I found this on another website. I think many here will enjoy this woman's critique of tomorrow's Watchtower study article regarding the term "generation."
Comments You Will Not Hear at the Watchtower Study
The Watchtower, February 15, 2008, pages 2125
Visiting Speaker: Leolaia
This is it folks, the last full text commentary of WT Comments I will post. To finish with flourish,
Leolaia has produced an intensive dissection of this study with an eisegetical and historical razor blade
Leolaia is the scholar of http://www.jehovahswitness.
com and shares her incredible wealth of information
with an apparent investment of time and research.
The following study is Jehovah's Witnesses' big "newlight"
of 2008, though we will find that the bulb is
actually a vintage filament burning on borrowed time. Because the commentary is so intense, you can also
download a PDF version of this to printâ€“you are going to want to study this one carefully.
Even knowledgable exJehovah's
Witnesses are going to learn something here.
For fans of the Watchtower Comments videos, please stay tuned. (http://www.youtube.com/wtcomments)
All videos can be downloaded here. (http://wtcomments.4shared.com)
CHRIST'S PRESENCEâ€“WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO YOU?
"What will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?" â€“MATT. 24:3.
Q1) What interesting question did Jesus' apostles ask him?
1) Nearly two thousand years ago, a question was raised by four of Jesus' apostles in a private
conversation with their Master on the Mount of Olives. They asked: "When will these things be, and
what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?" (Matt. 24:3) In
that question, the apostles used two very interesting expressions, "your presence" and "the conclusion
of the system of things." To what do those expressions refer?
The â€œthese thingsâ€ in the first part of the question pertains to the destruction of the Temple mentioned in the
preceding verses (Matthew 24:12).
Since Matthew is literarily dependent on Mark, it is interesting to note
that the question posed by the disciples is different in that earlier gospel. In Matthewâ€™s version of the
question, the destruction of the Temple is distinguished from the â€œsign of your [coming]â€ and â€œthe conclusion
of the system of thingsâ€, which are specified individually. But in Mark 13:4, the question only concerns the
time in which and the sign by which â€œthese thingsâ€ (i.e. the destruction of the Temple) would be fulfilled:
â€œTell us, When will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are destined to come to a
If you take the text on its own terms and observe what it actually says, you will see that everything mentioned henceforthâ€“including celestial upheaval, the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds of heaven, and the gathering of the electâ€“relates to the â€œthese thingsâ€ in the disciplesâ€™ question. They ask when will â€œall
these things occurâ€ (v. 4), Jesus then lists all the things that would occur (v. 527), he tells them that when they see â€œthese thingsâ€ occurring they will know that their Lord is â€œnear, at the doorsâ€ (v. 2829), and he answers their question fully in v. 30. Question: When will â€œall these thingsâ€ occur (v. 4)? Answer: Before â€œthis
generationâ€ passes away will â€œall these thingsâ€ occur (v. 30).
In other words, everything up to v. 30 is part of the same series of events pertaining to the destruction of the Temple, and nothing in the chapter would lead the reader to presume that a significant amount of time intervenes between the destruction of the Temple and the coming of the Son of Man.
However, Matthew was written at a later time than Mark, and shows a specific concern over an apparent delay in the things that did not occur when Jerusalem Temple was destroyed in AD 70. The Son of Man was not yet seen on the clouds of heaven and the present world was still continuing as it always has been.
So the question in Matthew 24:3 no longer assumes that these things would occur with the destruction of the Temple and specifies them separately. The theme of an apparent delay is also addressed via the addition of several parables to the Olivet discourse (none of which occur in the original version of the discourse in Mark 13). The parable of the faithful and wise servant in v. 4551 dramatizes the different reactions of servants towards the coming of their lord, with the wicked servant perceiving the time involved as a delay.
Then the parable of the ten virgins in 25:113 dramatizes the different reactions of bridesmaids towards the coming of the groom, who â€œwas a long time in comingâ€ (v. 5). Next, the parable of talents in v. 1430
dramatizes the different reactions of servants towards the lengthy absence of their lord, with the absence being long enough to accrue enough interest to double the value of the money. Thus the version of the Olivet discourse in Matthew shows special concern for proper Christian behavior during the seeming delay for â€œall these thingsâ€ to be concluded. This reflects or anticipates the fact that the destruction of the Temple was not quickly followed by the parousia.
Q2) What is the underlying meaning of the word "conclusion"?
2) To take the second expression first, consider the term "conclusion," the translation of the Greek word synte'leia.
In the New World Translation, this word is consistently rendered "conclusion," whereas a related Greek word, te'los, is translated "end." The difference in the meaning of these two
words can be illustrated by describing a talk given at the Kingdom Hall. The conclusion of the talk is the last section, in which the speaker spends a little time reminding the audience of what he has been discussing and then shows how that information applies to them. The end of the talk is when the speaker walks off the platform. In a similar way, Biblically speaking, the term "the conclusion of the
system of things" refers to the period of time leading up to and including its end.
A better way to characterize the etymological sense of the word is that it signifies an â€œending togetherâ€ or a
â€œfinishing togetherâ€, i.e. several different elements coming together in a finish. It does not necessarily imply a duration of a â€œperiod of timeâ€, which is how the Society characterizes it here. Of course, such a duration serves the Societyâ€™s idea of a lengthy duration of time since 1914 that constitutes the â€œlast daysâ€. But they interpret synte'leia
as implying a â€œperiod of timeâ€ on the basis of a common fallacy:
Logical Fallacy: False/Misleading Analogy Because two objects (or events) share property A, it is argued that they must also share property B even though they are not necessarily the same in this respect.
While the conclusion of a talk is a section of appropriate length, no such implication is necessary with synte'leiaÍ¾ depending on the situation, an ending could be sudden and abrupt or drawn out over a duration.
What kind of â€œconclusionâ€ is assumed here is not settled at all by the â€œunderlying meaningâ€ of the word. In Q2 above, the Society betrays another fallacy: Interpretive Fallacy: Ignoring Usage in Semantics It is assumed that the etymological or basic sense of
a word is more important than the usage of the word in similar contexts.
Appealing only to the â€œunderlyingâ€ sense of the word ignores one very obvious fact about synte'leia: It
occurs frequently in early Jewish and Christian apocalyptic literature as a special term denoting the event in which the present age is brought to an end (see 1 Enoch 10:12, Testament of Levi 10:2, Testament of Zebulon 9:9, Testament of Benjamin 11:3, Testament of Job 4:6, and it probably occurred in the original
Greek of Assumption of Moses 1:18, 4 Ezra 7:113, 2 Baruch 13:3, 19:5, 21:8, 27:15, 29:8, 30:3, 54:21, 83:7). The idea is best expressed in this passage: â€œThe Day of Judgment will be the end of this age and the beginning of the immortal age to come, in which corruption has passed away.â€ â€“ 4 Ezra 7:113.
Similarly, in 1 Enoch 10:12 we learn that the present age consists of seventy generations which will last â€œuntil the day of their judgment and of their consummation (synte'lesmou), until eternal judgment is
concludedâ€. So in the literature, such apocalyptic events as Judgment Day and the general resurrection of the dead loom large in the usage of the word synte'leia.
The word has this sense in large part because it is used in the same way in the Septuagint version of Daniel, which was enormously influential on apocalyptic thought and which was a direct source for the Olivet discourse. There we read that â€œin the temple there will be an abomination of desolations until the consummation (synte'leia)
of a season, and a consummation will be given for desolationâ€ (9:27), that â€œall these things will be accomplishedâ€ at the â€œconsummation of the timesâ€ (12:7), and that this would be the time when Daniel would be resurrected from the dead: â€œThere are yet days and hours until the fulfillment of the consummation. And you will rest and rise upon your glory at the consummation of daysâ€ (12:13). This is
key because the whole chapter is heavily dependent on DanielÍ¾ compare (1) the question in v. 3 with Daniel 12:6, (2) the reference to the end not being yet in v. 6 with Daniel 11:27, (3) the reference to those standing firm to the end in v. 13 with Daniel 11:32, 35, (4) the reference to the abomination of desolation in v. 15 with
Daniel 9:27, 11:31, 12:11, (5) the reference to the unparalleled distress in v. 21 with Daniel 12:1, (6) the reference to the Son of Man on the clouds of heaven in v. 30 with Daniel 7:1314, etc. So the occurrence of synte'leia in Matthew 24:3 is shaped by its usage in Daniel and in other apocalyptic texts.
What is also striking from Daniel and the rest of the literature is that the eschatological use of synte'leia is nearly always with a unit or units of time: consummation of the days/times/ages, etc. This indicates pretty clearly that â€œconclusion of the system of thingsâ€ in the New World Translation (NWT) is a mistranslationâ€“what is being brought to a finish is the present age, such that â€œclose of the ageâ€ better express the sense of the expression than â€œconclusion of the system of things.â€ Of course, the age includes the systems of behavior/morality/society inherent in it, but the focus is on the eschatological â€œmomentâ€ in which the present age is brought to a complete finish. From the use of the term elsewhere, it is clear that it
pertains to the resurrection of the dead and Judgment Day. In the context of Mathew 24, the synte'leia is depicted in v. 3031:
The Son of Man is seen in the sky in power and great glory, who sends his angels with a loud trumpet call to gather up the elect across the earth. This in fact is the last event mentioned in the
chapter, and it is described in greater detail in 25:3146.
This is confirmed by the use of the same expression in 13:3643,
in which the â€œclose of the ageâ€ is termed the â€œharvestâ€ of the righteous and the unrighteous in which â€œthe Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evilâ€. The â€œclose of the ageâ€ is the moment in which the present age transitions into the eternal era of the kingdom.
Q3) What are some of the things that occur during Jesus' presence?
3) What of the "presence" that the apostles asked about? This is the translation of the Greek word parousi'a* Christ's parousi'a,
or presence, started with Jesus' installation as King in heaven in 1914
and continues on to include the "great tribulation," during which he comes to destroy the wicked. (Matt. 24:21)
Eisegesis alert!! If you are unfamiliar with the term, eisegesis is a process of biblical interpretation in which oneâ€™s own ideas completely foreign to the text are arbitrarily read into it. There is absolutely nothing in the context of Matthew 24 that would justify a reading that related it to the year 1914. Nor does the text make any reference to Jesus being installed as King in heaven.
Many different things, including "the last days" of this wicked system of things, the gathering of the chosen ones, and their resurrection to heavenly life, occur during this presence of Jesus. (2 Tim. 3:1Í¾ 1
Cor. 15:23Í¾ 1 Thess. 4:1517Í¾ 2Thess. 2:1) It could be said that the period constituting "the conclusion of the system of things" synte'leia)
corresponds to or runs parallel with the period called Christ's
Notice that here they imply that the parousi'a is actually a â€œperiodâ€ of time and they attribute many of the events throughout the preceding passage to the parousi'a. The idea that the parousi'a
per se is a â€œperiodâ€ is not expressed in the chapter, and neither does it include such events as war, famines, earthquakes (v. 67),
persecution (v. 913), or the installation of the abomination of desolation (v. 15). The parousi'a instead corresponds to the event in v. 30: â€œthe Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with
power and great glory.â€ This particularly clear because the disciplesâ€™ question in v. 3 asked whether there would be a â€œsignâ€ of the parousi'a.
And v. 30 contains the only reference to a â€œsignâ€ in the chapter: â€œThe
sign of the Son of Man would appear in heaven,â€ and that sign is followed directly by the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds of heaven. That the term parousi'a in Matthew 24 refers to a â€œcomingâ€ and not a â€œpresenceâ€ is clear from the context.
Its use in the disciplesâ€™ question in v. 3 is followed by its use in v. 27, 37, 39. There the parousi'a is compared to sudden and unexpected events, such as a flash of lightning, the cataclysmic Flood in Noahâ€™s
day, and the surprising trespass of a burglar into a home at night. And with each of these events, the technical term parousi'a
is compared to the usual verb for â€œcomeâ€. In v. 27, the parousi'a
of the Son of Man is like lightning that â€œcomesâ€ (exer'chetai)
from the east. In v. 37 and 39, the parousi'a of the Son of
Man is like the Flood that â€œcameâ€ (e'lthen) and swept the people away. In v. 42 and 44, the disciples are admonished on the basis of these examples to stay awake because they do not know when the Son of Man is â€œcomingâ€ (er'chetai).
And this last phrase has v. 30 as its antecedent, for it was there when the verb â€œcomeâ€ first occurs with this sense, i.e. â€œthe Son of Man coming (er'chomenon) on the clouds of heaven.â€ The idea that the parousi'a is a â€œperiodâ€ of Christ being present is not found at all in the passage. The term does not look at a state of being present following the coming of the Son of Man, it looks directly at the
coming itself as an event that changes the state of affairs into a new one â€“ just as the coming of the Flood was an event that changed things for the people destined to experience it.
[Footnote] *The meaning of parousi'a is seen from the contrast that is made between the "presence" and "absence" of the apostle Paul both at 2 Corinthians 10:10, 11 and at Philippians 2:12. For a
detailed discussion, see Insight on the Scriptures, Volume 2, pages 6769.
Interpretive Fallacy: Ignoring Usage in Semantics It is assumed that the etymological or basic sense of a word is more important than the usage of the word in similar contexts. Here again the Society commits the error of ignoring usage. Yes, the etymological sense of parousi'a is that of â€œpresenceâ€ and that is how it is used in Philippians 2:12. There it is used to express a state of being present, not a change of state like â€œbecoming presentâ€, which is what â€œcomingâ€ involves. In their discussions on the meaning of parousi'a,
they never admit that â€œcomingâ€ is a perfectly normal sense of the word, that parousi'a can be used to express both states (being present) and changes in state (becoming present, i.e. coming, arriving). As mentioned above, the context itself shows clearly that a change in state is meant in Matthew 24. We could quote some examples from Josephus that demonstrate that parousi'a
was commonly used to refer to oneâ€™s arrival:
â€œWhen he roused from his sleep he greatly rejoiced and declared to all the warning he received from God according
to which dream he acted entirely, and so waited for the coming (parousi'an) of the king.â€ â€“ Josephus, Antiquities 11.8.4.
â€œThey exhorted her at least to keep them in bonds until he should come (parousi'as), and that for their security.â€ â€“
Josephus, Antiquities 20.2.2.
â€œUpon the receipt of this letter of Silas, I took two hundred men along with me, and traveled all night, having sent
before a messenger to let the people of Tiberias know that I was coming (parousi'an).â€
â€“ Josephus, Vita 90.
Translating as parousi'a â€œpresenceâ€ would be nonsensical here, as it is in Matthew 24. In the first quote, the parousi'a of the king ENDS a state of â€œwaitingâ€. A state ends not with another state but with a change of the previous stateÍ¾ thus parousi'a here has the sense of â€œcoming,â€ not â€œbeing presentâ€ (i.e. waiting for the king to become present). In the second quote, the act of â€œcomingâ€ terminates the STATE of bondage and thus similarly is a change in state. And the third quote is most obvious of all. It is nonsensical to think that
one needs to send a messenger to alert the people that he was already present. The purpose of the messenger was to inform them that Josephus, while not present yet, was soon going to become present among them. These three examples are not isolated, I could supply a dozen more that have the same sense.
So what does this all mean? It means that the idea of parousi'a
indicating a â€œperiodâ€ of Jesus being invisibly present (need I add that â€œinvisibilityâ€ has nothing to do with the word?) is entirely foreign to the passage being interpreted.
Q4) How does Jesus' presence find a parallel in the events of Noah's day?
The fact that the word parousi'a refers to an extended period of time harmonizes with what Jesus said with regard to his presence. (Read Matthew 24:3739.)
Now what was suggested in the previous paragraph has become a â€œfactâ€. But as shown above, it is not a fact at all. And notice that what was a â€œperiodâ€ in the last paragraph is now â€œan extended period of timeâ€. Subtly the length of the period is exaggerated and intensified, without any basis from the text itself.
Notice that Jesus did not liken his presence to the relatively short period of time during which the Flood occurred in Noah's day. Rather, he compared his presence to the much longer period of time
that led up to the Flood. Included therein were Noah's building of the ark and his preaching work, right up until the time that the Flood finally arrived. Those events occurred over many decades. In a
similar way, Christ's presence includes the events leading up to and including the great tribulation. 2 Thess. 1:69.
This argument only makes sense if the text itself is not consulted. For in the passage in question, the â€œmuch longer period of time that led up to the Floodâ€ is designated â€œthe days before the Floodâ€ (v. 38). Why is there a lengthy description of this time before the Flood? Because that establishes the situation or state of affairs
that the Flood (the change in state) irrevocably alters. It is not this prior state that is compared to the parousi'a, but the cataclysm that brings it to its consummation: â€œThey knew nothing about what would happen until the Flood came (e'lthen) and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming (parousi'a) of the Son of Manâ€ (v. 39). The comparison with a flash of lightning in v. 27 similarly presents the parousi'a as quick and obvious to all, like the Flood, but unlike an invisible presence over an â€œextendedâ€ duration.
Q5) How do the words recorded in Revelation chapter 6 indicate that Jesus' presence is an extended period of time?
5) Other Bible prophecies make it evident that Christ's presence refers to an extended period of time and not merely to his coming to destroy the wicked. ... Again, the parousi'a
is depicted as an extended period of time. Notice that the article nowhere discusses evidence unfavorable to the view. An article with some depth would at least acknowledge that there are reasons from the text itself for considering the parousi'a as the moment in which Christ comes as eschatological judge, rather than the period leading up to it. But the presentation here is very simplistic and omits evidence from the Matthew 24 itself that bears on the question.
The book of Revelation portrays Jesus as riding on a white horse and being given a crown. (Read Revelation 6:18.)
After being crowned as King in 1914, Jesus is pictured as going "forth conquering and to complete his conquest." The account then shows that he is followed by riders seated on differentcolored horses.
Eisegesis alert! First of all, there is no argument given for considering the vision in Revelation 6:18 as corresponding to the parousi'a
of Matthew 24. Presumably it is because the vision mentions a succession of war, famine, and pestilence. But nothing in Matthew 24 related the parousi'a itself to the â€œbeginning of the woesâ€ of Matthew 24:68.
The literary structure and language of the chapter shows that the parousi'a corresponds to the climax of the eschatological tribulation, the coming of the Son of Man for judgment (v. 3031).
Second, this reading of Revelation 6 imports the notion of 1914 into the interpretation, when there is no basis whatsoever for it in the text. There is no indication that the four horsemen relate to events occurring almost two thousand years later. And as any historian familiar with the facts should know, famine and disease were far more serious in preceding centuries than during the 20th century (see the book Sign of the Last Days â€“ When? by Carl O. Jonsson and Wolfgang Herbst for a handy discussion of the historical evidence), so there is nothing distinctive in the vision that should relate it directly to 1914 or the 20th century.
Third, the interpretation here identifies Jesus as the rider of the first horse, although such an identification is not made in the text itself. Rather, this identification is facilitated by conflating the rider on this white horse with the rider in Revelation 19:1116. But there are good reasons for rejecting this interpretation. First of all, the figure in ch. 19 is presented in quite a different manner. The horseman in v. 2 was given a stepha' nos, or a wreath of victory, which relates to the riderâ€™s military success (not kingly rulership), whereas the rider in
ch. 19 wears diade' mata, the crowns that are associated with true royalty. Second, he is armed with a bow and not a sword. This is detail that is suggestive of the Parthian army, whose archers were renowned. The forces associated with the Beast in Revelation (cf. 9:119, 16:1214Í¾ cf. 17:1213) also appear to have been Parthians, and these were depicted as horsemen wearing gold stepha' noi
(9:79), and it was widely feared during the time when Revelation was written that the Parthians would invade from the East, led by Nero
redidivus. The scenario in Revelation is quite similar to the ones in the Sibylline Oracles:
â€œA great king [Nero] will flee from Italy like a runaway slave unseen and unheard over the channel of the Euphrates, when he dares to incur a maternal curse for repulsive murder and many other things, confidently, with wicked hand.
When he runs away, beyond the Parthian land, many will bloody the ground for the throne of Rome. A leader of Rome will come to Syria who will burn the Temple of Jerusalem with fire, at the same time slaughter many menâ€¦Then the strife of war being aroused will come to the west, and the fugitive from Rome will also come, brandishing a great spear, having crossed the Euphrates with many myriadsâ€¦ Great wealth will come to Asia, which Rome itself once plundered and deposited in her house of many possessions.â€ â€“ Sibylline Oracles, 4.119146Í¾ written in the late first century AD.
This suggests the possibility that the rider on the white horse in ch. 6 is parallel to Apollyon in ch. 9 and the Beast of the later chapters. The Beast is elsewhere shown as imitating Jesus Christ, but in an inferior way (cf. the â€œresurrectionâ€ of the Beast in 13:3, 17:8, and compare 17:8 with 1:4). Finally, it was Jesus Christ himself as the Lamb who was opening the seals and thus it is unlikely that the author construes the Lamb as a horseman summoned by his own breaking of the seal.
These prophetically represent war, food shortages, and pestilence, all of which have occurred over the extended period of time that is referred to as "the last days." We are seeing the fulfillment of this
prophecy in our lifetime.
Eisegesis alert! It is simply asserted rather than shown that this vision pertains to â€œour lifetimeâ€ specifically, and that this latter period of time is the same as the â€œlast daysâ€ mentioned in the NT, and the parousi'a of Matthew. Also, how many people alive today saw the events of 1914 in â€œtheir lifetimeâ€? How many lifetimes is he â€œextended period of timeâ€ supposed to encompass?
Q6) What does Revelation chapter 12 help us to understand about Christ's presence?
6) Revelation chapter 12 provides further details concerning the establishment of God's Kingdom in heaven.
Eisegesis alert! The chapter says nothing about the establishment of Godâ€™s kingdom in heaven (hasnâ€™t God always ruled from heaven in the Bible anyway?)Í¾ it is quite clearly about the birth of the essiah, â€œwho
will rule all the nations with an iron scepterâ€ (Revelation 12:5). It was the controversial March 1, 1925 Watchtower article â€œBirth of the Nationâ€ that construed the birth in Revelation 12 as pertaining to the birth of the kingdom in 1914, as opposed to that of the Messiah child. This article was a masterpiece of eisegesis.
But if we follow the standard rules of exegesis, we see that this is not what the text says. Revelation 12:5 quotes from Psalm 2:9 and this verse was again quoted twice in Revelation with reference to Jesus Christ himself and not an abstract kingdom rule:
â€œâ€˜He will rule them with an iron scepterÍ¾ he will dash them to pieces like potteryâ€™, and so it is that I have received
authority from my Father.â€ â€“ Revelation 2:27.
â€œOut of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. â€˜He will rule them with an iron scepter.â€™ He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.â€ â€“ Revelation 19:1516.
There we read of a battle in the invisible realm. Michaelâ€”Jesus Christ in his heavenly positionâ€”and his angels fight against the Devil and his demons. Nothing in the text identifies Jesus Christ with Michael. In fact, they are here construed as separate individuals, just as they are separate figures in other early Christian textsâ€“such as the account of the resurrection in Ascension of Isaiah 3:1617
which portrays Michael as opening Jesusâ€™ tomb on the third day
and helping him out.
As a result, Satan the Devil and his hordes are cast down to the earth. At that point, the account tells us, the Devil has great anger, "knowing he has a short period of time." (Read Revelation 12:712.) Clearly, then, the establishment of Christ's Kingdom in heaven is followed by a period of time that is marked by ncreased "woe" for the earth and its inhabitants.
The Society here assumes that the war in heaven is something that lay in the future of the author of Revelation and thus corresponds to the stillfuture parousi'a of Matthew 24. But the earliest interpreter of
Revelation, Papias of Hierapolis (early second century AD, cited in Andrew of Caesarea), construed the war as having occurred in the past. The reference to the birth of the Messiah points to a time prior to the writing of Revelation, and Satan was described earlier in the book as already having his throne on the earth
(Revelation 2:13). Most significant is the scenario related in ch. 1217,
which logically places the war in heaven PRIOR to the time when Revelation was written. The war in heaven PRECEDES the emergence of the Beast from the sea (13:12), whom the earthbound dragon delegates â€œhis power and his throne and his great authorityâ€, and the heads of the Beast (one of which was fatally wounded but which was healed and brought back to life) are interpreted in ch. 17 as ncompassing a succession of eight kings, the sixth of which was ruling at the time the vision was given:
â€œFive have fallen, one is, the other has not yet comeÍ¾ but when he does come, he must remain for a little while. The
beast who once was, and now is not, is an eighth king. He belongs to the seven and is going to his destruction.â€ â€“
Without even interpreting whom these kings were, it is clear that they had been ruling for some time, as five had already fallen. They received their power to rule from the dragon and that event is presented as occurring AFTER the dragon was cast to the earth. The Societyâ€™s interpretation of the kings as a succession of â€œworld empiresâ€ (unmotivated by the text itself) is especially problematic, since it would place the initiating event, the war in heaven, many millennia AFTER the first empire that supposedly received its
power after Satan was cast from heaven.
Although there is no space here to go into the evidence in depth, it is abundantly clear from the many clues in ch. 1718
that the author was thinking of the succession of emperors of Rome. These include the detailed description of the Roman trade network, the picture of the harlot sitting on seven hills (directly lampooning
the goddess Roma, who was usually depicted as sitting on the seven hills of Rome), the reference to its persecution of Christians, and the explicit statement in 17:18 that the harlot represents â€œthe great city that rules (present tense) over the kings of the earth,â€ i.e. Rome. One possible interpretation is that the author construed the war in heaven as occurring in the days of Augustus Caesar, when Jesus was depicted in the gospels as having been born. Augustus reached the height of his power in AD 6 when the Roman Empire reached its greatest extent (incorporating Judea as a province after the death of King Herod), and the empire maintained its rule over all these territories for the rest of the century. There is a similar concept in
the Jewish Sibylline Oracles, 3.6366, which declares that the antichrist figure who performs signs and wonders is Beliar himself, who â€œwill come from the Sebastenoi,â€ i.e. the JulioClaudian
line which started with Augustus and ended with Nero. But regardless of how the eight kings of Revelation 17 are identified, the
narrative logic of the overall passage indicates that the war in heaven lay in the past for the author, not in the future.
Q7) What does the second psalm speak about, and what opportunity is described therein?
7) The second psalm likewise speaks prophetically of the installation of Jesus as King upon heavenly Mount Zion. (Read Psalm 2:59Í¾
110:1, 2.) However, this psalm also indicates that there is a period of
time when earth's rulers, along with their subjects, are given an opportunity to submit to Christ's rule.
They are admonished to "exercise insight" and to allow themselves to be "corrected." Yes, during that time "happy are all those taking refuge in him [God]" by serving Jehovah and his appointed King. So,
then, a window of opportunity is opened during Jesus' presence in kingly power.â€”Ps. 2:1012.
This is fascinating. In the interpretation of Revelation 12 that construes the Messiah child as representing â€œGodâ€™s kingdomâ€ being established in 1914, the Society regards the reference to Psalm 2:9 as not referring to Jesus personally but to the kingdom itself. But here they take it as referring personally to Christ after all.
Also, the idea that Jesus would not have authority to rule as king in heaven until 1914 (when he is officially â€œenthronedâ€) is not only absent from the NT, but directly contradicted by statements such as these:
â€œThese men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar's decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.â€ â€” Acts 17:67.
â€œGod exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.â€ â€“ Philippians 2:911.
â€œTo him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down [past tense]
with my Father on his throne.â€ â€“ Revelation 3:21.
â€œThe proconsul asked him if he were Polycarp, and when he admitted it he tried to persuade him to deny, sayingâ€¦â€˜Swear by the genius of Caesar â€¦ take the oath and I let you go, revile Christ.â€™ Polycarp said: â€˜For eighty and six years have I been his servant, and he has done me no wrong, and how can I blaspheme my King who saved me?â€™
â€ â€“ Martyrdom of Polycarp 9:23Í¾ Polycarp was raised as a Christian in the first century, born in c. AD 68.
Q 8, 9) Who would recognize the sign of Christ's presence and understand its meaning?
8) When asked by the Pharisees about the time the Kingdom would come, Jesus answered that it would not come "with striking observableness" from their viewpoint. (Luke 17:20, 21) Unbelievers
would not understand. How could they? They did not even recognize Jesus as their future King. So who would both recognize the sign of Christ's presence and understand its significance?
This is partly true. As earlier explained in Luke 13, the kingdom starts out as being imperceptible to the world at large, like a mustard seed which is â€œthe smallest of all the seeds on earthâ€ (Luke 13:1819Í¾
cf. Mark 4:3032), or leaven â€œhiddenâ€ in dough that eventually leavens the entire bread (Luke 13:2021).
But the coming of the kingdom is not something construed as thousands of years later, i.e. as something established on the earth in 1914. In the very passage being cited here, Jesus tells the Pharisees that the kingdom was already in their midst:
â€œBehold, the kingdom of God is in the midst of you!â€ â€“Luke 17:21.
The parallel expression in the Gospel of Thomas puts it this way: â€œIt will not come by waiting for it. It will not be a matter of saying, â€˜Here it isâ€™ or â€˜There it is.â€™ Rather, the kingdom of God is spread out upon the earth, and men do not see itâ€ (113:1). The same thought was expressed in Luke 11:
â€œIf it is by the finger of God [= â€œSpirit of Godâ€ in Matthew 12:28] that I cast out demons, then the kingdom of God has come to you.â€ â€“Luke 11:20.
Although the kingdom was still incognito and not observable to the world at large, and still had not come to most of the people of the earth, it was manifest for those who followed Jesus and who experienced the Holy Spirit. This was not the situation in the distant futureÍ¾ it was the state of affairs for those who professed to be
servants of Christ. As Colossians 1:13 expresses it, God â€œhas rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son.â€ Matthew 13 also construes the Son of Man as sowing the
seed of the kingdom in the field (i.e. the world), and these grow into the disciples who together constitute the â€œsons of the kingdom.â€
Paragraph 8 also confuses the coming of the â€œkingdomâ€ with the parousi'a.
Luke presents the kingdom as coming through the ministry of Jesus, and through the preaching of his disciples (cf. Luke 16:16, which
asserts that it was after the time of John the Baptist when people began to enter into the kingdom as a result of the ministry). Those such as the Pharisees would not perceive the kingdom in their midst (17:2021), whereas the lowly, the meek, and the sick have the kingdom come to them directly.
9) Jesus went on to say that his disciples would see the sign just as clearly as they would see "lightning, by its flashing, [which] shines from one part under heaven to another part." (Read Luke
It is of interest to note that Matthew 24:2327 directly links the same point with the sign of Christ's presence. The section in Luke 17:2237
no longer concerns the imperceptible coming of the kingdom to those on the earth, but instead pertains to â€œthe day when the Son of Man is revealedâ€ (v. 30), an expression that is analogous to the parousi'a
of Matthew (indeed this section reproduces the parousi'a material from Matthew 24:2641, including the imagery of lightning, eagles gathered at a carcass, and Noahâ€™s Flood). This is not a period in which the kingdom is imperceptibly (invisibly) present, known only to the faithful, but the moment when the Son of Man brings out the end of the present world. As such, it is not a sign perceived only by the disciples. Whereas a mustard seed or leaven can easily be missed before they grow and spread, it is impossible for anyone looking to miss a bright flash of lightning, or for those in the days of Noah
to have missed the Flood, or for the people of Sodom to have missed the destruction of the city (v. 2632).
Q 10, 11) (a) What explanation was previously given concerning the "generation" mentioned at Matthew 24:34? (b) Who would Jesus' disciples have no doubt understood to be included in hat "generation"?
10) Previously, this journal has explained that in the first entury, "this generation" mentioned at Matthew 24:34 meant "the contemporaneous generation of unbelieving Jews."* [Footnote]* See The Watchtower, November 1,1995, pages 1115, 19, 30, 31.
That is only the latest of a long string of interpretations. As readers of the forum jehovahswitness. com know, the Watchtower Society taught for decades that the generation was a â€œliteral generationâ€ that would see both the events of 1914 and Armageddon. In 1962, the Society specifically rejected the interpretation pursued in the 1995 article:
â€œThat a symbolic application to a â€˜generationâ€™ of wicked persons is not meant at Matthew 24:34 is apparent when we read the preceding verse: â€˜Likewise also you, know that he is near at the doors.â€™ It is the generation of persons who â€˜see all these things to whom Jesus refers in verse 34, irrespective of whether such persons are righteous or wicked.â€™â€“Awake!, September 22, 1962, p. 27.
What is striking about the interpretation that prevailed from the 1960s to 1995 is the dogmatism that the Society showed concerning it. While it handled the 1975 speculation somewhat gingerly in the official publications, it showed no restraint about what was expected regarding the closeness of Armageddon on account of the advanced age of those who saw the events of 1914: â€œThe fact that fiftyfour
years of the period called the â€˜last daysâ€™ have already gone by is highly significant. It means that only a few years, at most, remain before the corrupt system of things dominating the earth is destroyed by God.
How can we be so certain of this? â€¦.Today we have the evidence required, all of it. And it is overwhelming! All the many, many parts of the great sign of the â€˜last daysâ€™ are here, together with verifying Bible chronologyâ€¦ We today have all the many parts of the sign, nearly forty of them, being fulfilled in the same generation, and we have Godâ€™s timetable, his â€˜calendar,â€™ showing that the time has nearly run out for the present unrighteous system of things. This is very different indeed from the situation with those who proclaimed an â€˜end to the worldâ€™ in earlier generations.â€ â€“ Awake!, October 8, 1968, pp. 13, 2324.
â€œIf you are a young person, you also need to face the fact that you will never grow old in this present system of things. Why not? Because all the evidence in fulfillment of Bible prophecy indicates that this corrupt system is due to end in a few years. Of the generation that observed the beginning of the â€˜last daysâ€™ in 1914, Jesus foretold: â€˜This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occurâ€™ (Matt. 24:34). Therefore, as a young person, you
will never fulfill any career that this system offers.â€ â€“ Awake!, May 22 1969, p. 15 Yet, in spite of this certitude in years past, only the 1995 article is offered as the previous explanation given
by the Watchtower. Anything before that is ancient history.
That explanation seemed reasonable because all other recorded uses that Jesus made of the term "generation" had a negative connotation, and in most cases, Jesus used a negative adjective, such as "wicked," to describe the generation. (Matt. 12:39Í¾ 17: 17Í¾ Mark 8:38)
Indeed that was the case, and this utilizes a common apocalyptic theme that society has become more and more wicked and depraved in the time between the return from Babylonian exile and the end of the age (cf. the â€œperverse generationâ€ of 1 Enoch 93:9 and the corruption of the postexilic priesthood in Testament of Levi 17:11), with the last generation being the most iniquitous of all. That doesnâ€™t mean of course that there were not any faithful in such a generation. In the case of the â€œperverse generationâ€ of 1 Enoch 93, the
chosen faithful are still chosen and given the â€œeternal plant of righteousnessâ€ (v. 10).
Thus, it was felt that in the modernday fulfillment, Jesus was referring to the wicked "generation" of unbelievers who would see both the features that would characterize "the conclusion of the system of things" (synte'leia) and the system's end (te'los).
Eisegesis alert! Although the Society asserts a â€œmoderndayâ€
fulfillment of the Olivet discourse (and they are not alone in searching for a double fulfillment), this concept has to be read into the text with the hindsight of history. If you take the text on its own terms and carefully note the patterns of deixis in the narrative, that
is, seeing how one thing is the logical antecedent to another and how one expression points back to another in the text, the structure of the discourse would naturally lead the reader to conclude that only the generation of those who heard Jesus is in view. For example, there is consistent secondperson reference throughout the entire passageÍ¾ since Jesus is represented as addressing a group of his disciples personally (cf. â€œDo you see all these [temple buildings]â€ in
v. 2), the â€œyouâ€ refers to them from v. 4 to v. 44. These include the events surrounding the destruction of Jerusalem as well as the coming of the Son of Man on the clouds of heaven (verbs with secondperson reference occur in v. 2, 4, 6, 9, 15, 23, 26, 32, 33, 42, etc. and the pronoun itself occurs in v. 20, 23, 25, 26, 34, etc.). There is no reason from the text itself for supposing a change in reference from the individual disciples talking with Jesus at the Mount of Olives to a different group of people thousands of years later,
such that some of these secondperson references relate to one group and some of them relate only to another later group.
It is similarly the case with the â€œthese thingsâ€ (tauta) that Matthew 24:34 describes as coming to pass before â€œthis generationâ€ passes away. This phrase looks back to the preceding events mentioned in the discourse, from the destruction of Jerusalem in v. 2 to the coming of the Son of Man in v. 30. It does not look to only
some of â€œthese thingsâ€ being witnessed by â€œthis generationâ€, while others are experienced by a later generation. ALL these things (tauta panta) would be experienced by â€œthis generationâ€. And the â€œthisâ€
(hau'te) in â€œthis generationâ€, unless any indication has been given in the text to the contrary, similarly must refer to the generation contemporary with Jesus and the disciples at the time the verbal exchange takes place. Although there is no antecedent for it in Markâ€™s version of the discourse, one is provided in Matthew
23:3338, where â€œthis generationâ€ in v. 36 includes the rabbis and Pharisees condemned by Jesus. That the same â€œthis generationâ€ was expected to live to see Judgment Day and the resurrection of the dead is suggested by Matthew 12:4142, which refers to the raised dead playing a role in judging â€œthis generationâ€.
The belief that the coming of the Son of Man in glory and judgment was expected to occur within the lifetime of those who saw Jesus, and even witnessed by those who judged Jesus, is indicated by such statements as: â€œFor the Son of Man is going to come in his Fatherâ€™s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person
according to what he has done. I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.â€ â€“ Matthew 16:2728.
â€œYou [i.e. the Sanhedrin] will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.â€ â€“ Mark 14:62. â€œLook, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him [i.e. during his crucifixion].â€ â€“ Revelation 1:7.
11) It is true that when Jesus used the word "generation" negatively, he was speaking to or about the wicked people of his day. But was that necessarily true of his statement recorded at Matthew 24:34?
Recall that four of Jesus' disciples had approached him "privately." (Matt. 24:3) Since Jesus did not use negative qualifiers when speaking to them about "this generation," the apostles would no doubt have understood that they and their fellow disciples were to be part of the "generation" that would not pass away "until all these things [would] occur."
This is quite an interesting statement. It correctly notes that the discourse posits Jesus as addressing his disciples directly in his response. If full weight is given to this fact, then there is no other later generation in view here. But also the fact that the disciples were part of the generation does not negate the fact that the
generation was characterized as particularly wicked and perverse.
So in disputing their 1995 interpretation, the Society has essentially gone back to their 1962 view that the generation is not ecessarily â€œwickedâ€ in its entirety.
Q 12) What does the context reveal concerning those to whom Jesus was referring when he used the term "generation"? Context?
On what basis may we draw that conclusion? By carefully considering the context. As recorded at Matthew 24:32, 33, Jesus said: "Now learn from the fig tree as an illustration this point: Just as soon
as its young branch grows tender and it puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. Likewise also you, when you see all these things, know that he is near at the doors." (Compare Mark 13:2830Í¾
Then, at Matthew 24:34, we read: "Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur."
Oh look, itâ€™s the same text cited in 1962! New light, or merely switching back to an older one?
Q 13, 14) Why can we say that the "generation" that Jesus referred to must have been his disciples?
13) Jesus said that it was his disciples, soon to be anointed with holy spirit, who should be able to draw certain conclusions when they saw "all these things" occur. So Jesus must have been referring to
his disciples when he made the statement: "This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur."
Now they are going to the other extreme. Sure, the generation INCLUDES the disciples who lived at the same time as those condemned by Jesus, but it goes too far to restrict â€œthis generationâ€ only to the faithful disciples. This flatly ignores the usage of the phrase in Matthew 11:16, 12:39, 4142, 45, 16:4, 17:17,
23:36. 14) Unlike unbelievers, Jesus' disciples would not only see the sign but also understand its significance.
There is no requirement for ALL of the generation to understand the significance of the events leading up to the parousi'a. In fact, the whole point of the reference to the parousi'a in Matthew 24:3739
is to highlight the fact that MOST WILL NOT NOTICE what is about to happen until it occursâ€“and then it would be too late.
They would "learn" from the features of that sign and "know" their true meaning. They would fully appreciate that "he is near at the doors." While it is true that both unbelieving Jews and faithful
anointed Christians saw a limited fulfillment of Jesus' words in the first century, only his anointed followers back then could learn from these eventsâ€”could understand the true meaning of what they
This sidesteps a major issue: How could there have been only a â€œlimited fulfillmentâ€ in the first century when the Olivet discourse (as written by the authors of Mark and Matthew) solemnly promised that the ALL the things described in the discourse would come to pass during that generation, including the coming of the Son of Man? Only by artificially partitioning the discourse into sections that ertain to two different generations or by regarding the â€œrealâ€ fulfillment as only a future generation (contrary to the language used in the discourse itself) would one be able to claim that a complete fulfillment is feasible. Such a reading however is motivated by the hindsight of history, not the rhetorical formulation of the discourse itself. There are no literary indicators in Matthew 24 that imply that the generation is one in the distant future. This is especially striking since the â€œclose of ageâ€ is presented as closely tied to the destruction of Jerusalem.
If there would be such a long break, why is there no sign of one and why does the discourse present both as occurring in the same generation? It is true that a delay presumed in the second half of the chapter (material that is added to the Markan form of the discourse), but it is a delay that is still within the bounds of â€œthis generationâ€. To gain some perspective, the amount of time separating the 21st century from the generation of Jesus is the same among of time separating Jesus from the patriarch Abraham (according to
conventional chronology). That was hoary antiquity for those living in the first century. The problem is analogous to someone promising Abraham that he would not die before he sees Jesus on the cross.
Q 15) (a) Who make up the modernday "generation" that Jesus referred to? (b) Why are we not able to calculate the exact length of "this generation"? (See the box on page 25.)
15) Those without spiritual understanding today have felt that there has been no "striking observableness" with regard to the sign of Jesus' presence.
Here again they are confusing the parousi'a in Matthew with the initial â€œcoming of the kingdomâ€ in Luke, which was characterized as imperceptible to everyone except the followers of Jesus. Luke presents the kingdom as already present among Jesus, the disciples, and those healed by Jesus, and it was even in the
midst of those who did not yet see it. It would grow until it becomes visibly manifest, just as the mustard seed or the leaven makes itself visibly prominent over time. Luke dramatizes this in Acts, where he depicts the church as having a tiny beginning but growing into a large movement that eventually embraces the known world. This is accomplished prior to the parousi'a in the Matthean discourse, with v. 14 coming before v. 30. And indeed, Paul concurred that the preaching had already gone out to the entire world: â€œThe word of the Lord started to spread â€“ and not only throughout Macedonia and Achaia, for the news of your faith has spread everywhere, we do not need to tell other people about it.â€ â€“ 1 Thessalonians 1:8.
â€œYour faith is spoken of all over the worldâ€¦.Not everyone, of course, listens to the good newsâ€¦.Let me put the question: Is it possible that they did not hear of it? Indeed, they did, as the psalm says: â€˜Their voice has gone out through all the earth, and their message to the ends of the earth.â€ â€“ Romans 1:8, 10:1618.
â€œThe good news which has reached you is spreading all over the world and â€¦ has been preached to all creation under heaven.â€ â€“ Colossians 1:5, 23. The parousi'a, in contrast, is the event that suddenly brings the present age to a close, just as the Flood
brought the antediluvian age to an end. It comes WITHOUT ANY SIGN, as there were no â€œsignsâ€ to warn of the approach of the Flood in Noahâ€™s day or the intrusion of a burglar into a house at night (Matthew 24:3644). They reason that everything is continuing on as it did in the past. (2 Pet. 3:4) On the other hand, Christ's faithful anointed brothers, the modernday John class, have recognized this sign as if it were a flash of lightning and have understood its true meaning.
Wrong again. The flash of lightning is not a metaphor for flashes of insight in either gospel. It is used to dramatize the sudden and unexpected arrival of the Son of Man, just as lightning â€œcomesâ€ without warning and just as the Flood â€œcameâ€ without warning.
As a class, these anointed ones make up the modernday
"generation" of contemporaries that will not pass away "until all these things occur."* This suggests that some who are Christ's anointed brothers will still be alive on earth when the foretold great tribulation begins.
Eisegesis alert! And now we come to the â€œnew lightâ€ of the article, which pretty cleverly follows a description of the â€œJohn classâ€ behind the publication of the Watchtower as having the insight to nderstand
the â€œtrue meaningâ€ of the prophecy of Jesus (in other words, â€œwe know what weâ€™re talking about, so donâ€™t question our logicâ€). Yet they did not have this insight in 1962, nor did they have it in 1995. They are not very insightful in terms of biblical exegesis, for the drift in logic has now reached the conclusion that it sought out. First they acknowledged that the generation is not 100% composed of wicked people because Jesusâ€™ disciples would have to be included in it. Then in the next paragraph this turned into a claim that the generation is ONLY made up of Jesusâ€™ faithful disciples. And then by mixing up the parousi'a with the advent of the kingdom through Jesusâ€™ ministry, and by reading totally unrelated ideas into the references of lightning (which are not at all metaphors for flashes of insight), the Society takes the â€œgenerationâ€ to be not only the disciples of Jesus, but specifically the â€œclassâ€ that has particular insight by virtue of being anointed.
Such is how an idea completely foreign to Matthew 24, that â€œthis generationâ€ refers to a class of anointed Christians at the time of the great tribulation, was created. [Footnote] * The time period during which "this generation" lives seems to correspond to the period
covered by the first vision in the book of Revelation. (Rev. 1:103:
22) This feature of the Lord's day extends from 1914 until the last of the faithful anointed ones dies and is resurrected.â€”See Revelationâ€”Its Grand Climax At Hand! page 24, paragraph 4.
Eisegesis alert! Here is an attempt to buttress the assertion that the â€œgenerationâ€ of Matthew 24 pertains not to those who heard Jesus but to those in the distant future. No attempt is made to explain why there is reason to think that â€œthis generationâ€ corresponds to the one presumed by Revelation 1:103:
22. And no reason is given, other than a reference to that eisegetical masterpiece known as the Revelation Climax book, for presuming that this text refers to the period following 1914.
But it is worse than that. First of all, the letters in Chapters 13
of Revelation were specially addressed to the churches in Asia Minor that were under Johnâ€™s influence and they addressed rather local problems and issues faced by each church. If there was a specific generation in view in these chapters, it would have been the one alive in Johnâ€™s day.
Second, the Society here misconstrues the phrase â€œLordâ€™s dayâ€ in Revelation 1:10 as referring to the eschatological â€œday of the Lordâ€ known from Isaiah 13:6, Ezekiel 13:5, Amos 5:18, Acts 2:20, 1
Thessalonians 5:2, 2 Peter 3:10, and other passages. This is a pretty basic blunder because the phrase that occurs in Revelation 1:10 is not heme'ra tou ky'riou but a completely different expression: ky'riake
heme'ra, which was the name of a day of the week among the early Christians, the day they met in worship and partook of the eucharist, the day on which Christ was resurrected, i.e. Sunday. It always has this meaning in early Christian literature, cf. Ignatius, Magnesians 9:1, Didache 14:1, Gospel of Peter 12:50,
Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis 17.12, PseudoClementine
Recognitions, 10.72, etc. and the reference in Barnabas 15:9 to the â€œeighth dayâ€ of the week, i.e. the day after the Sabbath, which Christians keep â€œfor rejoicing, on which also Jesus rose from the deadâ€. So in Revelation 1:10, John was simply saying that he
received his vision on a Sunday, an appropriate day for such a visionÍ¾ compare Daniel 10:4 which notes that Daniel received his vision â€œon the twentyfourth day of the first month.â€
Q 16) What must all of Christ's disciples do?
More is needed, though, than merely recognizing the sign. Jesus went on to say: "What I say to you I say to all, Keep on the watch." (Mark 13:37) This is of utmost importance to all of us today whether
of the anointed or of the great crowd. Nine decades have passed since Jesus was installed as King in heaven in 1914. As challenging as it may be, we must prove ourselves ready and keep on the watch.
Understanding that Christ is present invisibly in Kingdom power helps us to do that. It also alerts us to the fact that soon he will come to destroy his enemies "at an hour that [we] do not think likely."â€”
This is perpetual eschatological dissonanceâ€“how many more decades would it take? Ten? Eleven? Fifteen? Twenty? It has been over 190 decades since the time when Matthew was written. But the Watchtower Societyâ€™s waiting game has been one based on a date foreign to scripture (1914), and one that has deferred
marriage, education, careers, etc. in the assured expectation that the end was at hand. All those alive in Can We Calculate the Length of "This Generation"? [Box on page 25] The word "generation" usually refers to people of various ages whose lives overlap during a
particular time period or event. For example, Exodus 1:6 tells us: "Eventually Joseph died, and also all his brothers and all that generation." Joseph and his brothers varied in age, but they shared
a common experience during the same time period. Included in "that generation" were some of Joseph's brothers who were born before him. Some of these outlived Joseph. (Gen. 50:24) Others
of "that generation," such as Benjamin, were born after Joseph was born and may have lived on after he died.
The common experience of â€œthis generationâ€ in the context of Matthew is they were alive at the time of Jesusâ€™ ministry and had a choice to either follow him or reject him. When he condemned the cities of Bethsaida, Chorazin, and Capernaum in Matthew 11:2024,
he had in mind the very people who saw him and heard him preach but who did not repent. And when he condemned â€œthis generationâ€ in the next chapter for being wicked and unrepentant, it was pretty much the same thing (12:3945).
So when the term "generation" is used with reference to people living at a particular time, the exact length of that time cannot be stated except that it does have an end and would not be excessively
long. Because a generation lasting two thousand years would indeed seem excessively long. And one lasting a century (19142014)
is not far ahead. Doubtless there will be more flashes of insight on this matter as time wears on.
Therefore, by using the term "this generation," as recorded at Matthew 24:34, Jesus did not give his disciples a formula to enable them to determine when "the last days" would end. Rather, Jesus
went on to emphasize that they would not know "that day and hour."â€”2 Tim. 3:1Í¾ Matt. 24:36.
Really?? What was all this in 1968 and 1969 about â€œGodâ€™s timetableâ€ and the overwhelming evidence from â€œBible chronologyâ€ that proves that â€œonly a few years at most remainâ€ before Armageddon, such that
young adults at the time would â€œnever grow oldâ€ and â€œfulfill any career that this system offers.â€ It is now almost 40 years later, the same length of time that the Israelites wandered in the wilderness â€“ enough time for the older generation to pass away (Numbers 14:2934). 1879 when Russell founded the Watch Tower Society are now dead â€“ and every one of them expected to see the millennium in their lifetime. The â€œmillions now livingâ€ in 1919, who were promised by Rutherford to see the millennial blessings realized in just a few yearsâ€™ time â€“ they now number in the hundredsÍ¾ at most only 18 WWI war veterans are still alive today.
What Christâ€™s disciples should do is what they did in the second century when they realized that the parousi'a was still not realized. THEY GOT ON WITH THE REST OF THEIR LIVES. Sure, they hoped and
waited and were ready in case Judgment Day suddenly beckoned unannounced. But that did not prevent them from living normal lives. It is one thing to be ready in case it happens, it is an entirely different thing to falsely claim with certainty that it is at hand. Although the author of Olivet discourse believed that the parousi'a
would occur in his own time, the version in Luke adds a rather pertinent warning: â€œFor many will come in my name, claiming, â€˜I am he,â€™ and â€˜The time is at hand.â€™ Do not follow them.â€™ â€“Luke 21:8.
Q 17) How should this understanding make us feel, and what should we be determined to do?
Our understanding of the meaning of Christ's presence helps to intensify our feelings of urgency. We know that Jesus is already present and has been reigning invisibly as King in heaven since 1914. Soon he will come to destroy the wicked and bring about vast changes to this entire globe. We should therefore be more determined than ever to take an active part in the work that Jesus foretold when he said: 'This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the
nationsÍ¾ and then the end [te'los] will come."â€”Matt. 24:14.
This is stated almost as a creed of faith, â€œWe believe that Jesus is already present and has been reigning invisibly as King since 1914.â€ No such idea is found anywhere in the Bible. It may have been created out of material found in scripture, but it is not a biblical bas