We read:

“I tell you, many will come from the east and west to share the banquet with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, but the sons of the kingdom will be thrown out into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 8:11-12 (NET)

Is Jesus referring to the “sons of the kingdom” as Abraham, Issac, and Jacob being thrown out into outer darkness? I would argue unlikely, but I am confused.

It seems even more odd that Jesus using the term “sons of the kingdom” would be in reference to the Holy Angels or Believers in Christ.

We read elsewhere about Sonship:

“For all who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “ Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself bears witness to our spirit that we are God’s children. And if children, then heirs (namely, heirs of God and also fellow heirs with Christ) —if indeed we suffer with him so we may also be glorified with him.” Romans 8:14-17 (NET)

So cross reference Romans 8:14-17 with Matthew 8:12, this seems to be way harder to interpret here. I am not suggesting though that the terms “the sons of God” & “the sons of the kingdom” are identical titles, rather I am suggesting they have a similar identity attached to them, namely: being of the Kingdom of God.

Furthermore, Jesus using similar language, yet not identical language, said this in Luke:

“Then Jesus traveled throughout towns and villages, teaching and making his way toward Jerusalem. Someone asked him, “Lord, will only a few be saved?” So he said to them, “Exert every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to.

Once the head of the house gets up and shuts the door, then you will stand outside and start to knock on the door and beg him, ‘Lord, let us in!’ But he will answer you, ‘I don’t know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’

But he will reply, ‘I don’t know where you come from! Go away from me, all you evildoers!’ There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves thrown out. Then people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and take their places at the banquet table in the kingdom of God. But indeed, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” Luke 13:22-30 (NET)

**My 5 questions are:

  • 1st: How do we interpret what Jesus is saying here?

  • 2nd: Is he saying that Abraham, Issac, and Jacob will be cast out?

  • 3rd: Or that these 3 patriarchs will participate casting people out of God’s kingdom?

  • 4th: Or that “sons of the kingdom” will themselves be cast into outer darkness?

  • 5th: If they are related to God as “sons of the kingdom” how then & why would they be cast out?

Text under review: “but the sons of the kingdom will be thrown out into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 8:12 (NET)

3 Answers 3


"Sons of the kingdom" is a Hebraic phrase denoting those who are markedly part of God's Kingdom, namely, the Jews, who were "a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:6): the meaning is that the Jews who were markedly God's will go to hell, whereas non-Jews will go to heaven with the Patriarchs. That is, the Jews who reject Christ will go to hell, but those who accept Christ, even though they be heathens, and not Jews, will inherit God's Kingdom in their place — even though they are "sons of the kingdom," again, a Hebraic phrase meaning, "those destined and properly belonging to" the Kingdom. It is a rhetorical way of teaching the doctrine that in Christ, in the New Covenant, there is neither Jew nor Greek. And God shows no favoritism, but rather, those who are of the faith of Abraham are counted for sons, and not of his flesh merely: "for God is able to raise up from these stones sons unto Abraham" (Matthew 3:9).1

Galatians 3:29 And if you be Christ's, then you are the seed of Abraham, heirs according to the promise.

The word "son of" in Hebrew denotes more than "physical offspring of," and forms part of a common Hebrew construction.

For example, to be of a certain age is to be the "son of x years:"

Deuteronomy 34:7 Moses was one hundred and twenty years old 2 when he died: and his eyes were not dim, nor had his vigor left him.

That is, "son" carries nothing of the connotation of the English word in this construction whereby chief characteristics are made representative of a person overall.

Or to be characterized by unbridled zeal for just vengeance upon the enemies of God is to be a "son of thunder" (ben regesh), that is, ready to mete out deadly force, unchecked by mercy.3 One who, like lightening, strikes without thinking better of the situation.

Or again, to be the "son of perdition" means "the foreknown one destined for perdition." Again, to be marked by this characteristic.

Most familiarly, the term "son of man" simpy means "human being," because said is characterized by being derived and produced from a "man." Which therefore makes him a man, or, human, like his father. Therefore, when Daniel saw an overtly divine entity who looked "like the son of man," that is, human, it was somewhat of an enigma. But of course, he saw through the veil to the incarnation, whereby God would be manifest in the flesh, and of course, become a "son of man," that is, human, and be served in the flesh as God by all nations, tribes and tongues.

The meaning of "Son of God," therefore, should be obvious, and was obvious to Jesus' hearers, who wanted to stone Him for claiming to be ben elohim in a new sense, that is: divine, God (John 10:33,36).

That is to say, the use of "son of" makes for a semantically rich construction in Hebrew. In this instance, "son of the kingdom," means one of the people from the nation of people entrusted with the Kingdom. Whereas one should expect these to be the sole inheritors of eternal life and the company of the Patriarchs, Jesus assures us this is not so, but that God will bring all men from everywhere, and cast away those who thought their salvation a done deal just because they were Jewish.

1 Play one words between "stones" (ebenim) and "sons" (benim).

2 Literally, "the son of one hundered and twenty years"

3 Mk 3:17, Luke 9:54 b'nei regesh


The context is provided by Matthew in verse 10:

When Jesus heard it, he marvelled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

Jesus here is speaking to a Roman (see vs. 5); the point He is making is that this Gentile is exhibiting greater faith than the people of Israel.

Matthew addressed this topic previously, in chapter 3:

And think not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. (Matthew 3:9)

The lesson here is that being a physical descendant of Abraham isn't going to save them--the children of the kingdom refers to the physical heirs of Abraham. Jesus elsewhere explains that it is far more important to be the spiritual heirs of Abraham (see John 8:33-58).

Jesus offers something Abraham could not--if the descendants of Abraham reject Jesus, the fact that they can trace their genealogy to Abraham will not save them. Foreigners (people from the east & west, etc.) who cannot trace their genealogy to Abraham but do embrace the spiritual heritage of Abraham will be admitted.

The theology of adoption derives from these principles, but is not described here in the same level of detail as later given by Paul.

  • This answer you gave seems indeed accurate, reliable, & tenable. Yet, when you said: “the children of the kingdom refers to the physical heirs of Abraham”… Is this the determined answer because Jesus doesn’t say “sons of the kingdom of God” instead? & Yes, I read your entire answer more than once.
    – Cork88
    Commented Jan 29, 2022 at 19:24
  • 1
    @Cork88 glad you found my answer worth reading twice =). This is how the Jews saw themselves. A helpful summary by Jerome: Or the Jews may be called the children of the kingdom, because God reigned among them heretofore (see Catena Aurea vol. 1 p. 310). Christians would later extend their gospel message (enlarge their borders) to include Gentiles, but this is not the way the religious leaders of Jesus' day saw the blessings of Abraham. Commented Jan 29, 2022 at 20:01

The phrase "sons of the kingdom" υἱοὶ τῆς βασιλείας , occurs twice, only in the Gospel of Matthew, as follows:

  • Matt 8:12 - But the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. This is almost certainly the unbelieving biological Jews in this instance in contradistinction to Christians as made clear in V10.
  • Matt 13:38 - The field is the world, and the good seed represents the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one. For consistency, this reference should be taken as biological Jews generally which are divided into the four types of "soil":
  • V19 - When anyone hears the message of the kingdom but does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.
  • V21, 22 - The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he remains for only a season. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.
  • V22 - The seed sown among the thorns is the one who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.
  • V23 - But the seed sown on good soil is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and produces a crop—a hundredfold, sixtyfold, or thirtyfold.

Thus, "son of the kingdom" refers in these two instances to biological Jews - some of whom were "good soil" and were the basis of evangelizing the gentiles such as Paul and Apollos, etc.

Back to Matt 8:11 which says, "I say to you that many will come from the east and the west to share the banquet with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven."

The great "banquet" is the banquet of the saved in the kingdom of heaven as referenced frequently in places such as Luke 14:24, Rev 19:9, 17. The "sons of the kingdom" who will be thrown into outer darkness are the unfaithful Jews who refuse to receive the Gospel truth about Messiah as referenced in several places such as:

  • Matt 21:33-43 - “the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to another people who will produce its fruit.” Matt 23:38 - “Look, your house is left to you desolate.”

Ellicott notes this:

(Matt 8:12) The children of the kingdom.—The form of the phrase is a Hebraism, indicating, as in “the children of the bride-chamber,” those who belonged to the kingdom, i.e., in this case, the Israelites, to whom the kingdom of heaven had, in the first instance, been promised, the natural heirs who had forfeited their inheritance.

Matthew Poole is similar:

But the children of the kingdom, the Jews, who boast much that they are the children of Abraham, and think themselves the only church, and the only heirs of glory, and who are indeed the only church of God as yet,

  • A critique of what you said: “Thus, "son of the kingdom" refers in these two instances to biological Jews.” - that might or might not be the case in (both) instances. Matthew 13:38 mentions “The field is the World”. Wouldn’t the “world” in Matthew 13:38 go beyond just biological Jews? Wouldn’t Jesus’ statement In Matthew 13:38 specifically be in reference of the sons of the kingdom of God, namely: the righteous? As opposed to the more likely interpretation of the biological Jews being referenced to in Matthew 8:12.
    – Cork88
    Commented Jan 29, 2022 at 23:18
  • @Cork88 - thank you. However, while I agree that is the usual understanding, I opted for a consistent interpretation of this term which accommodated the later Christian understanding. That is, if Sons of the Kingdom are Jews, then some of them (the good soil) blossomed into the Christian church as per Matt 13:38 and explained above.
    – Dottard
    Commented Jan 30, 2022 at 2:17
  • Noted, I’ll chew on this. Thx.
    – Cork88
    Commented Jan 30, 2022 at 3:28

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