To what time-period does the phrase “this generation” in the New Testament refer? It is used in the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30, Luke 21:32) in reference to the fulfillment of end times prophecies. A straight-forward reading of the text indicates that these prophecies would be fulfilled while some hearing Jesus’ words in the first century were still alive. To confirm that it refers to the first-century contemporaries of Jesus we need only to look at the other times the phrase is used in the New Testament. Without doubt, it ALWAYS refers to those living in the first century. No other conclusion is possible without doing violence to the text. Here are all the times the phrase is used outside of the Olivet Discourse. Look up these passages for yourself:
Matthew 11:16-24; 12:38-45; 16:4; 17:17; 23:35-36; Mark 8:12; 8:38-9:1; 9:19, and Luke 7:31; 9:41; 11:29-32, 49-51; 17:25; Acts 2:40.
The certain conclusion is that the “end times” is not about the end of the physical universe, not about the end of the Christian age, and not about anything in our future. It is about the end of the Old Covenant age, which ended with the fall of Jerusalem and destruction of the temple in AD 70.
For more on this, see my article entitled “When Was the Olivet Discourse Fulfilled?” here: