"Even as Sodom and Gomorrah, and the cities about them, in like manner giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire." Jude 7, 2 Pet. 2:6.
For an exposition of the phrase "eternal fire," see hereafter in this volume. The cities referred to by Jude are a perpetual example. Their fire has long since expired, but their example still remains, it is one perpetually before the world. The fire is eternal, though it was long since extinguished.
By the phrase eternal fire, according to Rosenmuller we may understand a destructive fire, such as laid waste and annihiliated the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, or we may understand by it a fire perpetually smoking. Philo, the Jew, who wrote in the time of our Savior, says, de vita Mosis, Lib. II. p. 662 A, that even then there were memorials to be seen in Syria of the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah; ruins, ashes, brimstone, smoke and lurid flames which were still emitted, indicative of abiding fire. With this agrees the Book of Wisdom, x:7, which says: "Of whose wickedness even in this day the waste land that smoketh is a testimony."
Dr. Shaw (see Clarke's Com. on Genesis 19: 24), says that "the appearance of smoke and fire of which he speaks, and to which Philo and the author of Wisdom allude, is undoubtedly to be explained by the well known existence of bituminous matter in the bed of the lake Asphaltites, which now occupies the site of those cities. These considerations are sufficient to justify the language of Jude, without resorting to the idea that he had reference to the future world."
Similar language is found in Matt. 18:8. "Wherefore if thy hand or thy foot offend thee, cut them off, and cast them from thee: it is better for thee to enter into life halt or maimed, rather than having two hands or two feet to be cast into everlasting fire."
Similar to the foregoing is the use of the phrases:
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