THIS Generation

In his ‘Olivet Discourse,’ Jesus provided his disciples with a chronological key – they would know the time of the demise of the Temple 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, Jerusalem and its Temple would be destroyed, and some of his followers would live to see it.

Jerusalem Wall - Photo by Arno Smit on Unsplash
[Photo by Arno Smit on Unsplash]

His parable of the 
Budding Fig Tree represented the events that would culminate in the destruction of the Temple (“these things”). The new foliage sprouted by the “fig tree” indicated the imminence of “summer.” When the disciples saw “these things,” they would know that “it” was 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 shall be accomplished.


The term “these things” refers to the events Jesus predicted that would precede the desolation of the Temple - The “birth pains”: persecution, the rise of “false prophets,” “lawlessness,” the proclamation of the Gospel to all nations, and the arrival of the “Desolating Abomination.”

In Matthew’s account, the phrase, “this generation,” is used repeatedly for the generation of Jews that was 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 included 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 warnings from the Mosaic Law to the “generation” of Israel that disobeyed Yahweh and therefore was condemned to die in the wilderness. THE VERBAL ALLUSION IS DELIBERATE. The same consequences were about to befall the “generation” of Jews that rejected the nation’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 his denunciation of the “Scribes and Pharisees,” and as he departed from the Temple for the last time. 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 desolation of the Temple take place?


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

If the arrival of the “Abomination of Desolation” in the Temple meant the end of the present age and the “arrival of the Son of Man on the clouds,” there would be no point in fleeing Jerusalem. For the wicked, there would be no escape anywhere on Earth, and for the righteous, what would be the point? His appearance “on the clouds” would mean he was about to gather his “elect from the four corners of the Earth.”

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

When the disciples saw “all these things coming to pass,” they would know that these horrible events were imminent, especially the end of the Second Temple. Once the religious and political leaders of Israel rejected and conspired to kill their Messiah, the judgment of the Temple became inevitable. It was not any “generation” or a yet future generation of Israel that was so judged, but the one that committed the crime.



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