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In Mark 13:30

“I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” (Mark 13:30, NETfree)

Apparently this prophecy was proven wrong.

And I am refering here to verses 24-27, which apparently have not fulfilled in the generation that Jesus referred to.

“"But in those days, after that suffering, the sun will be darkened and the moon will not give its light; the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. Then everyone will see the Son of Man arriving in the clouds with great power and glory. Then he will send angels and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.” (Mark 13:24-27, NETfree)

How do you reconcile this prophecy with reality?

Even if you do not interpret verses 24-25 literally, still verses 26-27 poses an apparent problem.

No Son of man arriving in the clouds...

No gathering of the exile from four wings (rather the opposite)...

Proposal for an answer:

Could it be that these verses are not aligned correctly? I mean by that - could it be that verse 30 refers to the prophecies in 1-23, and verses 31-32 refers to prophecies in 24-28? (Although it seems verses 30-32 are tied up as one unit, still it can be interpreted as he talks about two different times).

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    This question would be improved by giving some context to the claim "Apparently this prophecy was proven wrong". According to who? What evidence do they cite? Oct 12, 2022 at 19:47
  • @ThomasMarkov thank you, is it more clear now?
    – Kapandaria
    Oct 12, 2022 at 19:51
  • No, not at all. Oct 12, 2022 at 19:54
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    Its because of this conundrum that an entire new branch of the faith has emerged. One that believes Jesus returned and ruled for 1000 years already and we are in the short season afterwards....They cite the very bad evidence of Tartaria and a hidden history. Then there is the more popular Preterist and partial Preterist views that I am not very familiar with. Oct 12, 2022 at 20:40
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    I prefer not to reconcile the prophecy. Some sources believed the son of man would return within their lifetimes. Others did not. Oct 12, 2022 at 23:10

7 Answers 7

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Before knowing whether or not a prophecy has come true, we must first understand exactly what is being prophesied. So let us consider the details of this prophecy.

Context: The Questions

Jesus was asked a specific question, which is the question upon which he wandered in explanation until coming to the point in due time.

1 And as he went out of the temple, one of his disciples saith unto him, Master, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here! 2 And Jesus answering said unto him, Seest thou these great buildings? there shall not be left one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down. 3 And as he sat upon the mount of Olives over against the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, 4 Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign when all these things shall be fulfilled? (Mark 13:1-4, KJV)

Actually, that's two questions. Like many people might today, Jesus begins answering with the second question, before getting back to the first one.

Essentially, the two questions, and answers, deal with two separate time periods. They are addressed by Jesus in this passage, as seen in his own words. The prophecy for verse 30 begins back in verses 2 (included above), and later, 14.

The Two Times

14 But when ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains: 15 And let him that is on the housetop not go down into the house, neither enter therein, to take any thing out of his house: 16 And let him that is in the field not turn back again for to take up his garment. 17 But woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! 18 And pray ye that your flight be not in the winter. 19 For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. 20 And except that the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh should be saved: but for the elect's sake, whom he hath chosen, he hath shortened the days. 21 And then if any man shall say to you, Lo, here is Christ; or, lo, he is there; believe him not: 22 For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect. 23 But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things. 24 But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, . . . (Mark 13:14-24, KJV)

Notice that Jesus is speaking of a time of "affliction" and "tribulation." He specifically tells his disciples not to go back into their house for their garment, but to flee Judaea immediately upon seeing "the abomination of desolation . . . standing where it ought not."

In verse 24, Jesus begins to go forward in time beyond this "tribulation" to events that would occur afterward. In verse 30, however, he comes back to the tribulation theme.

Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done. (Mark 13:30, KJV)

One generation, Biblically speaking, is comprised of 40 years.

And the LORD's anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the LORD, was consumed. (Numbers 32:13,KJV)

This 40-year prophecy is paralleled in Ezekiel 4, where the entire chapter addresses the besiegement of Jerusalem and the dire consequences within the city to take place. Ezekiel gave two times for this to occur, but only the latter time, that of 40 years, remained unfulfilled as of Jesus' day.

And when thou hast accomplished them, lie again on thy right side, and thou shalt bear the iniquity of the house of Judah forty days: I have appointed thee each day for a year. (Ezekiel 4:6, KJV)

In the time of Christ, "Judah" was all that remained of the Jews; the ten tribes of the northern kingdom having intermingled with the surrounding nations, a portion remaining among the Samaritans. And what, then, was Judah's "iniquity"?

There was no greater sin that could be attributed to Judah than that of crucifying the Savior. By so doing, they started the prophetic clock, and true to the prophecy, 40 years later (one generation), their beloved city of Jerusalem was destroyed, including the Second Temple, by the armies of Titus, the Roman general.

In that temple, not one stone was left upon another. The prophecy was exactly fulfilled. And it was fulfilled to that generation.

Conclusion

The prophecy Jesus makes, and which his disciples ask him to explain, is found at nearly the beginning of the chapter, and the later statements he makes must be understood within that context. The prophecy which applied to that "generation" denoted a period of 40 years, at which time the stones of the temple would be thrown down. This prophecy was literally fulfilled.

Those Christians living in Jerusalem, when they saw the armies of Titus having surrounded their holy temple and city, retreating, understood Christ's words, and escaped quickly for their lives. None of them perished in the conflagration which followed shortly thereafter as Titus returned. The events of destruction in Jerusalem which followed were a fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy. A second fulfillment, or application, of this prophecy and with additional details for what should occur "after that tribulation" of this first fulfillment, is yet to take place.

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  • @ Biblasia - One small correction. It was Gen. Cestius who surrounded Jerusalem and then retreated, as the sign to flee Judea. in 67 A.D. Notice that Jesus said 'flee Judea' not just 'Jerusalem,' because for 3 1/2 years the Roman armies devastated the whole region of Judah, Samaria, Galilee, and Perea! Then in 70 A.D. Gen. Titus attacked Jerusalem itself. ---No need for a "second fulfilment." See Josephus for the extent of the "tribulation" in 67-70 A.D. That was the End of the Jewish Age, and now, the awesome New Covenant Age open to both Jew and Gentile!
    – ray grant
    Mar 6 at 21:34
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The key phrase unlocking the whole prophecy is this:

28 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near: 29 So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors. 30 Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.

Jesus cursed the fig tree before His crucifixion as a sign of the coming judgement of Jerusalem and Judea, alluding to many OT prophecies that used the same motive. The revival among the Jews is going to be the sign of His second coming (dead tree coming back to life and ready to bring fruit). The generation of Jews that will repent en masse is also going to witness Jesus' return. Like He said in Matthew 23:

39 For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.

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These prophecies cannot be reconciled without considerable mental gymnastics. The way to understand them is to accept what Jesus says in Matthew's account, which adds a crucial line to what is reported by Mark.

Matthew 24

34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 36 But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.

Here, immediately after predicting that "these things" will take place within one generation, Jesus issues a disclaimer: he doesn't know, and the angels don't know either. Only the Father does. And so, we should admit that we don't know either.

Since Jesus admitted that he did not have perfect knowledge about this issue, we can place this prediction in the category of those prophecies known only "in part" as spoken of by the Apostle Paul.

1 Cor. 13

As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; 10 but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away... 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face.

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Wow!! Not so fast. The son of Man cannot return after the Son of Man returns!! If the verses are misaligned, then they are also misaligned in Matthew and Luke as well!

  • Mark 13:24-27 describes events immediately associated with the second advent of Jesus itself
  • Mark 13:14-23 describes the events that precede the second coming, specifically the abomination of desolation and the great tribulation etc.
  • Mark 13:28-30 is the first of the seven parables about the second advent

Now, "all these things" describes the events in Mark 13:1-23 before the second advent, and NOT the event of the second advent itself in V24-27.

Rather simple really!

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  • I do not understand, why what you say is different from my proposal? I said exactly that "all these things" in verse 30 refer to 1-23, just like you said.
    – Kapandaria
    Oct 13, 2022 at 9:58
  • @Kapandaria - that is not what your question says. You said, "I am refering here to verses 24-27"
    – Dottard
    Oct 13, 2022 at 10:13
  • Read the Proposal.
    – Kapandaria
    Oct 13, 2022 at 10:15
  • @Kapandaria - correct, but the verses are still correctly aligned.
    – Dottard
    Oct 13, 2022 at 10:16
  • Yes I editted it so it will be a bit clearer
    – Kapandaria
    Oct 13, 2022 at 11:55
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Another view if we focus on what is meant by "this generation" is that this might be referring to the existing (current) nation of Israel formed in 1948:

Ezekiel 37:12

Therefore prophesy and say to them: `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: O my people, I am going to open your graves and bring you up from them; I will bring you back to the land of Israel.

(also Ezekiel 39:27, Isaiah 11:11-12 and Jeremiah 29:14)

...and that Mark 13 as a whole is referring to the End times mentioned in Revelation.

So then these prophesies are currently being fulfilled (Mark 13:28-29), or still need to be in the near future (very rough guess before 2068 if we take a generation could be 120 years according to Gen. 6:3

Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.”

Some other things to take into account: Mark 13:10

And the gospel must first be published among all nations.

...and there are still so many places where the Gospel hasn't reached yet. See the Joshua Project for more details.

Mark 13:28-29 says there will be signs to indicate Jesus' return is imminent, but Mark 13:32 should warn us of anyone (Mark 13:5-7) giving exact date and deadline.

Here is an interesting read about how many Bible prophesies have been fulfilled, and how many still need to be fulfilled: Evidence for the Reliability of the Bible

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    Leviticus 26:18-28 7x4x70 = 1960. 70 AD + 1960 = 2,030 AD. The nation state of Israel established in 1948 AD is not the fulfillment of any prophecy. Oct 21, 2022 at 4:50
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I've written my opinion on this on my site. The summary is this

I propose then that the best way to understand the expression is that for Jesus, and for a Jew with high biblical literacy, the expression “this generation” meant the group of people who oppose God. It meant the group of wicked people who will not inherit the Kingdom of the Messiah.

When Jesus said that “This Generation” would not pass without all the signs of the end being fulfilled, it is possible that some of his listeners imagined themselves witnessing everything that Jesus had just mentioned. But it is also possible, and even probable, that those who listened to Jesus regularly, and knew his way of speaking, understood this as a reference to the unbelieving generation that since leaving Egypt refuses to believe in God’s promises and the words of their prophets.

https://blog.pitermarx.com/2024/02/this-generation/

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    Feb 29 at 4:17
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No Error What Jesus said about the timing of the events in Mark 13 (Chapter 24 of Matthew) is spot on! They were to all happen within a generation of time. The first century era; 30-70 A.D. (Note that Verse 34 of chapter 24 in Matthew is a repeat of 23:36. "this generation".)

(1) Note how many times Jesus addressed the players of this scene as "you". Jesus was not talking about events happening thousands of years later to other people. In Mark 13 and in Matthew ch. 23, he referred to the Jewish leaders then living; and in Matt. ch. 24, He was talking to the Disciples then living.

(2) The Greek word for generation used by Jesus is not the Greek word referring to a race of people as some here allege. That is a different word. The Greek word here refers to a chronology of time. A generation often meaning 40 years (e.g. The generation that died in the wilderness.)

(3) The verbage concerning the heavenly bodies (sun moon stars) was quite commonly used by the Old Testament prophets. The Jew of Jesus's day would know exactly what He meant. When God was to bring the downfall of a government (Assyria, Egypt, e.g.) He used this same language. The Jewish government and nation was to be destroyed within that generation...and it did! (70 A.D.) Jesus was right on!

(4) Corresponding with the downfall of Israel was the establishment of the new Kingdom of God! Compare Mark 13:26 (Matt. 24:30-31) with the coronation of Jesus in Daniel 7, coming in the clouds. And with the granting of all power in heaven above and on earth beneath the disciples were to go into the world and make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20), gather the Elect (Mk. 13:27; Matt. 24:31). (Check out all the meanings of "angels" in N.T. = messengers of the Gospel, as well as spiritual angels).

(5) Starting with Mark 13:32 (Matt. 24:5-36), Jesus began a transition to the topic of the End of the World (Second Coming). ("But of that..." is a Greek conjunction of opposition, showing a change of subject matter.) The Second Coming is an ending that does not have signs or warnings. This was just the opposite of the first half of Mark 13 (Matt. 24) where Jesus gave many signs of the coming Destruction of Jerusalem. Concerning the Second Coming, Jesus said over and over again, Watch, be ready, for you do not know...

No Error There is absolutely no error in Mark 13, nor in its synoptic in Matthew 24, when the modern, astute interpreter takes into account the contexts: time context, Greek language context, custom context, historical context, ancient literature context, etc.

For an in depth, analytical, verse-by-verse exegesis of this passage see: Times, They Are A'Changing by Raymond Grant, and Matthew 24 by Marcellus Kik.

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