Jude verse 13 speaks of those who are... "wandering stars for whom blackest darkness has been reserved" (NIV) or "wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever" (KJV).

My interest is in the meaning of “blackest darkness”. Some Bible commentators suggest the meaning of the Greek word “skotos” [Strong’s 4655] is the gloom of punishment and misery, or (in the case of Jude verse 13) moral or spiritual darkness.

I know a question already exists asking for the meaning of "wandering stars" in Jude verse 13, but my interest is actually in the expression "blackest darkness". The expression “blackest darkness” also appears in 2 Peter 2:17 (or “the mist of darkness” in the KJV).

What does “blackest darkness” mean within the context of Jude verse 13?

  • I cannot say anything about the meaning of Greek words, but a recent documentary about cosmologists finally producing a colour photo of the outline of a black hole at the centre of the M87 galaxy made me think of that verse. It took them 10 years to get 8 telescopes on top of 8 mountains to target the point over 5 nights. The black hole was shown up by light being bent at its event horizon as it either strove to escape the massive gravitational pull or get sucked in, never to escape thereafter. Could there be any darkness blacker than that in a black hole? Yet there is also phenomenal heat and – Anne Apr 12 '19 at 16:11
  • light, which makes me wonder if hell could be illustrated by a black hole. Burning heat and light is utterly bound to blackest darkness. Of course, nobody at the time Jude wrote to Christians knew anything about such things! Our modern scientific language could never have been used as those words had not been invented, yet the Greek words chosen are astonishingly fitting, given what we now know. www.gffg.info's link in his answer is most helpful there. It's intriguing and makes for a good question. – Anne Apr 12 '19 at 16:15

The Greek Phrase reads: ὁ ζόφος τοῦ σκότους which I would translate as "the gloom of darkness".

The operative word here is ζόφος (zophos) which occurs in Heb 12:18, 2 Peter 2:4, Jude 6, 13; and is always translated as gloom, darkness or similar.

BDAG defines this noun as: "darkness ranging from partial to total state, with suggestion of foreboding, darkness, gloom Heb 12:18"; or, "especially, darkness of the nether region, gloom"

Jude is describing the characteristics of ungodly people in very strong and strident terms. In v13 he prophecies their final fate - the gloom of darkness - the complete opposite of the eternal light surrounding God (1 John 1:5, John 1:4, 8:12, etc). This is a metaphorical way of saying that these people will end up "with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might" (2 Thess 1:9).

  • Interesting and useful. I note that in 2 Peter 2:17 the KJV translates it as “the mist of darkness”. – Lesley Apr 13 '19 at 6:53
  • The link to 2 Thessalonians 1:9 says it all, really. – Lesley Apr 24 '19 at 9:00

Most Christian theologians, if not all, at least on the page linked below, agree that this indicates that there will be but dim light, if any, in the abode of the wicked, the Lake of Fire.

Ellicott points out the wicked will "soon be driven to an eternal distance from the great original of light and happiness, to which they shall never return."


  • 1
    Welcome to this site and thanks for the link in your answer. It contains a wealth of related information. Obviously, there is far too much to copy into your answer, so I hope others will check the link out and weigh up the various reasons given for various interpretations. – Anne Apr 12 '19 at 16:05
  • I liked Gill’s Exposition on the Jewish view of the Egyptian darkness coming from the darkness of hell, the darkness upon the face of the deep at creation, which they interpret as hell. – Lesley Apr 24 '19 at 8:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.