What generation won't pass away?

“This Generation Shall Not Pass Away,” but Which One? (Matthew 24:34; Mark 13:30; Luke 21:32)

In Matthew 24:34 Mark 13:30; Luke 21:32 Jesus said, “This generation shall not pass away.” Which generation was He talking about?

I don’t think another word in Scripture has caused as much confusion as “generation” in the below verses:

Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.

Matthew 24:32-34; see also Mark 13:28-31; Luke 21:29-33

The most famous misunderstanding might be Edgar C. Whisenant’s book 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988. 4.5 million copies were sold and another 300,000 were mailed free of charge to church leaders across the nation. Although Whisenant had 88 reasons for his conclusion, the strongest came from the word “generation.” The logic is:

  • Israel is the fig tree.
  • The words, “When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near” refer to Israel becoming a nation in 1948.
  • A generation is 40 years.
  • Jesus said the generation that sees Israel become a nation will not pass away.

Therefore, Jesus must return by 1988.

The problem is the Rapture didn’t occur in 1988 or on any of the other dates Whisenhant predicted (1989, 1993, 1994) before his death in 2001. Some pastors still quote this verse saying, “The generation that sees Israel become a nation will not pass away!” They conclude a generation isn’t 40 years. So the generation of people that saw Israel become a nation will not pass away before Jesus’ return.

This video from Dr. Michael Kruger answers a similar question: “Did Jesus say He would return in the 1st century A.D.?”

What did Jesus mean when He said, “This generation shall not pass away?”

Jesus said, “when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!” What things? Everything Jesus discussed in the previous verses:

  • Mark 13:1-2 & Matthew 24:1-2 & Luke 21:5-6 – The destruction of the temple
  • Mark 13:3-13 & Matthew 24:3-14 & Luke 21:7-19 – The signs of the times and the end of the age
  • Luke 21:20-24 – The destruction of Jerusalem
  • Mark 13:14-23 & Matthew 24:15-28 – The Great Tribulation
  • Mark 13:24-27 & Matthew 24:29-31 & Luke 21:25-28 – Jesus’ Second Coming

What is “it” when Jesus says “it is near”? In the parallel account in Luke 21:31 Jesus said, “So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near.” “It” is the Kingdom of God that Jesus will establish when He returns. In other words, when you see the things Jesus described, the Second Coming is close.

The generation Jesus was addressing?

A few years ago at a pastor’s conference I stayed up late talking with two pastors who were convinced Jesus’ Second Coming took place spiritually (as opposed to physically) in 70AD when Rome conquered Jerusalem and destroyed the temple. One of the main reasons they (as well as others) hold this view (known as Preterism) is based on the word “generation.”

Preterists believe the generation is the people Jesus was speaking to that day. They “[would] by no means pass away till all these things take place.” 70AD was approximately 40 years later, so Preterists believe Jesus’ words were fulfilled when Rome conquered Jerusalem in 70AD.

There are numerous reasons this view is wrong, but for simplicity’s sake, let’s only discuss one: in 70AD Jesus didn’t return like He described He would:

Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”

Matthew 24:30

So which generation?

If Jesus isn’t talking about the “generation” of people living at the time, what “generation” is in view?

The generation of people who see the signs – the trials: final, hard labor pains – described in the previous verses that we know as the Tribulation. That “generation will by no means pass away till all [the things Jesus just discussed] take place.” Everything Jesus prophesied of in the chapter will occur within one generation.

78 Responses

  1. Something that’s been on my mind lately is Jesus’s statement, “But as the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.” As it was the Lord himself who said this, it seems that we should be able to look at even the smallest details of Noah’s day.
    One thing I like to consider is that Methuselah was given as a sign of the flood. I’ve heard that his name means when he dies, it will come. By God’s grace, Methuselah lived longer than any man.
    I find it curious that the statement Jesus made about the fig tree is very similar if the interpretation is correct…as I have always been taught. A man’s lifespan or death was given as a sign of pre-flood. A generation’s duration is given as a sign of Christ’s return. I have to wonder if this generation’s lifespan will be stretched, like Methuselahs. So, I give up on the generational math, lol. These two signs seem so familiar that I’m pretty sure it was the same person who gave them both. God Bless

  2. Abraham had Ishmel also by Haggar. Isn’t the descendents of Ishmel Arabic with Islam their faith? I think they are being deceived. Thoughts?

  3. My understanding is the AC will be of Assyrian descent. Isaiah 19:24-25; 14:25-26;30:30-31 and Micah 5:5-6

  4. Putin upholding the Christian values in Russia, restored hundreds of Christian churches after the Soviet Union collapse.
    During the last orthodox Christmas, the Russians asked the Ukrainian government to stop offensive operations so the soldiers could celebrate Christmas, they refused on orders from Washington.

    Putin evil?

  5. I am not convinced the Anti-Christ is Jewish. I was taught long ago he would rise out of the old kingdom that now is Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. He will Conquer 3 of the Arab tribes the other seven will give him his kingship. An Ariba nation would never give leadership to a man of Jewish ancestry. Because he is the Anti-Christ, he will be a mirror of Christ, being roughly 33 years of age. He will perform what will be perceived as miracles, and will most likely Usher in the new world government. To declare himself god he will have to abandon the faith of his fathers.

    The buying and selling of goods by a mark is a clear warning to Christianity to beware but you can’t take the mark until the Anti-Christ is walking among us. That said all things can be put into place before his arrival. Satan is alive and well his dominions are putting everything in place for his arrival. So much so that when he arrives his step to power will be mind-boggling.

    As to Israel, I believe it is the centerpiece to which all will pivot around, yet the country is not yet the nation Israel. The nation had 12 tribes, 10 of whom were taken into captivity with the curse and promise that their identity would not be known Until the End time.

    1. Joseph,
      Can you imagine the Jews receiving a Messiah who is not Jewish?

      I do agree with you that he will be similar to the Messiah. The word “anti” or opposite of can mean instead of verses opposed to.

  6. When the fig branch turns green in 1948, Matthew 24. Genesis 6:3 = 120 years = 2068? Our Father has 7 feasts. only 1 falls on the New Moon, and it’s called Trumpets in English. Let’s go and start to teach. What is happing today is in the Bible.


        1. Could a generation simply be those born around 1948 and their average lifespan? Average lifespan is about 82 years in Israel. 1948 + 82 = 2030.

          2030 is also the start of the 3rd day because a 1000 years to us is like 1 day to God.

        2. Tyler,
          That’s an interesting thought and worth consideration. My only concern is that we let Scripture interpret Scripture and I’m not aware of a generation being eighty years or more in Scripture.

  7. What Bible verse tells us the antichrist will be Jewish? And do you believe it will be someone who claims to be Jewish or of Abraham’s bloodline? For three years I couldn’t wrap my head around how Israel after the Holocaust would choose to inject the bioagent in their people before any other nation.

    1. Hello Mel,
      Why do I think the antichrist will be Jewish? The Jews will receive the antichrist in place of Jesus, or as the Messiah. It is hard to believe that the Jews would believe someone was their Messiah if he wasn’t Jewish.
      I don’t know what you mean about whether he will claim to be Jewish or of Abraham’s bloodline. The Jews are of Abraham’s bloodline.

  8. I have been hearing that Jesus is coming back soon ever since I was a small child. I am just about to turn 63 years young and HE tells us we will know by the signs that HIS coming is near. Anyone that is a Believer in Jesus Christ can see the signs now. Especially with evil being celebrated and good being prosecuted. We are not supposed to know the day or time, as even Jesus doesn’t know, only GOD. But we definitely know the signs are here now and it’s definitely getting closer. I pray daily that my generation might be the one that sees HIS coming.

  9. The 2 witnesses are the jokers in the deck. As long as one or more were born during the first generation of modern Israel as must have happened (the hidden sign), they will last to the “last generation” before the end times begin….so the wait time is no longer predictable. But the end times will come someday. Be ready.

  10. Very good read. I believe the youngest of the generation that saw the rebirth of Israel would be around 75 yrs old now. Figuring AVERAGE span of a generation is 80 yrs Look into Shlomo Yehudah Be’eri the Rabbi many Jews believe to be the Messiah. He was born in Spain and has performed “miracles”. I’ve seen Rabbis also referring to him as the Messiah because he is a prodigy and can recite the Torah from memory. Just something interesting to research and steer you down into the rabbit holes of the internet. God Bless 🙏

    1. Hello Mary,
      Good question. The Jews received the antichrist in place of Jesus, or that Christ. It is hard to believe that the Jews would receive an individual as their Messiah who is not Jewish.

      As far as a biblical response, I would offer Daniel 11:37 which says, “He shall pay no attention to the gods of his fathers, or to the one beloved by women. He shall not pay attention to any other god, for he shall magnify himself above all.”

      This is referring to the antichrist and it says he pays no attention to the gods of his fathers, and I take this to be the patriarchs.

      1. Scripture says that a generation is 70 years, by reason of strength 80 years. A prophet, Thomas Horne, says an asteroid from Revelation will hit on April 12, 2029 and NASA has been moving the trajectory very close every year. This prophet also prophesied the stepping down of the last Pope to the very day. NASA was at 31k to impact. Now they say 19k. Plus they have been wrong many times on trajectory. I believe it will hit. Thomas Horne is right and it’s no coincidence. It’s called Apophis.

  11. Here is another perspective that seems to be taboo. What if the people claiming to be Israel are not really Israel at all? What if they are actually Revelation 2:9 and 3:9? 1948 is irrelevant because they are NOT the descendants of Abraham. Israel is just now waking up to their identity but the world is NOT acknowledging it. So, Christ will come like a thief in the night because the world has been deceived by the synagogue of Satan. Israel was sold into slavery on slave ships Deuteronomy 28:68.

    1. Hello Pete,
      Are you saying that the Jews today are not really the descendants of Abraham? I don’t mean the spiritual children of Abraham today (Christians), but the biological descendants of Abraham?

  12. I believe in the Psalm 90 life span but just remember, the Rapture is imminent. Nothing needs to transpire.

  13. This finally is the correct answer to my opinion by Curtis Tillman.
    A generation is one lifetime, e.g. around 80 years. But the number 40 is used interchangeably for days and for years. We see that in the Bible numerous times. It refers to 40 testing and/or trial days or years e.g., Israelites wandering for 40 years in the wilderness before they entered the Promised Land. The Lord was angry at their unbelief and rebellion during that time and He said, that generation will not see and step into the promised Land. Only the generation of Caleb and Joshua did. Because they were like 40 years old or less. Even Moses did not survive to see the Land. Why? Because the generation of Moses were too old and died by then. Only those Israelites, the remnants who were young less than 40 years old at the time when they left Egypt lived through it and reached the Promised Land. Forty years old Caleb and Joshua plus another 40 years in the desert wandering equals 80 years old. So, one generation is one lifetime and it could be around 75 or up to 80 years of age. Joshua and Caleb’s generation was nearing the age of 75 and/or 80 years old when finally, God allowed them to reach the Land of promise. Our Lord fasted for 40 days (Satan tempted him);

  14. What about Psalm 90:10, which says, “The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty”?

    1948+80=2028 What if a generation is what psalm 90:10 is explaining?

    1. Hi Janell,
      Great point. Here is the exact verse for anyone following along…

      Psalm 90:10 The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.

  15. Disclaimer: For educational purposes only

    Did you know that Israel is turning 100 years in 2048?
    Our Gregorian calendar is incorrect (4 years missing)
    Let’s just assume a generation is 100, 2048-7 (tribulation) = 2041
    2041-4 (years missing) = 2037
    2037-2023 = 14 years remaining to the rapture

    1. Benny,
      Nice to hear from you. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. Can you let me know using Scripture why you believe that the rapture occurs one hundred years after Israel became a nation again? Also, I don’t think I would word it this way: “It’s real is turning one hundred years in 2048.” Israel has been a nation for thousands of years.

      1. Israel became a nation on May 17, 1948. It has NOT been a nation for hundreds or thousands of years. When the three angels came to Abram (99) and Sari (90), before going on to Sodom and Gomorrah, they said Abram would be a father of nations and Sari the mother. She laughed for they had no children. The angels said they would call their son Isaac, meaning laughter, and in one year he would be born. Hence, generational length is100 years: the age Abraham was when Isaac was born. Before the angels left they changed both their names.

    2. It’s so cool to hear what other people think about this subject! I think Jesus is going to come and get us anytime between now and 2068.

        1. I agree with Angela’s perspective. Although we will not know the day or the hour, we will know the signs of the times just as we know when the seasons change.

          Jesus says,“I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place.”
          ‭‭Matthew‬ ‭24‬:‭34‬ ‭NLT‬‬

          Scripture says, “Then the Lord said, “My Spirit will not put up with humans for such a long time, for they are only mortal flesh. In the future, their normal lifespan will be no more than 120 years.””
          ‭‭Genesis‬ ‭6‬:‭3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

          I believe that “this generation will not pass from the scene” to mean that as long as one person is still alive that was alive on the day that Israel became a nation then that generation has not passed. However, man’s lifespan has been limited to 120 years meaning that man could still live to be 120 years old. Although the oldest living person today is 117 years and 264 days old.

          Most everyone agrees this is in relation to Israel becoming a nation. Israel became a nation in 1948.

          If my interpretation is correct then ”all these things take place” sometime between now and 2068 as 1948 + 120 = 2068.

        2. Hello Joshua,
          I also agree that yes, we will not know the day or hour, but we can watch the times.

          I definitely think that Israel becoming a nation again is huge. But I also know that many people have become false prophets by adding years to that date and claiming that it identifies Christ return. Maybe your dating with one hundred twenty years will be different.

    3. Jesus mentioned that a great falling away must first take place. What happens if the rapture does not take place before the tribulation???
      The Anti-christ must come out of the Jewish ✡️ nation in order to be a false messiah. Selah!

      1. Hello Curtis,
        Thank you for sharing this with Benny and the rest of us. Can you help me understand the point behind your comment? I appreciate it, but what application does it have to the topic? Thanks ahead of time for explaining.

    4. I was thinking the same 100 years from 1948, because we know and calculate easy that from Adam to Abraham the father of Jacob/Israel is 1948 years, and 100 years more until Jacob is born. Hmmm.

  16. There is a strong case as we see the days unfold. We are watching a convergence of things that are making us shake our heads and wonder. Every day there is a spirit that has taken over the whole earth if we’re paying attention. It will not come as a surprise to those who are looking up. Come Jesus Come. He is coming quickly.

    1. Hello Anne,
      Nice to hear from you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree with you that many things are happening and we need to pay attention to what is going on around us. As Jesus taught in His parables, those remaining faithful will not be surprised and overtaken by that day.

  17. “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matthew 24:36). The return of Jesus Christ is near, even at the door, like a thief in the night (2 Peter 3:10). 1948, begins of the generation who will witness the second coming of Christ.
    Could Putin be the antichrist?

    1. Kara,
      I understand why you are asking this question. Putin is not the first and he will not be the last evil leader. There would have to be quite a few more signs before I would begin to think that he was the antichrist.

      With that said, I don’t think he is, because I believe the antichrist will be Jewish. I don’t see how the Jews could receive an individual as their Messiah who is not one of their brethren.

      1. He will come like the prince of peace and will perform miracles, but he will deceive many. The one world government hasn’t come neither.

        1. Mike,
          Yes, the antichrist will come preaching peace. The white horse he rides on represents his claim to be a man of peace (Revelation 6:2). Also, yes, the one world government has not yet occurred.

    2. The anti-whatever is not Jewish. The individual will be of French or Spanish origin. Why must he be related to the Roman empire ruler? It was the only country never defeated in war, but still fell. European charter is based on the Roman Empire. Please read Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and Revelation. The first four are the Books of the Prophets. Everyone understands the last book, Revelation, the mirror of the future. Enjoy!

  18. So by your interpretation the answer to what generation is simply the generation that sees the beginnings of the trials, the final hard labor pains? Isn’t the beginnings of the trails somewhat subjective? There have been trials throughout history and certainly as described by Jesus in Matthew 24:6-8. How do you distinguish those from the ones associated with the end of the age?

    Just so I am clear, you are not including Israel becoming a nation again in your interpretation?

    I am personally not sure what to believe here as I hear many pastors make that claim (about the generation that saw Israel become a nation, seeing the second coming) and claim that it is still a very real possibility. If it’s a generation that shall not pass away, how long does it take for a generation to pass away? Psalm 90:10 would seem to suggest 70 years, or 80 at the longest. Still time for that generation to see the end, but not much time.

    1948 + 80 = 2028.

    And if you believe in a pre-tribulation rapture of the church that could be very close, 2028 – 7 = 2021!

    Again, numbers based on the Israel thing, but I don’t want to fall into the same trap as Whisenant, but I do find it all very interesting and exciting to think we could well be that generation!

    Exciting stuff.

    Thanks for your thoughts.

    1. Todd,
      Yes, that is correct.

      Yes, it is somewhat subjective. I don’t know how to determine whether they are the trials that have occurred throughout history or are those associated with the end times. More than likely those associated with the end times will be worse, but we have seen some severe winds throughout history. So again, yes, it would be difficult to determine.

      No, I am not including Israel becoming a nation again in my interpretation. If that was the case I would expect the trials to begin 40 to 80 years after 1948. Like you said.

      I do think Israel becoming a nation again is very significant. But I’m not comfortable saying that the generation must be within 80 years of 1948.

      I think every generation should live as though the rapture could occur in their lifetimes. This is what we mean by imminency; nothing must occur first.

      Thank you for your thoughts as well!

    2. Nowhere does it state a length of time in scripture. His statement is this generation will not pass away before His return. It could quite plausibly be 100+ years. How long can a generation of people last? With our medical science in 21 century it could even be 120 years, we don’t know. Only God/Jesus knows the hour and the day.

    3. Hello Todd,
      You are correct on Psalms 90:10. Just think, we are in 2023 and if the rapture is to occur in 2028 or before we are only 4 1/2 years away. Wonderful to consider.


  19. Interesting, Scott! This is one of those verses in the Bible that I just kind of read over because I didn’t understand it. Thanks for shedding some light on it for me!

  20. Hi my Pastor,

    You’ve made a strong case for 70 years as a generation in earlier Bible studies. Also, we certainly have a front row seat re folks calling evil good and good, evil these days.

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