4 Important Questions About the Bible’s ‘the Last Generation’, Answered
In the Bible’s end-time prophecies is the question: who does Jesus refer to when he speaks about the “Last Generation”?
We all have an idea about what a generation means. However, turning to its technical definition, a generation is defined as “a body of living beings constituting a single step in the line of descent from an ancestor.”
That may cause confusion, especially at this time when many of us only know generations as baby boomers, millennials, and Gen Zs.
Apparently, the individuals belonging to one “generation” can be argumentative depending on the definition one uses. But in the scriptures, what could it possibly mean?
We gathered the answers to some of the questions surrounding the Bible’s “Last Generation.”
4 Questions About ‘The Last Generation
What does a “generation” mean in the Bible?
Before we fully understand who Jesus refers to as the “last generation,” we must first look at how a generation is defined in the bible.
There are varying definitions of a generation. But based on some biblical references (Genesis 17:6-9; Psalm 22:30), a generation appears to begin at conception and ends at death.
Therefore, as far as the scriptures are concerned, it may be argued that the length of one generation is not constant.
What does the Bible say about the Last Generation?
Discussions about the Last Generation come from Jesus’ quote in Matthew 24:34:
“Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”
In the above verse, Jesus talks about the signs of His coming and the end times. He says that the sign of the Son of Man will appear and that the people of the earth will mourn upon seeing Him on the clouds of heaven. (Matthew 24:30)
These “things” that Jesus refers to are end-of-age prophecies. He vividly described the future events that will happen before his Second Coming in Mathew 24, as well as the false prophets and false messiahs (whom sources also refer to as the antichrist) who will deceive the people.
Now, the “last generation” that the scripture speaks about is called so since they will be the last ones to witness these events leading towards “the end” or the Second Coming.
What is the “lesson from the fig tree” and what does it say?
The fig tree is often used to describe the nation Israel in the Bible. Particularly in Jeremiah 24:4-6, it was metaphorically expressed that the “good figs” would be brought back to their land and that God would plant them there for good.
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Meanwhile, in Matthew 24:32 which tells the parable of the fig tree, it says:
“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near.”
In relation to this parable is the belief that when Israel was made a nation in 1948, that is the beginning of the last generation. Others interpret the verses literally but the argument here, however, is plainly debated immediately in Mathew 24:36 which says:
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
So, what do we know about the last generation exactly?
Unfortunately, based on Matthew 24:36, it appears that there is no straight answer as to when the last and final generation begins.
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But again, there are a couple of interpretations we can refer to when Jesus spoke about “this generation” in the Bible.
One interpretation is explained through a prophetic context. All the events that were mentioned in Matthew 24, including the abomination that causes desolation spoken by the prophet Daniel are all future events. The descriptions were all prophetic.
Therefore, when he said that this generation will not pass until all the signs of the end take place, it is interpreted that he is speaking also about a future generation — a generation that has not existed yet at the time that he was making this prophecy.
On the contrary, another interpretation is that Jesus refers to “this generation” as the people He was speaking to (His disciples) at the time he was giving the prophecy. That means that His predictions will be happening within His disciples’ lifetimes.
That may be true, citing that the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 CE, making Jesus’ prophecy partially fulfilled. But when you carefully take into consideration that Jesus specifically uses the words “all these things” will take place in “this generation,” this theory may be inconsistent since all the events have to happen in one generation.
Another marker that is worth noting is that all the end-time events described in the book of Revelation would have to happen at a time when Israel is already back in their land. Perhaps that is the most defining event that hints at the return of Jesus Christ.
Finally, the most sound interpretation may be that when Jesus spoke about “this generation,” it refers to the people alive when all the signs of the end times will occur. And that all of those events he mentioned will happen in the course of their lifespans.
None of us has exact answers about who will be around when the signs of the end times happen. Whether or not we are part of the generation that Jesus speaks about, what matters is that we are all prepared for what is to come.
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