Does ‘This Generation’ Mean Race?

27 Dec
This Generation

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In Matthew 24:34 of the Olivet Prophecy Jesus told his disciples “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (KJV). “All these things” include the Second Coming of Jesus and the judgment that his coming would bring (Matthew 24:30), and resurrection (Matthew 24:31; cf. Matthew 13:30, 38-43). Consequently, many dispensational scholars conclude that “this generation” refers to the Jewish race. That is, the Jewish race “shall not pass away until all these things be fulfilled.” Is this true? Can the Greek word genea (G1074) mean race? The natural reading of Matthew 24:34 is that this generation refers to the group of people who lived at the same time as Jesus and his apostles. It would have been a generation of about forty years.[1]

The Greek word genea (G1074) appears 42 times in 37 verses in the New Covenant scriptures, yet it is never once translated into the word race, nor is race even implied in any of those occurrences. If the Lord had intended Matthew 24:34 to mean the Jewish race wouldn’t pass away, the Greek word genos (G1085) would have been a much better choice. Paul uses this word to say he was of the stock or race of Israel (Philippians 3:5), and he also referred to other Jews as the stock or race of Abraham (Acts 13:26), but the Greek word genea (G1074) is never used in this fashion.

In the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Covenant, this same Greek word (G1074) is used in Genesis 6:9 to say Noah was perfect in his generation. It is interesting that Jesus draws a parallel between his coming and the coming of the flood in Noah’s day (Matthew 24:37-39), because in Genesis 7:1 the Lord said to Noah: “Enter you and all your house into the ark, for I beheld you as just before me among this generation.” Once more the Greek word genea (G1074) is used for generation, and just as the generation in which Jesus lived was to be judged, so the generation in which Noah lived was judged.

Continuing on in the Septuagint, Abraham was told that his descendants would be afflicted in a foreign land for 400 years, but in the fourth generation the Lord would bring them out into their own land (Genesis 15:13-16). Once more, the Greek word genea (G1074) is used to indicate a generation, and it cannot be used to indicate race. Moreover, since Abraham lived to be 100 years old before Isaac was born, that was the timeframe for a generation for Abraham.

Again, in Ecclesiastes 1:4 the “Preacher” tells us: “A generation goes, and a generation comes: but the earth stands for ever.” The Greek word for generation is genea (1074). In other words, the Lord is drawing attention to the frailty or the transience of mankind. One group of people live and die off, but in the meantime, another group of people are born to complete the cycle and begin it again, but the earth continues on. Once more the same Greek word, genea (G1074) is used by the ‘Preacher’ to emphasize the fact that men do not live forever.

Returning to the New Covenant, Paul told his listeners that David served his own generation (G1074), but, after he did everything recorded of him, he died and his body decayed (Acts 13:36). Paul mentioned this in an effort to show that, when David recorded Psalm 16:10-11, he was prophesying of the Messiah’s death and resurrection, not his own.

So, no matter where we turn to see how the word genea (G10740) is used, in the New Testament or the Septuagint, we never find that it means race. It always indicates a group of people who are about the same age and die off, or it indicates the time of a group of people and what they did or what happened to them in that time. Never, not in one single verse, is the word genea (G1074) used to indicate race, showing that forcing Matthew 24:36 to mean the Jewish race wouldn’t pass out of existence, until all the things Jesus prophesied, concerning his coming, would take place, is a **false** doctrine.


[1] See my study: What Does ‘This Generation’ Mean?

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Posted by on December 27, 2018 in 70 AD Eschatology


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