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1914 - This Generation will not come to pass.

The most recent flip flop on dogma that the Watchtower has made has been on their interpretation of Matthew 24:34 "Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur. " (NWT)

Until recently the Watchtower taught that the generation who witnessed Jesus’ second coming in the year 1914 would not die before the day of Armageddon. As time ticked by it became obvious that the Watchtower would have to change their views on this as time was running out for this prophecy to come true. At the time of writing this there are only 4 surviving UK soldiers who fought in the first world war.

Initially in the 1940’s the Watchtower’s definition of a generation was 37 years.  The Watchtower got this from subtracting the date of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. from the death of Jesus in 33 A.D. One year after 1951 (1914 + 37) the Watchtower received new light and revised their definition of generation to equal 70-80 years(three score years and ten)

One year after 1994 (1914 +80) the Watchtower has to revise their definition of a generation again.  This time the Watchtower comes up with the figure of 120 years. The 120 years come from parallels drawn between the now and the time when flood struck in Noah’s day.

The First quote below you will see that the Watchtower starts off with a generation equaling 37 years

Watchtower, Sept. 1 1950 p 277;

By keeping the people ignorant they led them into having Jesus killed on a torture stake at Calvary. Thirty-seven years later this willfully cultivated ignorance led to its fatal consequences, the destruction of the city of Jerusalem with an enormous loss of human lives, just as Jesus had predicted, and the breaking up of the Jewish nation till this day. And now in this "time of the end" the revived nation of Israel with capital at the modern city of Jerusalem chooses to go on in the steps of its forefathers . . ."

[Emphasis added]

Watchtower, July 1, 1951, p. 404

"The length of time is indicated by him when he said, "Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur." (Matt. 24:34) The actual meaning of these words is, beyond question, that which takes a "generation" in the ordinary sense, as at Mark 8:12 and Acts 13:36, or for those who are living at the given period."

 [Emphasis added]

Watchtower, April 1 1951 p 214

"Counting from the end of the "appointed times of the nations" in 1914, we are 37 years into the "time of the end" of this world. (Luke 21:24, Dan. 12:4) During these crucial years Jehovah's witnesses have sought shelter and strength in him, and they can confess for themselves that he is a "well-proved help in trouble". If it were not for this, they would not be here today nor increasing in numbers. But we are entering the most serious and trialsome years of this "time of the end". The final conflict of Armageddon draws near." (Watchtower, Feb 15, 2024 p 179) "WHEREAS the "appointed times of the nations" ended in 1914, it is now 37 years that we have been in the "time of the end" of Satan's world."

 [Emphasis added]

Now for the flip flop to 70/80 years

Watchtower, Sept. 1 1952 pp 542-543

Webster's unabridged dictionary gives, in part, this definition of generation: "The average lifetime of man, or the ordinary period of time at which one rank follows another, or father is succeeded by child; an age. A generation is usually taken to be about 33 years." But the Bible is not so specific. It gives no number of years for a generation. And in Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30 and Luke 21:32, the texts mentioning the generation the question refers to, we are not to take generation as meaning the average time for one generation to be succeeded by the next, as Webster's does in its 33-year approximation; but rather more like Webster's first-quoted definition, "the average lifetime of man." Three or even four generations may be living at the same time, their lives overlapping. (Ps. 78:4; 145:4) Before the Noachian flood the life span was hundreds of years. Down through the centuries since, it has varied, and even now is different in different countries. The Bible does speak of a man's days as being threescore and ten or fourscore years; but it assigns no specific number of years to a generation. - Ps. 90:10.

[Emphasis added]

Watchtower, Sept. 1 1952 pp 542-543

To try to say how many years before its end would be speculative. The texts merely set a limit that is sufficiently definite for all present practical purposes. Some persons living A.D. 1914 when the series of foretold events began will also be living when the series ends with Armageddon. All the events will come within the span of a generation. There are hundreds of millions of persons living now that were living in 1914, and many millions of these persons could yet live a score or more years. Just when the lives of the majority of them will be cut short by Armageddon we cannot say.

Awake! 1962 September 22 p.27 'This Generation Will Not Pass'

[...] But what "generation" did Christ have in mind?

Was Jesus using the word "generation" in a symbolic way? No we should not say that the word "generation" here has a symbolic meaning and that it refers, for example, to persons of the spiritual body of Christ exclusively, or only to the true Christian organization itself

The word "generation" at Matthew 24:34 is to be viewed in an ordinary sense, as at Acts 13:36 and Mark 8:12. Acts 13:36 speaks of David's very own generation, a literal generation. The generation of persons living in Jesus' time, person who sought a sign, according to Mark 8:12, was a literal generation. That a symbolic application to a "generation" of wicked persons is not meant at Matthew 24:34 is apparent when we read the preceding verse: "Likewise also you, when you see all these things, know that he is near at the doors." It is the generation of persons who "see all these things" to whom Jesus refers in verse 34, irrespective of whether such persons are righteous or wicked. Since Jesus was foretelling conditions prevailing now at the world's time of the end, the generation now living is the one to which he pointed forward in his prophecy of the last days.

Bible prophecies indicate that Christ was installed as the King of God's heavenly kingdom in 1914. Without delay, the newly enthroned Potentate waged ware against the Devil and his demons, resulting in their ouster from the heavens. (Rev. 12:7-9) The "generation" of Matthew 24:34 includes persons alive at the time that the war in heaven began in 1914. All who were living or who came on the scene around that time are part of that generation. Members of that generation will see the end of this world.

It should be noted, however, that the world's end does not come after the end of that generation. It comes within that generation. Jesus himself said that the generation would not pass away "until all these things occur." "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." (Matt. 24:32, 33) The happenings that he foretold do not indicate that the end would come in the next generation; they are 'the sign of his presence' and of the impending end of the old world. The generation living in 1914, millions of whom are still alive on earth, will be living when the end comes at Armageddon.

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1967 December 15 p.751 "In All the Nations the Good News Has to Be Preached First"

28 By that expression Jesus was not referring to the entire church or congregation of his faithful disciples, from the day of Pentecost of 33 C.E. until the glorification in heaven of the last member of Christ's congregation. True, the apostle Peter wrote to the Christian congregation and said: "You are 'a chosen race [génos].'" (1 Pet. 2:9) But that race or generation would by now be a race or generation over nineteen hundreds of years old. The life length of such a generation would not be a brief time, and so it would not be confined to a limited time of tremendous urgency. However, the expression "this generation" was used by Jesus to mark a very limited period of time, the life-span of members of a generation of people living during the time that certain epoch-making events occurred. According to Psalm 90:10, that life-span could be of seventy years or even of eighty years.

29 Into this comparatively short period of time must be crowded all the things that Jesus prophesied in answer to the request for a "sign when all these things are destined to come to a conclusion." (Mark 13:4) Because of its being a part of the "sign," the preaching of the "good news" first in all the nations must be a special preaching that is carried on to a finish during the lifetime of "this generation." It must, therefore, be an urgent work, which fact is one reason why it must be done "first."

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1968 December 1 p.715 Putting First the Preaching of the Good News

By foretelling that this good news of the established kingdom must first be preached, Jesus indicated urgency. And so Jehovah's witnesses must be urgent about preaching the good news, for the remaining time is reduced. Satan is working hard, for he knows that he has but a short period of time left. (Rev. 12:12) How much more so should Jesus' true followers be working extra hard, since they too know that the time left for preaching this good news of the Kingdom is getting ever shorter! It is not reasonable to expect that present favorable conditions for preaching the good news will continue indefinitely. Besides, did not Jesus say that this generation will not pass away until all things are fulfilled? A generation, according to Psalm 90:10, is from seventy to eighty years. The generation that witnessed the end of the Gentile Times in 1914 does not have many more years left.—Luke 21:24, 32-36.

[Emphasis Added]

The Truth That Leads To Eternal Life (book, 1968) chap. 11 pp. 94-95 The Last Days of This Wicked System of Things

The Last Days of This Wicked System of Things

THE Bible speaks of the time in which we are living as the "last days" or the "time of the end." (2 Timothy 3:1; Daniel 11:40) The facts show that this is a limited period that has a definite beginning and a definite end. It began in 1914 when Jesus Christ was enthroned as king in the heavens. It will end when God destroys this present wicked system of things. What a relief it will be when the organizations and persons that cheat and oppress, and all who endanger the security of their fellowmen, are gone!

2 How soon will that be? God's own Son, Jesus Christ, gives the answer. After drawing attention to the many things that mark the period from 1914 onward as the "time of the end," Jesus said: "This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur." (Matthew 24:34) Which generation did he mean?

3 Jesus had just referred to persons who would "see all these things." "These things" are the events that have taken place since 1914 and those yet to occur down to the end of this wicked system. (Matthew 24:33) Persons born even as much as fifty years ago could not see "all these things." They came on the scene after the foretold events were already under way. But there are people still living who were alive in 1914 and saw what was happening then and who were old enough that they still remember those events. This generation is getting up in years now. A great number of them have already passed away in death. Yet Jesus very pointedly said: "This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur." Some of them will still be alive to see the end of this wicked system. This means that only a short time is left before the end comes! (Psalm 90:10 [89:10, Dy]) So now is the time to take urgent action if you do not want to be swept away with this wicked system.

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1988 October 15 p.4 The Sign—Are You Heeding It?

Guarding Against Impatience

No human can work out the date for the end of the present wicked system. "Concerning that day or the hour," Jesus said, "nobody knows, neither the angels in heaven nor the Son, but the Father."—Mark 13:32, 33.

Might it be, though, that the sign could occur over the span of many human generations? No. The sign is to occur during one particular generation. The same generation that witnessed the beginning of the sign will also witness its climax in "a tribulation such as has not occurred from the beginning of the creation." Three historians, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, recorded Jesus? assurance of this.—Mark 13:19, 30; Matthew 24:13, 21, 22, 34; Luke 21:28, 32.

There is, however, the danger of becoming impatient. Seventy-four years have passed since the outbreak of World War I in 1914. From a human viewpoint, this may seem a very long time. But some eagle-eyed Christians who saw World War I are still very much alive. Their generation has not passed away.

[Emphasis Added]

Awake! masthead from March 1988 until October 22 1995

Most important, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator's promise of a peaceful and secure new world before the generation that saw the events of 1914 passes away.


Awake! masthead November 8 1995 (and subsequent)

Most important, this magazine builds confidence in the Creator's promise of a peaceful and secure new world that is about to replace the present wicked, lawless system of things.

[Emphasis Added]

The Watchtower’s Web site 18th January 2006 - God's Purpose Soon to Be Realized - How Close Are We?

How long a time period would these last days prove to be? Jesus said regarding the era that would experience the "beginning of pangs of distress" from 1914 onward: "This generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur." (Matthew 24:8, 34-36) Thus, all the features of the last days must take place within the lifetime of one generation, the generation of 1914. So some people who were alive in 1914 will still be alive when this system comes to its end. That generation of people is now very advanced in years, indicating that there is not much time left before God brings this present system of things to an end.

[Emphasis added]


Despite the above quote which was seen on the Watchtower’s web site early 2006, one year after the 80 year generation was up the Watchtower say it is unwise to speculate about the length of a generation.  But they can’t help themselves making a suggestion that it may be as much as the time period Noah had to wait for the flood (120 years) 

Watchtower 1995 November 1 pp.16-20 A Time to Keep Awake

"Keep on the Watch"!

5 After prophesying events leading up to a time of "great tribulation," Jesus added: "Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father." (Matthew 24:3-36; Mark 13:3-32) We do not need to know the exact timing of events. Rather, our focus must be on being watchful, cultivating strong faith, and keeping busy in Jehovah's service—not on calculating a date. Jesus concluded his great prophecy by saying: "Keep looking, keep awake, for you do not know when the appointed time is. . . . Keep on the watch . . . What I say to you I say to all, Keep on the watch." (Mark 13:33-37) Danger lurks in the shadows of today's world. We must keep awake!—Romans 13:11-13.

6 Not only must we pay attention to the inspired prophecies concerning these final days of a wicked system but we must anchor our faith primarily on the precious sacrifice of Christ Jesus and God's marvelous promises based thereon. (Hebrews 6:17-19; 9:14; 1 Peter 1:18, 19; 2 Peter 1:16-19) Eager to see the end of this evil system, Jehovah's people have at times speculated about the time when the "great tribulation" would break out, even tying this to calculations of what is the lifetime of a generation since 1914. However, we "bring a heart of wisdom in," not by speculating about how many years or days make up a generation, but by thinking about how we "count our days" in bringing joyful praise to Jehovah. (Psalm 90:12) Rather than provide a rule for measuring time, the term "generation" as used by Jesus refers principally to contemporary people of a certain historical period, with their identifying characteristics.

7 In line with the above, professor of history Robert Wohl wrote in his book The Generation of 1914: "A historical generation is not defined by its chronological limits . . . It is not a zone of dates." But he pointed out that World War I created "an overwhelming sense of rupture with the past," and he added: "Those who lived through the war could never rid themselves of the belief that one world had ended and another begun in August 1914." How true that is! It focuses on the crux of the matter. "This generation" of mankind since 1914 has experienced appalling changes. It has seen the earth drenched with the blood of millions. Warfare, genocide, terrorism, crime, and lawlessness have erupted worldwide. Famine, disease, and immorality have stalked our globe. Jesus prophesied: "You also, when you [his disciples] see these things occurring, know that the kingdom of God is near. Truly I say to you, This generation will by no means pass away until all things occur."—Luke 21:31, 32.

8 Yes, the complete triumph of the Messianic Kingdom is at hand! Is anything to be gained, then, by looking for dates or by speculating about the literal lifetime of a "generation"? Far from it! Habakkuk 2:3 clearly states: "The vision is yet for the appointed time, and it keeps panting on to the end, and it will not tell a lie. Even if it should delay, keep in expectation of it; for it will without fail come true. It will not be late." Jehovah's day of accounting hastens ever closer.—Jeremiah 25:31-33; Malachi 4:1.

9 When Christ's Kingdom rule began in 1914, Satan was hurled down to earth. This has meant "woe for the earth . . . because the Devil has come down to you, having great anger, knowing he has a short period of time." (Revelation 12:12) That time is short, indeed, compared with the thousands of years of Satan's rulership. The Kingdom is at hand, and so is Jehovah's day and hour for executing judgment on this wicked generation!—Proverbs 3:25; 10:24, 25.

The "Generation" That Passes Away

10 Let us examine more closely Jesus' statement at Matthew 24:34, 35: "Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away." Jesus' words that follow show that 'nobody knows that day and hour.' Far more important, he shows that we must avoid the snares surrounding us in this generation. Thus Jesus adds: "For just as the days of Noah were, so the presence of the Son of man will be. For as they were in those days before the flood, eating and drinking, men marrying and women being given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark; and they took no note until the flood came and swept them all away, so the presence of the Son of man will be." (Matthew 24:36-39) Jesus here compared the generation of his day to that of Noah's day.—Genesis 6:5, 9; footnote.

11 This was not the first time that the apostles heard Jesus make this comparison of 'generations,' for some days earlier he had stated concerning himself: "The Son of man . . . must undergo many sufferings and be rejected by this generation. Moreover, just as it occurred in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of man." (Luke 17:24-26) Thus, Matthew chapter 24 and Luke chapter 17 make the same comparison. In Noah's day "all flesh [that] had ruined its way on the earth" and that was destroyed at the Flood was "this generation." In Jesus' day the apostate Jewish people that were rejecting Jesus was "this generation."—Genesis 6:11, 12; 7:1.

12 Therefore, in the final fulfillment of Jesus' prophecy today, "this generation" apparently refers to the peoples of earth who see the sign of Christ's presence but fail to mend their ways. In contrast, we as Jesus' disciples refuse to be molded by the life-style of "this generation." Though in the world, we must be no part of it, "for the appointed time is near." (Revelation 1:3; John 17:16) The apostle Paul admonishes us: "Keep doing all things free from murmurings and arguments, that you may come to be blameless and innocent, children of God without a blemish in among a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you are shining as illuminators in the world." —Philippians 2:14, 15; Colossians 3:5-10; 1 John 2:15-17.

13 Our "shining as illuminators" includes not only displaying a clean Christian personality but, above all, fulfilling Jesus' prophetic commission: "This good news of the kingdom will be preached in all the inhabited earth for a witness to all the nations; and then the end will come." (Matthew 24:14) No human can say when that end will be, but we know that the end of "this generation" of wicked people will come once the witness has been given to God's satisfaction "to the most distant part of the earth."—Acts 1:8.

"That Day and Hour"

14 When the global witness has been accomplished to the extent Jehovah purposes, it will be his "day and hour" to dispose of this world's system. We do not need to know the date in advance. Thus, following Jesus' example, the apostle Paul admonished: "Now as for the times and the seasons, brothers, you need nothing to be written to you. For you yourselves know quite well that Jehovah's day is coming exactly as a thief in the night. Whenever it is that they are saying: 'Peace and security!' then sudden destruction is to be instantly upon them just as the pang of distress upon a pregnant woman; and they will by no means escape." Note Paul's focus: 'It is when they are saying.' Yes, when there is talk of "peace and security," when it is least expected, God's judgment will suddenly be executed. How appropriate is Paul's advice: "So, then, let us not sleep on as the rest do, but let us stay awake and keep our senses"!—1 Thessalonians 5:1-3, 6; see also verses 7-11; Acts 1:7.

15 Does our more precise viewpoint on "this generation" mean that Armageddon is further away than we had thought? Not at all! Though we at no time have known the "day and hour," Jehovah God has always known it, and he does not change. (Malachi 3:6) Obviously, the world is sinking further and further toward terminal ruination. The need to keep awake is more critical than it has ever been. Jehovah has revealed to us "the things that must shortly take place," and we should respond with an absorbing sense of urgency.—Revelation 1:1; 11:18; 16:14, 16.

16 As the time approaches, keep awake, for Jehovah is about to bring calamity on all of Satan's system! (Jeremiah 25:29-31) Jehovah says: "I shall certainly magnify myself and sanctify myself and make myself known before the eyes of many nations; and they will have to know that I am Jehovah." (Ezekiel 38:23) That decisive "day of Jehovah" draws near!—Joel 1:15; 2:1, 2; Amos 5:18-20; Zephaniah 2:2, 3.

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 2003 December 15 pp.14-19 Our Watchfulness Takes On Greater Urgency

In Noah's day, Jehovah declared: "My spirit shall not act toward man indefinitely in that he is also flesh. Accordingly his days shall amount to a hundred and twenty years." (Genesis 6:3) The issuance of this divine decree in 2490 B.C.E. marked the beginning of the end for that ungodly world. Just think what that meant for those then living! Only 120 years more and Jehovah would bring "the deluge of waters upon the earth to bring to ruin all flesh in which the force of life is active from under the heavens."—Genesis 6:17.

7 Noah received the warning of the upcoming catastrophe decades in advance, and he wisely used the time to prepare for survival. "After being given divine warning of things not yet beheld," says the apostle Paul, "[Noah] showed godly fear and constructed an ark for the saving of his household." (Hebrews 11:7) What about us? Some 90 years have passed since the last days of this system of things began in 1914. We are certainly in "the time of the end." (Daniel 12:4) How should we respond to warnings we have been given? "He that does the will of God remains forever," states the Bible. (1 John 2:17) Now is therefore the time to do Jehovah's will with a keen sense of urgency.

[Emphasis added]

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