Could this passage refer to a future generation? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
There are some people who see the language of this generation in Matthew 24:34 and think that it has to refer to a future generation. What Jesus is saying is that “This generation that sees the start of these things will also see the end.” Is this really a convincing way to look at the passage?
Well, no. For one thing, if Jesus was referring to a future generation, He could have easily said “that generation.” He never did. As I shared last time, in Matthew, this generation always refers to the present generation that is with Jesus. Matthew 23 ends with a message of judgment for this generation and all the righteous blood that will come on them. Why? Because they committed the ultimate evil of murdering their Messiah.
Now if the futurist reading is correct, it is not the generation that murdered the Messiah that will be punished for His murder. It is a future generation that had nothing to do with it. If my reading is correct, we could see both references to “this generation” as bookends.
The text also says that “all these things” will take place.” It is not some. It is all of them. The generation that sees it start is the same one that sees it end. This would include the destruction of the temple which means that whatever generation it is that sees the destruction of the temple, that is the generation that is being talked about.
Which one is it? It’s the one that saw it in 70 AD which would be the one responsible for the death of the Messiah. There is no reason to think that Jesus is talking about a third temple that will be built and then destroyed. When His disciples come to Him, they are asking about the temple that is before them and that is the one that He talks about.
Not only that, but as I showed throughout this, much of this only makes sense in the first century. Today, a siege would not mean as much when it is much easier to airdrop food into a city and there are nations all around the world that are willing to do so. There is no need to try to argue a future fulfillment when a past one works just fine with the text.
As a reminder at this point, this is about the coming of Jesus to His throne. This is not about the future resurrection of the dead. There are other passages that speak about the resurrection of the dead when Jesus returns, but this is not one of them. The disciples did not even understand that He was going to die at this point, let alone leave and return sometime in the future, but they did understand that if He was the Messiah, that He would be king and that if He said the temple was being destroyed, that must mean the age of His reign had begun.
But maybe generation doesn’t refer to a time frame. What if generation refers to a race? What if it means that the Jewish people will not pass away until this takes place? We’ll explore that next time.