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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Jehovah's Witnesses' Current Understanding of 'Generation' "Fit(s) Well Within the Definitions Found in Greek Lexicons"

While Christ taught that Armageddon will come before the end of a "generation" he did not explicitly explain which sense of the word "generation" he was using (Mt.24:34; Mk.13:30; Lk.21:32). So Christians throughout history have been left to use the rules of exegesis to determine what was meant.

Like the Apostles and Christians throughout history, Witnesses are always willing to change their understanding of the Bible's prophecies as increased knowledge and world events dictate.

As a friend here on YA said: "Jehovah's Witnesses have always worked with the established definitions of “generation” provided by Greek lexicographers such as found in the BDAG Greek lexicon. The current JW understanding of 'generation' - and all past understandings - fit well within the definitions found in Greek lexicons."

Now lexicons give about half a dozen definitions for the word "generation." So Witnesses have used several of these standard definitions according to what they saw happening in the world around them. Since they hoped for a shorter length to the "last days" they first chose the definitions which applied to the Christians who were actually alive in 1914. However, as that was proved incorrect they now have accepted the meaning of a generation as "people of various ages whose lives overlap during a particular time period or event (w08 2/15; 25).

A good example of this meaning is Ex 1:6: “Eventually Joseph died, and also all his brothers and all that generation.”

How would *you* describe the use of the word in this verse[?] Quite obviously it is referring to “people of various ages whose lives overlap during a particular time period.” Some of Joseph’s brothers were born before him and Benjamin was born long after. Some lived long after he died. So the word generation here clearly was not “one lifetime.” But they ALL are said to be part of that “generation.”

This means that there is no need for a member of that "generation" to live from the beginning of the time period to the end. Likewise with the generation Christ talked about; ALL "chosen" ones who live during that time period are part of that "generation." So, the length of the last days cannot be figured by the life span of humans. We just know that the bible describes it as a "short" period and that we must "stay awake" and "in expectation" of it.

If my grandfather was born in 1840 and died in 1920 he was part of the “generation that lived through the 1906 earthquake.” If my father was born in 1900 he also was part of the same generation. They were both part of that generation even though my father was not alive at the beginning of the generation and my grandfather was not alive at the end. That “generation” could refer to a span of 140 years or more.

Another biblical example is “the generation” which all died off during the 40 years wilderness wandering at Num.32:13. But Num.14:29 said everyone who was 20 years and older were part of this generation. Now those who were 80 years old would die within a few years, but those who were 20 could still be alive 39 years later. Did those who died at the beginning of the 40 years cease to be part of the generation? God’s Word said explicitly said they all were that same “generation.”

So it is irrefutable that our current definition is an accurate understanding of what a “generation” can be.

Witnesses have always been willing to examine all the definitions cited by standard reference works and were willing to change our understanding as more evidence became available.

According to the observable evidence from history and modern events the Witnesses’ current definition cannot be refuted.

However, the effect of the changes regarding what the "generation" means has been over-exaggerated by opposers who cannot disprove the doctrines of Witnesses nor support their own beliefs Scripturally.

Changing our understanding of the definition of the "generation" Christ [mentioned] has almost no effect on primary doctrine such as the date 1914 and the fact that we are in the "last days." That generation and the last days definitely started in Oct of the year 1914 and the end is still coming soon.

The evidence is irrefutable that Christ returned in Kingdom power and began his invisible presence in 1914. Not only is this confirmed by Biblical chronology found in Daniel's prophecies but it is confirmed by the fulfilment of events foretold regarding the last days (Mt.24:3ff; 2Tim.3:1ff; Rev.10:10ff).

The Bible shows that True Worshipers would be able to confidently discern that time period while the obdurate would "take no note" and even claim that things are continuing as always (Mt.24:39; 2Pt.3:3,4).

SOURCE: This is an answer by BAR_ANERGES to a question at Yahoo Answers.

Also see:

The Generation Seeing the Sign (Christ’s Presence—What Does It Mean to You? - The Watchtower—2008; Watchtower Online Library)

Generation - Understanding Clarified (w10 4/15 pp. 7-11; Watchtower Online Library)

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