In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened” (Matthew 24:34). Which generation did Jesus have in mind?
First, when Jesus says, “this generation,” this means this. This does not mean that. The phrase “this generation” appears multiple times in the Gospels and always refers to Jesus’ contemporaries. Allow me to state the obvious. Our Lord was not grammatically challenged in the least. Had he wanted to draw the attention of his disciples to a generation nineteen hundred years hence, he would not have confused them with the adjective this.
Furthermore, the suggestion that generation means race is equally gratuitous. Indeed, rendering generation “race” would make the time parameter in Jesus’ prophecy virtually meaningless. Common sense alone dictates that in answering his disciples’ question, “When will these things happen?” (v. 3) Jesus does not respond by saying, “I tell you the truth, this race of people will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.”
Finally, grammatical gyrations, such as rendering this “that” and generation “race,” are ultimately unnecessary. All the things Jesus prophesied came to pass just as he said they would—not the least of which was his “coming on clouds.”
For further study, see Hank Hanegraaff, The Apocalypse Code (Nashville: W Publishing Group, 2007)
“The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment
with this generation and condemn it; for they
repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one
greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the
South will rise at the judgment with this generation
and condemn it; for she came from the ends
of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now
one greater than Solomon is here.”