The September 2015 broadcast on tv.jw.org featured governing body member, David Splain, speaking about the scriptures at Matt 24:33, 34:
33 Likewise also you, when you see all these things, know that he is near at the doors. 34 Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things happen.
Let us examine what was discussed in the first 14 minutes of this broadcast by David Splain.
He begins by asking, “What are ‘all these things’ that Jesus was referring to?” David Splain mentions that one has to look at the context of those verses. That is correct. One can only agree that the previous verses would explain what ‘all these things’ entailed. Mr. Splain refers to verses 6-8.
6 You are going to hear of wars and reports of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for these things must take place, but the end is not yet. 7 “For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another. 8 All these things are a beginning of pangs of distress.
But is there more? According to Mr. Splain, the answer is yes. He speaks about a great tribulation that must also be experienced by that generation. “That is interesting, that is relevant to us”, says David Splain.
He then begins to ‘Splain (pun intended) what a generation is. He obviously forgot to mention the rest of the signs that would make up ‘all these things’, such as:
- Then people will hand you over to tribulation and will kill you, and you will be hated by all the nations on account of my name.Matt 24:9 – people would kill Jesus followers
- Then, too, many will be stumbled and will betray one another and will hate one another.Matt 24:10 – many would be stumbled and betrayed
- Many false prophets will arise and mislead many;Matt 24:11 – false prophets would arise and mislead many
- and because of the increasing of lawlessness, the love of the greater number will grow cold.Matt 24:12 – love would become cold
- But the one who has endured to the end will be saved.Matt 24:13 – endurance to the end means salvation
- And 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.Matt 24:9 – the good news would be preached
Then there are the verses 15-22 that I find interesting. Those verses tell us about the destruction of Jerusalem. Jesus even refers to a prophecy by the prophet Daniel. When Judeans saw a disgusting thing standing in a holy place, they were to flee to the mountains. Did this occur during that generation? It certainly did! In 66 A.D. the Roman army plundered the temple in Jerusalem and executed thousands as well. This prompted a full-scale rebellion and the Roman armies were forced to retreat. This was the Judeans opportunity to flee to the mountains because the Romans returned four years later, in 70 A.D., and destroyed the temple and devastated Jerusalem.
So how could Mr. Splain say later in the broadcast that ‘all these things’ that Jesus mentioned in Matt 24 occurred in 1914?
Next, David Splain begins to speak about what ‘this generation’ meant. He asks his viewers to think of a scripture and pauses for a few seconds to let the viewers think of one. His own choice was Exodus 1:6:
Joseph eventually died, and also all his brothers and all that generation.
David Splain speaks of the lifespan of Joseph and his brothers. He says that they were all contemporaries and had all lived at the same time, therefore part of the same generation.
He then goes on to ‘splain about a person that had died 10 minutes before Joseph was born and a baby that was born 10 minutes after Joseph died. These would not be part of Joseph’s generation because they did not live at the same time Joseph did and were not contemporaries. He tells the viewer what makes up a generation – a group of contemporaries, a group of people who have lived at the same time.
This is how dictionary.com defines these two words, generation and contemporaries:
Many current and ex Jehovah’s Witnesses believe that there is a more accurate bible definition of a generation. It is found in the same bible book that Mr. Splain had been discussing, Matt 1:17:
All the generations, then, from Abraham until David were 14 generations; from David until the deportation to Babylon, 14 generations; from the deportation to Babylon until the Christ, 14 generations.
Lets use some simple math. The following comes from a YouTube channel that I recommend called Spike R. Using the Watchtower, Bible & Tract Society’s (WTBTS) deportation of Babylon – there are actually three separate deportations – but lets use the 607 B.C.E. date as the deportation, for argument sake, as Mr. Splain would like to use in his presentation. 607 years until Christ, divided by 14 generations, would give us 43.3 years per generation. That would fit closely to what we normally think of in a generation, about 30 years, as mentioned at dictionary.com.
But Jesus said that ‘this generation’ would by no means pass away until ‘all these things’ would occur. So did Jesus have in mind a group of overlapping anointed Adventist offshoots nearly 2,000 years later whose lives would overlap the lives of those whom discerned a 1914 date as Christ’s Return by measuring a pyramid in Egypt?
Matt 24:32-34 explains:
32 Now learn this illustration from the fig tree: Just as soon as its young branch grows tender and sprouts its leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 Likewise also you, when you see all these things, know that he is near at the doors. 34 Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things happen.
David Splain then, in a very elementary fashion, expounds on the illustration of a fig tree. He describes how a small child does not know the significance of sprouting leaves, but an older person knows that it means summer is near. Likewise, when you see ‘all these things’, ALL the things mentioned previously in that chapter, know that he is near at the doors. Again, he speaks about ‘all these things’ and asks, “When did ALL these things begin to appear?” His answer? 1914. Let’s ask: when did Judeans begin fleeing to the mountains in 1914?
David Splain seemed to be stuck on the idea that ‘all these things’ only included You are going to hear of wars and reports of wars. See that you are not alarmed, for these things must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be food shortages and earthquakes in one place after another. All these things are a beginning of pangs of distress.Matt 24:6-8 that speaks of wars, famine, earthquakes. All means ALL, not some, or most. Jesus said ALL these things would happen. So here is the point, as Mr. Splain asks, “Who were the only ones who saw these various aspects of the signs, and drew the right conclusion, that something invisible was occurring? Only the anointed.”
How could someone “see all these things” happening if it were invisible? Are wars invisible? Are famines invisible? Are earthquakes in one place after another invisible? Was the fleeing of Judeans invisible? David Splain’s interpretation is hogwash!
And did Jesus say that ONLY anointed ones would see all these things? Absolutely not! He simply said that ‘this generation’, and we all know what a generation means, not some overlapping generation(s), as David Splain tries to ‘splain next.
At this point in the broadcast, David Splain begins to mention Fredrick W Franz, who lived from 1893-1992, and his ‘first generation’ and ‘second generation’ of anointed contemporaries, all of whom were mentioned are now all dead. One may be reminded of a certain Watchtower cover that may have had a picture of old anointed Jehovah’s Witnesses who would not pass away before the end would come, yet, all did pass away.
Now, if your confused and your head spinning, then you’re not the only one. But just in case you still cannot grasp this teaching, Mr. Splain used a simplified chart to ‘splain this nonsense, using terms such as ‘we just don’t know’, ‘lets suppose’, and ‘for argument sake’. Does this sound like someone we should put our complete trust in? Does it sound like someone who is being directed by God?
Here is my opinion of those verses. And let’s be clear: I am in no way a bible scholar.
- Now as Jesus was departing from the temple, his disciples approached to show him the buildings of the temple. In response he said to them: 'Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, by no means will a stone be left here upon a stone and not be thrown down.Matt 24:1, 2 – Jesus foretells that the temple in Jerusalem will be completely destroyed.
- While he was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples approached him privately, saying:' Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your presence and of the conclusion of the system of things?Matt 24:3 – His disciples asked Jesus private when this would happen, when would the conclusion of this system of things be, the system of worship at the temple that Jesus just previously stated would be destroyed.
- Matt 24:4-14 – things to look for
- Matt 24:15-22 – foretelling the Roman invasion and destruction
- Matt 24:23-28 – false prophets and false Christs would arise and mislead many
- Matt 24:29-31 – poetic visions of the aftermath of the conclusion of the system of things, the Jewish worship at the temple.
- Matt 24:32-35 – take note of all the signs because that generation, the generation living at that time, would not pass away until Jerusalem was destroyed. “All these things’ were fulfilled in 70 A.D., not in 1914.
Those are my opinions. I hope my ‘splaining of these verses does not confuse you as much as this episode of JW Broadcasting did for me. I’ll end this blog with a spin of a famous quote from the show, I Love Lucy:
“David Splain, you have some ‘Splaining to do!”