There is a wealth of meaning in the phrase “this generation,” which Hyper-Preterists completely overlook. Because of their flat, one-dimensional method of exegesis, they fail to perceive the spiritual truths which our Lord is unfolding for the edification of His elect.
In our last article, we showed that Matt. 24: 34 does not mean that all things in Christ’s Olivet Discourse would be fulfilled before the men living at that time passed away. Our Lord was speaking to Peter, James, John, and Andrew–the founders of His church. Likewise, when He declared woes against the Scribes and Pharisees (Matt. 23), He was referring to the warfare that would be waged between the two seeds, or spiritual nations, into which all mankind are divided.
Read the following verses carefully. “Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes; and some of them ye shall kill, and crucify, and some of them ye shall scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel, unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, all these things shall come upon this generation” (Matt. 24: 33-36).
Incredibly, Hyper-Preterists have thought that this must refer to the destruction of Jerusalem. But a bit of sober reflection will tell us this isn’t the case at all. Our Lord is alluding to the original curse pronounced upon the serpent in the Garden of Eden. “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3: 15).
This warfare would culminate in the crucifixion of Christ. However, it extends from Calvary in both directions, having its start at the beginning of the world, and its closure at the world’s end. It has continued to this very day, and cannot be restricted to the destruction of Jerusalem, without destroying the most sublime moral & spiritual truths of the Gospel.
Is our Lord really saying that those particular men to whom He spoke would be held accountable for “all the righteous blood shed upon the earth”? The view is nonsensical, to say the least. Rather, He teaches that the blood of the righteous will be required of the wicked. And this is understood in a universal context. For Christ points us back to the Noachian covenant: “And surely your blood of your lives will I require: at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man; at the hand of every man’s brother will I require the life of man” (Gen. 9: 5).
The Noachian covenant is worldwide, and is still in effect today! For its sign is the “bow in the cloud” (Gen. 9: 13). Rainbows are universal. As the covenant, then, is still in effect, then its warnings cannot have been exhausted in the destruction of Jerusalem. For according to the principle expounded by Paul, the abolition of a later covenant has no power to fulfill an earlier one (Galatians 3: 17). Therefore, the destruction of the temple cannot fulfill resurrection or judgment.
Now, Peter called the church a “chosen generation” (1 Peter 2: 9). And Paul, addressing the same church, writes: “Do all things without murmurings and disputings: that ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world (Phil. 2: 14-15).
This brings to mind Peter’s exhortation, when he said: “Save yourselves from this untoward generation” (Acts 2: 40). What Christ and his holy apostles were teaching is simply this: that the church is a chosen generation which must remain separate and distinct from the generation of the wicked. The term “generation” is meant to denote the offspring of a common moral stock. It bears a spiritual sense, which must be perceived ere we can understand the true meaning of our Savior’s message.
In the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24, Mark 13, Luke 21), Our Savior declares that His saints shall be called to endure persecution at the hands of the wicked. However, the gates of hell shall not prevail against His church. His promise to uphold “this generation” sounds a note of triumph over the final defeat of that “generation of vipers” at whose hand all the righteous blood shed upon earth will be required. The ongoing struggle is seen in Rev. 12, where the dragon goes out to make war with the seed of the woman.
To restrict such fulfillment to the events of A.D. 70 results in Universalism, for it teaches that the wrath of God has already been exhausted, and therefore can no longer be applied to the enemies of God. But if we simply keep in mind the true meaning of the term “this generation” (Matt. 23: 36) all difficulties will be cleared up. It is the generation of evil-doers to whom our Lord is speaking; and he sets these grievous woes over against special promises offered to the saints: that the people of God, while called to lay down their lives, will ultimately prevail through their Savior JESUS CHRIST. With these thoughts in mind, let us look forward to His victory over all the nations of the world. Hallelujah!
Note: for more on the Biblical meaning of the phrase “this generation,” see Tony Warren’s excellent article at: