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Genesis 18:23-26

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Genesis 18:23
  • Genesis 18:24
  • Genesis 18:25
  • Genesis 18:26

Genesis is a book about many beginnings. The beginnings of the world, the human race, sin and redemption, and the nation of Israel to name a few. In fact, the word Genesis from the Greek means “origin,” and in Hebrew it means “beginning.” The book of Genesis contains the events of the flood, tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the lives of the Patriarchs.

In the beginning, God created everything by simply speaking, “God said…and it was so” (Genesis 1:6-7, 9, 11, 14-15). This is not a scientific technical account of creation, but it shows a loving God creating a universe and mankind to rule it and fellowship with God. Man was formed especially from the ground and given the breath of life from God. The woman was made from the man’s rib (Genesis 2:7).

After man fell into sin, things began to spin out of control quickly. Cain murdered his brother Abel and the human race became so violent that God decided to destroy them all with a flood. God saved one righteous man (Noah) and his family in an ark filled with animals to deliver the human race from extinction. God chose Abraham and blessed a special group of people named “Israel.” God began to unfold a plan of salvation from a coming famine by sending Joseph to rule in Egypt. The failure of man in every circumstance is met by the salvation of God. We fail, but the good news is God saves us.


In Genesis chapter 18 God appears to Abraham again. The promise of a son born by Sarah is renewed, and the time is set for the birth. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah is announced. Abraham, the friend of God, makes a plea for Sodom.


Abraham bargains with God to spare them from judgement. if He will destroy the righteous with the wicked sinners. Then he proposes a question to God, if there are 50 righteous in the city, would God spare the city for their sake? God replies that He would spare the whole city if there are 50 righteous.

At this point, Abraham has spoken with God three times (Genesis 15:2,8, 17:17). Each time Abraham’s personal welfare was the subject of conversation. Now Abraham shows a concern for his neighbors, demonstrating the opposite attitude shown by Sodom. Abraham responds beyond his immediate personal interests. Abraham came near and said, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked?” Abraham became Sodom’s intercessor before God. Abraham’s concern is whether God would kill the innocent along with the guilty. By destroying Sodom, God might destroy some righteous people along with the wicked. This was the second time Abraham intervened for his relatives (Genesis 14:11-12, 14-16).

Abraham petitioned the Lord on behalf of Sodom (Hebrews 7:23-26). Abraham proposes that if there are fifty righteous within the city, this should exempt the whole city from destruction. Abraham asks God for His divine mercy which becomes a pattern for other intercessors (1 Samuel 7:5-9, 12:19-25; 2 Kings 4:33, 6:15-20; Exodus 32:11-13,31-34, 33:12-15; Numbers 12:11-13, 14:13-19). Abraham likely conducts this bargaining much as he bargained and traded in his business. Since Abraham was prosperous, we should not be surprised that Abraham was an excellent trader.

Abraham points out the injustice in slaying the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly? The words judge and justice convey a legal sense that involves both condemning the guilty and acquitting the innocent (1 Kings 8:32; Psalm 146:7). Abraham saw a dilemma if the cities are destroyed, the innocent would suffer, and this was not the action of a just God. Abraham even states to the LORD Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. This statement demonstrates that Abraham clearly knows he is speaking with the LORD. It also shows that Abraham knows God’s character.  It is fitting that Abraham was called the friend of God (James 2:23). 

Interestingly, the entire city could be spared for the sake of an innocent minority. This is no longer a simple appeal of justice, but a call for God’s mercy. Abraham is a great bargainer. God tells Abraham He will spare the whole place on their account.

Biblical Text

23 Abraham came near and said, “Will You indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 “Suppose there are fifty righteous 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? 25 “Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” 26 So the Lord said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account.”

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