What you’ve read up to this point (here and here) is enough to refute Hicks’ claims that “this generation” refers to “trans-historical people” that “includes (past generations) tied to Cain, through to the contemporaries of Jesus, and will extend down until the return of Christ.” There are a few more issues that need to be discussed.

Early in his 26-page article he refers to me and other preterists and the emphasis we apply to the meaning of “this generation”:

DeMar and other preterists have placed an incredible amount of weight on a singular phrase (this generation) and depend heavily on their understanding that “this generation” refers exclusively to the contemporaries of Jesus’ day. As a futurist, I have problems with this assertion.

Every person dealing with the meaning of “this generation” places “an incredible amount of weight on its meaning,” otherwise why has Hicks written 26 pages to defend his interpretation of the meaning of “this generation”? His entire futuristic system depends on an idiosyncratic interpretation of the meaning and application of Jesus’ use of “this generation.” His system stands or falls on it.

He continues:

DeMar in another article states, “There may be unbelief in the future among other generations, but Jesus clearly identifies the people of His day as being part of a present “perverted generation.”[1] In making this concession DeMar has allowed for the possibility that genea could speak to a future perverted generation. With that, an obvious question must be asked, could it not also speak to a generation that existed prior to the contemporaries of Jesus? This question will be answered in more detail below.

This is a gross misreading of the point I made. Jesus mentions wars, famines, earthquakes, and false prophets. These are common occurrences. They existed in the OT, and they exist today. There was a “great tribulation” (Matt. 24:21) related to “this generation” — their generation — and yet Jesus said, “In the world, you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33; also Rom. 2:9; 5:3; 8:35; 12:12; 1 Thess. 1:6). God’s people suffered tribulation under the Old Covenant (e.g., Deut. 4:30; Judges 10:14; 1 Sam. 26:24) and under the New Covenant (Acts 14:22; Rev. 2:9–10, 22). The point is, Jesus was specific that the events and circumstances He listed in His Olivet Discourse would take place before their generation passed away. That’s why understanding the meaning and timing of Jesus’ use of “this generation” is so important. While there will be earthquakes, famines, false prophets, and tribulation (just as there were under the Old Covenant), there won’t be a rebuilt temple to be destroyed again, another abomination of desolation, escape of Jews to the mountains after abandoning their cloaks and flat-roofed houses to fulfill some end-time prophecy because it was that generation alone that was guilty of crucifying the “Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:8). The religious leaders of that generation and the traitor Judas handed Jesus over to the Romans to be crucified. No future generation can be guilty of these crimes.

The Rapture and the Fig Tree Generation

The Rapture and the Fig Tree Generation

Since the national reestablishment of Israel in 1948, countless books and pamphlets have been written defending the doctrine assuring readers that it could happen at any moment. Some prophecy writers claimed the ‘rapture’ would take place before 1988. We are far removed from that date. Where are we in God’s prophetic timetable?

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Hicks reiterates the point that preterists spend time on the importance of the timing element related to Jesus’ use of “this generation.” Why? Because Jesus uses “this generation” many times in the Synoptic Gospels. Hicks claims, “In almost every conversation that I have had on this subject, Matthew 24:34 is the first place that the preterist starts.” It’s not the first place I start. Anyone who has read my books Last Days Madness, Is Jesus Coming Soon?, and Wars and Rumors of Wars can see that the preterist case is built before one gets to Matthew 24:34. The issue of timing takes center stage in Chapter 3 of Last Days Madness with the discussion of “this generation” not coming up until chapter 4. A detailed study of “this generation” is not discussed until chapter 10 in Wars and Rumors of Wars. I usually begin in Matthew 10 to discuss elements of time and audience relevance and move quickly until I end up in Matthew 24. Verse 34 is nearly the last verse I deal with.

The following is what Hicks tries to prove:

The purpose of this [26-page] article is to demonstrate that the preterist has wrongly understood who the generation is that Jesus is focused on throughout the Gospels and have wrongly limited “this generation” to a singular group of people (i.e. the contemporaries of Jesus). I hope to demonstrate the qualitative nature of genea and that it is rooted in the themes of the seed of the serpent (Gen. 3), the flood narrative (Gen. 7), the Song of Moses (Deut. 32), and refers to a trans-historical class of people used in the pejorative in almost all pertinent cases in the New Testament. I also hope to demonstrate that this trans-historical people includes (past generations) tied to Cain, through to the contemporaries of Jesus, and will extend down until the return of Christ. My view of genea is not limited to a singular group identified in the New Testament, my view extends and encompasses what I believe is more of the biblical data.

A look at Genesis 7:1 will show that “this generation” refers to Noah’s generation alone: “The Lord then said to Noah, ‘Go into the ark, you and your whole family, because I have found you righteous in this generation.’” The Lord is not describing the generation before him or after him. He is describing Noah’s generation. It was a single generation that endured the flood that no other generation will ever endure (9:11). “This generation” was their generation.

In Deuteronomy 32, we find “a warped and crooked generation” (32:5) compared to “generations long past” (32:7) and “a perverse generation” (32:20). The use of “generation” refers to a single generation as compared to “generations long past.” The use of “generation” in the singular is specific in its meaning and identifies a particular generation. It’s no different from the way “this generation” is used in Matthew 11:16, 12:41–42, 23:6, and 24:34. Each generation is judged on its own merits or the lack thereof. Cain, the people of Noah’s generation, and those in Moses’ generation paid the price for their covenant-breaking. This is contrary to the trans-historical approach that Hicks takes that “includes (past generations) tied to Cain, through to the contemporaries of Jesus, and will extend down until the return of Christ.” The Apostle Paul follows a similar perspective. He mentions “other generations” (Eph. 3:5) and “all generations forever and ever” (3:21) different from that present generation.

Keep in mind what Hicks said when I argued that only the generation of Jesus’ day was guilty of crucifying the Lord of glory, and only that generation would undergo a “great tribulation” with the loss of their temple, the destruction of their city, and the death of an untold number of Jews (Matt. 24:1–34): “How could it be possible that the guilt of righteous bloodshed on earth be accounted to this tiny group of religious leaders at the time of Jesus?” I’ll ask the question this way:

How is it possible and just (following Hicks’ view) that the guilt of turning Jesus over to the Romans to be crucified should be accounted to a yet future “this generation” of Jews who had no part in the death of Jesus?

Each generation is guilty of its own sins. Hicks states correctly, “we know that the sins of our fathers cannot fall on us, as per the Old Testament” (Deut. 24:16; Ezek. 18:19–20), and yet that’s what his view does. It passes on the judgment to a future generation of Jews and the world at large for something they did not do!

Hicks argues that “The Greek word “generation” (genea) is used most often in the New Testament in a qualitative (type), not quantitative (time) sense to describe a type of people.” How do we know when it’s being used in a qualitative sense? Because we’re told with words like “evil,” “adulterous,” and “perverse,” but even in these cases when the near demonstrative “this” is used, it identifies that generation alone.

He then turns for support to Thayer’s Greek Lexicon and its third definition: “the whole multitude of men living at the same time.” Notice that Thayer does not say anything about “a qualitative (type), … a type of people.” Hicks continues:

Thayer leverages the third definition (the whole multitude of men living at the same time) for Matthew 24:34, and states that it is “used especially of the Jewish race living at one and the same period.” However, [Thayer] doesn’t add Matthew 24:34 into the section of verses tied to [the] Jewish race living at one and the same period. He adds the following verses into that section, but Matthew 24:34 isn’t one of them: Matthew 11:16; Matthew 12:39, 41f, 45; Matthew 16:4; Matthew 23:36; Mark 8:12, 38; Luke 11:29f, 32, 50; Luke 17:25; Acts 13:36; Hebrews 3:10. To me that is quite interesting! Why would it not be included in this section, or repeated? Perhaps because it was meant to function outside of the realm of a limited perspective of a singular Jewish race living at one and the same period. He adds the following verses into that section, but Matthew 24:34 isn’t one of them: Matthew 11:16; Matthew 12:39, 41f, 45; Matthew 16:4; Matthew 23:36; Mark 8:12, 38; Luke 11:29f, 32, 50; Luke 17:25; Acts 13:36; Hebrews 3:10. To me that is quite interesting! Why would it not be included in this section, or repeated? Perhaps because it was meant to function outside of the realm of a limited perspective of a singular Jewish race living at one and the same period.

The above might be hard to follow, so below is Thayer’s definition of genea from his lexicon:

Maybe because Thayer’s third definition of “the whole multitude of men living at the same time” would include Jews and every other national group! Notice what Thayer’s definition includes: “used especially of the Jewish race living at one and the same period.”

In addition, why does Hicks only use Thayer’s Lexicon? The following is from the latest edition of A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (BDAG):

[γενεά]: the sum total of those born at the same time, expanded to include all those living at a given time and freq[uently] defined in terms of specific characteristics, generation, contemporariesJesus looks upon the whole contemp[orary] generation of Israel as a uniform mass confronting him (cp. Gen 7:1;[2] Ps 11:8) Mt 11:16; 12:41f; 23:36**; 24:34; Mk 13:30;** Lk 7:31; 11:29-32, 50f; 17:25; **21:32** … the time of a generation, _age _(as a rule of thumb, the time between birth of parents and the birth of their children).”[3]

As BDAG states, “Jesus looks upon the whole contemp. generation of Israel as a uniform mass confronting him” and then references Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30, and Luke 21:32. The time period is identified; it’s the “whole contemporary generation of Israel,” not some distant unnamed generation or a certain type of generational behavior.

Then there’s Robinson’s Greek and English Lexicon of the New Testament, “ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη [this generation], etc. the present generation, Matt. xi. 16. xii. 39, 41, 42, 45. xvi. 4. xvii. 17. xxiii. 36. xxiv. 34. Mark viii … xiii. 30 …. Luke xi. 29, 30, 31, 32, 50, 51. xvii. 25. xxi. 32. Acts ii. 40. Phil. ii. 15.”[4]

Hicks then adds the following:

Thayer does group together 3 texts (Matthew 24:34; Mark 13:30; Luke 1:48) which leads me to believe they are joined together and have the same general meaning of a whole multitude of men living at the same time. If that is the case, the general understanding of πᾶσαι αἱ γενεαί [“all the generations”: Luke 1:48] must be speaking of the contemporaries of Jesus. So, whatever position we take from here, there must be some relevance of “this generation” tied to the original audience that Jesus spoke to, a point I am sure my preterists friend would be happy to hear.

You might be confused at this point because Hicks seems to be contradicting himself. It only gets worse.

Matthew 24 Fulfilled

Matthew 24 Fulfilled

Author John Bray states: ‘Present-day students of eschatology seem woefully ignorant of the writings of past theologians on these subjects. There was a time (prior to the mid-1800s) when the most prominent interpretation of Matthew 24 was from the preterite standpoint, and the dating of Revelation was believed to be at an earlier date than is now believed.’ Matthew 24 Fulfilled examines the issues related to popular ‘end-times’ hysteria and counters with a view consistent with all of Scripture.

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Hicks includes a list of sources supplied by Neil D. Nelson, Jr., “‘This Generation’ in Matt 24:34: A Literary Critical Perspective.”[5] One of them is by Robert Morgenthaler in The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology where he states that in Matthew’s Gospel genea “has the sense of this generation, and according to the first evangelist, Jesus expected the end of this age to occur in connection with the judgment on Jerusalem at the end of that first generation (see Mk. 9:1 and Matt. 16:18).”[6]

Colin Brown adds the following to Morgenthaler’s entry:

The events referred to in Mk. 13:30 par. Matt. 24:34 and Lk. 21:32 have generally been taken to refer to cosmic events associated with the second coming of Christ…. But if these events were expected within the first generation of Christians (and “generation” is the most probable translation of genea), either Jesus or the evangelists were mistaken. The failure of events to materialize has been put down to a postponement of the catastrophe and to a telescoping of events, comparable with seeing a mountain range at a distance. The perspective makes the mountains appear to stand close together, and indeed relatively speaking they do stand close together. However, there is an alternative interpretation of the passage which points out that insufficient attention has been paid to the prophetic language of the passage as a whole.[7]

Referencing Matthew 24:29, Brown adds, “The imagery of cosmic phenomena is used in the OT to describe this-worldly events and, in particular, historical acts of judgments.” At this point in his comments, Brown offers a list of numerous passages from the Old Testament to support his argument. In view of these examples, he continues:

Mk. 13:24–30 may be interpreted as a prophecy of judgment on Israel in which the Son of man will be vindicated. Such a judgment took place with the destruction of Jerusalem, the desecration of the Temple and the scattering of Israel — all of which happened within the lifetime of “this generation.” The disintegration of Israel as the people of God coincides with the inauguration of the kingdom of the Son of man. Such an interpretation fits the preceding discourse and the introductory remarks of the disciples (Mk. 13:1ff. par.).

In everything we’ve seen in these lexical works when it comes to Matthew 24:34 and Jesus’ use of “this generation,” nothing is said about, as Hicks claims, that “The Greek word “generation” (genea) is used most often in the New Testament in a qualitative (type), not quantitative (time) sense to describe a type of people.” The use of “this generation” identifies a single generation under judgment, and that judgment was on that generation alone.


[1]Gary DeMar, “Kicking Against the Exegetical Pricks of ‘This Generation’ in Matthew 24” (April 3, 2013): https://americanvision.org/7618/exegetical-this-generation-matthew-24/

[2]“Then the Lord said to Noah, ‘Enter the ark, you and all your household, for you alone I have seen to be righteous before Me in this time [lit. generation].”

[3]Walter Bauer, Frederick William Danker, W.F. Arndt, and F.W. Gingrich, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature [BDAG], 3rd ed. (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2000), s.v. “γενεὰ.”

[4]London: William Tegg and Co. (1852), 151.

[5]https://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/38/38-3/JETS_38-3_Nelson_369-386.pdf

[6]Robert Morgenthaler, “Generation,” The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, ed. Colin Brown, 3 vols. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1976), 2:37–38.

[7]“Generation,” New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 2:38–39.