Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Luke 21:32

Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place.
New American Standard Version

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:
Nave's Topical Bible - Earth;   Jesus, the Christ;   Jesus Continued;   Watchfulness;   The Topic Concordance - Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ;   Discerning;   End of the World;   Kingdom of God;   Redemption;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Providence of God, the;  
Dictionaries:
Fausset Bible Dictionary - Captivity;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Amen;   Luke, Gospel of;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Fig;   Kingdom of God;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Abomination of Desolation ;   Coming Again;   Discourse;   Elect, Election ;   Foresight;   Fulfilment;   Israel, Israelite;   Luke, Gospel According to;   Supremacy;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Generation;   1910 New Catholic Dictionary - parousia;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - Chief parables and miracles in the bible;  
Encyclopedias:
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Eschatology of the New Testament;   Fig;   Fulfil;   Generation;   Parousia;  

Adam Clarke Commentary

This generation - This race of men; but see on Matthew 24:34; (note), and Mark 13:30; (note).

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Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Luke 21:32". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/luke-21.html. 1832.

Coffman Commentaries on the Bible

Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all things be accomplished Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.

Throughout this discourse, Jesus was giving prophecies related to two future events: (1) the destruction of Jerusalem with its temple, and (2) his Second Coming in glory; therefore, Jesus' use of the word "generation" in this passage requires it to be understood in two senses. It has a perfect application to both events when so understood.

This generation... meaning the people then alive on earth, would not pass away before Jerusalem was destroyed some forty years afterward. "This generation," in the sense of the Jewish people, will not pass away before Christ comes in glory. There can be no reasonable objection to this use of a word in two somewhat different senses, for the word "Israel" is itself so written and understood by the inspired authors of the New Testament.

JESUS FORETOLD THE PASSING OF AGES BEFORE HIS RETURN

One of the most common errors among the sophisticated with regard to Jesus Christ is the notion that our Lord thought that his Second Coming was an event in the near future, with the result that the early church expected Christ to come in glory during their own lives. It is true, of course, that some of the early church did expect the speedy return of Christ in their own times; but that was not due to anything that Jesus either did or taught, nor to anything that the holy apostles preached or wrote. In fact, the early church was guilty of the same sin of inattention to what Christ had emphatically taught that is today being committed by the people making the same mistake that some in the early church made. The chapter before us emphatically reveals that countless ages were to go by before the final coming of Christ in glory. Geldenhuys has this wonderful summary of it:

Jesus taught that even before the destruction of Jerusalem a considerable time would elapse (Luke 21:12), and that thereafter again a considerable time, when one after another of the Gentile nations (plural) would, in turn, rule over Jerusalem (Luke 21:24); and only when the "times of the Gentiles" are fulfilled (Luke 21:24) (obviously a long period), will the signs of Luke 21:25ff come, and only after that his second advent.[36]

Not merely in this chapter, but upon other occasions Jesus plainly taught that ages were to pass away before his second coming. Note:

This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world; and then shall the end come (Matthew 24:14).

Now after a long time the lord of those servants cometh (Matthew 25:19).

And this gospel must first be preached to all the nations (Mark 13:10).

Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, that also which this woman hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her (Mark 14:9).

If that servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming ... (Luke 12:45).SIZE>

It is in the border context of what Jesus here did that one finds the most certain proof of all that Christ envisioned ages, not some short span, as elapsing before the Second Advent. And what did he do?

(1) He combined prophecies of the destruction of Jerusalem in such a manner as to make the first event a type of the latter.

(2) He most circumstantially outlined what would happen before Jerusalem was destroyed, even predicting the martyrdom of some of the Twelve BEFORE that event which took place forty years after he spoke.

(3) By choice of an event forty years in the future, making it a type of his Second Advent, and by the declaration of an interval between them which would allow time for successive "nations," as indicated by the word "times" (plural), to hold dominion over Jerusalem, the Lord made it certain that all future peoples would be able to discern his clear meaning, namely, that ages, not mere years or decades, would pass before his return.

The very obvious truth of all this, however, does not prevent the old satanic lie from being circulated that Jesus himself was deceived in thinking he would return within a few months, or years, after his crucifixion.

It was the divine wisdom of our Lord that led him to meld the prophecies regarding Jerusalem and the Second Coming, providing just enough uncertainty that each generation in turn might suppose the end to be possible in its own day.

Heaven and earth shall pass away ... This is a positive declaration that an end, or termination, shall come to the earth and its environment. "The end of the world" was mentioned in the great commission (Matthew 28:18-20), and an apostle said, "According to his promise, we look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness (2 Peter 3:13). (See more on this in my Commentary on Matthew, Matthew 28:18-20.)

My word shall not pass away ... None but God could have such a certainty regarding his word; and the passing ages have only confirmed the superlative truth of this statement. Nineteen centuries and more have gone; and evil men will spend half a lifetime trying to prove one little fragment of the gospels to be false, but such is a hopeless endeavor. The sun, moon, and stars will disappear more quickly than the word of Jesus Christ our Lord.

ENDNOTE:

[36] Norval Geldenhuys, op. cit., p. 541.

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Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.
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Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Luke 21:32". "Coffman Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/luke-21.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

This generation — not “this nation,” as some interpret it, which, though admissible in itself, seems very unnatural here. It is rather as in Luke 9:27.

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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Luke 21:32". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/luke-21.html. 1871-8.

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

This generation (η γενεα αυτηhē genea hautē). Naturally people then living.

Shall not pass away (ου μη παρελτηιou mē parelthēi). Second aorist active subjunctive of παρερχομαιparerchomai Strongest possible negative with ου μηou mē all things be accomplished (εως αν παντα γενηταιheōs an panta genētai). Second aorist middle subjunctive of γινομαιginomai with εωςheōs common idiom. The words give a great deal of trouble to critics. Some apply them to the whole discourse including the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem, the second coming and the end of the world. Some of these argue that Jesus was simply mistaken in his eschatology, some that he has not been properly reported in the Gospels. Others apply them only to the destruction of Jerusalem which did take place in a.d. 70 before that generation passed away. It must be said for this view that it is not easy in this great eschatological discourse to tell clearly when Jesus is discussing the destruction of Jerusalem and when the second coming. Plummer offers this solution: “The reference, therefore, is to the destruction of Jerusalem regarded as the type of the end of the world.”

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The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
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Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Luke 21:32". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rwp/luke-21.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.

Till all things be effected — All that has been spoken of the destruction of Jerusalem, to which the question, Luke 21:7, relates: and which is treated of from Luke 21:8-24.

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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.
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Wesley, John. "Commentary on Luke 21:32". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/luke-21.html. 1765.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Luke 21:32. Verily I say unto you, &c.— A late writer, whose criticism is at least ingenious, observes, that "this clause, of the prediction has not merely been generally misapprehended, but moreover falsely translated; and this is the opinion of men who holdthefirstrankinscripturalcriticism,namely, of Mede, Wolfius, Brenius, Markius, Sykes, &c. A Mr. Hayne had applied this part of our Lord's prophesy to the destruction of Jerusalem: Mr. Mede replies to him, 'I answer, first, while you endeavour in this manner to establish a ground for the first coming of Christ, you bereave the church of those principal passages of the scripture, whereon she hath always grounded her faith of the second coming. Secondly, you ground all this upon the ambiguity of the word generation; whereas the word γενεα signifies not only an age, but a people, a nation, a progeny, and so ought to be here taken; viz.—the nation of the Jews should not perish, till all these things were fulfilled.—Chrysostome among the ancients,* and Flaccius Illyricus (a man well skilled in the style of scripture) among the moderns, and those who follow them, might have admonished others to take the word γενεα in this acceptation, rather than, by turning it into an age or generation, to put this prophesy in little-ease, and the whole harmony of scripture out of frame, by I know not what confused interpretation.' I only add, that Dr. Sykes declares himself the more confirmed in this translation, 'from the remarkable, and, indeed, unparalleled, preservation of the Jews in the midst of hatred and continual persecutions.' The meaning then is, The Jewish nation shall assuredly subsist as a distinct people, till all that has been previously mentioned shall have been fulfilled, not only during the most corrupt period of the church, but until the antichristian governments of the world shall have been dissolved, and the religion of Jesus shall have begun to shine with its perfect brightness. And what is there in the existing circumstances of the world, or of the Jews, which contradicts this assertion, or renders it incapable of being verified?"

* "Indeed by the Fathers in general, who may be admitted to have been competent judges of the meaning of the word, γενεα was not understood as signifying the generation then living. Some persons, however, there were, who held this opinion; but, says Maldonatus, Origen entitles them simplices."

"The language of Christ is expressed with all possible strength. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away: that is, says Bishop Newton, 'Heaven and earth shall sooner or more easily pass away; the frame of the universe shall sooner or more easily be dissolved, than my words not be fulfilled.' And surely the prediction of the Jews remaining as a separate people was a fact of sufficient importance,andsufficientlyinterestingtothepersonswhomourLordwasaddressing, to account why he annexed it to an affirmation thus striking and solemn."

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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Luke 21:32". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/luke-21.html. 1801-1803.

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Luke 21:32. [ γενέα αὕτη, this generation) A period of forty years elapsed between this discourse and the destruction of Jerusalem.—V. g.]— πάντα γένηται, all things be fulfilled) He is speaking of those things which formed the subject of the question in Luke 21:7. and which are discussed from Luke 21:8 to Luke 21:24; although not even is the appendix added, Luke 21:25-27, altogether excluded; for once that the beginning has been made, all the other events successively go forward without intermission, and are continually coming to pass, and roll onward towards the end.

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Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Luke 21:32". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/luke-21.html. 1897.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

Ver. 32. See Poole on "Luke 21:29"

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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Luke 21:32". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/luke-21.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

32.This generation—Dr. Nast, in his excellent Commentary, would render the word as synonymous with race. And this would make the verse affirm that the Jewish race would last through all these troubles. Dr. Clarke also favours that rendering; and it has been current among maintainers of an approaching Second Advent for the last thirty years. Few scholars, however, would agree to escape the difficulties of this discourse by such a philology. Dr. Alexander, in his commentary on Mark 13:30, thus strongly treats this view of the word: “But although some English writers still adhere to that interpretation, others of the same class, and the German philologists, almost without exception, treat it as a sheer invention, without any authority, either in classical or Hellenistic usage, so that some of the best lexicons do not give this definition even to condemn it. Of the few alleged examples, chiefly in the Septuagint version, all admit of being taken in one of the acknowledged senses, which in the New Testament are three in number, all reducible to one and the same radical idea, that of a contemporary race, or the aggregate of those living at the same time. This is the direct sense in the great majority of cases, (such as Mark 8:12; Mark 8:38; Mark 9:19; Matthew 11:16; Matthew 12:39-45; Matthew 16:4; Matthew 23:36; Luke 7:31; Luke 16:8; Luke 17:25; Acts 2:40; Acts 13:36; Philippians 2:15; Hebrews 3:10,) and is scarcely modified when transferred from men to time, (as in Acts 14:16; Acts 15:2 l; Ephesians 3:5; Ephesians 3:21; Colossians 1:26,) or to the stages of descent and degrees of genealogical succession, (as in Matthew 1:17.) Common to all these cases is the radical idea of contemporaneous existence, which it would be monstrous, therefore, to exclude in that before us, as we must do if we understand it of the whole race in its successive generations. It follows, therefore, that unless we forge a meaning for the word in this place, which is not only unexampled elsewhere, but directly contradictory to its essential meaning everywhere, we must understand our Lord as saying that the contemporary race or generation, that is, those then living, should not pass away or die till all these prophecies had been accomplished.” We may add that specially unequivocal are the parallel passages, Matthew 23:36 and Luke 11:50-51. In the former of these two passages it is a very strange interpretation which makes the Saviour say that all the blood of the martyrs, from Abel to Zacharias, shall fall upon the Jewish race, and not upon some other race. The clear meaning is, that the penalty of the accumulated guilt of all the preceding generations should finally fall upon that generation. And the admission of this fixes of course the sense of the present passage. Our Lord must be understood as maintaining in all three passages, that that generation should be the object of hereditary penalty.

Luke 21:34-36 give the compressed substance of Matthew 25:1-30.

 

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Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Luke 21:32". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/luke-21.html. 1874-1909.

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible

Truly I say to you, This generation will not pass away, until all things be accomplished.”

And indeed, He declares, all ‘these things’ that He has described as necessary before His coming will be accomplished within the lifetime of the current generation. It must necessarily be so. The blood of all the prophets would be required of this generation because of what they were going to do to God’s beloved Son (Luke 11:50-51). The judgment on Jerusalem must therefore necessarily happen within this generation.

This would then indicate that His returncouldalso be within that time period, but would not necessarily be so, for His coming is not part of ‘these things’, it is the fulfilment resulting after ‘these things’. So the claim is that while all ‘these things’ that must take place before His coming will occur within a generation, the coming itself would not necessarily occur within that time period (for He did not know when it would be). All they could know when all these thing had occurred was that it was ‘near’, that is, could possibly arrive at any time.

That Jesus was at this point no more aware than His disciples of how long would be the period between the destruction of Jerusalem and His coming comes out in these words. Later revelation would reveal that it would be a long, indeterminate, unlimited period, cited as a round ‘thousand years’ (Revelation 20:3-7), a period which to first century man would indicate immeasurable time.

However, the word genea can in fact mean, 1) the descendants of a common ancestor, that is, those ‘generated’ from such an ancestor (thus a particular race, e.g. the Jews); 2) a group of people born at the same time (‘generation’ thus for example being seen as shorthand for ‘the people in that generation’); or 3) a period of time occupied by such a group of people (roughly a period of forty years). It has therefore been suggested that ‘this generation’ could be interpreted in any one of a number of different ways as follows:

1). ‘This generation’ (this ‘race’) could mean the race of the Jews as ‘generated’ from Israel/Jacob, those who were born of Israel/Jacob. This would then be promising that the Jews as a race would not cease to exist before all these things were accomplished. It would be declaring that they would still be around at the end, and unlike other nations, would not just have disappeared. It would be a word of hope for the Jews. Certainly the fact of the survival of the Jews as a distinct entity through the centuries must be seen as quite remarkable. But there are other explanations for their survival, (the Arabs have also survived, and also see themselves as descendants of Abraham), and it is not a natural meaning of the phrase in this context without further amplification.

2). ‘This generation’, which is a phrase used regularly by Jesus of unbelievers who do not respond to His words (see Luke 7:31; Luke 9:41; Luke 11:29-32), could be seen as signifying people with a certain attitude against Him, like the ‘generation of vipers’ (those born of vipers) in Luke 3:7, thus indicating a type of people who will not die out before the second coming. But it would again be an unusual use of the word without further amplification.

3). ‘This generation’ could indicate a generation in which certain of the events described will happen in the future, a generation which will then not pass away before all is fulfilled, e.g. the final generation at the end. The idea here would be to stress that all that is described must occur within the one generation, although in this case it is a later generation, ‘this’ referring to the generation who will actually be involved.

4). ‘This generation’ could mean the current generation when Jesus was speaking which would not pass away before all that necessarily had to lead up to His coming, especially the destruction of Jerusalem, was fulfilled. This is the most natural and straightforward meaning of the term.

We opt for the fourth as being Jesus’ intention, simply because it is the most natural significance of the phrase and ties in with the thought that the blood of the prophets will be required of this generation. The point that He is then also stressing is that all that must necessarily lead up to His coming will be fulfilled within that generation so that His coming need not necessarily be looked at as something that will happen only in a remote future, long after that time. This holding out of the future as imminent, part of which had not yet been fulfilled by the time of Jesus, is seen as constant in the prophets. The aim was to keep people in expectancy. On the other hand it always left open the options that what was to happen might be soon, or might be in the more distant future. The point then is that by the time the current generation is passing away His coming will be ‘near’, that is, will be such that it could possibly occur at any time. Jesus did not want His followers to lose sight of the fact that the time of His return was unknown, even to Him. Thus he wanted them to see it as ‘imminent’ (that is, as possibly happening at any time), so that they must always be anticipating the possibility of it. Not knowing when it would be He knew that it could be near or far. There was no other way of presenting it.

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Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Luke 21:32". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/luke-21.html. 2013.

Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable

This verse begins Jesus" final word confirming the certainty of His prophecy. He introduced it with the solemn "Truly I say to you" or "I tell you the truth."

"This generation" refers to the unbelieving Jews who were alive when Jesus spoke, as it usually does in the Gospels (cf. Luke 3:7; Luke 7:31; Luke 9:41; Luke 11:29-32; Luke 11:50-51; Luke 17:25; Mark 11:14; Acts 2:40). Jesus may have meant that that generation would not disappear until the fulfillment of all that He had predicted had begun. A better interpretation is that "this generation" refers to the generation referred to in Luke 21:25 that will see the beginning of the end in the cosmic signs. [Note: Bock, Luke, pp538-39, M. Bailey, pp146-47, and Wiersbe, 1:263. For a discussion of other interpretations, see my note on Matthew 24:34; Maddox, pp111-15; and Morris, pp300-1.] The destruction of Jerusalem was the beginning of the fulfillment of what Jesus had predicted in this discourse. Obviously all the things that He predicted here did not happen within the lifetime of His hearers. He evidently regarded the beginning of fulfillment as a guarantee of complete fulfillment. This was a common Semitic viewpoint. The Semites regarded a part of the whole as the whole (cf. Deuteronomy 26:5-10; 1 Kings 13:32; Jeremiah 31:5; 2 Samuel 5:6-10; Revelation 14:1; Revelation 22:1; Romans 15:19-24). The name that some scholars have given this viewpoint is representative universalism. [Note: See A. J. Mattill Jeremiah, "Representative Universalism and the Conquest of Canaan," Concordia Theological Monthly35:1 (1967):8-17.]

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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Luke 21:32". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/luke-21.html. 2012.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

Verily. See note on Matthew 5:18. This generation. See note on Matthew 11:16.

till all be fulfilled = till (Greek. eos an) all may possiblyto pass. (Not the same word as "fulfilled" in Luke 21:24.) Had the nation repented at Peter"s call, in Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19-26, "all that the prophets had spoken" would have come to pass.

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Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Luke 21:32". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/luke-21.html. 1909-1922.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled.
11:50,51; Matthew 16:28; 23:36; 24:34; Mark 13:30
Reciprocal: Zechariah 11:10 - Beauty;  Matthew 5:18 - verily;  Luke 21:7 - when

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Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Luke 21:32". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/luke-21.html.