THAT Generation

Jesus provided his disciples with a chronological key – they would know the time of the Temple’s demise when they saw all “these things” coming to pass before “this generation” reached its inevitable end. That was his definitive answer to the question, “When will these things come to pass?” – within one generation.

His parable of the Budding Fig Tree represents the events that culminate in the destruction of the Temple (“these things”). The new foliage sprouted by the “fig tree” indicates the imminence of “summer.” When the disciples see “these things” coming to pass, then they will know that “it” is at hand.

  • (Mark 13:28-31) – “Even so you also, when you see these things coming to pass, know you that it is nigh, even at the doors. Verily I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things be accomplished.


The term “these things” refers to the preceding events predicted by Jesus - the “birth pains,” persecution, the rise of “false prophets,” the proclamation of the gospel to all the nations, and the arrival of the “Desolating Abomination.”

In Matthew’s gospel, the phrase “this generation” is used repeatedly for the generation of Jews that is contemporary with Jesus, the same “generation” that rejected him. For example:

  • (Matthew 23:32-36) – “That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of Abel the righteous unto the blood of Zachariah son of Barachiah, whom you slew between the sanctuary and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon THIS GENERATION.

In the literary context of Mark, “this generation” can only refer to the “generation” that includes the “scribes and Pharisees” denounced by Jesus.

For that matter, the normal way to understand the clause is as a reference to the generation that is contemporary with the speaker. That is true whether spoken in English or Greek – (Matthew 3:7, 11:16, 12:34, 12:39, 12:41-45, 16:4, 17:17, 23:33-36, 24:34).

Moreover, the term echoes statements from the Torah to the “generation” of Israel that disobeyed Yahweh and was condemned to die in the Wilderness. The verbal allusion is deliberate. The same consequences are about to befall the “generation” of Jews that will reject Israel’s Messiah:

  • (Numbers 32:13) – “And Yahweh’s anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years until ALL THE GENERATION that had done evil in the sight of Yahweh was consumed.”
  • (Deuteronomy 1:35) – “Surely there will not one of these men of THIS EVIL GENERATION see that good land.”
  • (Deuteronomy 2:14) – “And the space in which we came from Kadesh-Barnea until we came over the brook Zered was thirty and eight years until ALL THE GENERATION of the men of war were wasted out from among the host, as Yahweh swore to them.”

Jesus predicted the desolation of the Temple. In response, the disciples asked, “when will these things (tauta) be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age”? That is, when would the destruction of the Temple take place?


He provided a list of events that will signal the approach of that event - “these things” - especially the “Abomination of Desolation.” When the disciples see it, it will be imperative for them to flee Jerusalem with all haste.

If the arrival of the “Abomination of Desolation” in the Temple means the end of the present age and the arrival of Jesus in glory, there is no point in fleeing Jerusalem at that time.  For the wicked, there will be no escape, and for the righteous, what would be the point?

Thus, Jesus predicted the destruction of the Temple within one “generation.” And that is precisely what occurred when a Roman army sacked Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple in 70 A.D.

When the disciples see “all these things coming to pass,” they will know that the horrible event is imminent. Once the religious and political leaders of Israel rejected their Messiah, the judgment of the Temple became inevitable.


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