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The English word generation originated from a Latin word meaning to beget or to produce (genesis originated from the same root). As the term is used in the Holy Scriptures, "this generation" can refer to people who were living at the time that the words were spoken, or it could refer to those who will be alive at a future time when a prophecy is fulfilled - or it can mean both (see the Fact Finder question below).
"11:16 But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets [see also Christ In The Marketplace], and calling unto their fellows, 11:17 And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. 11:18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. 11:19 The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children." (Matthew 11:16-19 KJV)
"Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation"
These verses also refer to those who rejected Christ at that time, but notice how the context includes a yet-future time as well.
"12:39 But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth [see also The Son Rose As The Sun Set]. 12:41 The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation [see When Will You Be Judged?], and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. 12:42 The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here." (Matthew 12:39-42 KJV)
The use of "this generation" here applies to all who lived right from the time of the beginning, "from the blood of righteous Abel."
"23:33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the Damnation of hell? [see Where Is Hell?]
"This generation" in these verses is obviously speaking a in future tense, describing the time of Christ's return.
"24:29 Immediately after the tribulation [see The Great Tribulation] of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:
Fact Finder: How is it that, in speaking of Christ's return, the term "this generation" could apply to any or all generations that have lived through all of human history?