In 1995, the Governing Body of Jehovah’s Witnesses bit the bullet.

“This generation” referred to by Jesus was untied from the generation of 1914!

The November 1, 1995 Watchtower study article entitled “A Time to Keep Awake” stated as follows:

Eager to see the end of this evil system, Jehovah’s people have at times speculated about the time when the “great tribulation” would break out, even tying this to calculations of what is the lifetime of a generation since 1914. However, we “bring a heart of wisdom in,” not by speculating about how many years or days make up a generation, but by thinking about how we “count our days” in bringing joyful praise to Jehovah. (Psalm 90:12) Rather than provide a rule for measuring time, the term “generation” as used by Jesus refers principally to contemporary people of a certain historical period, with their identifying characteristics. (The Watchtower November 1, 1995, p.17)

To summarize:

  • Their speculation was virtuous, caused by their eagerness “to see the end of this evil system.”
  • It was “Jehovah’s people” (not the faithful and discreet slave who published the literature?) who speculated about the time of the end.
  • This speculation involved “even tying this to calculations of what is the lifetime of a generation since 1914.”
  • “A heart of wisdom” requires ending this speculation.
  • “Generation” was not meant to be a rule for measuring time from 1914 to the end.
  • It refers to contemporary people of a certain historical period plus their identifying characteristics.

The article continued: “In line with the above, professor of history Robert Wohl wrote in his book The Generation of 1914: “A historical generation is not defined by its chronological limits . . . It is not a zone of dates… Is anything to be gained, then, by looking for dates or by speculating about the literal lifetime of a ‘generation’?’ (Same source, pp. 18-19)

This is something the Watchtower had done throughout its history!

Now there was a new definition: “Therefore, in the final fulfillment of Jesus’ prophecy today, ‘this generation’ apparently refers to the peoples of earth who see the sign of Christ’s presence but fail to mend their ways.” (same source, p. 19, emphasis added)


  • “This generation” doesn’t mean people who saw the events of 1914.
  • It doesn’t refer to the “anointed” from the first century onward.
  • It means rebellious people who see the sign of Christ’s presence (at any point in history) but fail to mend their ways.
  • This could extend indefinitely.

But the Watchtower stressed the shortness and urgency of the time: “Does our more precise viewpoint on “this generation” mean that Armageddon is further away than we had thought? Not at all! Though we at no time have known the “day and hour,” Jehovah God has always known it, and he does not change. (Malachi 3:6) Obviously, the world is sinking further and further toward terminal ruination. The need to keep awake is more critical than it has ever been. Jehovah has revealed to us ‘the things that must shortly take place,’ and we should respond with an absorbing sense of urgency.” (Same source, p. 20)


  • In what sense was the new teaching “more precise”?
  • Isn’t it far more vague and more open-ended, potentially extending any indefinite length?
  • Armageddon is still coming any time now.

Even the masthead of Awake! magazine was changed.

Before November, 1995, it read: “This magazine builds confidence in the Creator’s promise of a peaceful and secure new world before the generation that saw the events of 1914 passes away.” (Emphasis added)

But beginning in November, 1995, it was changed to read: “This magazine builds confidence in the Creator’s promise of a peaceful and secure new world that is about to replace the present wicked, lawless system of things.” (Emphasis added)

No more “generation of 1914”!

Further clarification of the new doctrine appeared in 1997.

In his sermon in Acts 2, “Peter was clearly not being precise as to any fixed age or length of time, nor was he tying the “generation” to any certain date. He did not say that people should get saved from the generation that was born in the same year Jesus was or the generation that was born in 29 C.E. Peter was speaking about the unbelieving Jews of that period—some perhaps being rather young, others being older—who had been exposed to Jesus’ teaching, had seen or heard of his miracles, and had not accepted him as Messiah.

 It must be acknowledged that we have not always taken Jesus’ words in that sense. There is a tendency for imperfect humans to want to be specific about the date when the end will come. Recall that even the apostles sought more specifics, asking: “Lord, are you restoring the kingdom to Israel at this time?”—Acts 1:6.

 So the recent information in The Watchtower about “this generation” did not change our understanding of what occurred in 1914. But it did give us a clearer grasp of Jesus’ use of the term “generation,” helping us to see that his usage was no basis for calculating-counting from 1914—how close to the end we are. (The Watchtower, June 1, 1997, p. 28)


  • To Peter, “generation” meant unbelievers who had been exposed to Jesus’ teaching and miracles but had not accepted him as
  • Watchtower leaders were like the apostles, wanting specifics. (When did the apostles teach false dates?)
  • 1914 still is the date of Jesus’ return and the end of the Gentile Times.
  • But 1914 should not be used as the starting point for counting to determine how close the end will be.

In other words, this long-used diagram was out.

generation truth book page 95

Now, “This generation will by no means pass away” until all Jesus’ signs were fulfilled, was tied to nothing.

People who reject Jesus will still be on the earth when Armageddon comes—isn’t that obvious?

Not surprisingly, with no endpoint in sight, Watchtower growth rates shrank.

So, in 2008, the meaning of “this generation” changed again!