Matthew 24:34 “Verily I say unto you, this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”
Who, or what is the generation mentioned in this passage?
Psalm 78 opens with a clue that should not be easily dismissed. An unveiling occurs in the first three verses, which permit the well-read thinker to explore a mystery hidden in plain sight. “Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old: Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us.” These revelations are placed within the psalmist’s lyrics. Consider Psalm 49:4, “I will incline mine ear to a parable: I will open my dark saying upon the harp.” The question then begs to be asked, what dark saying can the Psalms reveal concerning Matthew 24:34?
David, the sweet singer of Israel, indeed opened a well of knowledge when he composed Psalm 22. In particular verse 30 for our answer. “A seed shall serve him; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.”
When speaking of the suffering Servant, Isaiah shared; “He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation?” (Isaiah 53:8a). Proceeding to verse 10, Isaiah records; “Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he has put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.”
As the curtain opens in Isaiah’s remarks concerning our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ, we see a question presented in verse 8 and answered in verse 10. Who shall declare His generation? None other that His seed, declares verse 10. But what connection does this have with Matthew 24:34?
Psalm 22:30 revealed that “a seed shall serve him; it [i.e., the seed] shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.” Again, the question was asked an answered in Isaiah 53, Who shall declare His generation? None other than His seed. This “seed” then is counted as a generation. According to Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, “..we [i.e., the Church] are members of his [ Christ’s] body, of his flesh, and of his bones” (Ephesians 5:30). When concerning the participation in the Lord’s Supper, Paul remembers the Lord’s command and instructs the people at Corinth too, do this in remembrance of Christ. But what were the Corinthians doing? They were declaring their union with Christ. Paul further instructs the Corinthians in our union with Christ when he adds; “For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12). Once more he adds; “Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular” (verse 27). One can conclude that this “one body” is the generation Christ was referring to in Matthew 24:34.
What is the implication of this understanding?
One can conclude, that if indeed Matthew 24:34 is speaking of the Body of Christ, then without doubt the Church will remain until the Second Coming of Christ.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:9, 10 the Apostle Paul states; “For God has not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.” Is this a statement concerning the exodus of the Church before the close of time?
The preceding verse has been used to teach an exit of the Church before the literal return of Christ in the clouds of glory. The doctrine states that because God has not appointed His Church to wrath, therefore the Church must depart before the time of trouble also known by some to be the Tribulation. Is that what this verse is saying?
I think not.
Clearly, the contextual evidence speaks for itself. 1 Thessalonians 5 opens by speaking of the suddenness of Christ’s return. Consider the first three verses. “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, peace and safety; then sudden destruction comes upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.”
After the admonishment too stay focused, Paul then adds; “For God has not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him” (1 Thessalonians 5:9, 10). Again, the context is the Second Coming of Christ. The reference to “wake or sleep” returns to an earlier statement made in this very letter. “For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall in on wise precede them which are asleep”
(1 Thessalonians 4:15). All within the context of the Second Coming of Christ.
It is also important to note that there is a difference between wrath and tribulation (this we will examine at a latter date).
So in conclusion, we believe the Scriptural evidence is clear. The Body of Christ, i.e., the Church is indeed the generation that is mentioned in Matthew 24:34. Therefore we conclude that the Church will remain, that is, “not pass,” [a reference to moving forward] “till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:34).
The clear direction for continued obedience can be found in Matthew 24:42, when the Master states, “Watch therefore: for you know not what hour your Lord will come.”
By Don Elswick (through the aid of the Holy Spirit).