How did Sodom and Gomorrah suffer the vengeance or punishment of eternal fire?
The phrase “suffering the vengeance or punishment of eternal fire” in Jude 1:7 has been a source of confusion and misunderstanding for many people. In order to shed light on this matter and clear up the confusion, it is important to examine the context and meaning of this phrase.
Various Bible versions provide different translations of Jude 1:7, but they all convey a similar message. The verses describe how Sodom and Gomorrah, along with the surrounding towns, engaged in sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who faced the punishment of eternal fire.
When people encounter the expression “eternal fire,” they often associate it with different fires mentioned in the Bible, such as the temporary fire that consumed Sodom and Gomorrah, the eternal hellfire mentioned by Jesus Christ in the Gospels, or the Lake of Fire mentioned in the book of Revelation. However, it is crucial to consider the context to understand the intended meaning of the eternal fire in Jude 1:7.
Contrary to what some may think, the eternal fire mentioned in this context does not refer to any of the literal fires mentioned above. Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by a fire that came down from heaven, not by hellfire or the Lake of Fire. Furthermore, even the actual fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah is no longer burning and cannot be considered eternal.
So, what does the phrase “eternal fire” mean in the context of Jude 1:7? It symbolizes irreversible judgment. The eternal fire represents the irreversible judgment that Sodom and Gomorrah faced for their sins. It is not a literal fire but a figurative expression indicating the irreversible consequences of their actions.
Understanding the punishment of eternal fire as irreversible judgment helps us grasp the message being conveyed. The Bible states that the judgment suffered by Sodom and Gomorrah serves as a warning or example for us. Just as those cities were not spared from irreversible judgment, the present world will also face the same fate on the day of God’s wrath.
If God were to refrain from punishing the present world, whose sins have exceeded those of Sodom and Gomorrah, with irreversible judgment, He would be seen as partial and unjust. Therefore, it is necessary for God to subject the present world to irreversible judgment on the day of His wrath.
Unfortunately, some people have taken advantage of others’ misunderstanding of the meaning of “eternal fire” in Jude 1:7 to deceive them. Such people argue against the existence of everlasting hellfire and the Lake of Fire, comparing them to the fire of Jude chapter one verse 7, which, though, described as eternal (that is, everlasting) is no longer burning. Nevertheless, I have told you that the eternal fire mentioned in Jude 1:7 is not the actual literal fire that consumed Sodom and Gomorrah. But it is a symbolic expression representing God’s irreversible judgment against those cities. This category of people also add that a loving God would not condemn humans to eternal torment.
However, the reality is that these places of everlasting punishment do exist, and God does sentence wicked humans to stay there forever. God’s love is demonstrated not by refraining from condemning sinners to eternal torment, but by sending His Son, Jesus Christ, as a means of salvation. Those who believe in Him receive divine pardon and escape God’s judgment.
The argument against everlasting torment in the actual eternal fires, such as hellfire and the Lake of Fire, by using the figurative eternal fire mentioned in Jude 1:7 as an example is unfounded. The eternal fire in Jude 1:7 does not represent an actual fire, as Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed by a different fire that was not eternal.
Therefore, it is important to understand that the eternal fire in Jude 1:7 is a figurative expression symbolizing irreversible judgment. It does not negate the existence of the transient fire that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, nor does it deny the reality of the literal eternal fires, such as hellfire and the Lake of Fire.
In conclusion, the phrase “suffering the vengeance or punishment of eternal fire” in Jude 1:7 refers to the irreversible judgment that Sodom and Gomorrah faced for their sins. It serves as a warning and example for us, emphasizing that God will not spare the present world from irreversible judgment on the day of His wrath. Understanding the figurative nature of the eternal fire helps to avoid confusion and provides clarity to this biblical passage.