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Mark 13:30

ESV Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
NIV Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened.
NASB Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
CSB "Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things take place.
NLT I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene before all these things take place.
KJV Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done.
NKJV Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.

What does Mark 13:30 mean?

This verse has confused generations. Devoid of any context or subtlety, it can appear to say the apostles, themselves, will not die before the Antichrist strikes and Jesus returns. This obviously didn't happen.

Scholars have three basic views of what this statement means:

First, "this generation" may refer to the four who are listening to Jesus (Mark 13:3) and their contemporaries. In which case, the tribulation described in Revelation is irrelevant, since it describes events said to take place after the death of John, the last of the apostles to die.

Second, "this generation" might mean those who were "generated" from or came from a common ancestor (Matthew 23:36). In this case, it would mean the church that originated with Jesus' four-person audience.

Third, "this generation" can mean those who will be alive and witness all the events of Mark 13:6–27, as implied in Mark 13:29 and Matthew 24:33.

Those who believe the prophecies of the end times are entirely symbolic agree with option 1. Church tradition says that James, Andrew, and Peter died before the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, but John survived Jerusalem's ruin by at least twenty years. The problem with this view is that even if the prophecies are "spiritualized," or interpreted in a spiritual and not literal way, many of the individual predictions must be discarded as unfulfilled. This interpretation is inadequate at best.

Option 2 is almost feasible. "Generation" is sometimes used to mean descendants: those whom the primary actors "generated" through their effort. The apostles "generated" the church and all Christ-followers who came after them. The difficulty is that the church will end with the rapture, before the tribulation begins. Undoubtedly, the church will have left things like Bibles and books and websites that will help people come to God, but most evangelism during the tribulation will be through the 144,000 (Revelation 7:1–8) and the two witnesses (Revelation 11:3–12).

This makes option 3 the most reasonable interpretation. The "generation" is those people who will witness the events of Mark 13:6–27. From the beginning of the actual, end-times-impending birth pains to Jesus' return will be less than a generation.

Despite the intriguing controversy, "generation" is not the point of this verse. The point is that once the events of the end times begin, they will progress very quickly. Seven years is a short time for a world leader to come to power, take over much of the world (Daniel 7:19–27), broker peace with Israel, break peace with Israel (Daniel 9:27), witness God's incredible wrath on the world (Daniel 9:24), and be sentenced to eternity in hell (Revelation 19:20).
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