What does Genesis 18:24 mean?
ESV: Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it?
NIV: What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?
NASB: Suppose there are fifty righteous people within the city; will You indeed sweep it away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous who are in it?
CSB: What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away instead of sparing the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people who are in it?
NLT: Suppose you find fifty righteous people living there in the city — will you still sweep it away and not spare it for their sakes?
KJV: Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein?
Verse Commentary:
The Lord has revealed to Abraham his plan to investigate and, by implication, bring judgment on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah for their great sinfulness. This is a poetic device on God's part, meant to highlight His just handling of the situation. God already knows everything He needs to know about Sodom, so His words here are for the sake of our understanding. Abraham, standing with the Lord as two angels walk toward Sodom, is asking the Lord some hard questions.

Abraham's nephew Lot lives in Sodom. In the previous verse, Abraham asked God if He would bring destruction on the righteous with the wicked in His judgment. Now Abraham gets more specific. What if 50 righteous people lived in Sodom? Would God not spare the place for the sake of those 50 people? This is a question we often struggle with today: when, and why, does God allow those we perceive as "innocent" to suffer for the actions of those who we perceive as "guilty?"

Abraham is asking a bold question of the Lord who has blessed him. He's not done, yet.
Verse Context:
Genesis 18:22–33 describes Abraham's negotiation with the Lord for the city of Sodom, where his nephew Lot and his family live. Previously, God spoke from a poetic human perspective, saying that He would judge Sodom and Gomorrah if their sins were as awful as they seemed. Here, Abraham recoils at the idea that the Lord would annihilate righteous people along with the wicked, beginning a sort of negotiation with God. Of course, God does not need to negotiate with man, and already knows how depraved Sodom is. This conversation with Abraham has nothing to do with changing God's mind; it has everything to do with proving, beyond all doubt, that God's actions here are just. God says He will spare Sodom for the sake of just ten righteous people; later passages show the city fails that test.
Chapter Summary:
Abraham hurries to offer respect and hospitality to three men who appear near his tent. Over the course of the chapter, the men reveal themselves to be the Lord and two angels in human form. As He had told Abraham in the previous chapter, the Lord now reveals to Sarah that she will have a son within the year. Later, the Lord poetically says He will investigate the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah, where Abraham's nephew Lot lives. Abraham asks, and the Lord agrees, not to destroy Sodom if God finds 10 righteous people there.
Chapter Context:
God appeared to Abraham in the previous chapter revealing, in part, that Sarah would bear Abraham a son within a year's time. Now the Lord appears again, this time in human form and accompanied by two disguised angels. He reveals to Sarah the same promise. She laughs, and the Lord insists that even her age isn't too hard for Him to overcome. Next the Lord reveals to Abraham that He will investigate the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah. Abraham receives the Lord's promise not to destroy Sodom (where Abraham's nephew lives) if He finds 10 righteous people in the city. Unfortunately, the city is beyond saving, and the next chapter details its utter destruction.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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