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In Luke 11, Jesus calls the Pharisees hypocrites for building monuments to the old prophets, which was really to exalt themselves as righteous, as they really agreed with the murder of said prophets. Then, Jesus states:

Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world... (NIV)

Or, from Young's Literal Translation:

That the blood of all the prophets, that is being poured forth from the foundation of the world, may be required from this generation... (YLT)

It seems that Jesus is referring to the entire generation of people of his time (see What people was Jesus referring to when he used the word "generation" in Luke 11:50?). However, why would this entire generation be responsible for these murders, especially if Jesus is including those outside the Pharisees he is speaking to in this statement?

Does this have something to do with that generation being the one in which Jesus dies, referring to Himself specifically as a member of "this generation" from whom the blood will be required?


(Note: While In Matthew 23:35-37 why does all of Israel's judgment fall on the final generation? is similar, it deals with the reasoning for 'storing up judgment', and not who is responsible for the sins and why.)

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  • I've attempted an answer but I'd also like to say that it seems to me Jesus is not in a good mood in this chapter. In fact, he has had a very bad day. It starts in vs. 14 when he is accused for casting out demons by the power of Beelzebul. In verse 27 a woman blesses his mother's breasts and womb, and Jesus rebuffs her. Then people demand a sign, prompting Jesus to begin speaking of an "evil generation." The narrative takes a hopeful turn when a Pharisee invites Jesus to dinner, but things soon go south after Jesus doesn't wash his hands before eating. Then come the denunciations. Nov 28, 2023 at 2:58
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  • Search carefully for existing ques before posting. It is about cumulative collective punishment on the nation. Any calamity is interpreted as punishment of God in their mindset. Just like those born blind are considered to be suffering for ancestors sins. And like the consequence of sins of a King or president is received by all people.
    – Michael16
    Nov 28, 2023 at 4:45
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    The supposed duplicate is not a duplicate. That question specified that 'the final generation' was in question. Jesus did not specify that. He specifies the contemporary generation alive at the time.
    – Nigel J
    Nov 28, 2023 at 9:22
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    The other question answers you by the very reasoning of accumulated sins for later times or generation. Duplicate.
    – Michael16
    Nov 29, 2023 at 7:10

6 Answers 6

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Jesus' death on the cross is the only redemption for all sins in the world and made it possible for all humans to be reconciled with God. The statement does not mean the sins of previous generations are not their responsibility. Rather, it means that the sins of all generations, past and present, can be forgiven through Jesus' sacrifice.

In Luke 11:48, Jesus rebuked the Pharisees built the tombs for the prophets their ancestors killed, which testified that they approved of their ancestors' killing. This suggests that the sins of previous generations are still relevant to the present generation, though they may look differently.

Romans 3:10 states, 'As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one"'. This means all humans are sinful. From the first murder case of Abel to the generation of Jesus, all sins were held responsible in 'this generation', and the account was settled by Jesus' sacrifice, giving the humans race a new beginning.

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  • Thank you for your answer! Do you mean to say that, while 'this generation' is responsible, that the punishment for that responsibility may not be evenly distributed among the people of the generation, required of Jesus only?
    – mwolfe 11
    Nov 28, 2023 at 15:57
  • @mwolfe11- 'this generation is responsible' is a metaphor. It means all the sins in the past until 'this generation', settled into one account. Jesus sacrifice His body once for all and made everyone who believe in Him holy (Heb 10:10). Worth to note that Jesus will not sacrifice Himself for the sins of each generation. It has to be in the generation where He was. Nov 28, 2023 at 21:35
  • @ Vincent Wong. I like your answer. I think the book of Hebrews should be referenced on the eternal nature of Jesus' sacrifice as well as his continuing role as a Melchisadecian priest. Iceing on the cake you already baked. I don't understand your lack of votes.
    – RHPclass79
    Dec 3, 2023 at 13:08
  • @RHPclass79 - Thank you! Vote is a compliment. But the merit in this site is freedom of expression that within its scope, and find people like you who inspired from it. Dec 4, 2023 at 1:13
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The answer to this question is actually found in the earlier verse and is thus contained in the charge that Jesus levels at "this generation".

Luke 11:47-51 - 47 Woe to you! You build tombs for the prophets, but it was your fathers who killed them. 48 So you are witnesses consenting to the deeds of your fathers: They killed the prophets, and you build their tombs. 49 Because of this, the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles; some of them they will kill and others they will persecute.’

50 As a result, this generation will be charged with the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the foundation of the world, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, all of it will be charged to this generation.

Note Jesus' accusation - "you are witnesses consenting to the deeds of your fathers: They killed the prophets, and you build their tombs." That is, that current generation agreed with all the murders and persecution of the righteous prophets and thus are also guilty of the sins of their fathers because they would have done the same evil things; as evidence of this, Jesus points out that they build tombs for them!!

Thus, because they agreed with the sins of the ALL their forefathers, they are guilty of them. Hence, Jesus concludes that, "this generation will be charged with the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the foundation of the world ... Yes, I tell you, all of it will be charged to this generation."

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  • While I understand the reasoning for the Pharisees, who built the monuments and agreed with the killing of the prophets, to be responsible, I am most curious as to why Jesus would specify the entire generation living at the time, not only the people he is currently speaking to. If the responsibility for the blood of the prophets is to those who agreed with their killing, why would he include the entire generation, which would presumably include those who disagreed with the killings and followed the prophets' teaching? Or, is 'generation' simply a generalization for the Pharisees?
    – mwolfe 11
    Nov 28, 2023 at 15:48
  • @mwolfe11 - because the entire generation agreed with the leaders.
    – Dottard
    Nov 28, 2023 at 20:40
  • An entire generation of people in 100% agreement? That's DEFINITELY a true miracle, never seen since.
    – barbecue
    Nov 28, 2023 at 21:02
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    @barbecue - I beg to differ - the NT contains many examples of hyperbole.
    – Dottard
    Nov 29, 2023 at 5:00
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    @barbecue - Jesus did NOT say the whole generation. He simply said "this generation". Obviously, that did not include the Romans nor Jesus Himself. Nor did it include numerous other righteous people such as John the Baptist and His parents, etc. It is not difficult to work out.
    – Dottard
    Nov 29, 2023 at 6:54
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To be very accurate the passage in question (Luke 11:50), and it's declaration by Jesus, is directed to the lawyers and not the Pharisees. They had felt included in Jesus' reproach of the Pharisees and when one of them pointed it out Jesus did include them and proclaimed for them woes of their own:

Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also. - Luke 11:45

The particular specialty of the lawyers was just that; study, dissemination, and application of Jewish law by which it should have been manifest that the killing of the prophets and righteous men by their forebears was egregiously wrong. Instead of perceiving this from the law and repenting in sackcloth and ashes they treated them to the lip service and accolades of sepulchers. We are to understand from the context (and the word mnemeion (sepulcher)) that these tombs should have at least been taught as a reminder of their father's wrongful treatment of these men if not even designed to remind, as by inscription, for example. In this way they were preventing accurate memorialization of these holy men of old and tacitly agreeing with their father's treatment of them by neglecting to remember the sin. Revisionist history is probably not all that new.

We know that within "this generation" Jesus has already begun to call and to find His lost sheep: There are already Apostles and disciples. Individuals are responding to the Gospel of the Kingdom and are being saved from within "this generation" so "this generation" cannot refer to each and every individual human alive at that time. This makes the noun genea (generation) here more likely to refer to a period of time itself than all the individuals within that period of time. Indeed, this is how the word is predominantly used in the NT.

The word rendered "required" is the verb εξζητεω (exzeteo), meaning to seek out, implying an unraveling or intended retrieval of something from the environment it was found in. It is not that God is intending to bleed each individual alive at the time but that the blood of these righteous men is crying out for justice and God has coming at this time seeking it out.

So we find that it is during this time period (genea) that the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, is required (that is to say, sought out) for justice. All of the Law and Prophets has testified of this coming King, this time of judgement, and in this genea, this time period, amongst all manner of confirmatory signs, He was not only outright opposed by leadership but opposition was taught and encouraged.

God is not unjust. Those who have received Christ are not sought out for justice during this genea for it is Christ's blood that is shed for them instead. The woes are not for every single individual but for those who possess enough information to know the time of their visitation and refuse it, teaching others to do so as well.

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One of the main themes of the gospels is the fact of Jesus' overall rejection by His own people. There were some righteous enough to recognize that He was sent by God and was doing God's work, but for the most part the bulk of people people were going along with what they were told by the leaders, who saw Jesus as nothing more than a threat to their positions.

This goes to show that for the most part, the Jewish nation had learned nothing from the events of the previous fifteen centuries, a point that Stephen later makes prior to his martyrdom.

There were exceptions, but they never saw the Law given through Moses as anything but a bunch of rules to be followed. They never got past "God will be angry if we disobey."

This was due to their general failure to follow one of the commandments in the Law: That they were to meditate on it day and night. Studying God's law was supposed to be their primary hobby. Instead, the bulk of the Israelites, to include the Jews of Jesus' time, had delegated this to the select few who wanted the role, many of whom accepted that role for the wrong reasons. To know God, through His law, was an individual duty, but the Jewish nation looked on it as a corporate responsibility.

And in being guilty of a rejection of God in all of the ways that had real meaning, they became guilty of the blood of the martyrs. If you go along with the crowd today, you would have gone along with the crowd back when the prophets were murdered. Outward appearances notwithstanding, if you have the same heart you deserve the same judgement.

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Although the episode begins with an objection of one particular Pharisee to Jesus not washing his hands before eating, (vs. 38) it does seem that Jesus' statement is related to the fact "this generation" rejected Jesus and caused him to go the way of the Cross. Earlier he has denounced "this generation" as an evil generation for demanding a sign. (vs. 29) He says they shall be given no sign except the sign of Jonah, often interpreted as referring to his resurrection after three days in the tomb.

In any case, the punishment is hard to square with the notion that Jesus came with the intent to become a sacrifice to atone for sin, because there would be no reason to require the blood a generation that had done what God intended. The saying also seems to imply a doctrine of collective punishment, which goes against the teaching that "only the one who sins will die." (Ezekiel 18:20) It begs the question as to why a whole generation's blood should be required when only a few were guilty of persecuting Jesus, especially if, as the OP suggests, Jesus is a member of that generation.

This is a hard saying. The two most obvious solutions are either unacceptable to Christians or offensive to universal notions of justice. These would be either that:

  1. Jesus did not come to die, but was forced to take this course because a faithless generation rejected his teaching.

  2. God's will was fulfilled by Jesus being rejected and crucified, but He would nevertheless punish the faithless generation who enabled His will to be accomplished.

Answers that appeal to the doctrine of original sin to justify the punishment of the whole generation do not convince, because original sin applies to everyone, not just "this generation." I will be glad to read other possible ways to deal with the OP's question.

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    @ Dan Fefferman This generation would have the benefit of all that the prophets had foretold plus the witness of all the miracles Jesus had done in their sight . They were hypocrites, snakes, murderers.
    – RHPclass79
    Nov 28, 2023 at 8:12
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    Hopefully my answer has rescued God's reputation for justice? Nov 29, 2023 at 2:55
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The idea of "stored up [treasures of] wrath is an allusion to this passage:

[Deu 32:34-36 NASB95] [34] 'Is it not laid up in store with Me, Sealed up in My treasuries? [35] 'Vengeance is Mine, and retribution, In due time their foot will slip; For the day of their calamity is near, And the impending things are hastening upon them.' [36] "For the LORD will vindicate His people, And will have compassion on His servants, When He sees that [their] strength is gone, And there is none [remaining,] bond or free.

Paul refers to stored up wrath here as well:

[Rom 2:5 NIV] [5] But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed.

Jesus said that all that stored up wrath would be poured out on his own generation:

[Mat 23:34-38 NASB95] [34] "Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, [35] so that upon you may fall [the guilt of] all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. [36] "Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation. [37] "Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. [38] "Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!

See also:

[Hos 13:12 NASB95] [12] The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; His sin is stored up.

[Jas 5:3 NASB95] [3] Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure!

We should also note that the LORD is also an avid stamp collector and has dozens of plates.

The answer to why it should be so is because God hates Jews more than he loves grits. Why would that be? Because he knew them well enough not to like them:

[Amo 3:2 NKJV] [2] "You only have I known of all the families of the earth; Therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities."

"The Bible" is all about God's hatred for his People, and his love for those who were not his People, specifically resurrected Israel.

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  • ""The Bible" is all about God's hatred for his People." Hosea (amongst others) says you are dead wrong. -1 and more if I could. Nov 29, 2023 at 2:53
  • What do you think 70 AD/CE was about?
    – Ruminator
    Nov 29, 2023 at 10:27
  • Judgement for iniquities, as Amos says, not hatred for the Jews. Go and read Romans 9-11. Nov 29, 2023 at 12:38
  • [Jer 12:8 NASB95] [8] "My inheritance has become to Me Like a lion in the forest; She has roared against Me; Therefore I have come to hate her. [Hos 9:15 NASB95] [15] All their evil is at Gilgal; Indeed, I came to hate them there! Because of the wickedness of their deeds I will drive them out of My house! I will love them no more; All their princes are rebels. There was an elect that was spared the hardening and became God's People again, but mostly gentiles.
    – Ruminator
    Nov 29, 2023 at 12:43
  • Jeremiah 31:3 We can bat verses back and forth all day. Jesus longed to gather them as a hen gathers her chicks...not an act of hatred. God sent His Son to die for them ... not an act of hatred. I will comment no more. Nov 29, 2023 at 13:10

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