Will the people of Sodom be resurrected?
info This commentary was written by a volunteer for our Bible translation project. It’s not an official view of our project; we are not a religious denomination and we do not establish doctrine. These commentaries reflect a variety of views and some disagree with each other.
In Jude 7, we read of how the people of Sodom, GomorRah, and surrounding cities were condemned to age-long fire (greek: pyros aioniou). Other Bibles usually say eternal fire, widely understood to mean eternal torture in Hell Fire. Others may understand it to mean eternal destruction, without hope of a resurrection.
However, Jesus said something that could contradict it:
‘On the Judgment Day, it will be more bearable for the land of Sodom and GomorRah than for that city.’ –Matthew 10:15
So are the people of Sodom and GomorRah being tortured forever in Hell Fire, or were they destroyed with no hope of a resurrection, or will they be resurrected to face Jesus on Judgement day?
First, understand that the word that most Bibles usually translate as ‘eternal’, aioniou, doesn’t actually mean that. Instead it means age or era, and we translate it as age-long. The original word means an undefined period of time, not eternity or forever.
So when Jude 7 says ‘eternal fire’ in most translations, this as a mistranslation. We translate the verse like this:
‘...to show us that those who do such things will undergo the penalty of age-long fire.’
Further, if we consider what other Bible verses have to say, we can rule out eternal torture in Hell Fire. Why? Well, to be tortured eternally you would need to either live eternally or have an immortal soul that can then be tortured. Yet the Greek word for immortality (athanasia, which literally means undying) only appears in the Bible three times:
- Once at 1 Timothy 6:16, where it speaks of Jesus as being immortal.
- Twice at 1 Corinthians 15:53-54 where it tells us that God offers immortality as a reward to the faithful.
So, there is no scripture in the Bible that ever speaks of sinners as having athanasia (immortality) or of having immortal souls, something that would be necessary to be tortured eternally.
Translating pyros aioniou (age-long fire) as ‘eternal fire’ therefore deceives readers into thinking that the text is describing sinners being burned for eternity, when the original text does not say eternal at all, but age-long. What exactly, though, does ‘age-long’ mean?
For the answer to this question, we must return to the words of God when He warned the first human (Adam) of what would happen should he choose to disobey.
At Genesis 2:17 He said:
‘You must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of Good and Bad.
Because, on whatever day you eat from it, your life will end and you will die.’
Therefore, notice that no ‘immortal soul’ or ‘Hell Fire’ was implied there.
However, did God later create a Hell Fire and give men immortal souls so He could thereafter torture them eternally for their sins?
Notice God’s warning at Romans 6:23, where we read:
‘For the wage of sin is death; But God’s gift is age-long life through the Anointed Jesus, our Lord.’
As you can see, God’s gift to the righteous is age-long life (Greek: zoe aionos), but the ‘wages’ you are paid by sinning unrepentantly is simply death (Greek: thanatos).
Then, what did Jude mean when he spoke of the people of Sodom and Gomorrah as being condemned to ‘age-long fire?’ The answer to this is found at Revelation 20:14, where we read:
‘The lake of fire symbolizes the second death.’
So it could be that death without the hope of a resurrection may have been their fate. However, the actual wording could also mean that they will be gone for just a very long time, that is, until the end of the age.
This is indicated by what Jesus said at Matthew 10:15:
‘On the Judgment Day, it will be more bearable for the land of Sodom and GomorRah than for that city.’
So he could also have been saying that those people may actually be resurrected during the Judgment Day, once the present age/era is over.
For more information, see the commentary on Hell Fire.