Norman Geisler and
President - American Vision
Gary DeMar Study Archive |
Norman Geisler and "This Generation"
Norman Geisler, "You," & "Zechariah the Son of
Biblical Minimalism and the "History of Preterism" |
Thomas Ice and the Time Texts |
Will the Real Anti-Prophets Please Stand Up? |
Time's Puff Piece: The Devil is in the Details |
Dispensationalism : Being Left Behind |
Zechariah 14 and the Coming of Christ |
Defending the Indefensible |
No Fear of the Text |
The Passing Away of Heaven and Earth |
Who or what is the Antichrist |
Rapture Fever: Why Dispensationalism is Paralyzed |
Identifying Antichrist |
On Thin Ice |
Using the Bible to Interpret the Bible |
One of the foundation stones of dispensationalism in particular and
futurism in general is the claim that “this generation” in Matthew 24:34
either refers to a future generation (“the generation that sees these
signs”) or the Jewish race. Norman Geisler, in his critique of Hank
Hanegraaff’s The Apocalypse Code, argues that the Greek word genea
should be translated “race.” He writes: “as virtually all acknowledge,
it can mean ‘this [Jewish] race’ will not pass away—which it has not.
Greek experts Arndt and Gingrich acknowledge that the term genea
can have an ethnic use of ‘family, descent, . . . clan, then
race’ (Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament,
249, emphasis added).” Notice that Geisler says “can have.” The problem
is, there is no place in the NT where genea is translated as
“race,” and the lexicon cited by Geisler does not point to a verse where
“race” would be the appropriate translation.1
Moreover, Geisler does not tell his readers that the Greek-English
Lexicon also states that genea (generation) means “the sum
total of those born at the same time, expanded to include all those
living at a given time. Generation, contemporaries.”2
The passages referenced as examples of this definition are Matthew
24:34, Mark 13:30, and Luke 21:32 where the text reads “this
I’m surprised that Geisler would even consider the genea–as–race
argument. While the Scofield Reference Bible takes this
position, almost no one today, including dispensational authors, argue
that “this generation” should be translated “this race.”
There are two problems with the “race” translation. First, as we’ve
seen, the Greek word used in Matthew 24:34 is genea, a word
that in other contexts means “generation.” Try using “race” where
“generation” appears in these verses: Matthew 1:17; 11:16; 12:39, 41,
42, 45; 16:4; 17:17; 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. Geisler even admits
this, but claims that it can have a different meaning in a “prophetic
context.” What is the basis for this line of argument? He never tells
Second, if Jesus wanted to say that “this race will not pass
away until all of these things take place,” He would have used the Greek
word genos to clear up any possible confusion. He uses
genea (“generation”) not genos (“race”).
there is a logical problem if genea is translated “race.” Since
“race” is a reference to the Jewish race, Matthew 24:34 would read this
way: “This Jewish race will not pass away until all these
things take place. When all these things take place, then Jewish race
will pass away.” This doesn’t make any sense, especially for a
premillennialist like Geisler who believes the Jews will reign with
Jesus for a thousand years after the period described by Jesus in the
Olivet Discourse. Fellow dispensationalist Stanley Toussaint dismisses
Geisler’s line of argument:
It is difficult for dispensational
premillennialists to take this view because this would imply that
Israel would cease to exist as a nation after the Lord’s return:
“This race of Israel will not pass away until the Second Advent.”
But Israel must continue after the Second Advent into the millennium
in order to fulfill the promises God made to that nation.
Fourth, each and every time “this generation” is used
in the gospels, it refers to the generation to whom Jesus was speaking.
The use of the near demonstrative “this” locks the time of “this
generation” that was near to Jesus. If Jesus had a future generation in
mind, He would have said “that generation,” as in, “that
generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”
Consider what these Bible commentators say about the meaning of “this
William Sanford LaSor: “If ‘this
generation’ is taken literally, all of the predictions were to take
place within the life-span of those living at that time.”5
John Lightfoot: “Hence it
appears plain enough, that the foregoing verses are not to be
understood of the last judgment, but, as we said, of the destruction
of Jerusalem. There were some among the disciples (particularly
John), who lived to see these things come to pass. With Matt. xvi.
28, compare John xxi. 22. And there were some Rabbins alive at the
time when Christ spoke these things, that lived until the city was
Thomas Newton: “It is to me a
wonder how any man can refer part of the foregoing discourse to the
destruction of Jerusalem, and part to the end of the world, or any
other distant event, when it is said so positively here in the
conclusion, All these things shall be fulfilled in this generation.”7
“[T]he obvious meaning of the
words ‘this generation’ is the people contemporary with Jesus.
Nothing can be gained by trying to take the word in any sense other
than its normal one: in Mark (elsewhere in 8:12, 9:19) the word
always has this meaning.”8
John Gill: “This is a full and
clear proof, that not any thing that is said before [v. 34], relates
to the second coming of Christ, the day of judgment, and the end of
the world; but that all belongs to the coming of the son of man in
the destruction of Jerusalem, and to the end of the Jewish state.”9
William Lane: “The significance
of the temporal reference has been debated, but in Mark ‘this
generation’ clearly designates the contemporaries of Jesus (see on
Chs. 8:12, 38; 9:19) and there is no consideration from the context
which lends support to any other proposal. Jesus solemnly affirms
that the generation contemporary with his disciples will witness the
fulfillment of his prophetic word, culminating in the destruction of
Jerusalem and the dismantling of the Temple.”10
“Matthew uses genea here for the tenth
time. Though his use of the term has a range of emphases, it
consistently refers to (the time span of) a single human generation.
All the alternative senses proposed here (the Jewish people;
humanity; the generation of the end-time signs; wicked people) are
artificial and based on the need to protect Jesus from error. ‘This
generation’ is the generation of Jesus’ contemporaries.”
Norman Geisler needs to take a second look at his
claim that “this generation” can be translated as “this race.” All the
evidence points to the generation Jesus was addressing and not the
“Jewish race” or a future generation.
1 The King
James Version translates genos as “generation”
in 1 Peter 2:9.
the fourth revised edition of Arndt and Gingrich (1952).
The page number in this edition on genea is
Toussaint, “A Critique of the Preterist View of the
Olivet Discourse,” Bibliotheca Sacra (October
December 2004), 483–484.
“Matthew” in The Expositor=s Bible Commentary,
gen. ed. Frank E. Gaebelein, 12 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI:
Zondervan, 1985), 8:507
Sanford LaSor, The Truth About Armageddon: What the
Bible Says About the End Times (Grand Rapids, MI:
Baker Book House, 1987), 122.
Lightfoot, A Commentary on the New Testament from
the Talmud and Hebraica, 4 vols. (Oxford: Oxford
University Press, [1658–1674] 1859), 2:320.
Newton, Dissertations on the Prophecies Which Have
Remarkably Been Fulfilled (1754).
Bratcher and Eugene A. Nida, A Translator's Handbook
of the Gospel of Mark (New York: United Bible
Societies, 1961), 419.
An Exposition of the New Testament, 3:296.
L. Lane, Commentary on the Gospel of Mark
(Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974), 480.
Nolland The Gospel of Matthew: A Commentary on the
Greek Text (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2005),
appreciate this web site? If so, please remember
as part of your regular giving. Your contributions are tax deductible
and help us continue this vital ministry. Thank you!
Make a Donation
What do YOU think ?
Submit Your Comments For Posting Here
Comment Box Disabled For Security
Date: 06 Jul 2010
The fact that much of the modern Christian church has given
unconditional support to the modern state of Israel means Christians
have given defacto support to some 60 years of bloodshed between
Israelis, Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians, Egyptians and Iraqis -
with Iranians now apparently destined to join the casualty list.
What happened to our ministry of reconciliation? Where are "the
The scripture in Matthew 24 is speaking about this generation that
will see these signs like the olive tree (Israel come to life). So
why all these philosophy? That's why I don't like Greek translation
as they are great philosophers. If you want to know the truth you
have to go to the origin of things, that's why I use Hebrew
translation and the Aramaic New Testament. Many western Christians
are deceived through wrong translations of those who wanted to take
everything Jewish or Hebrew out of the Bible. True Christians have
Hebraic roots not pagan or Catholic. I guess anti-Semitism is rising
again. God was fighting for Israel before and He will do it again.
Shalom and God bless,