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Parable of the Fig Tree

Matthew 24:32-35
32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

Matthew 24:32-35 presents a parable that has created many interpretations among scholars. What does the fig tree symbolize?

There appear to be three generally accepted possibilities as to the meaning of "generation" (Greek: genea):

First, the term may mean a time-period of "life." Scholars vary a great deal on the number of years comprising a generation, with the possibilities ranging from 20 to 100 years. In other words, if this meaning is accepted, then the things discussed related to a single lifetime, regardless of the assumed length. This would appear to lead to two sub-views. The first is that the generation in question represented those alive at the time Christ spoke these words. This presents serious problems since one must then interpret all related issues as fulfilled within some fix measurement of time ending before 70 A.D.


The other version is that the generation in question deals with those alive at the time of the fulfillment of the signs. This allows the measuring period to "move." Presumably, under a preterist view, these two versions would be the same. If one accepts a futurist view, then either these events are not yet fulfilled or else Christ meant the signs would "begin" to be fulfilled during the lifetime of the disciples.

A second meaning is that the term refers to Israel as a nation, a "race." Race is a valid interpretation of genea. The idea behind this statement is a guarantee of Israelís perpetuity as a nation until the end times. If one adopts this meaning, then, perhaps, it becomes easier to read a symbolic meaning into the fig tree parable.


A third meaning is that generation means "age" or "time period" in a more general sense and is a reference to this "age," the dispensation of grace.

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October 25, 2021

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