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Sodom & Gomorrah - Resurrected or Not Resurrected?

Does anyone know the Watchtower’s current stance on this?  If so, please mail me at the address on the home page. Its  quite clear from the below Watchtower quotes that they haven’t quite made their minds up.

  • 1879 - Will be resurrected
  • 1955 - Will not be resurrected
  • 1965 - Will be resurrected
  • 1967 - Will not be resurrected
  • 1974 - Will be resurrected
  • 1988 - Will not be resurrected
  • 1988 - Will be resurrected
  • 1989 - Will not be resurrected

Watchtower 1879 July 1 page8

[This is a summary, not a quote]

Men of Sodom and Gomorrah will be resurrected

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1955 1st April, p.200 will not

The destruction upon Sodom and Gomorrah must be final, or Jude would not have used it to illustrate the fate of those defilers for whom “the blackness of darkness stands reserved forever”. (Jude 13, NW) Jude 7 shows that those ancient cities had their judgment day back there at the time of their destruction, since they are spoken of as having already undergone an execution of judgment, “the judicial punishment of everlasting fire.” By no wresting of scripture can this be made to mean a future resurrection for slain of the Lord. No
 

[Emphasis added]

Watchtower 1965 August 1 p.479 Questions from Readers

[Men of Sodom and Gomorrah will be resurrected]

Questions from Readers

• Since Jude 7 shows that Sodom and Gomorrah became a "warning example by undergoing the judicial punishment of everlasting fire," does that not bar the inhabitants of those cities from a resurrection?-A.C., U.S.A.

Reading only that verse, without our taking into consideration what the rest of the Bible has to say on the matter, one might draw such a conclusion. But other scriptures present additional facts that cannot be ignored if we are going to arrive at a sound conclusion.

For example, at Matthew 11:23 it is written: "If the powerful works that took place in [Capernaum] had taken place in Sodom, it would have remained until this very day." Obviously, this does not mean that the same individuals who were living in Sodom at the time of its destruction would have remained alive for over 1900 years down to the time when Jesus spoke those words, but that the city would have remained as an inhabited place.

Then the next verse refers to the Judgment Day, saying: "Consequently I say to you people, It will be more endurable for the land of Sodom on Judgment Day than for you." (Matt. 11:24) Similarly, at Matthew 10:15 are recorded Jesus' words: "Truly I say to you, It will be more endurable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on Judgment Day than for that city" where the people would reject the message carried by Jesus' disciples. For it to be "more endurable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah" than for others, it would be necessary for former inhabitants of that land to be present on Judgment Day. It is not the literal land, the ground, that is to be judged. Revelation chapter 20 shows that it will be persons raised from the dead who will stand "before the throne." Nor will judgment be passed on them as groups, as former inhabitants of certain lands, but they will be "judged individually according to their deeds" during the time of judgment. So apparently individuals who used to live in that land will be resurrected.-Rev. 20:12, 13.

What is it, then, that underwent "the judicial punishment of everlasting fire"? While the inhabitants of the cities were certainly destroyed, apparently it was not the people but the cities themselves that were everlastingly destroyed. They have not been rebuilt down to this day. Notably, J. Penrose Harland wrote: "It has been shown that Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim were doubtless situated in the area now covered by the waters of the southern part of the Dead Sea."-The Biblical Archaeologist Reader (1961), page 59; see also Isaiah 13:19, 20.

What happened to the inhabitants of Sodom and Gomorrah at the time that Jehovah rained fire and sulphur on them from heaven stands as a warning to all to avoid immoral conduct such as was carried on in those cities.

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1967 July 1 p. 409 (Will not)

This the Bible describes as the “second death.” (Rev. 20:14) It means the death from which there is no resurrection. They will be burned up root and branch, as completely gone forever as the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah

[Emphasis added]

Awake! 1974  October 8th p.20 (Will be)

God’s dealing with Sodom and Gomorrah shows that he takes no pleasure in the death of anyone, but wants all to live, if they will just live respectfully toward their fellowman and in obedience to righteous principles. (Ezek. 33:11; Mic. 6:8) Moreover, God’s undeserved kindness and care are so great that he will bring back the people of Sodom by a resurrection, with opportunity to learn and turn around to the way of life, even as his Son stated.—Luke 10:11

[Emphasis added]

Revelation -- Its Grand Climax at Hand! (1988) p.273

[Men of Sodom and Gomorrah will NOT be resurrected]

[Box on page 273]

"Epistle to Sodom and Gomorrah"

[…]

Jesus Christ also knew what he thought and stated it in explicit terms. He said that it would be "more endurable for the land of Sodom on Judgment Day" than for the religionists who spurned his message. (Matthew 11:23, 24) Jesus was here using hyperbole to show that those religious leaders who rejected the Son of God and his teaching were even more reprehensible than the Sodomites. Jude 7 states that those Sodomites underwent "the judicial punishment of everlasting fire," meaning eternal destruction. (Matthew 25:41, 46) How severe, then, will be the judgment of so-called Christian leaders who blindly lead their blinded flocks away from the high moral standards of God's Kingdom into the permissive, debauched ways of this world! (Matthew 15:14) Concerning false religion, Babylon the Great, the voice from heaven calls with urgency: "Get out of her, my people, if you do not want to share with her in her sins, and if you do not want to receive part of her plagues."-Revelation 18:2, 4.

[Emphasis Added]

Insight Volume 2 (1988) p.984

[Men of Sodom and Gomorrah will be resurrected]

Jude mentions that "Sodom and Gomorrah . . . are placed before us as a warning example by undergoing the judicial punishment of everlasting fire." This would not conflict with Jesus' statement about a Jewish city that would reject the good news: "It will be more endurable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah on Judgment Day than for that city." Sodom and Gomorrah were everlastingly destroyed as cities, but this would not preclude a resurrection for people of those cities.-Jude 7; Mt 10:15; compare Lu 11:32; 2Pe 2:6.

[Emphasis Added]

Watchtower 1988 June 1 p.30-31 Questions from Readers

[Men of Sodom and Gomorrah will NOT be resurrected]

Questions from Readers

Do Jesus' words at Matthew 11:24 mean that those whom Jehovah destroyed by fire in Sodom and Gomorrah will be resurrected?

In conscientiously responding to this question over the years, we have discussed Jesus' words at Matthew 10:14, 15; 11:20-24; and Luke 10:13-15. A recent review of this suggests that these verses need not be taken as statements about the future for the people of Sodom/Gomorrah. Before we examine other Bible comments about the people destroyed in those cities, let us consider what Jesus said.

While in Galilee, Jesus "reproach[ed] the cities in which most of his powerful works had taken place, because they did not repent." He named three: "Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! because if the powerful works had taken place in Tyre and Sidon that took place in you, they would long ago have repented . . . It will be more endurable for Tyre and Sidon on Judgment Day than for you. And you, Capernaum, will you perhaps be exalted to heaven? Down to Hades you will come; because if the powerful works that took place in you had taken place in Sodom, it would have remained until this very day. . . . It will be more endurable for the land of Sodom on Judgment Day than for you." (Matthew 11:20-24) Jesus made similar statements when sending the 12 disciples out to preach, and later the 70.-Matthew 10:14, 15; Luke 10:13-15.

Prior to 1964, we took these verses to mean that the people of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum merited eternal destruction. However, Watchtower articles in 1964 and 1965 made it clear that all in Hades, or Sheol, (mankind's common grave) will come forth in the resurrection and thereafter will be 'judged according to their deeds.'-Revelation 20:13.

Those articles also reasoned: Matthew 11:23 and Luke 10:15 say that Capernaum would not be exalted to heaven but be brought "down to Hades," which, at least, suggests debasement for the people of that city. In the same passage, Jesus mentioned ancient Tyre and Sidon. According to Ezekiel 32:21, 30, people of Sidon, who were condemned by God, went to Sheol. (Isaiah 23:1-9, 14-18; Ezekiel 27:2-8) Since Jesus paralleled Tyre/Sidon with Sodom, that indicated that the people of Sodom were in Sheol too.

A reexamination of Matthew 11:20-24, though, has brought into question whether Jesus was there discussing eternal judgment and resurrection. His point was how unresponsive the people in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum were and how unlikely it was that they would reform even in the Judgment Day. Saying that it would be "more endurable" for Tyre/Sidon and Sodom/Gomorrah "on Judgment Day" was a form of hyperbole (exaggeration to emphasize a point) that Jesus need not have intended to be taken literally, any more than other graphic hyperboles that he used. For example:

"It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one particle of a letter of the Law to go unfulfilled." "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away." (Luke 16:17; 21:33; Matthew 5:18; compare Hebrews 1:10-12.) We know that the literal heavens and earth will never pass away. (Psalm 78:69; 104:5; Ecclesiastes 1:4) Jesus also said: "It is easier for a camel to go through a needle's eye than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." (Mark 10:25) Certainly, Jesus did not mean that no rich man could ever become a disciple; some in the first century became anointed Christians. (1 Timothy 6:17-19) Jesus' use of exaggeration was to stress how hard it is for a rich man to put God before material wealth and comforts.-Luke 12:15-21.

Hence, Jesus' saying that it 'would be more endurable on Judgment Day for Tyre or Sodom' did not necessarily mean that those people will be present on Judgment Day. He could simply have been stressing how unresponsive and culpable were most in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum. We say most because some in Capernaum did accept Christ. (Mark 1:29-31; Luke 4:38, 39) Yet, basically those cities rejected him. Some of their inhabitants, as with the scribes and the Pharisees, may even have sinned against the holy spirit, for which forgiveness is impossible even in the 'system of things to come.' Such individuals go to Gehenna.-Matthew 12:31, 32; 23:33.

Aside from Jesus' words on the point, Ezekiel 32:21, 30 does tell us that pagan people of ancient Tyre/Sidon are in Sheol; so they are in line for a resurrection. What, then, about the inhabitants of "the land of Sodom on Judgment Day"? The mere fact that Jesus paralleled Sidon with Sodom does not establish the future prospects of those wicked ones whom God destroyed with sulfur and fire. But let us see what else the Bible says on the question.

One of the most pointed comments is in Jude 7. Jude had just spoken of (1) Israelites destroyed for lack of faith, and (2) angels who sinned and are 'reserved with eternal bonds for the judgment of the great day.' Then Jude wrote: "So too Sodom and Gomorrah . . . are placed before us as a warning example by undergoing the judicial punishment of everlasting fire." This text has been applied to the actual cities' being destroyed everlastingly, not the people. However, in view of Jude 5 and 6, likely most people would take Jude verse 7 to mean a judicial punishment of individuals. (Similarly, Matthew 11:20-24 would be understood as criticizing people, not stones or buildings.) In this light, Jude 7 would mean that the wicked people of Sodom/Gomorrah were judged and destroyed everlastingly.

Looking elsewhere, we find it noteworthy that more than once the Bible links the Flood and Sodom/Gomorrah. In what context?

When asked about "the conclusion of the system of things," Jesus foretold the coming "end" and a "great tribulation such as has not occurred since the world's beginning." (Matthew 24:3, 14, 21) He went on to speak of "the days of Noah" and what "occurred in the days of Lot" as being examples of people who took no note of warning about coming destruction. Jesus added: "The same way it will be on that day when the Son of man is to be revealed." (Luke 17:26-30; compare Matthew 24:36-39.) Was Jesus illustrating just an attitude, or does the context in which he used these examples suggest that eternal judgments were involved?

Later, Peter wrote about God's judgments and His punishing those deserving it. Then Peter used three examples: The angels that sinned, the ancient world of Noah's time, and those destroyed in Sodom/Gomorrah. The latter, Peter said, 'set a pattern for ungodly persons of things to come.' (2 Peter 2:4-9) Thereafter, he compared the destruction that people suffered in the Deluge with the coming "day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men." That precedes the promised new heavens and new earth.-2 Peter 3:5-13.

Likewise, at the end of the present wicked system, will those whom God executes have had a final judgment? That is the indication of 2 Thessalonians 1:6-9: "It is righteous on God's part to repay tribulation to those who make tribulation for you, but, to you who suffer tribulation, relief along with us at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven with his powerful angels in a flaming fire, as he brings vengeance upon those who do not know God and those who do not obey the good news about our Lord Jesus. These very ones will undergo the judicial punishment of everlasting destruction from before the Lord and from the glory of his strength."

There is an interesting similarity in phraseology between this description and what Jude said occurred in the case of Sodom. Furthermore, Matthew 25:31-46 and Revelation 19:11-21 indicate that "the goats" cut off in the coming war of God will experience "everlasting cutting-off" in "the lake of fire," which symbolizes permanent annihilation.-Revelation 20:10, 14.

Consequently, in addition to what Jude 7 says, the Bible uses Sodom/Gomorrah and the Flood as patterns for the destructive end of the present wicked system. It is apparent, then, that those whom God executed in those past judgments experienced irreversible destruction. Of course, each of us can confirm that by his proving faithful to Jehovah now. In that way we will qualify to be alive in the new world to see whom he resurrects and whom he does not. We know that his judgments are perfect. Elihu assured us: "For a fact, God himself does not act wickedly, and the Almighty himself does not pervert judgment."-Job 34:10, 12.

[Emphasis Added]

Live Forever (1989 edition) p.179

[Men of Sodom and Gomorrah will NOT be resurrected]

9 Will such terribly wicked persons be resurrected during Judgment Day? The Scriptures indicate that apparently they will not. For example, one of Jesus' inspired disciples, Jude, wrote first about the angels that forsook their place in heaven to have relations with the daughters of men. Then he added: "So too Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them, after they in the same manner as the foregoing ones had committed fornication excessively and gone out after flesh for unnatural use, are placed before us as a warning example by undergoing the judicial punishment of everlasting fire." (Jude 6, 7; Genesis 6:1, 2) Yes, for their excessive immorality the people of Sodom and of the surrounding cities suffered a destruction from which they will apparently never be resurrected.-2 Peter 2:4-6, 9, 10a.

[Emphasis Added]

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