Genesis 18:31 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Genesis 18:31, NIV: "Abraham said, 'Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, what if only twenty can be found there?' He said, 'For the sake of twenty, I will not destroy it.'"

Genesis 18:31, ESV: "He said, “Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord. Suppose twenty are found there.” He answered, “For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.”"

Genesis 18:31, KJV: "And he said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord: Peradventure there shall be twenty found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for twenty's sake."

Genesis 18:31, NASB: "And he said, 'Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord; suppose twenty are found there?' And He said, 'I will not destroy it on account of the twenty.'"

Genesis 18:31, NLT: "Then Abraham said, 'Since I have dared to speak to the Lord, let me continue--suppose there are only twenty?' And the LORD replied, 'Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the twenty.'"

Genesis 18:31, CSB: "Then he said, "Since I have ventured to speak to my lord, suppose twenty are found there?" He replied, "I will not destroy it on account of twenty.""

What does Genesis 18:31 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Abraham believes himself to be negotiating with the Lord, likely for the life of his nephew Lot and Lot's family. The Lord has revealed that He will investigate the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah and, by implication, bring judgment upon those cities. Lot lives in Sodom. This is not actually a bargaining process, however. God is playing the role of a patient parent, allowing a child to "talk out" a situation for their own benefit. Abraham is going to set the bar for righteousness in Sodom at a pathetically low level—and it still will not be enough. The purpose of this discussion is for our understanding; while God owes us no explanation, His conversation here gives us insight which proves His actions against Sodom to be entirely justified.

Abraham started by asking if God would spare the city if He found 50 righteous people there. The Lord agreed. Then Abraham said, "What about 45?" The Lord agreed. Then 40. Then 30. Now Abraham asks for 20, while recognizing that he's being incredibly bold to speak this way to God. The Lord, again, agrees.