While the answer to the question, ‘Will God destroy righteous with the wicked?’ seems to be a straight forward ‘No’, there is a Bible verse in Ezekiel that actually says otherwise. In this post we will explore why that verse is a typographical error on the manuscript by comparing it Septuagint and with the nature of God Himself from other passages and prophets.
And say to the land of Israel, ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, I [am] against you, and I will draw My sword out of its sheath and cut off both righteous and wicked from you. Because I will cut off both righteous and wicked from you, therefore My sword shall go out of its sheath against all flesh from south [to] north, that all flesh may know that I, the LORD, have drawn My sword out of its sheath; it shall not return anymore.”Ezek 21:3-4
While most modern translations say that God will destroy both the righteous and the wicked, if we look into the Septuagint, it says otherwise.
and thou shalt say to the land of Israel, Thus saith the Lord; Behold, I am against thee, and I will draw forth my sword out of its sheath, and I will destroy out of thee the transgressor and unrighteous. Because I will destroy out of thee the unrighteous and the transgressor, [therefore] so shall my sword come forth out of its sheath against all flesh from the south to the north:Ezek 21:3-4
In Septuagint, God will destroy both the transgressor and the unrighteous. To clear our doubts regarding which one is correct, we must look into the nature of God Himself described in other passages of the Bible.
Ezekiel itself says Otherwise
“Again, when I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ if he turns from his sin and does what is lawful and right, [if] the wicked restores the pledge, gives back what he has stolen, and walks in the statutes of life without committing iniquity, he shall surely live; he shall not die.Ezek 33:14-15
In the same book of Ezekiel, God is confirming that when a wicked turns from his wicked ways, he will surely live and not die.
And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked?Gen 18:23
Will God destroy the righteous with the wicked? That’s the troubling question for Abraham when God shares His decision to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah. But, God confirms He will not destroy the righteous with the wicked and will even spare the city for the sake of 10 righteous people in the city. God even sent His angels to save Lot and his household, the only remaining righteous person in the city. Hence, God will not destroy the righteous with the wicked but provided a way for the righteous to escape.
Psalm of David
[The righteous] cry out, and the LORD hears, And delivers them out of all their troubles.Ps 34:17
If we ask David, he will reply that God will deliver the righteous out of all their troubles.
Now “If the righteous one is scarcely saved, Where will the ungodly and the sinner appear?”1 Pet 4:18 (NJKV)
Another interesting verse which we must consider is implying that the righteous is scarcely saved (or only a few righteous are saved). However, the actual Greek does not say that which we can easily identify from other translations like NASB and NIV.
And, “If it is with difficultly that the righteous is saved, what will become of the godless man and the sinner?”1 Pet 4:18 (NASB)
It is indeed with difficultly the righteous is saved, which is by entering the narrow gate and walking on the difficult path. Salvation is not easy. That’s the actual message of the verse.
God will never destroy the righteous with the wicked. This does not mean the righteous will never die in the hands of the wicked.
Keep yourself far from a false matter; do not kill the innocent and righteous. For I will not justify the wicked.Exod 23:7
What it means is, if God is about to bring judgment, He will never destroy the righteous with the wicked. Even if the Bible verse says contrary to the nature of God, it is always better to investigate it by comparing it with other verses and manuscripts. As Jesus said, by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established.
Praise God He will never destroy the righteous, his hidden, chosen, beloved, ransomed ones with the wicked. And not only that but He has a pattern of preserving his people. In Ezekiel 9:3 Yah sends his angelic scribe (preincarnate Christ?) to put a mark on the foreheads of the righteous, penitent, those who have been faithful, and who mourn and weep for the detestable sins committed in their city. The mark was the indication of God’s elect, his chosen bride, identified personally by Christ. He was preserving them and marking them for protection from His coming judgment and punishment of the city. All praises to the Most High King. He is coming soon! 👑
Thank you for your words clarifying this most important part of scripture….rightly dividing the Word, and interpreting scripture with scripture. Appreciate your words!🙏
These comments have been so helpful to me. Although I took a continuing ed class in Greek, I am still unable to read it, much less understand it. However, one of the main things I learned in my class was how difficult it can be to translate ideas from one language to another. These explanations are consistent with not only what I believe about our great God, but also with His character as shown in Scripture. Thank you for helping me understand this complex text.