When I hear about ‘the last generation’ today, I just have to think about that ‘last generation’ sometimes:
At that time, it was not really called ‘the last generation’, but ‘the generation that will not pass away’. But for Jehovah’s Witnesses at that time, ‘this generation’ definitely also had a very special meaning. Why was this so? The following text from Matthew 24:35 was already important for the serious Bible researchers, but especially for Jehovah’s Witnesses it is of enormous importance, because also with this Bible text for now about 150 years is warned of the ‘imminent’ end:
„Truly I say to YOU that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.“(Matthew 24:35 New-World-Translation with References)
„Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things happen.“(Matthäus 24:35 New-World-Translation 2013)
At this point, we will not go into detail about this teaching. It is enough here to ask what the Bible said about ‘this generation’ in context:
Departing now, Jesus was on his way from the temple, but his disciples approached to show him the buildings of the temple. In response he said to them: “Do YOU not behold all these things? Truly I say to YOU, By no means will a stone be left here upon a stone and not be thrown down.” While he was sitting upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately, saying: “Tell us, When will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?”(Matthew 24:1-3 NWT)
(Mark 13:4 NWT)
“Tell us, When will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are destined to come to a conclusion?”
Then they questioned him, saying: “Teacher, when will these things actually be, and what will be the sign when these things are destined to occur?”(Luke 21:7 NWT)
So what events was Jesus referring to when he spoke of ‘this generation’ who would experience ‘all these things’? The biblical text here clearly speaks of events in connection with the temple in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. The Bible says nothing about an anti-type or second fulfillment.
It is also noticeable that in Mark and Luke the reference to Jesus’ presence and the end of the world is missing. There are good reasons to believe that this is a falsified addition to the Gospel of Matthew (see here for a more detailed reasoning and 2001 Translation).
As I said, we do not want to go into this topic in more detail here, because there are also extensive books and videos on this subject (here is a small selection):
- Book Shutting the Door to the Kingdom of God: How Watch Tower Stole Salvation from Jehovah’s Witnesses
- Book The Gentile Times Reconsidered is Back in Print
- Book Crisis of Conscience: The story of the struggle between loyalty to God and loyalty to one’s religion
- Video series Examining Matthew Chapter 24
But did the Bible Students and later the Jehovah’s Witnesses always spread the same doctrine regarding ‘the generation’ here? If you have been a Jehovah’s Witness for a longer period of time or if you have studied the literature of Jehovah’s Witnesses, you will quickly see that there have been a number of changes.
But to really grasp the extent of the changes in the teachings of Jehovah’s Witnesses regarding ‘the generation’, I once created a video showing the most important changes in the definition in correct time. In the upper left you can see how many generations of 30 years each would really have passed. The arrows below show how long in advance a prediction was given based on ‘the generation’ and when they were changed: Namely, whenever they had not come true.
Here is the source material (in German) listed in chronological order:
And the detailed sources as PDF document (in German):