this," that is important.

It is true that most of the uses of "this generation" in the New Testament do involve the contemporary generation that Jesus was speaking to. But you cannot conclusively argue that this MUST mean that Jesus was referring to the contemporary generation in the Olivet discourse, unless you can prove that the word "autay", translated "this" in Matthew 24:34, IS ONLY USED TO REFER TO SOMETHING in close physical proximity. If there are instances in the new Testament where "autay" is used to refer to something that is being spoken of, but that is not in close physical proximity to the speaker or writer, then your argument collapses.

In Matthew 24:34, the Greek word "autay" (this) is immediately preceded by the noun that it refers to (genea). This - the word "autay" immediately following the noun that it refers to - is a unique grammatical construction that only occurs 20 times in the New Testament. And so we must examine these instances to determine whether your argument is correct or not. To begin with, in all 20 of these instances, there is only one other place, outside of the Olivet discourse, where "genea autay" is used to refer to the current generation. That is hardly enough occurrences to make your case.

Buit even more importantly, in the appendix below, I list all 20 places in the NT where this unique grammatical construction occurs. As you can see, among these 20, there are indeed two places in the New Testament where "autay" refers to something that is being spoken of that is not in close physical proximity to the speaker:

I Co 11:15 and a woman, if she have long hair, a glory this [doxa autay] is to her, because the hair instead of a covering hath been given to her

In this verse, there is no woman literally in front of Paul. He uses the word "this" because she is in "front" of him in his mind. In the same way, the generation Jesus was speaking of was "in front" of him in his mind.

2 Co 2:6 This punishment [ epitimia autay] which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man

In the last verse, Paul spoke of an event that occurred in Corinth, far away from where he was writing. This punishment was not near to him in physical proximity, but rather near to him in his mind because he was focusing on it. In the same way, I believe that Jesus used the words "this generation" to refer to the generation he was talking about.

In fact, in the instances below, "autay' is consistently used to refer to a subject that attention is already being focused on. They are "near" in the minds of the speaker and listeners. It is not, however, consistently used to refer to things that are near in actual physical proximity. And so it is not true that Jesus MUST have been referring to the generation he was talking to is false. It is more likely that he was referring to the generation he was already speaking of, the "fig tree" generation which sees the celestial events He has just described coming to pass.


Rusty Entrekin


In Matthew 24:34, was Jesus referring to the generation He was talking about, or the generation He was talking to? Reading this verse in the context of the preceding verses helps us to determine this:

Matthew 24:32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth`leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

The context indicates that our Lord was referring to the generation He was talking about, for the following reasons:

1. Notice that in the above passage, each verse further reinforces the significance of the previous verse. When "all" of these things are seen taking place, know that the time is near. So near, in fact, that the generation who sees these signs will not pass away until all of these things are fulfilled. Jesus then further drives home His point by stating the infallibility of His words.

2. Verse 34 begins with the greek word amen, meaning "truly". In the gospels, when Jesus began a statement with the word amen, it often further reinforced the meaning of the words He had just spoken. See, for instance, Mt 5:18, Mt 5:26, Mt 13:17, Mt 17:20, Lk 5:25, Jn 5:24, and Jn 16:20.

3. Below I have quoted all 20 instances in the NT in which the Greek Word autay, meaning "this" immediately follows the noun it refers to. In each case, notice that attention has already been directed to the noun preceeding autay. This means it is likely that in Matthew 24:34, Jesus was referring to the generation he was already speaking of in the preceeding verses: the 'fig tree" generation which will see "all" of the remarkable events He has just described coming to pass.

Mark 8:12 kai {AND} anastenaxaj tw {HAVING GROANED} pneumati autou {IN HIS SPIRIT} legei {HE SAYS,} ti h {WHY} genea auth {THIS GENERATION} shmeion {A SIGN} epizhtei {SEEKS?} amhn {VERILY} legw {I SAY} umin ei {TO YOU,} doqhsetai th {IF THERE SHALL BE GIVEN} genea tauth {TO THIS GENERATION} shmeion {A SIGN.}

Mark 12:16 oi de {AND THEY} hnegkan {BROUGHT IT.} kai {AND} legei {HE SAYS} autoij {TO THEM,} tinoj h {WHOSE IS}eikwn auth {THIS IMAGE} kai {AND} h {THE} epigrafh oi {INSCRIPTION?} de {AND THEY} eipon {SAID} autw {TO HIM,} kaisaroj {CAESAR'S.}

Mark 12:43 kai {AND} proskalesamenoj touj {HAVING CALLED TO HIM} maqhtaj autou {HIS DISCIPLES} legei {HE SAYS} autoij {TO THEM,} amhn {VERILY} legw {I SAY} umin {TO YOU,} oti h {THAT}chra auth h {THIS WIDOW} ptwch {POOR} pleion {MORE} pantwn {THAN ALL} beblhken {HAS CAST IN} twn {OF THOSE} balontwn {CASTING} eij {INTO} to {THE} gazofulakion {TREASURY.}

Mark 13:30 amhn {VERILY} legw {I SAY} umin {TO YOU,} oti ou {THAT} mh {IN NO WISE} parelqh h {WILL HAVE PASSED AWAY} genea auth {THIS GENERATION,} mecrij ou {UNTIL} panta {ALL} tauta {THESE THINGS} genhtai {SHALL HAVE TAKEN PLACE.}

Mark 14:4 hsan de {AND WERE} tinej {SOME} aganaktountej {INDIGNANT} proj {WITHIN} eautouj {THEMSELVES,} kai {AND} legontej {SAYING,} eij {FOR} ti h {WHAT} apwleia auth {THIS WASTE} tou {OF THE} murou {OINTMENT} gegonen {HAS BEEN MADE?}

Luke 4:21 hrxato de {AND HE BEGAN} legein {TO SAY} proj {TO} autouj oti {THEM,} shmeron {TODAY} peplhrwtai h {IS FULFILLED}grafh auth{THIS SCRIPTURE} en toij {IN} wsin umwn {YOUR EARS.}

Luke 8:9 ephrwtwn de {AND ASKED} auton oi {HIM} maqhtai autou {HIS DISCIPLES,} legontej {SAYING,} tij {WHAT} eih h {MAY BE}parabolh auth {THIS PARABLE?}

Luke 11:29 twn de {BUT THE} oclwn {CROWDS} epaqroizomenwn {BEING THRONGED TOGETHER} hrxato {HE BEGAN} legein h {TO SAY,}genea{GENERATION}auth{THIS} ponhra {WICKED} estin {IS;} shmeion {A SIGN} epizhtei {IT SEEKS AFTER,} kai {AND} shmeion {A SIGN} ou {NOT} doqhsetai {SHALL BE GIVEN} auth ei {TO IT} mh {EXCEPT} to {THE} shmeion {SIGN} iwna {OF JONAH} tou {THE} profhtou {PROPHET.}

Luke 21:3 kai {AND} eipen {HE SAID,} alhqwj {OF A TRUTH} legw {I SAY} umin {TO YOU,} oti h {THAT} chra h {WIDOW} ptwch {POOR}auth{THIS} pleion {MORE} pantwn {THAN ALL} ebalen {CAST IN;}

Luke 21:32 amhn {VERILY} legw {I SAY} umin {TO YOU,} oti ou {THAT} mh {IN NO WISE} parelqh h {WILL HAVE PASSED AWAY} genea auth {THIS GENERATION} ewj an {UNTIL} panta {ALL} genhtai {SHALL HAVE TAKEN PLACE.}

Acts 9:36 en {AND IN} iopph de {JOPPA} tij {A CERTAIN} hn {WAS} maqhtria {DISCIPLE,} onomati {BY NAME} tabiqa {TABITHA,} h {WHICH} diermhneuomenh {BEING INTERPRETED} legetai {IS CALLED} dorkaj{DORCAS,}auth{SHE} hn {WAS} plhrhj {FULL} agaqwn {OF GOOD} ergwn {WORKS} kai {AND} elehmosunwn {OF ALMS} wn {WHICH} epoiei {SHE DID.}

1 Corinthians 11:15 gunh {A WOMAN} de {BUT} ean {IF} koma {HAVE LONG HAIR,}doxa{GLORY}auth{TO HER} estin {IT IS;} oti {FOR} h {THE} komh {LONG HAIR} anti {INSTEAD} peribolaiou {OF A COVERING} dedotai {IS GIVEN} auth {TO HER.}

2 Corinthians 2:6 ikanon {SUFFICIENT} tw toioutw {TO SUCH A ONE IS} h epitimia auth {THIS REBUKE} h {WHICH IS} upo {BY} twn {THE} pleionwn {GREATER PART;}

Ephesians 3:8 emoi {TO ME,} tw {THE} elacistoterw {LESS THAN THE LEAST} pantwn {OF ALL} twn {THE} agiwn {SAINTS,} edoqh {WAS GIVEN} h carij auth{THIS GRACE,} en {AMONG} toij {THE} eqnesin {NATIONS} euaggelisasqai {TO ANNOUNCE THE GLAD TIDINGS} ton {THE} anexicniaston {UNSEARCHABLE} plouton {RICHES} tou {OF THE} cristou {CHRIST,}

Titus 1:13 h marturia auth {THIS TESTIMONY} estin {IS} alhqhj {TRUE;} di {FOR} hn {WHICH} aitian {CAUSE} elegce {CONVICT} autouj {THEM} apotomwj {WITH SEVERITY,} ina {THAT} ugiainwsin {THEY MAY BE SOUND} en {IN} th {THE} pistei {FAITH,}

[Edited by me only to correct error in original link to Brian Rainey's article. --Don--]

[ August 19, 2001: Message edited by: Donald Morgan ]
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Old 08-19-2001, 10:06 AM   #2
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Nice website!

Where is QoS?
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Old 08-19-2001, 10:22 AM   #3
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Please pardon the small typos. Does anyone know how I can correct them? They cast a bad light on a carefully researched posting - Rusty
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Old 08-19-2001, 10:32 AM   #4
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Click on the icon just above the post to edit the post.

I also think that as a serious argument, this post would fit better in the Bible Criticism and Archaeology forum than here, so I'm going to move it there before you find out just why we call this forum "the lion's den".
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Old 08-19-2001, 11:19 AM   #5
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Also, I see that the link to the article does not work, due to the period at the end. Here is the correct URL.

Also, teo other relevent articles - Brian Rainey's original article and Roger Hutchinson's response.
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Old 08-19-2001, 11:34 AM   #6
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A review of what scholars say on the controversy from the same mag.

Rainey's reply to Hutchinson

Farrell Till's remarks on Hutchinson

It's pretty clear that Jesus (and later Paul) both thought the end of the world was imminent and would occur soon, while that generation was still alive.

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Old 08-19-2001, 11:39 AM   #7
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[Note: Inasmuch as this topic is Feedback to a Secular Web article, it has been moved to Feedback Discussion. --Don--]
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