Q. Thank you very much for your website.
I have got a question concerning Matthew 24:34. Does the Greek word for “generation” really mean generation or could it also mean nation? Did Jesus really mean that the generation who sees the reborn of Israel also sees His return? Or could He have meant that the Jews will not be wiped out until He returns?
If the word “generation” means nation, then this verse wouldn’t give us any indication about the time frame of His return. Could you please give me any insight on this?
A. The Greek word for generation in Matt. 24:34 can also mean race and the statement is also true when translated that way. The Jewish race will not perish before the Lord returns.
But in the context of the passage, Jesus is giving signs that will alert people to His return. And as you said, if He meant the Jews wouldn’t be wiped out, it really wouldn’t be a sign. In order for it to be a sign, the verse has to be translated to mean that the people being born when the End Times signs begin to appear will still be alive when they have all come to pass, especially since Psalm 90:10 gives the average Biblical lifespan as 70 years.
A similar objection has been made to seeing Isaiah 7:14 as a prophecy of the virgin birth, since the word Isaiah chose for virgin could also mean a young woman. And like Matt. 24:34, Isaiah 7:14 is true both ways.
But Isaiah said he was giving Israel a sign from God. What kind of a sign would a young woman giving birth be? It’s an everyday occurrence. On the other hand, for a virgin to give birth is a biological impossibility. It can only be accomplished by God, and that makes it a sign from Him. In translation issues, it’s important to consider the context when choosing from multiple meanings .