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Meaning of Γίνομαι.
ther only, knew anything about the time. Matt. 24: 34, 35. Mark 13: 30, 31. Our English translation here makes a glaring inconsistency between these two declarations, which the Greek entirely avoids. In the original there is no word which means fulfilled, or which can in this place, with any propriety, be so translated. The word here in the original, the word used by all three of the evangelists, though they very seldom in other passages use the same word when repeating the same sentiment, the word here used by all three of the evangelists, is yérntai, the subjunctive present, third person singular, of yíropa. Now what is the meaning of pivoua? Hedericus and Schleusner give, as the first definition, orior, which Lyttleton defines, to arise, to begin, to have a beginning. The modern German lexicographers, as Schmidt, Rost, Wahl, Passow, and Bretschneider, define yívoua by the German word entstehen, almost without exception, making this the very first definition; and entstehen, according to Rabenhoorst, Noehden, Adler, etc., means to begin, to originate, to arise. Take the definition of entstehen, as given in Weber's Kritisch erklärendes Handwörterbuch der deutschen Sprache, and you have the exact meaning of the Greek word pivouai in the passage under consideration. It is this: Entstehen seinen An
fang nehmen to take its beginning. The proper definition of pivoua is to begin to be, to take a beginning. Dr. Robinson, in his Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, art. yivouai, says: "This verb is Mid. dep. intrans. with the primary signification, to begin to be." And again, in the definitions: I. To begin to be," etc. This, as the appropriate sense of the word, can be established, not only by the authority of all the best lexicographers, but also by numberless examples from the classical Greek, the Septuagint, and the New Testament. John 8: 58, Jesus says, πρὶν Αβραάμ γενέσθαι ἐγώ εἰμί, which Kuinoel very properly translates: antequam Abraham ESSE COEPISSET, me extitisse. For a like use of the word in the N. Test. compare Matt. 8:16. John 6: 16, 17, 19 -in the Sept. 1 Chron. 20: 4 (éyéverto ěti nóheμos év Falso, there began yet a war in Gerar―very well translated in the Vulgate, initum est bellum), Ps. 89 (90): 2. Tob. 3: 8. Among the classics, Herodotus (II. 11.) says, лQóregoriuè revέova, before that I began to be, and he also uses the word in the same sense in I. 198. III. 85. So Xenophon in his Cyropaedia (I.IV.17) says: idŋ dè ëónegas jevoμévns,but when it began to be evening — and also, I.VI. 42. ¿neiðáv quéqa yévyrai, when the day begins to be, and Memorab. IV.VII.19. iлɛí έanéqa éyevéro, after it began to be evening. The very common use of the word pivoua in the sense of to be born, depends entirely on its meaning, begin to be.
What, then, philologically considered, is the proper translation of the text? Clearly this: this generation shall not pass, TILL ALL THESE
THINGS BEGIN TO BE, or, till all these things TAKE THEIR BEGINNING. So Luther interprets it, in his note on the passage: Es wird solches alles anfangen zu geschehen noch bey dieser zeit, weil ihr lebet: All this will begin to take place in the present time, while you are yet alive. Let there be no quibbling, as if yívouai must always be so translated. Every word, besides its original, primitive meaning, has also derived meanings, which are in frequent use. No word, especially no verb of such extensive use as the Greek yírouai, can ever be translated into another language, in all its variety of meanings, by the use of one unvarying synonym. Try the experiment with the English verbs take, make, put, and see what infinite absurdities you would fall into.
The destruction of Jerusalem was the first occasion on which Christ appeared as a judge, taking vengeance on his enemies. Before, he had appeared as a suffering Redeemer, an atoning sacrifice. The destruction of Jerusalem was the first in that series of judgments which terminates and is consummated in the great final judgment, which in the preceding verses had been so vividly and so terribly described. The three judgments began, now are they going on, and at length they will be completed, on
"That day of wrath, that dreadful day,
When heaven and earth shall pass away."
That generation which saw Jesus, the meek, the uncomplaining, the suffering, victim, should not pass till it had seen him assume the character of the mighty, the inexorable, the avenging judge, taking vengeance on them that know not God and obey not his truth. Compare also Matt. 16: 28. Mark 9: 1. Lk. 9: 27.
The three evangelists, though they use different words in translating every other part of this discourse, all use the same word here, in the same person, number, mode, and tense, - they all say γένηται, thus showing that they use the word in its peculiar and appropriate sense of BEGIN TO BE. We will place them side by side, that the identity
may be seen.
MATT 24: 34. Αμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη, ἕως ἂν πάντα ταῦτα γένηται.
MARK 13: 30.
Αμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ὅτι οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη, μέχρις οὗ πάντα ταῦτα γέ
LUKE 21: 32. ̓Αμὴν λέγω ὑμῖν, ὅτι οὐ μὴ παρέλθῃ ἡ γενεὰ αὕτη, ἕως ἂν πάντα γένηται.
According, then, to all the rules of critical judgment, which can be applied to a case of this kind, and in full view of all the objections which can be urged against our interpretation, we decide unhesitatingly that these solemn words of the gospels under consideration are, that
they were by the disciples understood to be, that they were by our Saviour intended for a fearful description of the great day of final judgment, when the dead, small and great, shall stand before God, and the books shall be opened, and another book will be opened which is the book of life: and the dead will be judged out of those things which are written in the books, according to their works. And the sea will give up the dead which are in it, and death and hell will deliver up the dead which are in them; and they will be judged, every man according to his works. And whoever is not found written in the book of life, will be cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. See Rev. 20: 12-15.
In conclusion, I would say, that even if yívouai had not the meaning which all the best lexicographers and the best usage give it, if it were, as it is often erroneously supposed to be, synonymous with εu, if it might properly be rendered be fulfilled instead of begin to be; even in this case, the common usage of the prophetic writers, the style, structure, and custom of the prophetic speech, would fully justify the interpretation we have adopted. What more common in the prophecies than to speak of a thing already determined upon in the divine counsels as already done? than to speak of a fulfilment as completed when it has decidedly commenced? In prophetic style, when the first of a series is done, the whole is done. (See Rev. 11: 15. Compare also Nahum, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, on Nineveh, Babylon, Tyre, Edom, etc.) And in the prediction of an event fully resolved upon in the divine mind, it is very often spoken of as already past, insomuch that one of the common rules given for the interpretation of prophecy is, that the past tense indicates certainty of fulfilment. (See Horne's Introduction, vol. ii. p. 640.)
I am aware that many of the best scholars, many of the most judicious, learned and reliable critics, both in our own country and in Europe, have entertained and with great ability defended the opinion that the whole of Matt. xxiv. which precedes verse 35 must refer exclusively to the judgments on the Jews in connection with their wars with the Romans from Vespasian to Hadrian. They suppose that in no other way can a consistent interpretation be made out for verse 34. Were it not for this verse, and the evέws in verse 29, they would be very glad to interpret vs. 29-31 otherwise. Are these difficulties really insurmountable? Is not the interpretation proposed in the preceding pages fairly and philologically sustained?
I know not that I should have ventured publicly to defend a view so different from that of many whom I so highly esteem, to whose judgment I so gladly defer, were it not for the long list of names, no less venerable, no less worthy of confidence, of those who, in one way and another, confidently affirm that Matt. 24: 29-31 must of necessity be referred to the great day of final judgment, and who maintain that view by reasons which seem to me unanswerable. These writers are found in all generations and of all sorts, from the beginning of Christian literature to the present hour, church-fathers and reformers, philologians and preachers, Catholics and Protestant, orthodox and rationalist, of every shade of belief and unbelief, of every variety of zeal and indifference.
An enumeration of a few of the names alluded to will fully justify my statement. In defence of this view we have Chrysostom, Augustine, Jerome, and the church-fathers generally; Bede, Luther, Calvin, Gerhard, Hammond, Bengel; Paulus, Schott, D. Schultz, Olshausen, Fritzsche, Neander, Meyer, De Wette, Von Gerlach, Allioli, and many others. From some of the more recent of these I now propose to make a few extracts, to show how the matter is viewed by the most eminent New Testament scholars of the present day. They shall be of entirely different schools and different modes of thinking, and the date shall be given of each work from which the extract is made.
(1) Neander, (pious, supernaturalist, but hardly orthodox) Leben Jesu, 1st ed. 1837, 4th ed. 1847, pp. 561, 562. Speaking of the 24th of Matthew, he says, that Christ represented therein "partly his triumph in the overthrow of the hitherto sensuous form of the theocracy and thereby advanced more free and effective diffusion of his kingdom, partly his last return for the perfecting of this kingdom-the judgment over the degenerated theocracy, and that last judgment—the final more free and mighty development of the kingdom of God, and that last completion of the same - elements corresponding to each other, the last of which is prefigured in the first." "In regard to a prophet we might with probability say, that in his conception the image of a glorious development of the future, which disclosed itself before his prophetic look in moments of religious inspiration, were unconsciously mingled with the perceptions of the present; that things separated by long intervals of time presented themselves to him as contemporaneous." "In Christ we can suppose no such commingling, no error." "But it is easy to see how it might happen, that in the apprehending and reporting of such discourses from the position of the hearers, the elements which Christ himself kept separate (though He
View of Meyer.
presented them in a certain correspondence with each other and made no definite limits as to time) might become intermingled." "It has already been noted as a peculiarity of the editor of our Greek Matthew, that he collects into one discourse the related ideas which Christ spoke at different times and in varying circumstances." "Therefore it is not at all surprising that a clear separation of the different elements cannot here be made out, and we should not, in order to effect this, resort to forced interpretations, which are injurious both to the truth and the love of truth. There is far less of such intermingling, -the different elements of the judgment on Jerusalem and the last coming of Christ are much more clearly separated, in the representation of this last as given by Luke, chapter xxi.; though even here all difficulties cannot be avoided." "We may say, perhaps, that Luke here, as in other places, gives the more original, the truer, the purer representation of Christ's discourse." Any one accustomed to Neander will know very well what he means to say here: Christ was all right. He kept the two subjects sufficiently distinct, but the editor of our Greek Matthew has rather confused and blended them.
(2) Meyer, (rationalist, clear and strong,) Kritisch exegetischen Kommentar u. d. N. T. 2d. ed. 1844, Vol. I. p. 403 — 5.
First remark on the 24th of Matthew. 66 'Exegetically it stands fast that from the 29th verse onward, Jesus speaks of his nagovoía, after he had spoken thus far of the destruction of Jerusalem, and, indeed, as the immediate antecedent of his nagovoía. All attempts to fix in any other place the transition point, where the discourse goes on to the nagovoía (Chrys. v. 24. Kuinoel, v. 43. Lightf. Wetst. Flatt, Jahn and others 25: 31,) are the products, not of exegesis, but of history, and lead to the grossest violation of exegesis."
"The attempt to explain this whole discourse of the Destruction of Jerusalem (Michaelis, Bahrdt, Ekkerm. and others,) are worthy of notice only as a sign of their times."
"In respect to the difficulty, that Jesus placed his nagovoía directly after the Destruction of Jerusalem, which was not confirmed by the result, the following things are to be remarked: (1) Jesus spoke of his nagovoía in a three-fold sense; for he designated as his coming, (a) the communication of the Holy Ghost, which was to come shortly (John 16: 16 et al.) and did come; (b) the historical revelation of his dominion and power in the triumph of his work on earth to be experienced forthwith on his ascension to the Father, of which we have an evident example preserved in Matt. 26: 64. (c) his nagovoía in the literal sense for the awakening of the dead, the holding of the