Jehovah`s Witness/Overlapping generations??


I was wondering about the Witnesses latest eschatology involving "overlapping" generations.

The simple question I have is in Matthew 24:34, where they take this idea:

Did it take two generations to see the fulfillment of the fall of Jerusalem? Or one? How many generations did that prophecy necessitate in the end? If it was one, how can the JWs say that Jesus meant two overlapping generations where his disciples present saw the fall of Jerusalem (including John and Thomas), showing that they did not necessitate to have a second generation due to the first dying off completely (a problem the JWs find themselves in).

Can you explain where Jesus can be proved to have meant two generations in one?

Hello Dorger

Thank you for  your question. I appreciate the opportunity to supply an answer for you.

I understand the reason for your question.  The word generation can have different meanings depending on its usage (context).  There are many words in  our language that take  on different meanings depending on how they are used.  For example the word “day”.  It can mean the period of time when the sun shines, or a 24 hour period or even an period of unknown (undefined) time. F0r example some could say “back in my day when....”   So what context could change the meaning of generation?

I will cut and past some information from what was printed in our literature.  Please note the words that I highlight. Often people overlook these words when reading what was published.  AN explanation is given here of how the word generation was understood based on context.  Remember it is an explanation and we are not being dogmatic about it

(Italics original, Bold and underlining mine.)


w08 2/15 pp. 23-24 Christ’s Presence—What Does It Mean to You?

The Generation Seeing the Sign

10 Previously , this journal has explained that in the first century, “this generation” mentioned at Matthew 24:34 meant “the contemporaneous generation of unbelieving Jews.” That explanation seemed reasonable because all other recorded uses that Jesus made of the term “generation” had a negative connotation, and in most cases, Jesus used a negative adjective , such as “wicked ,” to describe the generation. (Matt. 12:39; 17:17; Mark 8:38) Thus, it was felt that in the modern-day fulfillment, Jesus was referring to the wicked “generation” of unbelievers who would see both the features that would characterize “the conclusion of the system of things” (syn·te′lei·a) and the system’s end (te′los).

11 It is true that when Jesus used the word “generation” negatively, he was speaking to or about the wicked people of his day. But was that necessarily true of his statement recorded at Matthew 24:34? Recall that four of Jesus’ disciples had approached him “privately.” (Matt. 24:3) Since Jesus did not use negative qualifiers when speaking to them about “this generation,” the apostles would no doubt have understood that they and their fellow disciples were to be part of the “generation” that would not pass away “until all these things [would] occur.”

12 On what basis may we draw that conclusion? By carefully considering the context . As recorded at Matthew 24:32, 33, Jesus said: “Now learn from the fig tree as an illustration this point: Just as soon as its young branch grows tender and it puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. Likewise also you, when you see all these things , know that he is near at the doors.” (Compare Mark 13:28-30; Luke 21:30-32.) Then, at Matthew 24:34, we read: “Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.”

13 Jesus said that it was his disciples, soon to be anointed with holy spirit, who should be able to draw certain conclusions when they saw “all these things” occur. So Jesus must have been referring to his disciples when he made the statement: “This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.”

14 Unlike unbelievers, Jesus’ disciples would not only see the sign but also understand its significance. They would “learn” from the features of that sign and “know” their true meaning. They would fully appreciate that “he is near at the doors.” While it is true that both unbelieving Jews and faithful anointed Christians saw a limited fulfillment of Jesus’ words in the first century, only his anointed followers back then could learn from these events—could understand the true meaning of what they saw.

15 Those without spiritual understanding today have felt that there has been no “striking observableness” with regard to the sign of Jesus’ presence. They reason that everything is continuing on as it did in the past. (2 Pet. 3:4) On the other hand, Christ’s faithful anointed brothers, the modern-day John class, have recognized this sign as if it were a flash of lightning and have understood its true meaning. As a class, these anointed ones make up the modern-day “generation” of contemporaries that will not pass away “until all these things occur.” This suggests that some who are Christ’s anointed brothers will still be alive on earth when the foretold great tribulation begins .

end quote

Now a couple of years latter we had this article it mentions the above article.  Take not of the highlighted words in paragraph 14 in the next quote regarding overlapping ages of people.


w10 4/15 pp. 10-11 pars. 13-14 Holy Spirit’s Role in the Outworking of Jehovah’s Purpose

For example, consider our understanding of those who make up “this generation” mentioned by Jesus. (Matthew 24:32-34.) To what generation did Jesus refer? The article “Christ’s Presence—What Does It Mean to You?”  explained that Jesus was referring, not to the wicked, but to his disciples , who were soon to be anointed with holy spirit. Jesus’ anointed followers, both in the first century and in our day, would be the ones who would not only see the sign but also discern its meaning—that Jesus “is near at the doors.”

14 What does this explanation mean to us? Although we cannot measure the exact length of “this generation ,” we do well to keep in mind several things about the word “generation”:  It usually refers to people of varying ages whose lives overlap during a particular time period ; [in other words contemporaries ] it is not excessively long; and it has an end. (Ex. 1:6) How, then, are we to understand Jesus’ words about “this generation”? He evidently meant that the lives of the anointed who were on hand when the sign began to become evident in 1914 would overlap with the lives of other anointed ones who would see the start of the great tribulation. That generation had a beginning, and it surely will have an end. The fulfillment of the various features of the sign clearly indicate that the tribulation must be near. By maintaining your sense of urgency and keeping on the watch, you show that you are keeping up with advancing light and following the leadings of holy spirit.—Mark 13:37.

end quote


w10 6/15 p. 5 United in Love—Annual Meeting Report

.He referred to Matthew 24:34, which says: “This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur.” He twice read the comment: “Jesus evidently meant that the lives of the anointed ones who were on hand when the sign began to be evident in 1914 would overlap with the lives of other anointed ones who would see the start of the great tribulation.” We do not know the exact length of “this generation,” but it includes these two groups whose lives overlap. Even though the anointed vary in age, those in the two groups constituting the generation are contemporaries during part of the last days . How comforting it is to know that the younger anointed contemporaries of those older anointed ones who discerned the sign when it became evident beginning in 1914 will not die off before the great tribulation starts!

End quote

To fully grasp what is being said you need o have same understanding of other aspects of how we see the Bible. I will give a very brief overview of those as they are separate topics on their own

Many prophecies in the Bible had more than one fulfillment. In Matthew 24 some of the things that were foretold the did happen before and leading up to the destruction of Jerusalem.  The major fulfillment is yet to be finalized. The signs that Jesus spoke of, we understand started in 1914 and are continuing to be fulfilled, and there are aspects that have not yet happened.

The Bible speaks of those that are “born again”.  We understand these to be the ones that are to rule as kings and priest with Jesus in Heaven as joint heirs with him over the earth during 1000 year period of bringing the earth back to its original condition. The apostles were part of that group

Leading up to the the time when Jesus would be Gods executioner of Satan’s world is a period that is refereed to as “the time of the end”.  This we understand started in 1914.
During this “time of the end”  true Christianity would be re-established. The final choosing of the ones to rule with Christ would accomplished.  These ones would be of the same group that the apostles apart of.

So the understanding  according to the context of what Jesus said at  Matthew 24:34, the word generation appears to be very specific in that it does not realte to a “wicked  generation”, but, that Jesus use changed, and it appears to relates to a specific group of people , ( contemporaries ... the group that are to rule with Jesus) This group at the final part of the days would   would witness the start of the “time of the end” and that there would still be members of that group alive when the “end of the system” comes. Keep that in mind and re read the last quote as it seems to sum that up.

I hope that has helped you understand why we feel the word “generation” in Matthew 24 has shifted its meaning due to, hopefully,  understanding the context of what Jesus was actually saying did not refer to a generation of 70 or 80 years. as was the case in the time of Jerusalem destruction

Jehovah`s Witness

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Brenton Hepburn


I AM one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, and I am always learning. I am NOT an expert in the full sense of the word but I can answer questions on the reliability of the NWT - the so called mind control problems-so called prophecies - how being a JW affects the individual and relatives and general practices and history of Jehovah’s Witnesses. >>WARNING<< Please be aware that there are people here who ARE NOT practicing JWs. By all means ask these ones questions. Depending on the question you will get an honest answer, but, generally the answer you get, will mislead you as to what we believe, often because, they do not give ALL the relevant details. These ones will, have an agenda against JWs., and will at times give answers that are not correct in regard to JW teachings and practices. If you are after a answer from one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, please read some of the answers that the various experts have published before choosing someone. If you want to ask one of the NON JWs a question, that is fine, BUT if you want a balancing view after asking one of the NON JWs, ask a JW the same question. PLEASE ALSO NOTE: There(have been)and are, some "experts" here who are NOT always the most courteous and polite, at times are actually quite rude, that applies to both JW's and non JW's and their answers may offend, especially when they get personal and attack the character of the person and not the message. Unfortunately some here that have done that. So it IS IMPORTANT to chose an "expert" that YOU feel will best suit YOU by reading some of their past answers . . . . .


I have been a publisher since 1964. When I first went on the internet I found a lot of negative information dealing with Jehovah’s Witnesses covering prophecy, mind control and what many said was a very bad translation of the Bible known as the NWT. It shook my faith. After may hours researching these topics I could see why some felt that way, but, I was also able to explain why there were these misleading views. I can now set matters straight for anyone that has negative information about Jehovah’s Witness to show them that such information is at best misleading and at worst dangerous lies.

I have been a student of the Bible for many years, am trying to teach myself Biblical Greek. Was a public tax accountant for many years untill SEP 2009 when I gave it up due to health problems.

©2017 All rights reserved.