In the book of Matthew and none of the other Gospels he quotes Jesus as having said they would be cast into the outer darkness.

Matthew 8:12 KJV

But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

The account of this incident as recorded in Luke chapter 7 does not allude to any comment by Jesus other than:

Luke 7:9 KJV

When Jesus heard these things, he marvelled at him, and turned him about, and said unto the people that followed him, I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.

And in:

Matthew 22:13 KJV

Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

This event is not cited in any other Gospel.

And again in:

Matthew 25:30 KJV

And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Again this parable is not cited in any other Gospel.


7 Answers 7


Matthew further elaborates on where and when the "weeping and gnashing of teeth" will occur.

Matthew 13:40-42

As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world.The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.


This outer darkness probably refers to the temporary holding place for the wicked and those who don't know Christ prior to the judgement, also known as prison or hell (not to be confused with the final resting place for the sons of perdition, those not redeemed by Christ's Atonement).

The following scriptures shed more light on the nature and purpose of this holding place:

In the parable in Luke 16:22-23, a rich man ended up in this place of torment after his selfishness allowed a beggar die:

22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;

23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

In 1 Peter 3:19 we read that Christ preached to these spirits in prison after his resurrection:

19 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

In the next chapter, 1 Peter 4:16, we read that the gospel was preached to these dead in prison so that they will have the chance to accept it and be saved.

6 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

Zechariah 9:11 teaches that (at least some of) those in prison will be saved by Christ's Atonement.

11 As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.

At some point all those in this hell will be brought out and judged before being consigned to their final destination. Revelation 20:13-14:

13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.

14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.

Notice that it was only after judgement that death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This "second death" is permanent separation from Christ.


Matthew 8:12 But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

It could refer to the place of holding or actual hell fire. But most importantly, it is a place of contrast to the wedding feast which is the bright inside where people are eating and drinking and laughing and enjoying themselves.

Adam Clarke Commentary expresses this sentiment:

Shall be cast out into outer darkness - As the enjoyment of that salvation which Jesus Christ calls the kingdom of heaven is here represented under the notion of a nuptial festival, at which the guests sat down in a reclining posture, with the master of the feast; so the state of those who were excluded from the banquet is represented as deep darkness; because the nuptial solemnities took place at night. Hence, at those suppers, the house of reception was filled with lights called δαδες, λαμπαδες, λυκνεια, φανοι, torches, lamps, candles, and lanthorns, by Athenaeus and Plutarch: so they who were admitted to the banquet had the benefit of the light; but they who were shut out were in darkness, called here outer darkness, i.e. the darkness on the outside of the house in which the guests were; which must appear more abundantly gloomy, when compared with the profusion of light within the guest-chamber. And because they who were shut out were not only exposed to shame, but also to hunger and cold; therefore it is added, there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth

I believe the key to understand Matthew 8:12 is in terms of contrast.


What is the outer darkness referred to in Matthew?

Jesus is saying that many non-jews showing faith will be favored with blessings, to the Gentile army officer showing great faith Jesus says:

Matthew 8:11-13 NASB

11 I say to you that many will come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven; 12 but the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” 13 And Jesus said to the centurion, “Go; it shall be done for you as you have believed.” And the servant was healed that very.

Jesus is referring to how the Gentiles will be welcomed to recline "in the kingdom of the heavens" with the Roman Centurion "Cornelius" a Gentile being the first non-Jew."The sons of the kingdom" are the natural Israelites that are given the first opportunity of being rulers with Christ in his Kingdom, but because of their lack of faith and rejection of Christ, will be cast into "outer darkness" or rejected

Many Gentiles will come into the bosom of divine favor. As Paul said:

Galatians 3:8 NASB

8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “All the nations will be blessed in you


Outer is an adjective that means outside. Darkness was used metaphorically to mean hell. The result: outside (of heaven) in hell.

Christ was sent first to the lost sheep of Israel. This is so that God keeps the covenant He made with Abraham.

Rather, because of the unbelieve of many of the Jews, what was meant for them was being given to outsiders (non Jews) that believed in Christ.

In Matt 15:22-28

And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. 27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. 28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.

  • Please clarify this, «Rather, because of the unbelieve of many of the Jews, what was meant for them was being given to outsiders (non Jews) that believed in Christ.». It seems that you're saying that Christ came to gentiles because of unbelief among the Jews; if that were the case, include scriptural reference(s) Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 7:52

"But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matthew 8:12

It's impossible to understand the meaning of these words unless you understand God's overall plan. The 'children of the kingdom' is the Jewish nation. As in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), everything is typical, not literal. And like that parable, it illustrates the judgment that was to come upon the nation of Israel because of the great evil they committed when they rejected and killed their promised Messiah. This prophecy was fulfilled in 70 A.D., when Titus destroyed Jerusalem, and with it the Jewish Temple, the House of God. Those who weren't killed in that battle were forced to flee from the land which God had given them, and to settle in the gentile nations of the world. What followed was fiery persecution wherever they went. No longer recognized as God's people, the Jews were now in a condition of outer darkness, where for almost nineteen hundred years they experienced "weeping and gnashing of teeth," -- the extreme suffering that Jesus foretold. The most grievous persecution occurred under the German Nazis, where six million Jews were slaughtered. Since then God has been gathering the Jews back to their homeland, and in 1948 they once again became a nation. The weeping however, is not over with, for soon, a great war prophesied by the prophet Ezekiel will come upon Israel. At that time, a huge Muslim army will invade Israel, and cause the "weeping and gnashing of teeth" to return. This time, however, it will bring the remnant to their knees before God, and cause them to truly repent. The people shall acknowledge Jesus as their Messiah, and they shall grieve their part in his death. Then they shall cry out to God Almighty, and the Lord shall turn and fight for His people, as He did in olden times. The power He unleashes will decimate the invaders, and yet He will permit a few to escape, so that they might proclaim that God fights for Israel (Ezekiel, chapters 38, 39; Zech. 12:10). Then Christ will return and reign over the earth for one thousand-years.

  • This is an expression of your own opinion. This is not an hermeneutic answer, substantiated with valid references.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 18:36
  • If you read to the bottom of my comment, you would see:(Ezekiel, chapters 38, 39; Zech. 12:10). Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 20:03
  • I don't see any mention of 'Nazis, 1948 or a Muslim army' in your chosen citation.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 20:35
  • No, it doesn't mention Nazis. However, it's common knowledge that six million Jews were slaughtered by them. It'd be foolish to believe that Luke 16:19-31 is literal, for then we'd have to conclude that the rich man went to hades (Greek: the grave) because he was rich, and the beggar went to a place called Abraham's bosom (not heaven), because he was poor (verse 25). It's clearly a parable regarding the Jewish people (rich man), and the gentiles (beggar), and isn't literal. In Ezek. 38, the mighty horde under Gog is comprised of enemy fighters from countries that are now Muslim nations. Commented Oct 12, 2020 at 23:11
  • Hi Montana Man, welcome to BHSE - please do take the Site Tour to learn more about the site and what kind of questions and answers to expect here. "It's impossible to understand the meaning of these words unless you understand God's overall plan." - your answer feels like it is running a line dangerously close to eisegesis, where we read our beliefs into scriptural passages, rather than reading meaning out of the passages.
    – Steve can help
    Commented Oct 13, 2020 at 6:03

This outer darkness is where the fallen suffer until the resurrection ON THE LAST DAY. NO is the only thing there. No, God, love, peace, light, comfort... NOthing but "blackness of darkness for ever" (Jude 13).

Drawing from Matthew 4:16

The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up.

it's a place distant from the light / God's presence.

  • Hi theo Gentile, welcome. I'll remove a part of the answer which can be offensive since it assumes the other person didn't pray to get the answer AND that God would reveal the same thing to the same person at the same time. Commented Nov 29, 2020 at 8:58
  • Also removed unnecessary information. Commented Nov 29, 2020 at 9:01
  • Some improvements to consider: what do other authors say about that? What's the original word used and was it used in other locations? If yes, with what meaning? ... Commented Nov 29, 2020 at 9:03
  • Took the liberty to edit it by providing a clearer example taking advantage of other passages. Hope that makes things clearer for you too. Commented Nov 29, 2020 at 9:10
  • 1
    @TiagoMartinsPeres李大仁 - I approved it a few minutes ago. Big improvement!
    – Dottard
    Commented Nov 29, 2020 at 10:27

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