there any satisfying answers to one of the most
persuasive challenges ever made against the
Marshall "Rusty" Entrekin
I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till
all these things be fulfilled.” - Matthew 24:34
controversial verse is in all three of the Olivet
Discourse accounts. (These accounts are to be found in
Matthew 24:1-51, Mark 13:1-37, and Luke 21:5-33). For
some time, critics of the Christian faith have argued
that Jesus explicitly said here that all of the events
prophesied in the Olivet Discourse, including His
return, would happen before the last person living at
that time died.
I spent some time dialoging with the atheists and
agnostics at http://www.infidels.org,
this was one of their favorite criticisms of the Christian
faith. Jesus promised, they claim, that He would return
within that generation, but He did not. Since He was
wrong, they assert, He could not have been God, so the
Christian faith, they claim, is based on error. To bolster
their argument, they claim that in all of the other places
in the Gospels where Jesus used the term “this
generation,” he was referring to people living at that
Christian Responses to That Challenge
Lewis: Matthew 24:34 was an "exhibition of error"
have been various responses by Christians to this
criticism of the Christian faith. Among these, one is
particularly striking. All people, no matter how much we
admire them, sometimes say or write things we wish they
had not. It is usually best to ignore such lapses and
allow time to bury them, but the author is going to make
an exception in this case, because it illustrates
just what a challenge the problem we have been considering
has seemed to the integrity of the Christian faith. This
argument has, on the surface, seemed so convincing that
even the great Christian thinker and apologist C.S. Lewis
despaired at finding a solution to it. Lewis, who usually
provided able defenses of the Christian faith, in this one
instance reluctantly conceded to the assertion of the
skeptics that Jesus was in error. He attributed this to
the limited knowledge Jesus had in His incarnate human
what you like," we shall be told [by some critics], "the
apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been
proved to be false. It is clear from the New
Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in
their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a
reason, and one which you will find very
embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He
shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said
in so many words, 'This generation shall not pass till all
these things be done.' And he was wrong. He
clearly knew no more about the end of the world than
anyone else." [Here the imaginary critics
end speaking. CS Lewis begins next.]
It is certainly the most embarrassing verse
in the Bible. Yet how teasing, also, that within
fourteen words of it should come the statement "But of that
day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which
are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father." The
one exhibition of error and the one confession of ignorance
grow side by side.1
this, the skeptic may reply, “If Jesus incorrectly
predicted His return within the contemporaneous
generation, but actually did not know that He was going to
return within that time frame, then why did He so
confidently assert that all of the words He had just
spoken would come to pass in Matthew 24:35? He said,
‘Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not
pass away.’ ”
skeptic has a good point here, one that causes us to
desire a better answer. Surely, Lewis himself hoped for
Preterists: The Second Coming did happen, in 70 AD
Christians accept the idea that Jesus was speaking of
the generation of the apostles, but admirably refuse to
believe that Jesus could have been wrong about it. Full
Preterists are such a group, but unfortunately,
they resort to redefining orthodox Christian doctrines
to accommodate their view that Christ returned before
the generation of the apostles died out.
claim that Jesus did return spiritually before
that generation passed away, in judgment on the nation
of Israel, when Titus besieged and destroyed Jerusalem
in 70AD. This leads them to the conclusion that events
associated with the Second Coming such as the
resurrection, and even the inauguration of the New
Heavens and New Earth, have already occurred. None of
these things, they claim, was visible to the naked human
eye. Although the bodies of Christians still remain in
their graves, Full Preterists assert that they
nevertheless still have been resurrected (in a
sort of second re-embodiment that was not witnessed by
any living person).
doing so, they deny the foundational Christian
doctrine of the resurrection of the body, taught in the
Old and New Testaments, as well as ancient creeds.
I have spoken with some Full Preterists who firmly believe
that Jesus predicted a first century return in Matthew
24:34. “If Jesus was wrong about this,” one of them said, “I
would be forced to reject Christianity.” This, he claimed,
led him to embrace Full Preterism. “I do not want to hold to
a doctrine that violates the creeds,” he said, “but I see no
other solution.” If this man was sincere, then like him, no
one should want to hold to an unorthodox theological
view. C.S. Lewis, for instance, did not want to
believe that Jesus was wrong. The acid test of this man's
sincerity will be this: when a reasonable orthodox solution
presents itself, will he abandon Full Preterism, or
stubbornly dig his feet in and defend it? Some Full
Preterists seem to ardently defend Full Preterism because it
is a cherished view. Shouldn’t an answer that does not
deny orthodox doctrines be sought, hoped for and preferred,
rather than strongly resisted?
Some men have become so attached to unorthodox doctrines,
that they are like the captive British officer in the movie
Bridge Over the River Kwai. He devoted so
much time, pride and effort to building a bridge his captors
forced him to make, that when the Allies came to destroy the
bridge, he died defending it! In fact, I wonder if some Full
Preterists have fully recognized that by strongly defending
the idea that Jesus promised a first century return, they
are agreeing with the contentions of atheists, agnostics,
No one should be so unswervingly devoted to a highly
problematic view, that when a better one presents itself, he
stubbornly defends his old view. Even if one has devoted
much valuable time to developing his view, he must lay it
all on the altar of truth for Christ. We must remember
who we are fighting for! We should not be fighting for
a cherished opinion, but for Christ!
There is a better way than to embrace unorthodox doctrines
in the first place. When we cannot see a solution, it is
better for us to humbly admit our lack of understanding to
God, rather than rush into an heretical view that
compromises scriptural truths. Instead, we should diligently
seek God for a solution, and humbly wait in faith for Him to
shed light on the scriptures.
So while we agree with the resolution of Full Preterists
that Jesus could not have been wrong, there are simply too
many missteps, difficulties and compromises inherent to
their solution to the problem. Instead, we should hope
and look for a better answer, one that does not deny
doctrines foundational to the faith.
Preterists: Jesus returned in 70 AD,
but this was not the final coming of Christ
find the idea of a resurrection that leaves the body in
the grave hardly credible. While also accepting the
skeptic’s claim that Jesus predicted a first century
return, they do not resort to redefining orthodox
doctrines. Like Full Preterists, they believe that Jesus did
return, in 70 AD, in judgment on the nation of Israel, but
unlike them, they believe that this was not the end-time,
visible coming of Christ predicted in other places of
scripture. Partial Preterism has been championed by men
such as Kenneth Gentry, Gary DeMar, Hank Hanegraaff, and
with the Preterist views
Preterists do not accept Partial Preterism, because they
believe that scripture does not teach multiple Comings
of Christ. But doesn’t scripture have examples of our
Lord coming in judgment on nations and individuals
(Isaiah 19:1, Rev. 2:5, 16)? I ask Full Preterists,
would it not be preferable to adopt the orthodox Partial
Preterist view, rather than one that contradicts
doctrines that the church has held to be true for nearly
two millennia? While Partial Preterism has its
difficulties, they are fewer in number and less severe
than those of Full Preterism.
although Partial Preterism is an admirable and orthodox
attempt to reconcile the rest of scripture with Matthew
24:34, I do see one particular difficulty with this view
when it is applied to the Olivet Discourse. This
difficulty applies to both the Partial Preterist and Full
Preterist views. The Preterist view of the Olivet
Discourse forces one to spiritualize or allegorize
important portions of it, especially verses 30 and 31:
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in
heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn,
and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of
heaven with power and great glory.
31 And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a
trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the
four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
statements seem very plain. I think that the average
skeptic would take them as intended to mean just what
they seem to say. Let's be realistic: because of the
allegorizing or spiritualizing required to make these
words fit within a first century time frame, would the
average skeptic find the Preterist interpretation of
these verses very convincing? I doubt it. However,
Partial Preterism has it's strengths, most notably the
fact that the
destruction of the temple foretold in Luke is an exact
match of historical events. In light of that, it seems
that a good solution would incorporate this and other
strong elements of Partial Preterism.
Partial Preterists and Full Preterists feel that
Matthew 24:34 compels them to believe that all of the
Olivet Discourse must have been fulfilled within the
generation of the apostles. But no doubt, the orthodox
Partial Preterists find themselves uncomfortable
partners with the unorthodox Full Preterists when they
argue for a first generation fulfillment of the Olivet
Discourse. And both of these groups surely would prefer
not to be strange bedfellows with Atheists, Agnostics,
Muslims, and liberal theologians in arguing that Jesus
must have been referring to the contemporaneous
generation in Matthew 24:34. Who would want to
agree with one of the major contentions that the enemies
of the Christian faith use to undermine the Christian
view? Would the critics so ardently promote this
criticism if they felt that the Preterist view
adequately explained the Olivet
All aspects of the Olivet Discourse are yet to be
Futurists believe that all of the Olivet Discourse, most
notably the portions describing the return of Christ and
the events soon preceding it, refer to as-yet
unfulfilled events. However, since
Luke's account of the destruction of the city and temple
were exactly fulfilled in 70 AD, a more satisfying
answer would take this into account.
there better answers?
of love and concern for some Full Preterists I know and
those that they influence, I have spent many hours in
scripture meditation, research, and agonizing prayer
looking for better answers to this challenge to our
faith. That has been my primary motivation, but my
concern is not just for them. This objection to the
Christian faith that we have been discussing is perhaps
the most powerful challenge to our faith that has ever
been presented. It is therefore no wonder that the
atheists and agnostics at www.infidels.org were so quick
to use it against me when I engaged in forum dialogue
with them. During this dialogue, to see how they would
react, I informed them of the Full Preterist view. They
flatly rejected it as a desperate attempt to
rescue the Christian faith! Most atheists and agnostics,
upon hearing any of the first three explanations above,
would, I think, reject them due to their inherent
light of that, I have looked for answers to this
objection to the Christian faith that do not force us to
allegorize or spiritualize any portions of the Olivet
I have concluded that there is much grammatical and
contextual evidence that is compatible with four
alternative interpretations of Matthew 24:34, and ask
those who read this not to dismiss these views offhand,
without first considering the evidence for these views
that I am about to present.
All four of these
views permit us to regard the portions of the Olivet
Discourse which refer to the return of Christ and the
events shortly preceding it as futuristic, but those
that refer to the destruction of the Temple and the
city of Jerusalem as having already been fulfilled or
(To investigate the evidence for double-fulfillment more
thoroughly, be sure to read the footnotes and the link
provided.) Thus, all four of these interpretations of
Matthew 24:34 allow us to accept the entire Olivet
Discourse at face value, without allegorizing or
spiritualizing any of it.
present this evidence not only to skeptics of the
Christian faith, but also to Christians who have
embraced Preterism or the view of CS Lewis, as a
solution that allows us to accept the full import of all
of Christ’s words in the Olivet Discourse. Most
specifically, I present it to the Full Preterists I have
met and those influenced by them, in hope and prayer
that since they reject certain elements of Partial
Preterism, they will find in one of these views an
acceptable alternative to embracing unorthodox
doctrines. I beg of them to read it with a heart that is
open to being convinced by the scriptures and sound
of these four orthodox interpretations of Matthew 24:34
falls under the category of Partial Futurism. We
will examine each of these four views in detail, but
first, let's consider the contextual evidence for
Futurists: The Olivet Discourse
contains fulfilled and unfulfilled elements
Partial Futurist, rejecting the Partial Preterist idea
of two comings of Christ, holds that the Olivet
Discourse contains both fulfilled and unfulfilled
Some Partial Futurists hold
that Jesus had in mind two destructions of the city of
Jerusalem, so that His words would have double
to the footnotes below for more information concerning
double fulfillment. It
is my belief that Partial Futurism is the correct view,
and that it is able to take on the skeptics very well.
We will examine the evidence for this view next.
the scope of the Olivet Discourse was not limited to a
Preterists, in arguing that the scope of the Olivet
Discourse was limited to the first century, object to the
Partial Futurist view of the Olivet Discourse by claiming,
Olivet Discourse was spoken in reply to questions about
the temple. The temple was destroyed before the generation
of the apostles died out. So Jesus must have had
the contemporaneous generation in mind.”
course, there is no doubt that the first century and the
destruction of the temple in 70 AD were in view in the
Olivet Discourse (this is especially evident in Luke).
However, there is ample contextual evidence that the scope
of the Olivet Discourse was not limited to that event, or
to the first century.
are just a few of these evidences:
Jesus was asked not one, but three questions.
When we compare all three of the Olivet accounts, we see
that the disciples asked Jesus three questions.3
All three accounts record the first question,
"When shall these things be?"
Mark and Luke both record the second question,
"What will be the sign that they are about to take
place?" Note that these first two questions concern
the destruction of the temple.
The third question, recorded only in Matthew,
concerns the return of Christ: "What will be the
sign of your coming and of the end of the age?"
It therefore seems reasonable that Jesus would have
answered all three questions in his reply. We
would also expect Matthew to devote particular attention
to the sign preceding the Second Coming of Christ, since
only his gospel records this question.
three questions indicate that the time span covered by
the Olivet Discourse may be very long.
Jesus indicated that the Jews will recognize Him as
the Messiah when He returns.
The third question concerning Christ's coming was likely
provoked by the last statement Jesus had made concerning
it in Matthew 23:39, "For I say unto you, Ye shall not
see me henceforth, till ye shall say, ‘Blessed is he
that cometh in the name of the Lord.’" Surely, the Jews
did not cry that while Titus and His armies
were destroying their temple and city, and carrying
their wives and children into slavery!
Jesus, the apostle Paul also foretold a day in which all
of the nation of Israel will repent:
Romans 11:26, “And so all Israel
shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out
of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness
So did the prophet Zechariah:
Zec 12:10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon
the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of
supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have
pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for
his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one
that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
Jesus, Paul and Zechariah therefore must not have had 70
AD in mind, but rather a day in which Jesus will finally
be recognized as the Messiah by the Jews.
The “times of the gentiles” goes beyond the first
In the account of the Olivet Discourse in Luke 21, the
"times of the Gentiles" in verse 24 clearly goes beyond
the scope of the first century. It is the long period
that lies between the destruction of Jerusalem and the
day when Jerusalem is no longer controlled by Gentile
powers (it could possibly be argued that the Jewish
people do not even yet have full control).
21:24, “They will fall by the sword and will be taken as
prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled
on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are
the Times of the Gentiles comes to a close, there will be
signs in the heavens prior to our Lord's return:
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon,
and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of
nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring;
26 Men’s hearts failing them for
fear, and for looking after those things which are
coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be
And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud
with power and great glory.”
Jesus will return visibly.
Verse 27 above is in all three of the Olivet accounts.
It indicates that men will SEE the Son of Man coming.
This clear statement must be awkwardly allegorized
or spiritualized to fit it within a first century time
frame. These words were echoed again by John in
he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him,
and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the
earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen."
words “every eye” indicate that John understood Jesus
literally, not figuratively.
which pierced him" probably refers to the nation of the
Jews (but it may indicate that even the spirits of the
dead will be supernaturally enabled to see the Parousia).
1: 9-11 provides further evidence that the return of
Christ will be visible. In it reference is made to
seeing with the eyes five times:
When he had spoken these things, while they beheld,
he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven
as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white
Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing
up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from
you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have
seen him go into heaven.
His ascension was visible to the naked eye, and He will
return in “like manner,” we can reasonably expect that
his return will also be visible. Just like the Olivet
Discourse, this passage uses “cloud” language. Since the
disciples saw Jesus departing in a cloud in Acts
1:9-11, what reason, other than theological
preconception, do we have to believe that the meaning in
Luke 21:27, which uses the same language, and was
written by the very same author, Luke the
Physician, is any different?
Jesus instructed ALL believers, not just those in
Judea, to be ready for His coming.
The illustrations and parables which conclude the Olivet
Discourse (the days of Noah, the two men in the field,
the thief in the night, the unprofitable servant, the
ten virgins, etc.) beginning in Matthew 24:36, stress
the importance of ALL believers being ready for His
coming, not just those living in Judea, where the siege
of Jerusalem took place in 70 AD. This is powerful
evidence that in verse 31, Jesus is speaking of a Coming
other than a coming in judgment on Israel in 70 AD.
would Jesus close the Olivet Discourse with multiple
illustrations of the importance of ALL believers being
ready for His Return, if He had not even mentioned such
a coming in the preceding verses? It is true that in
Luke, some of these parables do not appear in the Olivet
Discourse. But where they appear elsewhere in Luke, they
obviously illustrate the Second Coming. This is
further evidence that the Coming in the Olivet Discourse
is the Second Coming of Christ.
the context of the Olivet Discourse leads us to the
conclusion that the scope of it is not limited at all to
the generation of the Apostles. Some of the things it
describes, such as the “times of the Gentiles,” and the
heavenly signs preceding Christ’s Coming, extend far
beyond the time of the Apostles.
The time frame covered by the Olivet Discourse begins
with the persecutions of the Apostles, stretches through
the destruction of the Temple and the city of Jerusalem
in 70 AD, the lengthy "times of the Gentiles," the
abomination of desolation and possibly a final attack on
Jerusalem, and ends with the Second Coming of Christ.
That is far beyond the lifetime of even the
longest-lived person alive at the time the Olivet
discourse was spoken.
as we have just seen there is very strong contextual and
scriptural evidence for the Partial Futurist view, many
people, because they believe that Matthew 24:34 refers
to the contemporaneous generation, feel compelled to
reject this evidence. It seems that for these people,
the tail wags the dog! But they need not resort to such
a stretch. As promised, we will now present three
alternative views of Matthew 24:34. Each of them, the
reader will be relieved to know, permits the dog to wag
Spiritual Generation Interpretation
view has been recently expressed by Dr.Gerardus D. Bouw.2
this view, Jesus was speaking of the generation of God's
children. God does not have grandchildren - he only has
sons and daughters. They are made His sons and daughters
by virtue of the new birth. Therefore, there is only one
generation of the spiritual children of God. There are
in fact many Bible verses which refer, both directly and
indirectly, to this generation of Jesus Christ. One of
the most notable of these may be Matthew 1:1.
Mat 1:1 The
book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David,
the son of Abraham.
Since the genealogy of
Christ does not constitute the entire book of Matthew, Dr.
Bouw suggests that this term refers to the complete book of
Matthew, and perhaps even prophetically to the entire New
Testament, as the record of the sons of the new Adam, Jesus
Dr. Bouw has traced this view of Matthew 1:1 to
translators as far back as the time of Jerome.
Although some might
dispute this interpretation of Matthew 1:1, there are many
other verses that refer to this generation of Jesus Christ.
Ps 14:5 There were
they in great fear: for God is in the generation of the
Ps 24:6 This is the
generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O
Ps 73:15 If I say, I
will speak thus; behold, I should offend against the
generation of thy children.
1Pe 2:9 But ye are a
chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a
peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of
him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous
Ps 22:30 A seed shall
serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a
Isa 8:18 Behold, I
and the children whom the LORD hath given me are for signs
and for wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, which
dwelleth in mount Zion.
Isa 53:10 Yet it
pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief:
when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he
shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the
pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
Ga 4:6 And because ye
are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into
your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
Php 2:15 That ye may
be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without
rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation,
among whom ye shine as lights in the world;
Heb 2:13 And again, I
will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the
children which God hath given me.
Jo 3:1 Behold, what
manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we
should be called the sons of God: therefore the world
knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
According to this view,
the disciples whom Jesus was talking to were a part the very
generation of God's children He was speaking of. By "this
generation," Jesus had in mind his own spiritual offspring,
some of whom were immediately before him. The sense of Jesus
in Matthew 24:34, therefore, was that despite the intense
persecution described earlier in the Olivet Discourse, the
generation of His children will not pass away from the earth
until all of the things spoken of in the Olivet Discourse
are fulfilled. This would fit in with the words of Jesus in
verses 21 and 22:
Matthew 24:21 For
then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the
beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall
22 And except those days should be shortened, there should
no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days
shall be shortened.
church father Jerome believed that Jesus was referring to
the offspring of man, and in particular to the
offspring of Jacob in Matthew 24:34. He wrote,
‘generation’ here He means the whole human race, and
the Jews in particular. And He adds, ‘Heaven and earth
shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away,’ to
confirm their faith in what has gone before; as though
He had said, it is easier to destroy things solid and
immovable, than that aught should fail of my words."
The Greek word genea,
translated “generation” here, does also mean the
offspring of a common human ancestor. It can also mean the
offspring of a spiritual parent (God, the World, or
Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament provides the
following definitions of this word:
1) a begetting, birth, nativity
that which has been begotten, men of the same stock, a
the several ranks of natural descent, the successive
members of a genealogy
metaph. a race of men very like each other in
endowments, pursuits, character
esp. in a bad sense, a perverse nation (Mt
17:17, Mk 9:19, Lk 9:41, 16:8, Ac 2:40)
the whole multitude of men living at the same time;
used especially of the Jewish race living at one and
the same period (Mt 11:16, 12:39, 41, sq. 45; 16:4,
23:36; Mk 8:12, 38; Lk 11:29 sq. 32, 50 sq.; 17:25;
acts 13:36; He 3:10; Lk 7:31;
Lk 11:31; Acts 8:33)
an age (i.e. the time ordinarily occupied by each
successive generation), a space of 30-33 years
And so we see that one of the primary definitions of genea
is that of a group of men of common descent.
to Criticisms of the "Offspring" View
critics of the Christian faith and Preterists quickly
dismiss Jerome’s interpretation. They
point out that the KJV usually translates genea
as “generation.” They are correct. In the King James
Version, genea is translated "generation"
thirty-seven times, "time" twice, "age" twice, and
"nation" only once. But this
argument is not as powerful as it appears at first
is because when the KJV was translated, a people of common
descent was one of the possible meanings of the English
word "generation." My modern Merriam-Webster's Dictionary
does not list this as a possible meaning, but my
old 1908 Webster provides the following definition:
Race; kind; family; breed; stock."
provides evidence of this old English use of the word:
mother's of my generation: what's she, if I be a dog?"
many of our modern versions have followed the precedent
of the KJV, this possible meaning of genea has
been lost to many readers of English translations,
because of the limited modern definition of this word.
That is unfortunate, as a quick look at Thayer's
definitions above illustrates that this Greek word had a
much broader meaning than our English word "generation"
does in modern times.
when we read the New Testament we must be careful not to
limit the meaning of genea to our modern
definition of "generation." In many instances, “offspring”
would be a better translation of genea for
modern readers than “generation,” because unlike our
modern word "generation," it leaves open the idea of a
group of people of common descent.
One notable example in
which "race" or "kind" seems to be the most fitting way to
translate genea is Luke 16:8. 6 The KJV
translates it like this:
Luke 16:8 And the lord
commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely:
for the children of this world are in their generation
wiser than the children of light.
However, the preposition
eis is used here, which is directive and in many other
places is translated "into," or "toward" in the KJV.
Preserving this sense of directiveness while translating
into modern English, we get the following:
"...for the sons of this
world are more shrewd toward their own kind than are
the sons of light."
In his commentary on Luke,
Alfred Plummer noted, "Men of the world in their dealings
with men like themselves are more prudent than the children
of light in their intercourse with one another." 7
of the Olivet Discourse, there are only two other places
in the entire New Testament in which the exact phrase genea
hautey, translated "this generation," is used. In
one of them, genea may be understood as
referring to Israel as a family, nation, or kind of men
without any damage at all to the sensibility of the
he sighed deeply in his spirit, and saith, Why doth this
generation seek after a sign? verily I say unto you,
There shall no sign be given unto this generation.
(Barnes, Gill, TFG) tell us that the meaning of this is
that no sign would be given such as they demanded.
Indeed, scripture does not indicate that any sign was
given from heaven by Jesus at the request of the Jewish
people to "prove" that He was the Messiah. The sign of
Jonas the prophet was given, but this was not just for
them, but for all men. They had not asked for this sign,
however, nor would a sign be given that they had asked
for. The prophecies that Jesus fulfilled, the miracles
that He performed, and the truth and depth of His
teachings were evidence enough for them, and these were
all given when He willed it, not upon their demand.]
that, in many of the other instances in
which genea is translated generation in the
KJV, it can likewise be translated offspring, race, or
if the learned and scholarly Church Father Jerome, who
lived much closer to the time of the writing of the New
Testament than we, took “offspring” as the meaning of genea
in Matthew 24:34, we should also seriously consider this
so we see that it is quite possible that Jesus meant
that the family of the Jews would not pass away before
all of these things happen. These words would thereby be
a source of comfort to all who wonder if the Jewish
people will survive, especially those destined to endure
horrible tribulations such as the Holocaust that
threatened to wipe out the race.
so the brute force of the skeptic’s argument is hereby
taken way. He cannot accurately claim that Jesus made a
false prediction based on the meaning of the word genea.
some Full Preterists contend, “Jesus said ‘This
generation shall not pass, TILL all these things be
word ‘till’ implies that generation will
eventually pass away.”
reflects a misunderstanding of the NT usage of the word
translated “till” in this verse. Jesus used the very
same Greek word (Strong’s 2193) in Matthew 22:44:
LORD said unto my Lord, 'Sit thou on my right hand, till
<2193> I make thine enemies thy footstool.'"
this mean that Jesus will no longer sit at the Fathers’
right hand after the Father makes His enemies His
footstool? Of course not!
consider Matthew 27:8: “Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto
<2193> this day.”
this mean that field was no longer called “The field of
blood” after Matthew penned those words? Obviously, the
answer is no.
addition, 1 Cor 15: 51-52 teaches us that all of the
elect who are alive at Christ’s Coming will be changed
in a twinkling of an eye, and will not “sleep”, or die:
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep,
but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the
last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead
shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
Therefore, the generation that is alive at Christ’s Coming
will never completely pass away. The meaning and
emphasis of Jesus, therefore, was not that the
generation He was speaking of will eventually pass away.
Rather, it was that the generation He was speaking of will
survive until His Coming.
way of further example, notice how I used the word
“until” in the last sentence. I did not mean
that the generation Jesus was speaking of will
objection to the “offspring” view, therefore, is without
any solid foundation.
I ask Full Preterists, would it not be better to embrace
the “offspring” view, a time-honored interpretation, or
the reasonable and scriptural "generation of God's
children" view, than to adopt an unorthodox theology that
presents so many difficulties?
As Darin Myers pointed out to me in
an email, "If the Son does not know the date of His return,
how could He say with certainty that the contemporaneous
generation would live to see it? He must have at that point
been referring to offspring, race, or a spiritual generation
instead of our current, limited use of the word generation."
"Generation I Just Spoke Of" Interpretation
reject the ‘race’ interpretation,” many Preterists and
skeptics would answer, “because in every other place in
the New Testament where Jesus used the words ‘this
generation,’ He has contemporaries in view.”
we have demonstrated, Jesus seems to have had the
offspring of the Jews in mind in at least one of those
instances (Mark 8:12). Also, as mentioned above, in
Matthew 16:8, he seems to have had a kind of men
in mind (the children of this world). So Jesus probably
did not have all of the men living at that time in mind
in all of these instances.
even if “this generation” did refer to the
contemporary generation in all of the other contexts,
would this mean that Jesus must have been speaking
of the contemporary generation in Matthew 24:34?
not. This is a very fallacious argument and it should be
exposed as such. The
Greek word hautey (a form of outos),
translated “this” in Matthew 24:34, is a demonstrative
pronoun (according to the Greek grammars. We
would call the word a demonstrative adjective
in English.) A demonstrative pronoun answers the
question, “Which?” In this case, it answers the
question, “Which generation?” The very purpose behind
using the word “this” was to
single out the generation Jesus was talking about from
all other possible generations. And how do we
conclusively determine “which” generation Jesus was
speaking of? From the context, of course!
there were many possible generations Jesus could have
been speaking of, it is the context of the surrounding
verses, not other contexts, that should be the
determining factor as to Jesus’ meaning! His use of genea
in other contexts certainly very strongly demonstrates
the possibility that He could have been
referring to the contemporaneous generation, but it in
no way indicates that He must have been speaking
of the contemporaneous generation.
illustrate, if I say "this car" 5 times, referring to the
Volvo I currently own, does that mean that the next time I
say it, I must be speaking of the same car? Of course not!
The next time I say “this car,” I might be talking instead
about the Oldsmobile Cutlass Diesel I used to own, which
had a converted gasoline engine, and was prone to blowing
head gaskets! Regarding this car, although I owned it long
ago, notice that it was not improper for me at the
beginning of this sentence to say "this car" rather than
"that car". This is because I only just mentioned the car.
It was near in context. Did you, even for a moment, think
I referring to my Volvo when I said "this car?" No! It was
the context which enabled you to determine exactly
which car I was talking about.
Greek word hautey (translated “this”), is also
sometimes used to refer to something near in context in
the NT, as a computer survey of the usage of this word in
the New Testament easily confirms.
Some examples of this will be provided in the next
section, as well as some quotes from NT Greek
authorities regarding this.
so given the fact that Jesus could have used "this" to
refer to something near in context, we must not hastily
jump to the conclusion that He meant a generation near in
time or space. If he had just mentioned or addressed
another generation in the near context, he could have been
referring to it instead.
so we see that Jesus
may have meant "this generation I just mentioned",
rather than "this generation of people living right
support of this idea, all through the Olivet Discourse,
Jesus is speaking of future events. Some of them
occurred during the lifetime of the apostles, but
arguably not all. Therefore Jesus was prophetically
addressing those among us who will witness His return
when He said,
So likewise ye, when ye shall see all
these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
next verse seems intended to reinforce the nearness of
His return to those who will see all these things:
Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass,
till all these things be fulfilled.
this is the case, then Jesus either meant "this
generation [I just mentioned, which will see all of
shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled,"
generation [I am prophetically addressing]
shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled."
either case, the message is essentially the same: the
generation among us which will witness all of these
things will not pass away until Jesus returns.
Evidence That "this" May Refer to
Something Near in the Written or Spoken Context
received a letter from a Partial Preterist, who claimed
that by saying Jesus could have been referring to a
generation in the distant future that was near in
consideration (context), I was "reinventing the rules of
grammar." There is an easy way to see who is right. If my
idea is correct, then we should expect to find other
places in the NT where the Greek word hautey
(Strongs # 3778), translated "this," is used to refer to
something or someone near in context, though that person
or thing existed far away in time.
we look to see if there are such instances in the NT, we
find that there are indeed.
discussing Melchizedec, who lived thousands of years in
the past, the writer of the book of Hebrews used the word
"this" to refer to him:
7:1, “For this Melchizedec, king of Salem, priest of the
most high God, who met Abraham returning from the
slaughter of the kings, and blessed him.”
are other instances in the NT in which "this" (Strong’s
number 3778) is used to refer to persons or things which
have just been mentioned in the context, yet exist far way
7:37, “This is that Moses, which said unto the children
of Israel, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up
unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye
could not be a clearer example. "This Moses I am talking
about," the writer intends, "is that Moses who said the
17:3, “Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have
suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this
Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.”
9:9, "For this is the word of promise, 'At this time
will I come, and Sara shall have a son.'”
8:10, “For this is the covenant that I will make with
the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I
will put my laws into their mind, and write them in
their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they
shall be to me a people.”
20:14, “And death and hell were cast into the lake of
fire. This is the second death.”
IMPORTANT is Titus 1:13, in which the phrase marturia
hautey has the same grammatical construction and
word order sequence as the phrase genea hautey in
1:13, “This witness (marturia hautey) is true.
Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in
the “witness” that Paul had just quoted was originally
written centuries earlier. It was written by the sixth
century BC poet Epimenides, in his poem Cretica,
around 659 BC. Yet, Paul uses the word "this" to refer to
it, because it is near in context, having just
In his book Greek
Grammar Beyond the Basics, on page 325, Daniel B.
Wallace also notes that outos can refer to
something near in context or near in the writer's mind. He
" The near-far
distinctions of outos and ekeinos
can refer either to that which is near/far in the (1)
context, (2) in the writer's mind, or (3) in
space or time of the writer or audience. 26 "
[Bold emphasis mine.]
the following grammatical works in support of this
" 26 So
Winer-Moulton, 195-96; Dana-Mantey, 127-28 (§ 136);
Young, Intermediate Greek, 78. Zerwick, Biblical
Greek, 68 (§214), summarizes the issue nicely: "the
proximity or remoteness may not be grammatical...but
psychological." [Bold emphasis mine.]
reading the observations of these Greek authorities, the
same partial preterist I mentioned above asserted that
they apply only to literary discourse (such as a
letter of Paul), and not to verbal speech. Since Matthew
records the verbal speech of Jesus, he argued, Jesus could
not have been referring to a future generation. However, one
little word found in both this verse (Matthew 24:34) and the
preceding verse clearly demonstrates that he is wrong. It is
the word tauta, translated "these things." This is a
plural form of the very same word, autos.
(Whereas hautey, translated "this" in verse 34, is a
singular form of autos.) In both Matthew 24:33 and
24:34, Jesus said "these things" rather than "those things"
because they were near in his spoken context! And obviously,
these were future events which had not yet taken place!
Further refuting this partial preterist's argument,
Acts 7:37 is clearly part of the verbal speech of
it is erroneous to claim that Jesus' choice of words here
means that he MUST have been referring to the multitude of
people living at that time. As the examples above
demonstrate, He may have been referring to a future
generation that was near in his spoken context: the one
just mentioned, which will see all of these things happen.
has important implications for us when it comes to
interpreting the Olivet Discourse. It means that the
words and grammar of Matthew 24:34 do not force us to
conclude that Jesus must have been speaking of
the contemporaries of the apostles.
so we must allow the context of this verse, rather than
a mistakenly narrow definition of one little word, to
inform us of what genea Jesus is speaking of.
To do otherwise is to wag the dog with the
I personally dislike disagreeing with my orthodox
Partial Preterist brethren (I am not a man who relishes
argumentation), I feel compelled to disagree with both
them and the unorthodox Full Preterists over the next
three points. Preterists have two arrows left in
their quiver which seem, at first glance, to be
reasonably straight. Some Skeptics use these arguments,
Let's examine them now.
Second Person Pronoun Argument
Preterist might object, “What is the point of arguing that
Jesus could have meant the generation he had just
mentioned, when there is an indication in the context of
the Olivet Discourse that very plainly demonstrates He was
referring to the generation of the Apostles? Jesus often
used the word “ye” in this discourse. For instance, Mark
13:13 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s
sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same
shall be saved.
word ‘ye,’ ” the Preterist continues, “referred to the
Apostles. 'This generation’ therefore must be the
contemporaries of the Apostles.”
this we reply that the Olivet Discourse was probably
spoken privately to only four disciples:
13:3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against
the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew
asked him privately…
if the discourse was intended only for these four,
then what do we make of Matthew 24:9?
you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death,
and you will be hated by all nations because of me.
the Preterist is right, these four men, or at least some
of them, would bear the great misfortune of being hated by
all nations! Even if Jesus answered this private
question so that all twelve of his disciples could hear it,
the idea is still extremely difficult to imagine.
By 70 AD, the gospel had not yet spread to all of the
nations of the earth, including the indian nations of the
Americas and the far eastern oriental nations; how then
could all of the nations have hated the disciples?
This hardly credible conclusion, which flows from the
Preterist's contention, makes it clear that by the word
“you” Jesus had all of His followers throughout history in
mind, not just the twelve disciples.4
Preterists, and some Skeptics as well, may raise yet
interpretation is tautological (circular). If it were
true, it would be as though Jesus had said, ‘This
generation living when all of these things take place
will not pass away until all of these things take
place.’ Such a statement is meaningless.”
objection makes use of a common logical fallacy – the
straw man argument. A straw man argument misrepresents
an opponent’s viewpoint, in order to make it look
ridiculous. If the misrepresentation is subtle and
difficult to detect, as is the case here, then the
strategy will be all the more effective. This straw man
argument cleverly takes advantage of the fact that
Matthew uses the phrase “all these things” in both
verses 24:33 and 24:34:
after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be
darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the
stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the
heavens shall be shaken:
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of
man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the
earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in
the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.
And he shall send his angels with a great sound
of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect
from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the
Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is
yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that
summer is nigh:
o likewise ye, when ye shall see all
these things, know that it is near, even at the
Verily I say unto you, This generation shall
not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.
carefully at verse 33. What does “it is near” refer to?
The Second Coming of Christ and the gathering of the
elect, just mentioned in verses 30-31.
means that “all these things” in verse 33 does not
include the Second Coming. “All these things” in verse
34, however, does include the Second Coming.
so we see that Jesus probably meant, “When you see all
of these signs and events I have just mentioned come to
pass, My Coming will be so near, that this generation
will not pass away until all of these things I have
foretold, including my Parousia, are fulfilled.”
is no tautology in this.
could all of the Olivet Discourse possibly be literal?
this point, although the skeptic may grow silent, some
Preterists may have a further objection:
“Jesus said in Matthew 24:29,
‘Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall
the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her
light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the
powers of the heavens shall be shaken.’ How could these
events be literal?”
if the language in this verse is symbolic, there is
nothing in it that ties it to the generation of the
Apostles. One can hold to a future Coming and take this
verse as symbolic.
may not be symbolic, however. The burning cities,
fields, and forests that accompany war have been
observed to darken the sun and block out the light of
the moon. In Bible times, meteorites and comets were
considered to be stars (see Rev 8:20, which refers to a
great asteroid, meteorite, or comet which will one day
fall to the earth as a "star"). Even today, we call
meteorites falling stars. The planets could conceivably
be shaken by comets or other masses, such as comet
Shoemaker-Levy, which struck Jupiter in 1994 and created
earth-sized impact zones. The spectacular NASA photos at
can certainly open one’s mind to this possibility!
Inceptive Aorist View
view is explained by Royce Gordon Gruenler in a
contribution to William D. Mounce's Basic's of
Biblical Greek, on page 193 of the Second Edition.
In Matthew 24:34, the Greek words "tauta genetai"
are translated "these things be fulfilled" in the KJV:
I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all
these things be fulfilled.”
this is not the only possible translation of these two
Greek words. The word genetai is in the aorist
tense. The aorist tense simply gives us a "snapshot" of an
action taking place. Just as with a photo, this "snapshot"
may occur at the beginning of an action (the inceptive
sense), during the action (durative ), or at the end of it
very persuasively points out that the very same words, "genetai
tauta" are used by the angel Gabriel in an inceptive
sense in Luke 1:20. The
angel Gabriel, you may recall, had just foretold to
Zechariah the things his son John would do. Since
Zechariah did not believe the words the angel spoke, he
was made mute until "the day that these things shall be
performed" (as the King James translates genetai
tauta). And yet, Zechariah was able to speak again immediately
after he named his newborn son John, rather than
many years later, after John had fulfilled his ministry!
The most accurate translation, which Gruenler provides, is
now you will be silent and not able to speak until these
things begin to happen."
Since Jesus used the very same word forms in
Matthew 24:34, He may have also been using them in the
inceptive sense! In other words, Jesus may have meant,
“This generation shall not pass, till all these
things begin to happen.”
The Pieces Together
of these four respectable views do I personally hold to?
difficulty I find with Gruenler's view is that unlike Luke
1:20, in Matthew 24:34, Jesus preceded tauta genetai with
the word pante, meaning "all". It is difficult for
me to imagine all of the events Jesus foretold in the
Olivet Discourse, especially His Second Coming, which He
said would happen as suddenly as "lightening
flashing from East to West", beginning to happen
before the contemporaneous generation of the disciples
passed away. However, if Jesus meant "tIll all these
things [taken together as a group] begin to happen [one at
a time]," that would help resolve the
difficulty, Nevertheless, we are still faced
with the difficulty of why Jesus would have added the word
"all" when speaking in this sense, but the angel Gabriel
did not (I'm open to ideas here).
light of that, it seems more likely to me that Jesus was
using the aorist word genetai in a culminative
sense, as most English speaking translators have
traditionally rendered it. Turning therefore to the
other three views, I think they all help to inform us.
First of all, we ought to recognize that our modern word
"generation" has become narrower in meaning than the
Greek word genea. The modern English word
"offspring" is much closer to it, and that is the very
sense in which the venerable church father Jerome
interpreted it. Secondly, there are many
instances, as Dr. Bouw
points out, where the spiritual offspring of God, His
elect, are referred to in the scriptures. When Jesus
said "this generation," he often meant the generation he
was addressing, and his spiritual offspring were
seated directly in front of Him when he spoke the Olivet
Furthermore, when Jesus said, "S
o likewise ye, when
ye shall see all these things, know that it is near,
even at the doors," it appears that He was addressing
not just the twelve, but all of His disciples, being
fully aware that His words would be recorded for us
all. Though he was addressing us all, His words were
specifically intended to encourage those among us who
will witness these events.
our Lord referring to all of His spiritual offspring
when He said "this generation shall not pass away," or
only to the future generation among us that he had just
encouraged, who will see all of these things? I am not
sure, but whichever was His intent, His promise is still
When all of these things are coming to fulfillment,
we should be encouraged, because His return will be
very close. So close, that no matter how tough
things get, we may rely on his promise that His
spiritual offspring will not be wiped from the earth
before His return.
24:22 And except those days should be shortened, there
should no flesh be saved: but for the elect‘s
sake those days shall be shortened.
Luke records the words of our Lord upon the Mount of
And when these things begin to come to pass, then
look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption
29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig
tree, and all the trees;
30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your
own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.
31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to
pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at
32 Verily I say unto you, This
generation shall not pass away, till all be
mean “this offspring," “this generation I just
mentioned,” "this generation I am talking to," or “this
contemporaneous generation,” depending on the context.
It is not other contexts, but the context of Matthew
24:34 that should be the determining factor as to what
Jesus meant by the word genea. The context of
the Olivet Discourse leads us to believe that Jesus was
speaking either of the offspring of Jacob (the Jews),
the generation of God's children, or of a future
generation among us he had just addressed.
may be translated "begin to happen" in Matthew 24 34.
we are not forced into difficult aspects of the Partial
Preterist view, which allegorize and spiritualize
important portions of the Olivet Discourse. Nor must we
resort, as Full Preterists do, to asserting that the
Second Coming and the Resurrection must have happened invisibly
in 70 AD, when it is plain to everyone that church
history records none of these events, and the bodies of
all men who have died, except that of our Lord Jesus
(and possibly those mentioned in Mt 27:53), remain
within the earth. Nor need we despair at finding a
solution, as CS Lewis did. Despite his remarkable
intellect and his usual able defenses of the Christian
faith, he was quite wrong in thinking that the facts
force us to admit Jesus made an embarrassing error.
we find not just one, but four reasonable,
scriptural, and orthodox alternatives to the assertion
of critics of the Christian faith that Jesus was
referring to the contemporaneous generation in Matthew
24:34. All four permit us to confidently accept
the full import of the other words of Jesus in
the Olivet Discourse!
I say to you,” Jesus assured us, “This
generation shall not pass, till all these things be
promised that all of the events He had just
foretold would happen before the genea He was
speaking of passed away. The enemies of our faith,
emboldened by unclear translations and incorrect
assumptions, have directed a flood of criticism at
this promise. They have rained torrents of words and
brashly thundered hasty accusations. Like CS Lewis,
some of us had our view blocked by these dark clouds.
But these low hanging storm clouds, like an intense
but brief summer thunder storm, merely obscured the
words of our Lord. Now that the mists have cleared,
what do we see?
strong and secure foundation of solid rock that cannot
be washed away.
Jesus said, "Whoever
comes to Me and hears My words, and does them, I will
show you to whom he is like. He is like a man who built
a house and dug deep and laid the foundation on a rock;
and a flood occurring, the stream burst against that
house and could not shake it; for it was founded on a
rock. But he who hears and does not perform, is like a
man who built a house on the earth without a foundation,
on which the stream burst, and immediately it fell. And
the ruin of that house was great."
Have you built your home on this rock? Do
you trust in the words of Christ, and live your life
based upon that trust?
so the words of our Lord again prove true, solid,
faithful and trustworthy. Why has the faith of many in
our contemporary generation been so small concerning
this particular matter? Why have they so quickly caved
in to the brash assertions of the enemies of God,
without even taking the time to cross-examine those
Jesus not always demonstrated himself to be true and
faithful? Have not the arguments of past critics of
Jesus all eventually been discredited, time and time
lesson we can learn from this is, when someone asserts a
challenge to God's word, we should not
unquestionably accept it without waiting to hear the
other side of the story. In a trial, the first to
present his case usually sounds right, until the cross
words of Jesus have indeed stood the test of time,
earning our trust countless times over. And did He not
confidently assure us with the following words, which
ring just as true now as they ever did?
"The World's Last Night" (1960), found in The
Essential C.S. Lewis, p. 385. This statement seems to
me to be out of character for the late C.S. Lewis, who
is one of my heroes of the faith. Ray St-Pierre
noted in private correspondence to me that Lewis wrote
the following concerning his statements regarding the
Second Coming in the same essay (at about paragraph
have no claim to speak as an expert in any of the
and merely put forward the reflections which have arisen
in my own mind and have seemed to me (perhaps wrongly)
to be helpful. They are all submitted to the correction
of wiser heads.
Gerardus D. Bouw, 1997. "The Book
of Bible Problems," (Assoc. for Biblical Astronomy, 4527
Wetzel Ave., Cleveland, OH 44109), pp. 213-215.
is very helpful to view all three of the Olivet
Discourse accounts side by side, and to compare them
phrase by phrase. Doing so, one can easily see how the
words of Jesus may have double-fulfillment. Andy
Doerksen and I have prepared all three of the accounts
in parallel at http://www.thingstocome.org/olivet.htm.
and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass
away.” In Mark and Luke, and the majority of the Greek
manuscripts of Matthew, these words of Jesus appear exactly
the same in all three of the Olivet accounts.
are there differences in the Olivet Discourse accounts?
Details are included in some accounts that are missing
in others. It is natural that one eyewitness will
mention details of an event that the other
eyewitnesses will omit.
It is believed that Jesus spoke in Aramaic, so what we
read in the Greek manuscripts are inspired (and
therefore correct and truthful) interpretations of
what He said, each of which brings out different
aspects of his original meaning. In instances where a
prophecy by Jesus was to have double-fulfillment, the
Gospel accounts may bring out the different
For additional evidence of
double-fulfillment, see Jesus
Foretold Two Desolations of Jerusalem.
The gospel accounts may have drawn a good deal from an
Aramaic or Hebrew source mentioned by Papias. It was
compiled by Matthew, and known as the Logia,
a collection of the sayings of Jesus. This may have
been the Gospel of Matthew, written originally in
Hebrew or Aramaic. Some of what we read may be an
inspired interpretation in Greek of some of this
Hebrew or Aramaic source material. Papias, who
testified that he heard the apostle John, wrote, “Matthew
put together the oracles [of the Lord] in the Hebrew
language, and each one interpreted them as best he
could.” (Fragments of Papias: from the Exposition
of the Oracles of our Lord.)
There is some
evidence in the Babylonian Talmud (Tractate
Shabbath, Folio 116a, paragraph 3) that the
gospels in the Hebrew language were destroyed in
persecutions of the Jewish Christians (called
Nazarenes), by unconverted Jews:
Come and hear: The blank spaces [gospels] and the Books of
the Minim [sectarians, including Judeo-Christians]
may not be saved from a fire, but they must be burnt in
their place, they and the Divine Names occurring in
6I extend thanks to a correspondent who prefers
to remain anonymous for pointing
out this verse (Luke 16:8) to me.
7 Alfred Plummer, 1896. A Critical and
Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to S. Luke,
Sons, New York, NY, pp 384.
© 2003, 2011 Marshall "Rusty"
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