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Jude 1:6-7 (ESV)

6 And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7 just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Mark 9:47-49 (ESV)

47 And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, 48 ‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’ 49 For everyone will be salted with fire.

Jude 1:7 references Sodom and Gomorrah as an example of what it is like to undergo a punishment of eternal fire. But we know that Sodom and Gomorrah are not burning anymore -- their fire has been quenched, it didn't last forever.

On the other hand, Jesus in Mark 9:48 says that "their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched", which seems to imply that the fire of hell (gehenna) is truly unquenchable -- it will in fact last forever.

So which is it? Is eternal fire quenchable or unquenchable?


We could also add Matthew 25:46 to the discussion, which seems to suggest that the duration of eternal punishment would be the same as the duration of eternal life.

Matthew 25:46 (ESV):

46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”


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Eternal fire is unquenchable as follows:

  • while anything is left to burn, it cannot be put out and thus is unquenchable
  • the fire is eternal as much as the consequences are eternal.

The case of Sodom and Gomorrah illustrate this perfectly as Jude 7 explicitly points out ("an example of those who sustain the punishment of eternal fire"):

  • the fire could not be quenched until all was burned and consumed
  • the consequences were eternal - these cities were never rebuilt and the sites still smell of sulphur.

To repeat, unquenchable fire (Mark 9:47-49) does not imply that it lasts forever, it simply means that it cannot be quenched while anything is left to burn. As with Sodom and Gomorrah, when all is burned, the fire stops. There is no hint in the text of Mark 9:47-49 that the fire lasts forever.

APPENDIX - "Eternal"

The translation of the Greek word aionios as “eternal” (implying everlasting) is most unfortunate. The word has come directly into English as “aeon” meaning (correctly) a period of time. In Greek usage, the period of time was understood to last as long as the time with which it was associated (hence the “ios” ending of the noun). Since the Messiah was the source of life, the period of life was truly everlasting; by contrast, the period of destruction was to last as long that required to completely destroy as shown in 2 Thess 1:9 and Jude 7.

Even in modern times, when a prisoner is jailed for the term of his/her natural life (never to be released) the newspaper heading is often "Jailed Forever". I have personally seen this a few times.

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  • the fire is eternal as much as the consequences are eternal +1 Feb 16 at 6:28
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Unquenchable of course, because the ἀϊδίοι δεσμοί of Jude 6-7 say that the fetters with which the demons are fettered are eternal and they will, therefore, never get loosened, even when the Judgment of the Great Day will come, when they will be finally condemned. Now, this condemnation in no way will abolish the "eternal fetters", for then those fetters will not be eternal at all.

Thus the only plausible interpretation can be that it will be the final settlement of the fallen angels already fettered by eternal fetters. Like when you arrest and fetter a criminal in Ancient Rome with chains, and then, after the final verdict and condemnation send him to labor in ore mines without loosening him from those chains, but the hapless criminal will be relieved by death, whereas the incomparably more hapless fallen angels will be deprived of this consolation.

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Here is another translation from the Concordant Version along with a commentary on these Jude 1:6-7

Besides, the messengers who keep not their own sovereignty, But leave their own habitation, He has kept in imperceptible bonds under gloom for the judgment of the great day. As Sodom and Gomorrah and the cities about them, in like manner to these, commuting ultra-prostitution, and coming away after other flesh, are lying before us, a specimen, experiencing the justice of eonian fire.

The word "habitation" is used but once elsewhere, and then it refers to the glorified human body. (2 Co. 5:2). By such means alone could the angels commit an unnatural act comparable to the sin of Sodom.

The destruction of Sodom surrounding cities is still apparent to all who visit the region. In this way these cities are experiencing the justice of eonian fire. The fire has long ceased but its effects will remain and testify to Gods judgment until the close of this eon, after which Sodom shall return to her former estate. (Ezekiel 16: 53-55). Quoted from the Concordant commentary.

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