I would like to draw attention to the verse below from Matthew 23: 36 I assure you: "All these things will come on this generation!" In Matthew 23, Jesus is speaking to the crowds assembled and his disciples, and he is upbraiding the Pharisees. Here he brings his harsh criticism to a climax: "and you say, 'If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we wouldn't have taken part with them in shedding the prophets' blood.' You, therefore, testify against yourselves that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers' sins! "Snakes! Brood of vipers! How can you escape being condemned to hell/Gehenna? This is why I am sending you prophets, sages, and scribes. Some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will flog in your synagogues and hound from town to town. So all the righteous blood shed on the earth will be charged to you, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. I assure you: All these things will come on this generation!" (Matthew 23:30-36 HCSB) He is not addressing a future generation of scribes and Pharisees, he is speaking specifically about that generation of scribes and Pharisees that is alive at his speaking.
It is really absurd to take three verses out of 28 and claim that generation there does not mean generation but rather it means "this kind" of people. It is also absurd to claim that it is the generation alive at the time of the end. So then, perhaps it would be wiser to find ways that all of Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21 were fulfilled. These three chapters are known as the little apocalypses. Take for example Jesus' words: Snakes! Brood of vipers! How can you escape being condemned to hell/Gehenna? When Jesus was speaking about Gehenna he WAS NOT referring to eternal torturous punishment, but rather, the impending judgment that was immediately to come on that generation. I have written a couple of blog posts on Jesus use of the word Gehenna that is translated here as hell. I am not suggesting that everyone is saved though as it is possible that some will simply be annihilated at death but he is definitely not referring to eternal torture as so many claim.
Here's the way I see it. I have had a long term personal relationship with Jesus spanning most of my life. I know he is real, and I know that the real gospel is true. Therefore, he cannot, as so many liberal theologians say just be plain wrong about this prophecy. The only alternative, is to try to find a way in which it all came to pass. Jesus, not some groups interpretation of the scripture is my focal point. Many of those that insist that he meant something other than "a generation" in the main definition of the world, do so because they are actually more interested in the integrity of the scripture than the integrity of Jesus. They insist that the end of the world has not come. That is true. But, Jesus was NOT predicting the end of the space time universe. He was predicting the end of the age. Most specifically, he was predicting the end of the age of the Mosaic Covenant with the replacement of it by the New Covenant. The Old Testament equates the Old Covenant with heaven and earth (Deu 4:26 & 30:19.) Heaven and earth is the witness of the covenant. Therefore, the "New Heaven and Earth" is a witness to the New Covenant. It is indeed that simple. The scripture is full of figurative language, and this is especially true of apocalyptic writing. Taking the plain simple interpretation is perilous when it comes to things like Heaven's being rolled up and fire rained down. And, not taking the simple plain interpretation of words like generation is equally perilous.
Here is my challenge: Read all the passages below, in context if you are willing, but read the verses for sure. Then ask yourself what did generation mean in each verse. Then look in the mirror and consider your integrity as a honest person.
Mat_11:16 "To what should I compare this generation? It's like children sitting in the marketplaces who call out to each other:
Mat_12:39 But He answered them, "An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.
Mat_12:41 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at Jonah's proclamation; and look--something greater than Jonah is here!
Mat_12:42 The queen of the south will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and look--something greater than Solomon is here!
Mat_12:45 Then off it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and settle down there. As a result, that man's last condition is worse than the first. That's how it will also be with this evil generation."
Mat_16:4 An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah." Then He left them and went away.
Mat_17:17 Jesus replied, "You unbelieving and rebellious generation! How long will I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him here to Me."
Mat_23:36 I assure you: All these things will come on this generation!
Mat_24:34 I assure you: This generation will certainly not pass away until all these things take place.
Mar_8:12 But sighing deeply in His spirit, He said, "Why does this generation demand a sign? I assure you: No sign will be given to this generation!"
Mar_8:38 For whoever is ashamed of Me and of My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels."
Mar_9:19 He replied to them, "You unbelieving generation! How long will I be with you? How long must I put up with you? Bring him to Me."
Mar_13:30 I assure you: This generation will certainly not pass away until all these things take place.
Luk_1:50 His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear Him.
Luk_7:31 "To what then should I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like?
Luk_9:41 Jesus replied, "You unbelieving and rebellious generation! How long will I be with you and put up with you? Bring your son here."
Luk_11:29 As the crowds were increasing, He began saying: "This generation is an evil generation. It demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.
Luk_11:30 For just as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so also the Son of Man will be to this generation.
Luk_11:31 The queen of the south will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and look--something greater than Solomon is here!
Luk_11:32 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at Jonah's proclamation, and look--something greater than Jonah is here!
Luk_11:50 so that this generation may be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets shed since the foundation of the world --
Luk_11:51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. "Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible.
Luk_17:25 But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
Luk_21:32 I assure you: This generation will certainly not pass away until all things take place.
Act_2:40 And with many other words he testified and strongly urged them, saying, "Be saved from this corrupt generation!"
Act_8:33 In His humiliation justice was denied Him. Who will describe His generation? For His life is taken from the earth.
Act_13:36 For David, after serving his own generation in God's plan, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and decayed.
Php_2:15 so that you may be blameless and pure, children of God who are faultless in a crooked and perverted generation, among whom you shine like stars in the world.
Heb_3:10 for 40 years. Therefore I was provoked with that generation and said, "They always go astray in their hearts, and they have not known My ways."
Jud_1:14 And Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied about them: Look! The Lord comes with thousands of His holy ones