Questions From Readers
● Since those destroyed in the Flood and those who perished at Sodom and Gomorrah are mentioned together at 2 Peter 2:4-6 and Luke 17:26-30, might this indicate that those who perished in the Flood will be resurrected?—J.B., England.
When we examine Second Peter chapter two we find that the apostle Peter was warning that false Christians would appear in the congregations. (2 Pet. 2:1-3) These “false teachers” would lead some away from the true faith, but their own destruction was sure to come. To establish the point that God would punish them, the apostle referred to several examples. He showed that “God did not hold back from punishing the angels that sinned” and that he “did not hold back from punishing an ancient world” in Noah’s day. Also, by punishing Sodom and Gomorrah with destruction, God set “a pattern for ungodly persons of things to come.” (2 Pet. 2:4-6) So the apostle was giving examples to show that God punishes ungodly ones for wrongdoing. Resurrection prospects were not being discussed.
Similarly, Jesus, as shown at Luke 17:26-30, used the people who perished in the Flood and those who died when Sodom was destroyed as examples. Examples of what? Examples to show that the people in general would not be aware of his second presence because they would be completely immersed in the daily affairs of life: eating, drinking, marrying, buying, selling, planting and building. This would be “just as it occurred in the days of Noah” and “just as it occurred in the days of Lot.” Jesus concluded: “The same way it will be on that day when the Son of man is to be revealed.” Jesus used a similar illustration in Matthew 24:37-39, though there he mentioned only Noah’s day. In neither of these passages was he discussing whether the people mentioned would be resurrected.
However, in Second Peter chapter three the apostle focused attention on the destruction that will come during Christ’s second presence. He reasoned: “The world [human society outside Noah’s ark] of that time suffered destruction when it was deluged with water. But by the same word the heavens and the earth that are now are stored up for fire and are being reserved to the day of judgment and of destruction of the ungodly men.” (2 Pet. 3:6, 7) Notice that he says that the preflood world “suffered destruction.” What does that mean? Well, does the Bible say anywhere else that those who perished in the Flood will receive a resurrection? Does it say that they will be present on Judgment Day? No! But here in Second Peter the destruction they suffered in the Flood is compared to that of “ungodly men” who are destroyed at the end of this present system of things, concerning whom Jesus said that they will be symbolic “goats” and “will depart into everlasting cutting-off.” So apparently those people who were destroyed in Noah’s day were everlastingly cut off.—Matt. 25:31-46.
● How could the apostle Paul truthfully say that he was a Pharisee, as he did at Acts 23:6?—R.M., U.S.A.
Paul the apostle was standing accused at an assembly of the Jewish court of the Sanhedrin when he said, “I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. Over the hope of resurrection of the dead I am being judged.”
The day before he said this the apostle Paul had openly preached the resurrected Jesus Christ and caused an uproar among the Jews. (Acts 22:6-24) So the Pharisees and Sadducees assembled on this occasion definitely knew that Paul was no Pharisee but was a Christian. It is to be remembered, though, that he had been raised a Pharisee and was fully aware that Pharisees believed in the resurrection, angels and spirit, while the Sadducees rejected such doctrines. (Acts 23:8; 26:5; Phil. 3:5) As far as these doctrines were concerned, Paul the apostle held a belief similar to the Pharisees, in contrast to the position of the Sadducees.
The actions of the high priest Ananias, recorded in Acts 23:2, made it plain that those assembled would not be impartial or reasonable when hearing Paul’s case. It is possible that when the apostle saw this he attempted to divide the assembled group by driving between them the controversial wedge of the resurrection doctrine. While he was obviously not a Pharisee in the strictest sense of the word, he was still a “son of Pharisees” and indicated that he espoused the position of the Pharisees on the matter of resurrection. He believed in the resurrection of Jesus as a spirit, and this added to the disagreement between the groups present.—Acts 23:9, 10.
The apostle Paul did not here claim to accept some false beliefs in order to “become all things to people of all sorts.” (1 Cor. 9:22) He told the truth, not compromising his position, and used the occasion to give an effective witness.