In the Olivet discourse, Jesus portends the future destruction of the Temple and promises his ultimate return. After describing his arrival with the angels, he declares, “This generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Mark 13:30). Yet, Jesus’ generation has long since passed away; it’s been nearly two thousand years and these end-time events have not occurred. Due to this apparent disjunction, some modern readers argue that Jesus refers hyperbolically to his vindication after the Temple’s destruction in 70 CE. Others assume that Jesus’ prophecy was imprecise. Yet, these conclusions miss the centrality of resurrection in ancient Jewish thought. Jesus believed that everyone would be raised from the dead on the last day, so that his own generation would be alive to witness his arrival with the clouds of heaven.

When Jesus says that his own generation will not pass away before his arrival, he points to the new creation that God will work through resurrection at the end of days: “This generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Mk 13:30-31). Jesus’ reference to heaven and earth passing away recalls Isaiah’s vision of the final judgment. God says through the prophet, “I create new heavens (השׁמים החדשׁים; ha’shamayim ha’hadashim) and a new earth (הארץ החדשׁה; ha’aretz ha’hadashah), and the former things shall not be remembered…. As the new heavens and the new earth that I make shall remain before me… so shall your offspring and your name remain… [and] all flesh shall come to worship before me” (Isa 66:22-23). Isaiah envisions the passing away of the old world, but Israel’s “offspring” remain so that “all flesh” stands before God. Many Jews of Jesus’ day read these verses as prophesying a universal resurrection at God’s new creation, and Yeshua alludes to this idea when he promises that his own generation will remain after the current heaven and earth have passed away.

In Matthew and Luke, Jesus reinforces the idea that his generation—and all others—would be raised from the dead at the final judgment, and thereby witness the Son’s arrival. Jesus states, “The people of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it…. The queen of the south will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it” (Matt 12:41-42; cf. Lk 11:31-32). The term for “rise up” in these verses is ἀνίστημι (anístemi)—the same word for Jesus’ own resurrection (cf. Matt 17:9; 20:19). Yeshua envisions a final day in which “this generation” will be raised from the dead and stand alongside past generations prior to judgment.

In Mark, Jesus discusses this end-time condemnation for some of his own generation in a way that foreshadow the Olivet discourse: “Whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels” (Mk 8:38). Jesus reuses all of this language when he describes his return after the suffering of 70 CE: “In those days, after that suffering… they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels…. This generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Mk 13:24, 26-27, 31). The Son of Man will return in tandem with the universal resurrection of the dead, at which time Jesus’ generation will stand together with all the generations that have ever existed. It is based on this Jewish belief in resurrection that Yeshua asserts, “This generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”

BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY

52 COMMENTS

    • Jesus' disciples posed three queries, relating both to their near and to their far future. Jesus replied in detail to all of their queries. As you read his discourse, note with events would have a near fulfillment and which a far fulfillment. In this way, a two-phased chronology emerges.
  1. Couldn't we read 'generation' as the broad term describing, for example, all the descendants of the seed of serpent ('this adulterous and sinful generation'), and of the seed of woman ?The fact that the singular number (generation, not generations) is used, paralleing the use of singular 'seed', would suggest this. If Jesus intended to point to the current times, or people standing before him, he could use ‘my generation’ or ‘your generation’. Also, Jesus did say that this generation would pass away, only when ‘all these things take place’.The idea of passing away is contradictory to the idea of resurrection.
    • Thanks for your question. Every other instance of "generation" (γενεὰ) in Mark refers to the people living in Jesus' day; note, esp., 9:19: "Faithless generation, how long shall I be with you?" Jesus refers to the first-century people, rather than general descendants from the past. Thus, it's better to understand "generation" in Mk 13:30 in a specific reference to the first-century generation, rather than as a broad or symbolic reference to all descendants since Eden.

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  2. How would one reconcile this view with Revelation 20:4,5, in which two resurrections are described - one at the beginning and one at the end of the 1000 year reign of the saints with Jesus?
    • That's a good question, Phil. Revelation's view of multiple resurrections (first for martyrs and then for all others) is somewhat different from the standard view of a single resurrection for everyone (cf. Dan 12:2; Matt 25:31-32; Jn 5:28-29). One way to close the temporal gap, as it were, is to read Revelation's 1,000 years as a symbolic reference to a "single day" in God's sight (cf. Ps 90:4; 2 Pet 3:8), and thus have the two resurrections happening at essentially the same time. However, this isn't the only way to read the number in Revelation, and it may be that this apocalyptic text expresses a slightly alternate eschatology than what we see in other texts. Again, the only difference would be that Revelation envisions a resurrection just for martyrs ("those who have been beheaded for their testimony" under the Roman empire, more specifically), and then a universal resurrection thereafter.

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  3. All these things would include the return of Israel the unbelieving fig tree that is the generation spoken of here. This will include the last scenario and the 2nd coming in my opinion when reading in full context of Israel being born in a day the the fig tree planted.Shalom
    • What was Nicodemus looking for when he came to Jesus? We know the blind man wanted his sight. We know the lame man wanted to walk. And we know Nicodemus was not an average everyday Jewish citizen. Did Nicodemus know something about Jesus that his Jewish Collegues did not?

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  4. Are you saying that "this generation" is the 1st Century generation, but it is happening at some future date after the resurrection? I had the idea that "pass away" meant die, which is a very common interpretation, because it seems to make sense of the language. False conclusion?
    • That's right, Sam. The article argues that "this generation" refers to Jesus' first-century generation. Jesus' coming with the clouds is a yet-future occurrence, but his generation will, indeed, be around to see it, because they will have been raised from the dead at his arrival. Based on the context, "pass away" (παρέρχομαι) seems to have a broader referent than just "death," since Jesus says that "heaven and earth will pass away (παρέρχομαι) but my words will not pass away" (13:31) -- "heaven and earth" and "words" can't "die," but they can be forgotten or cease to be remembered (cf. Isa 65:17).

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  5. Jesus told his disciples to wait in jerusalem not to go out preaching wait for holy. anointing(holy ghost)to come upon them so that they will feel with power and wisdom to teach good news to the lost sheep(Israel) so to prove the generation that will not pass away .acts2:38,rev19:10..
  6. From the Heavens they came. In the Sumerian version, the God's (YHWH) year was 3600 of our years. Yeshua being a reborn one of them, their generation has not seen one year pass. He spoke of the Holy Ghosts time, Aquarius. When will it be
    • One shar (3600 years) is not one generation even for Elohim. Within the great year, we will enter Aquarius in 20-40 years. It is not clear exactly when since Earth's precession rate is recently accelerating. The Third Beast of Revelation 4.7 as well as Beast/Man of Revelation 13.8 is Aquarius.
  7. I guess the Bible has hidden meanings that requires the Holy Spirit to open to the reader.Resurrection and end-time timelines has been controversial.I’ve not seen a perfect or rather good enough explanation.Complicated descriptions brings confusion.Where are the current dead?Heaven or somewhere else? Why new resurrection body?
    • Thanks for your question. On the location of the dead and the hope of resurrection, see https://weekly.israelbiblecenter.com/happens-death-resurrection/
    • The resurrected righteous will have need of a "glorified body" (scripture) or new resurrection body, simply because the original one is corrupt having been cursed to decay or die all the way back in the original writ of Genesis.A glorified body=uncorrupt like ones the angels have
  8. Your Bible study guide are unique and superb in nature but the unexpected thing goes on the fees for the lecture. Iam a Nigerian christian in mist the trouble associating what is involved in the theory of leadership. What guide are one experted to derived from the study
    • "Jewish thought" on the Resurrection was wrong and Jesus had to correct them. I think you are predisposed to make scripture fit your end times beliefs. Jesus was talking to HIS generation; some would be alive to see his words come true, back then. Preterism lays everything out well.
  9. The context of Mark 13 is that of the Great Tribulation, never seen before or afterwards: signs in sun, moon, and stars. The generation (those living) that see these will witness Christ's return. Sign of fig tree is Israel statehood in 1948, now 72+ years ago (a generation).
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