Looking into the events prophesied in Matthew 24-33 can lead to a lot of speculation and uncertainty. Did any of these events happen, which ones and where?
The answer to these questions will never be proven. It will always remain speculation and we will need to rely on a rich imagination until we read verse 34 and 35.
34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.“
The word generation in Greek is ἡ γενεὰ
In the English Oxford Living dictionary, the noun generation is defined as “All of the people born and living at about the same time, regarded collectively. ‘one of his generation’s finest songwriters’
Verse 34 is either ignored by some Bible commentators or explained away by being an exaggeration such as in Henry’s Concise Commentary: “Christ foretells his second coming. It is usual for prophets to speak of things as near and just at hand, to express the greatness and certainty of them.”
The commentator does not find it offensive to accuse Jesus of exaggeration, which is basically lying to impress the crowd!
Worse still, in verse 35, Jesus insists on the accuracy of what he just said: *35Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.”
Did Jesus say that certain words of this prophecy will pass away and certain others won’t? No, he said “my words will never pass away” and this, to me, means all his words without exception.
If Jesus who prophesied about his second coming was to exaggerate about the time frame he set himself for those events, why then would anyone believe that those events themselves were not exaggerated? Is it then a matter of where he exaggerated and where he didn’t? Also, if Jesus, according to the Henry’s Concise Commentary, found the need to exaggerate concerning the time frame for his second coming, how can we then trust that his claims to be the Son of God were not an exaggeration as well? Finally, if exaggeration is a type of lie, shall we then say that we’re not sure which bits Jesus lied about and which he didn’t?
Do you see what theologians and Christian leaders do to Christ and to the faith? Do you see what message are they sending to us? Through rhetoric and immaculate words they fashion a truth that reflects their own understanding, which is based on their own moral standard, clearly missing the point from Proverb 3:5: “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;”
To me, it’s a matter of: is Jesus the type of person who would exaggerate and tell half-truths? After all, he wasn’t talking to the religious leaders as in Matthew 23, trying to conceal the true meaning of what he was saying to them, to protect the mission. In Matthew 24, the context was very different. Verse 1 explains the setting as: “Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings.” In the whole chapter, Jesus was confiding to his friends and disciples alone, so there was no need to conceal the truth.
If someone is to believe what Jesus said in the Bible, s/he would either believe it in its entirety or not, especially that nothing in what Jesus said in verse 34-35 contradicts the image that we have about him, or lead us to suspect that the meaning was tempered with. Moreover, if I am able to trust that a man called Matthew has written one of the four gospels of the New Testament, although historians don’t agree about who he was, what was his relationship with Jesus and how he acquired the information he wrote about, then I am, more than anything, able to trust every word Jesus uttered. For unlike those who love themselves more than the truth, I have no vested interest in not believing in verse 34.
Furthermore, translation is usually another concern that could keep a Bible student from totally trusting a biblical text as it stands. However, in this case, the translation of this verse was debated and commented upon by various commentators. It is by far the closest to the Greek text.
Meyer’s NT Commentary for example states that “The well-nigh absurd manner in which it has been attempted to force into the words ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη such meanings as: the creation (Maldonatus), or: the human race (Jerome), or: the Jewish nation (Jansen, Calovius, Wolf, Heumann, Storr, Dorner, Hebart, Auberlen; see, on the other hand, on Mark 13:30), or: “the class of men consisting of my believers” (Origen, Chrysostom, Theophylact, Euthymius Zigabenus, Clarius, Paulus, Lange)…”
Therefore, regardless of what other people want to believe; those who have committed themselves to force their own reading on the Bible, and allowed their fears, ignorance and false hopes to deceive them and even to deny the truth that was put before them by our Lord and Saviour. Regardless of what these people teach about the second coming of the Messiah, I will put the words that I was told were uttered by Jesus Christ himself to be at the top, above any other words uttered by any other human being, whether from the Bible, or from those who appointed themselves to interpret and explain scripture. And since there is no need for us to assume that the timeframe Jesus revealed in Matthew 34 is anything less than the truth, and assuming that Jesus was talking about a general physical manifestation of his appearance that could be seen, tangibly, by the entire world rather than a spiritual manifestation that is only detected by a few, I conclude that at least one other coming of the Messiah had already occurred after his resurrection. Jesus did not tell us if He is coming only once or more. But something is for sure, He had already come back since the resurrection. If, on the other hand, Jesus was talking about a spiritual manifestation of himself to those He had chosen and/or elected (such as St Paul himself), then I think no one can argue that Jesus Christ has already returned and will return, in the Spirit, countless times over history.
More on that in…
The Second Coming of the Messiah According to Jesus: