I received the following question:
May I ask you a Biblical question concerning eternal torment?
The key word to the question is ‘Tolerable’ found in Matt. 10:15, 11:22 and 11:24 also same in Mark 6:11 and Luke 10;12, 14 Referencing cities that it will be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city…
Can you get the Greek and Hebrew meaning of Tolerable – Is there going to be degrees of punishment or suffering? The scriptures above seem to indicate that.
Certainly, you may ask. I am happy to answer questions. So, go ahead and ask!
The word “tolerable” is anektos, which has to do with that which is bearable or endurable, or through which one can be sustained.
The key thing to realize regarding these passages is that they have to do with cities, not with individuals. Judgment on a city is entirely different than judgment on a person. An adverse judgment upon a city would result in that city being destroyed, and never being allowed to exist in the kingdom of God to come. A positive judgment on a city would allow that city to continue throughout the kingdom period, and possibly on into the millennium, and perhaps even the new heavens and the new earth. Please note, however, that it would be possible for a city to be allowed into the kingdom, while some of the individuals in the city are not allowed into it, or a city be excluded from the kingdom, whereas some of the individuals from it would be allowed in. Perhaps most closely tied to the fate of the city we could expect would be the fate of its leaders, but even then they need not necessarily be in the kingdom because their city is, or vice versa. A JUDGMENT ON A CITY SHOULD NEVER BE CONFUSED WITH JUDGMENT ON INDIVIDUALS.
That said, the Bible has revealed for us that Sodom will be restored again as a city that will exist, even with some level of its former glory, in the kingdom of God. This is clearly revealed in Ezekiel 16, where, in speaking to Jerusalem, the LORD says:
53. “When I bring back their captives, the captives of Sodom and her daughters, and the captives of Samaria and her daughters, then I will also bring back the captives of your captivity among them, 54. that you may bear your own shame and be disgraced by all that you did when you comforted them. 55. When your sisters, Sodom and her daughters, return to their former state, and Samaria and her daughters return to their former state, then you and your daughters will return to your former state.”
This means that it will be somewhat tolerable for Sodom in the day of judgment, since it will be restored as a city. Some of the cities in Israel, however, like Capernaum, because they did not respond to the miracles of Christ performed among them, will not be allowed to continue as cities (or be restored as cities, if they no longer exist) in the kingdom, so the fate of these cities will be harsher than that of Sodom. This is what Christ means. This is not speaking of the judgment of individuals, either in Sodom or in the cities of Christ’s day. Although certainly some individuals from Sodom must be restored when the city is restored, or else it would not truly be Sodom.
May the Lord bless you in your continued studies into His truth.