generation truth book page 95

     The Truth That Leads to Eternal Life, p. 95

It all seemed so simple when Jehovah’s Witnesses explained the 1914 generation teaching to me in 1972.

The 1914 generation would by no means pass away until Armageddon came and Christ’s millennial Kingdom on earth would begin.

But then the Watchtower’s definition of “generation” kept shifting.

  • When they wanted to give assurance that the prophecy was still viable, they would stress how many of the 1914 generation were still alive by giving “generation” an expansive meaning.
  • When they wanted to stress that Armageddon was just around the corner, they gave “generation” a restricted meaning.
  • They kept adjusting it to find a balance that would serve both purposes.

Here are examples.

When the end did not come by 1950, they stressed how many of the 1914 generation were still living.

1952: The 1914 generation means “persons living now that were living in 1914.”  

“Some persons living A.D. 1914 when the series of foretold events began will also be living when the series ends with Armageddon. All the events will come within the span of a generation. There are hundreds of millions of persons living now that were living in 1914, and many millions of these persons could yet live a score or more years. Just when the lives of the majority of them will be cut short by Armageddon we cannot say.” (The Watchtower, September 1, 1952, pp. 542-543)


  • There were still “many millions” of them.
  • They could still live 20 (“a score”) or more years.

1968: The 1914 generation means people who were at least 15 years old in 1914.

“Jesus was obviously speaking about those who were old enough to witness with understanding what took place when the last days began. Even… youngsters 15 years of age would be perceptive enough to realize the import of what happened in 1914.” (Awake!, October 8, 1968, p. 13)


  • The 1914 generation only included those who were old enough to see and understand the import of what was happening then.
  • They would be in their mid-70s in 1975, which the Watchtower was promoting as “an appropriate time for God to act.”

1978: The 1914 generation does not include people who were babies born during World War I even if they were alive in 1914.

“Thus, when it comes to the application in our time, the ‘generation’ logically would not apply to babies born during World War I.” (The Watchtower, October 1, 1978, p. 31)


  • We shouldn’t try to stretch out the meaning of generation.
  • Not everyone who was alive in 1914 is included.

1980: The 1914 generation includes people who were 10 years of age in 1914.

As indicated by an article on page 56 of U.S. News & World Report of January 14, 1980, “If you assume that 10 is the age at which an event creates a lasting impression on a person’s memory,” then there are today more than 13 million Americans who have a “recollection of World War I.” And if the wicked system of this world survived until the turn of the century, which is highly improbable in view of world trends and the fulfillment of Bible prophecy, there would still be survivors of the World War I generation. However, the fact that their number is dwindling is one more indication that “the conclusion of the system of things” is moving fast toward its end.” (The Watchtower, October 15, 1980, p. 31)


  • The age of discernment is now 10, not 15.
  • The test is no longer “able to understand the import” (1968 test) but rather that the events created a lasting impression on their memory.
  • Support for this definition comes from the secular magazine, U.S. News & World Report.
  • There are more than 13 million Americans who qualify.
  • If Armageddon doesn’t come until after the turn of the century, the World War I generation still would not have passed away.
  • It is highly improbable that the end will be delayed that long.

1982: The 1914 generation means people who were living in 1914.

“After drawing attention to the many things that have marked the period from 1914 onward, Jesus said: ‘This generation will by no means pass away until all these things [including the end of this system] occur.’ (Matthew 24:34, 14) Which generation did Jesus mean? He meant the generation of people who were living in 1914. Those persons yet remaining of that generation are now very old. However, some of them will still be alive to see the end of this wicked system. So of this we can be certain: Shortly now there will be a sudden end to all wickedness and wicked people at Armageddon.” (You Can Live Forever In Paradise On Earth, 1982, p. 154)


  • The age of discernment (15 in 1968; 10 in 1980) is no longer mentioned.
  • Those who are included are now “very old.”
  • We can be “certain” that Armageddon with come “shortly now.”

1984: The 1914 generation does include babies born in that year.

“These definitions embrace both those born around the time of a historic event and all those alive at that time. If Jesus used ‘generation’ in that sense and we apply it to 1914, then the babies of that generation are now 70 years old or older. And others alive in 1914 are in their 80’s or 90’s, a few even having reached a hundred. There are still many millions of that generation alive. Some of them ‘will by no means pass away until all things occur.” (The Watchtower, May 15, 1984, p. 5)


  • Babies born in 1914, who are included, are now at least 70 years old.
  • Others of that generation are older, some even more than 100.
  • The prophecy is still viable, because there are still “many millions” of this generation still living.

“Some of that ‘generation (of 1914)’ could survive until the end of the century. But there are many indications that ‘the end’ is much closer than that!” (The Watchtower, March 1, 1984 pp. 18-19)


  • The Watchtower is seeking balance.
  • Viability: Some of the generation could survive until the end of the century.
  • Urgency: The end is probably much closer than the end of the century.

The May 15, 1984 Watchtower cover showed a picture of 16 old people, all of them Jehovah’s Witnesses who were alive in 1914.

Ex-Jehovah’s Witnesses have identified them and tracked what happened to them.  (See “Conclusion” section at the end of the linked article.)

All of them have died.

The last one to pass away was the lady with the black earrings (second row).

Her name was Sophie Yuchniewicz.

She was 8 years old in 1914 and died in 2008 at the age of 102 (1906-2008).

Fifteen years after that, Armageddon has still not come.