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Jesus Christ: Will He return in this generation? 

Gary Googe Sep 26

We have several passages of Scripture we need to note in answering this question.  In every generation there are people who wonder about this.  Even when the disciples were still with our Lord, they asked Him about this.

Matthew 24:1-3

1 And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple [which was an extremely beautiful, expensive and impressive structure].

2 And Jesus said unto them, See ye not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.

3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? [Emphasis added]

It is this last sentence we’ll focus our attention on in this study. The first thing we need to know about it is that the word “world” in verse three of the King James Version of the Bible comes from the Greek word AION which means age, not world.  The Greek word for world is COSMOS. Furthermore, we know that even after Christ returns to the earth the world will be regenerated to the pristine condition of its original creation and will continue for another thousand years.  The “world” certainly won’t end at Christ’s return. Therefore, this is not a question about the time of the end of the world.  It is a question about the end of that age.

Revelation 20:4

4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that were beheaded for the witness of Jesus [in the time of the coming seven-year period of tribulation that leads up to Christ’s return], and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast [speaking of one we also speak of as the antichrist], neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands; and they [believers who survive this seven-year period of tribulation that precedes Christ’s return] lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. [Emphasis added]

The question asked in Matthew 24:1-3 concerns the end of that age.  The record of our Lord’s answer is given here in Matthew but also in Mark 13 and in Luke 21.  In this chapter He gives them a summary of events that will occur before that day comes.  As you’ll see, He lets them know that, even though there are times of relative peace, overall things aren’t going to get better in the world, but much worse.

Matthew 24:21

21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. [Emphasis added]

He then gives them a parable in answering their question.

Matthew 24:32-35

32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:

33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.

34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.

35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. [Emphasis added]

Questions:  Were all those things fulfilled in that generation? Doesn’t that read like all those things would happen in that generation? So, are we to believe that Christ hasn’t kept His word because He has still not returned? Here we are roughly two-thousand years since He uttered those words, but Christ has still not returned. What are we to think of this?

These next words I’ll write are dedicated to all those people who think learning the Greek text of the Bible is unimportant.  The claim is that all that’s needed is the King James Version of the Bible.  The reality is that such is completely false in a situation like this.  While I love and use the King James Bible practically every day, if I didn’t know something about the Greek text on this, I would not know how to address a passage like this.  What we have in verse thirty-four is what is called an untranslatable conditional particle, the Greek word—AN.  This little word makes what is stated in the sentence conditional.  In other words, the return of Christ happening then was conditional, meaning in this case that something had to happen before He would return.  What was that? Answer:  Israel’s acceptance of their Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.  However, we know now that they as a nation didn’t do that and the whole prophetic program was then interrupted because of that.  That interruption has so far lasted roughly two thousand years with no way of knowing exactly when it will end.  This interruption started with the stoning of Stephen at the time of Acts 7 and the salvation of Saul of Tarsus at the time of Acts 9.

Acts 7:57-59

57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him [Stephen] with one accord,

58 And cast him out of the city, and stoned him: and the witnesses laid down their clothes at a young man’s feet, whose name was Saul [who would later be called Paul].

59 And they stoned Stephen, calling upon God, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. [Emphasis added]

We then also have the record of the events around the salvation of Saul of Tarsus.

Acts 9:3-8

3 And as he [Saul, later called Paul] journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven:

4 And he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?

5 And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

6 And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him, Arise, and go into the city, and it shall be told thee what thou must do.

7 And the men which journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice, but seeing no man.

8 And Saul arose from the earth; and when his eyes were opened, he saw no man: but they led him by the hand, and brought him into Damascus. [Emphasis added]

It was on this occasion that Paul was saved to become the apostle to the Gentiles, commissioned to reveal God’s plan for our present time.

1 Timothy 1:16

16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. [Emphasis added]

From Acts 9 to the end of Acts we have what represents the transitional period from what had gone before with God’s people Israel to what we have now in this that is called the Dispensation of the Grace of God.

Ephesians 3:1-8

1 For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,

2 If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:

3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery [MUSTERION = secret]; (as I wrote afore in few words,

4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)

5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

7 Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power.

8 Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches [the “mystery” truths first revealed to Paul are “unsearchable” meaning they are nowhere found in the writings of the prophets] of Christ; [Emphasis added]

Paul speaks more of this in his letter to the Roman church.

Romans 11:13

13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: [Emphasis added]

For more information about this, please see my articles— Paul: Do we make too much of him? and Paul: What’s so special about his teaching? Before our time it was the Israelites who were the people of God.  However, today it is not the Israelites who are God’s people.  It is both believing Jews and Gentiles making up what is called in Scripture the Body of Christ.

1 Corinthians 12:13-14

13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

14 For the body is not one member, but many. [Emphasis added]

It is approximately seven years after this time now in which God is doing this that Jesus Christ will bodily return to Earth to establish His promised kingdom.  So, Christ did not return in any form in that generation, but He certainly will return in a future one.  It was Israel’s rejection of Jesus as their Messiah that has caused the delay.  In our time today it is the Rapture that is the next big event.  There are articles on my website about it.  Here are the names of two of them— Rapture: What is the meaning of this term? and Rapture: How is this different from the Second Coming?

Conclusion—

The Second Coming of Christ will not occur in our time here on Earth.  It is at least seven years away.  That period of tribulation is sometimes called the prophet Daniel’s seventieth week of years [Daniel 9:24-27].  It is a period that is also broken down into months in Scripture [Revelation 11:3 cf. 12:6].  It is the Rapture that could occur at any moment. There is no prophecy at all that must occur first for that to occur.  But there has never been any prophecy that had to be fulfilled before the Rapture would occur.  The event of the Rapture has always been imminent, meaning it could occur at any moment. However, there are many unfulfilled prophecies that must occur first in the time of The Tribulation before the return of Christ that is typically called His Second Coming.

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