The following five verses/passages are dangerous to the status quo. As you read them, consider carefully how you would have heard and understood these words of Jesus if you had been with Him back then and there, sitting at His feet, listening intently?
In Matthew 10:23, while Jesus was talking with his disciples before sending them out to preach, he included this promise: “But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.” (KJV)
In the Amplified Bible, it says, “…Truly I tell you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.”
Who was Jesus talking to? His disciples — as affirmed by the 43 personal pronouns (such as “ye”, “you”, “your”, etc.) Jesus used to refer to His disciples in the context of what He was saying to them (not us) in Matthew 10:5-42 in the King James translation.
When did Jesus promise (“Truly I tell you”) His disciples He (“the Son of man”) would “come”? Jesus said He would come “BEFORE” they had preached “through all the towns of Israel”.
And what “coming” is He referring to? Well, if this particular “coming” is in our (your and my) future today, does this mean Jesus’ disciples are still alive, going “through all the towns of Israel”? I doubt it.
In Matthew 16:27-28, Jesus tells his disciples, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.” (KJV)
The gospels of Mark and Luke relate this last sentence by Jesus:
Mark 9:1 (KJV): “Verily I say unto you, That there be some of them that stand here, which shall not taste of death, till they have seen the kingdom of God come with power.”
Luke 9:27 (KJV): “I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.”
Who was Jesus talking to? His disciples, those standing there with him. “Verily I say unto you” doesn’t mean “Verily I say unto Christians all over the world 2000 years from now.”
Who did Jesus say “the Son of man”/“the kingdom of God” would “come” to? His disciples, those who would not die before they saw “the Son of man”/“the kingdom of God” come.
In Matthew 26:62-63, Caiaphas, the high priest, demanded that Jesus respond to him and the Sanhedrin regarding all the accusations against him and to confirm whether or not he was “the Christ, the Son of God.” Then, in verse 64, Jesus said, “Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” (KJV)
The gospels of Mark and Luke recount this scene as well, including Jesus saying…
Mark 14:62: “…Ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.” (KJV)
Luke 22:69: “Hereafter shall the Son of man sit on the right hand of the power of God.” (KJV)
Who was Jesus talking to? Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin.
Who did Jesus say would “see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven“? Caiaphas, the high priest (the “you” and “ye” Jesus referred to in His answer to Caiaiphas’ question to Him)
When did Jesus say Caiaphas would see this? “Hereafter” or after this or in the future (namely Caiaphas’ future, not our (your and my) future 2000 years later). [Note: The word “Hereafter” is synonymous in many translations and paraphrases with “henceforth,” “soon,” “from now on,” “from this time on,” “about to,” “beginning now,” “after this,” etc. Consider carefully the present-progressive tense Jesus was using in that moment before Caiaphas.]
In Matthew 24, after Jesus told his disciples that the temple would be leveled, the disciples asked Jesus, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (KJV) In response, Jesus answered both questions with a prophetic panorama of exactly what was coming and told them when it would all happen, divinely linking the time of his coming to the destruction of the temple: “…As the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be… then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory… Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” (verses 27, 30 and 34 in the KJV)
The gospels of Mark and Luke convey this prophecy as well and include…
Mark 13:30 (KJV): “Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.”
Luke 21:32 (KJV): “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.”
Who was Jesus talking to? His disciples.
What generation did Jesus say would see “all these things”? “This generation.” Now, let’s break this down.
First, the word “THIS”, used in Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30 and Luke 21:32, is a near demonstrative adjective, and, as the name suggests, points to those who are “near,” in close proximity. Jesus didn’t say “the” (a non-specific definite article) or “that” (a far demonstrative), but “this”, thus identifying what is near in time, space or distance.
Second, the Greek word for “GENERATION,” used in Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30 and Luke 21:32, is “Genea” (Strong’s G1074) and usually refers to the present generation, rather than to a deferred generation. Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament defines genea as “the whole multitude of men living at the same time.” G. Abbott-Smith’s A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament offers a similar definition: “[O]f all the people of a given period.” The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology where in Matthew’s Gospel genea “has the sense of this generation, and according to the first evangelist, Jesus expected the end of this age to occur in connection with the judgment on Jerusalem at the end of that first generation (see Mk. 9:1 and Matt. 16:18).” And a check of other lexicons and theological dictionaries shows that genea is translated as “those living at the same time.” Some believe “genea” means “race” (speaking of the Jewish race specifically) but (1) the Greek word genos rather than genea is best translated “race,” and (2) try using “race” where the word “generation” is used throughout the Gospels and you will find it doesn’t fit: Matthew 1:17; 11:16-19; 12:39, 41, 42, 45; 16:4; 17:17; 23:36; Mark 8:12, 38; 9:19; 13:30; Luke 1:48, 50; 7:31; 9:41; 11:29, 30, 31, 32, 50, 51; 16:8; 17:25; 21:32.
Third, every single time “THIS GENERATION” is used (by Jesus) in the Gospels — 16 times in the King James Bible in Matthew 11:16; 12:41-42, 45; 23:36; 24:34; Mark 8:12; 13:30; Luke 7:31; 11:30-32, 50-51; 17:25; 21:32 — it only and always refers to the generation of people Jesus was speaking to — His contemporaries. Peter (Acts 2:40) and Paul (Philippians 2:15) referred to their generation is this same way. Thus, “this generation” never means a future generation.
Finally, the 23 personal pronouns (including “you”, “ye” and “your”) in Matthew 24, the 30 personal pronouns (including “you”, “ye”, “your” and “yourselves”) in Mark 13 and the 33 personal pronouns (including “you”, “ye”, “your” and “yourselves”) in Luke 21:5-36 further proves the “generation” He was speaking of, namely the generation His disciples belonged to.
In John 21:22, after Peter asked about John, Jesus answered, “If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.”
Who is the “he” Jesus is talking about? John.
When did John die? Around 100 AD, according to most scholars.
Now, considering all five of these passages together, why do so many Christians today still believe in a future “Second Coming”?
Comment below with any questions or ideas or insights you may have.
Thanks so much!
P.S. Another verse that has caught my attention but that did not make the list is Luke 12:40 (KJV): “Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” Who was Jesus speaking to? Well, according to the context of verses 22-40, he was speaking to his disciples. My question is, why do so many preachers use this verse to encourage people today to be ready for Jesus’ any-minute “Second Coming” when Jesus was clearly saying “YOU (disciples) be ready. The Son of man will come when YOU (disciples) don’t expect it.”
Why use “ye” and “you” if Jesus didn’t mean “ye” and “you” when addressing his disciples? If Jesus wasn’t referring to his generation, then what word could he have used other than “ye” and “you” if He did want to refer to them?
If you read Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21, you will notice that Jesus consistently addressed his disciples as “you”, “ye”, “yourselves”, etc. They were his audience. He never once addressed a future generation. He spoke to those who were with him at that moment and told them what was coming in their lifetime.