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I'm curious specifically regarding the translation of the word "generation" here in Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30, and Luke 21:32.

Matthew 24:34 (NIV) Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.

Is the word "generation" a good translation for this word that Jesus uses here? Can (or should) this be translated to something else?

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Here is a related exegetic question about the subject: What does Jesus mean by generation when talking about the end times? – Richard Nov 15 '11 at 16:40

The ancient meaning of "genea" is oft confused with the distinctly modern word generation, in its modern meaning, which was not the same when the translations were made. In modern times, we have been taught to think of the word "generation" in a sense foreign to the concept. Generation in its pure, original sense means only a continuous generating, or re-stocking by birth of a race of man, a seedline; a state-of-being, aka, a gene pool, handed down to progeny through "generation". Think of it as a verb, not a noun. There is absolutely no connotation to the modern distinction of a singular group, all to live in a short time, roughly the same age. In recent times, this distinction has more meaning because the nature of our lives has changed dramatically in such short time spans, and cultural/scientific, etc. paradigm shifts occur in small frames of decades. THIS GENEA SHALL NOT PASS AWAY = THIS RACE OF MANKIND. In other words, mankind as we know it shall not pass away.

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Welcome to Stack Exchange, we are glad you are here. Please consider registering an account to fully take advantage of what this site has to offer. Also, be sure to check out the site tour and in particular what constitutes a good answer. Your answer shows a lot of promise, but without sources it is hard to judge its accuracy - would you mind editing your answer to add some? In general, don't tell us what you know; show us how you know it. – ThaddeusB Aug 22 '15 at 18:04


Let's look at the Greek here:

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The original word for "this generation" is genea. Strong's concordance for this shows:

1) fathered, birth, nativity
2) that which has been begotten, men of the same stock, a family
   a) the several ranks of natural descent, the successive members of a 
   b) metaph. a group of men very like each other in endowments, pursuits, 
      1) esp. in a bad sense, a perverse nation
3) the whole multitude of men living at the same time
4) an age (i.e. the time ordinarily occupied be each successive generation), a 
   space of 30 - 33 years

Definitions 3 and 4 here obviously would include only the people alive at the time that the words were spoken. Definitions 1 and 2 could include people that were not currently alive.


If we look at other places where this word is translated, we can see that it's also translated as "times".

Acts 14:16 (NIV) In the past times, he let all nations go their own way.

Acts 15:21 (NIV) For the law of Moses has been preached in every city from the earliest times and is read in the synagogues on every Sabbath.

We can also see genea being translated as "nation" in the old King James Version:

Phillipians 2:15 (KJV)
That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

However, the original KJV is the only version that uses this this translation (as even the New King James Version uses "generation").


"Generation" is the best translation, although "times" could be used. According to the definition, "lineage" could also be a translation. However, given that genea is not translated as "lineage" in any major translation, I would hesitate using that.

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