What Is The Outer Darkness?

Q. I was told recently that according to Matt 8: 10-12, there will be an “outer darkness” in heaven, meaning that some will be closer to God than others.  Whether they meant physically or spiritually, I do not know.  A reference was made that in v12 “the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown into this outer darkness…..” the reasoning being that they are already IN heaven and therefore will be seated farther away I suppose.  What are your thoughts on this?

A. This is a classic case of someone misunderstanding the context of the passage.   Jesus was in Israel speaking of the faith of a Gentile, the Roman Centurion.  Israel was God’s Kingdom on Earth at the time, and they’re the ones referred to as its subjects in this passage.  Jesus knew they would reject Him as their King, and the kingdom would taken away from them and be given to others (Matt. 21:43).  The phrase “many will come from the East and the West” is a veiled reference to the predominately Gentile believers who would inherit the Kingdom along with Israel’s patriarchs.

The phrase “outer darkness” appears only three times in the New Testament and never in connection with the Church.  Strong’s concordance defines it as “ignorance respecting divine things and human duties, and the accompanying ungodliness and immorality, together with their consequent misery in hell.”

So who was the Lord talking about?  In Matt. 8:12 unbelieving Israel is in view, and in Matt. 22:13 and Matt. 25:30 the references are to people who will have survived the Great Tribulation but lost their faith along the way and therefore their position in the Millennial Kingdom as well.

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