What does Genesis 18:27 mean?
ESV: Abraham answered and said, "Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes.
NIV: Then Abraham spoke up again: "Now that I have been so bold as to speak to the Lord, though I am nothing but dust and ashes,
NASB: And Abraham replied, 'Now behold, I have ventured to speak to the Lord, although I am only dust and ashes.
CSB: Then Abraham answered, "Since I have ventured to speak to my lord—even though I am dust and ashes—
NLT: Then Abraham spoke again. 'Since I have begun, let me speak further to my Lord, even though I am but dust and ashes.
KJV: And Abraham answered and said, Behold now, I have taken upon me to speak unto the Lord, which am but dust and ashes:
NKJV: Then Abraham answered and said, “Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord:
Verse Commentary:
In the prior verses, Abraham brazenly questioned if God's judgment on Sodom would be fair, since it might mean harming righteous people along with wicked people. In this verse, Abraham seems to have a moment of clarity, and checks himself. Abraham acknowledges to the Lord that he is being very bold even in speaking to Him. After all, Abraham is a mere man. He calls himself "dust and ashes." He recognizes, apparently, that he has no right to demand anything from God.

This is a key part of our perspective on God and His actions. God most certainly does what is good, fair, and just—and for that reason, human beings who are limited have no right to assume He is being unfair or unjust simply because we don't like His decisions. God's conversation with Abraham, regarding the people of Sodom, is meant to clarify this very idea. Abraham worries that God might do something unfair. God's response proves that His planned action against Sodom and Gomorrah is perfectly, absolutely justified.

Abraham's moment of humility will not prevent him, however, from continuing to push the Lord for assurances that He will spare the city of Sodom for the sake of any righteous people who live there. This almost certainly is Abraham's attempt to keep his nephew Lot, who lives in Sodom, from being destroyed.
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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