Translation of Matthew 24:34
Matthew 24:34 (KJV)
The interpretation of the above Passage is EXTREMELY important to the Preterist who unwisely suggest that ALL of the events of Jesus’ prophetic Olivet Discourse are now ‘fulfilled’ and past.
However, this may NOT necessarily be the case because they are basing their assumption on a questionable and debatable translation of the greek word ‘ginomai’ translated as ‘fulfilled’ in the above related Passage. Per definition the greek word gignomai is a very flexible verb and can be as neutral as a synonym for the verb "to be", or as specific as a synonym for the verb "to be born". Thus, this colorful verb can potentially mean many things.
ginomai, Greek 1096, Strong’s
ginomai, ghin'-om-ahee; a prolonged and middle form of a primary verb; to cause to be (“gen”-erate), i.e. (reflexive) to become (come into being), used with great latitude (literal, figurative, intensive, etc.) :- arise, be assembled, be (-come, -fall, -have self), be brought (to pass), (be) come (to pass), continue, be divided, draw, be ended, fall, be finished, follow, be found, be fulfilled, + God forbid, grow, happen, have, be kept, be made, be married, be ordained to be, partake, pass, be performed, be published, require, seem, be showed, × soon as it was, sound, be taken, be turned, use, wax, will, would, be wrought.
Therefore, in the context of a continuing series of events ("event" being the key), Matthew is anticipating that we the reader will easily realize that gignomai here means the "happening / becoming / coming to pass" of those events.
Thus, what one can reasonably suggest is that Jesus was prophetically revealing in Matt. 24 that the prophetic events He had described would ALREADY be in progress - happening/becoming/coming to pass - even before the generation in question (the one of that day) would come to an end.
Going forward, posted below is Matt. 24:34 from the respected Interlinear Scripture Analyzer (ISA) and as you can see Strong’s 1096 greek ‘ginomai’ is a – Verb, 2nd Aorist, Middle Voice, Deponent, Subjunctive Mood, 3rd Person Singular. The verb ‘ginomai’ is translated as ‘may be becoming’ with respect to the greek subjunctive mood (may).
Hence, the greek subjunctive is the mood of “probability and possibility,” and its occurrence is conditional upon a person’s free will to make it happen. The aorist subjunctive can be defined as an event that will punctuate the succession of history if an individual is faithful to accomplish it as an act of their free will.
To reiterate Matt. 24:34 is declaring that the events of the Olivet Discourse would already be 'occurring' even before the generation of the day of Jesus passed away (emphasis added).
“Thus, what one can reasonably suggest is that Jesus was prophetically revealing in Matt. 24 that the prophetic events He had described would ALREADY be in progress - happening/becoming/coming to pass - even before the generation in question (the one of that day) would come to an end.”
Meanwhile, the Preterists suggest that the greek word ‘ginomai’ CANNOT be accurately grammatically translated with respect to Matt. 24:34, Mk 13:30, and Lk. 21:32 as happening/becoming/coming to pass.
Going forward, here is a list of Scriptures in the KJV that uses this same EXACT greek word ‘ginomai’ and its same EXACT grammatical tense (v 2nd Aor midD Sub 3rd Sg) as used in Matt. 24:34 Mk 13:30, and Lk. 21:32. Do you see any of the 41 referenced Passages translated as ‘fulfilled’ – try plugging fulfilled into these following Passages.
Matt. 10:25, 18:12-13, 21:19, 23:15, 23:26, 24:20-21, 24:32, 26:5, Mk. 9:50, 13:18-19, 28, Lk. 1-20, 4:3, 14:12, 20:14, 23:31, Jn. 5:14, 9:22, 13:19, 14:29, Acts 20:16, Romans 3:19, 7:3, 7:13, 15:16, 1Cor. 3:18, 8:9, 9:15, 16:10, 2Cor. 8:14, Gal. 3:14, Eph. 6:3, Col. 1:18, 1Thes. 3:5, 2Thes. 2:7, Phil. 1:6, Heb. 2:17.
With respect to the English word 'generation' used in Matthew 24:34, we find that the English word ‘generation’ has undergone a somewhat semantic transformation so that the meaning of the word today is much more narrow than that compared to the Greek word ‘genea’.
For example, the older Oxford English dictionary relates the following now obsolete (latest attested use 1727) definition of the word ‘generation’ which is defined as a ‘class, kind or set of persons’. The Strong’s greek meaning of the word ‘genea’ also echoes this same definition – the persons of an age where the timeframe of the ‘age’ is used in a broad and figurative sense – i.e., from the foundation of the world, form Abel to Zacharias, etc. (emphasis added) .
genea, Greek 1074, Strong’s
genea, ghen-eh-ah'; from (a presumed derivative of) Greek 1085 (genos); a generation; by implication an age (the period or the persons) :- age, generation, nation, time.
Therefore, a ‘generation’ can reasonably be assumed to be ‘a group of people with a common bond or characteristic; a certain class or type of people’. This definition is well supported and evidenced in the OT with respect to Proverbs 30:11-14 which details four different types/classifications of people (NOT race nor time but class).
Moreover, Jesus declared in Lk. 11:50 that the blood of ALL of the prophets slain from the foundation of the world would be required of ‘this generation’.
We must ask, how could a narrowly defined generation (the Jews present in Jesus’ day) be accountable for the shedding of ALL of the blood of the prophets from the foundation of the world? To this end, Jesus declares over and over again that ‘this generation’ in question to be a ‘wicked and adulterous generation’ (class of people) which also included their fathers.
Going forward, here are several NT Scriptural examples of where the greek word ‘genea’ is used to suggest a ‘class of people’. (emphasis added)
The important contextual clue to the characteristic of the group of people referred to in the above Passage is the word ‘their’ which qualifies genea. Therefore, the NIV, NEB and JB have translated it as ‘dealing with people of their own kind.’ Thus, the suggestion is ‘people like themselves in their worldliness’.
Here in Acts 2:40 the contextual clue is a ‘untoward/crooked generation’ – a crooked group of people. Hence, ‘disassociate yourselves from those wicked people and be saved.’
The contextual clue to the above Passage is the characteristic feature of the group of people referred to as a ‘crooked and perverse’ generation. The GNB translates Philip. 2:15 as, “in a world of corrupt and sinful people.” Meanwhile, the NLT has “a dark world full of crooked and perverse people.”
Again the characteristic feature of the people referred to in Matt. 17:17 is shown by the qualifiers ‘faithless and perverse’. The NLT translates it as “You stubborn, faithless people!” Nonetheless, the actual reference being made by Jesus was to the ‘character/classification’ of His disciples.
8:12, Matt. 16:4, Lk. 11:29)
As noted before, the above characteristics of the people referred to are shown by the qualifiers of an ‘evil and spiritually adulterous generation’.
In summary, I suggest that the above body of evidence more than amply supports the translation of Matthew 24:34 as being one of prophetic events in progress even before the passing of the generation of Jesus' day.