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The Outer Darkness vs The Kingdom    Listen to .mp3 propecy podcasts.

Lyn Mize

Outer darkness is a very misunderstood concept in the Bible. Many have equated “outer darkness” with hell, purgatory, and even some place of punishment for a thousand years. Outer darkness is not hell, purgatory nor a place of punishment for a certain period of time, although there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth” for those who are relegated to this position. Outer darkness is not a place, but a position outside of the kingdom.  

Being cast into outer darkness is the exact opposite of entering the kingdom. Since the kingdom is not a place, outer darkness is also not a place. The word “kingdom” literally means king’s dominion, and it refers to an important position of authority. Therefore, “enter the kingdom” means to enter into the king’s dominion, or to enter into an important position of authority in the king’s government. Therefore, to be cast into outer darkness means to fail to enter into the kingdom. In a modern day worldly situation, it would be equivalent to an individual seeking a commission in the United States Army, but failing to qualify and being relegated to the ranks of the enlisted.  

Another analogous situation today would be to enter into Government Service.  When I was 23 years old, I took a battery of tests administered by the Federal Government. My university degree, grade-point average and results on the tests qualified me for a position in the United States Federal Government. I did not enter into a place, but into a position of service. I carried an ID card that identified me as a Federal Employee. We were required to live up to certain standards of conduct and we had responsibilities of service. We took an oath of office and we were told that we were Government employees 24 hours a day and not just during the time we were at work. I worked in many different places across the USA, but wherever I worked, I was still in the Government Service. I am belaboring the point here to emphasize that the kingdom of heaven is analogous to Government Service, and IT IS NOT A PLACE, BUT A POSITION OF RESPONSIBILITY AND AUTHORITY.  

All Christians will enter into heaven with new bodies at either the Firstfruits Rapture or the Main Harvest Rapture, but ALL CHRISTIANS WILL NOT ENTER INTO THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN. Many will be disqualified and become “castaways”. Even Paul feared this in accordance with the following scripture passage:  

(1 Cor 9:26 KJV)  I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:

(1 Cor 9:27 KJV)  But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.  

Since the kingdom of heaven is not a place, and since outer darkness is the opposite of the kingdom of heaven, it should be clear that OUTER DARKNESS IS NOT A PLACE EITHER. To be cast into outer darkness is to fail to enter into the kingdom of heaven.  

The majority of Christians today assume that they will reign and rule with Christ in His coming kingdom regardless of how they have lived their lives. They equate entering the kingdom with going to heaven, and being cast into outer darkness as being cast into hell. Numerous Christians are going to be cast into outer darkness, and there will be tremendous sorrow and distress when this event takes place. It is analogous to a person going to the White House with the idea of being the Director of the FBI, but finding out when he arrives that he will be mowing the grass on the lawn. There is going to be weeping and gnashing of teeth by many Christians when they arrive in heaven and discover that they are going to be sweeping up gold dust in the streets. (NOTE: This is a tongue-in-cheek expression that Dr. M. R. DeHaan once used as an attempt to distinguish between those who do not enter the kingdom from those who enter the kingdom.)  

The phrase “outer darkness” is an idiom, and it is used three times in Scripture. The following is the definition of an idiom:  

id·i·om  n. 1. A speech form or an expression of a given language that is peculiar to itself grammatically or cannot be understood from the individual meanings of its elements, as in keep tabs on.  

Since we cannot understand the phrase or idiom from the individual meanings of its elements, we must go to the context in which it is used to understand the meaning. “Outer darkness is first used in the following passage of Scripture:  

Outer Darkness for Jews  

(Mat 8:5 KJV)  And when Jesus was entered into Capernaum, there came unto him a centurion, beseeching him,

(Mat 8:6 KJV)  And saying, Lord, my servant lieth at home sick of the palsy, grievously tormented.

(Mat 8:7 KJV)  And Jesus saith unto him, I will come and heal him.

(Mat 8:8 KJV)  The centurion answered and said, Lord, I am not worthy that thou shouldest come under my roof: but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed.

(Mat 8:9 KJV)  For I am a man under authority, having soldiers under me: and I say to this man, Go, and he goeth; and to another, Come, and he cometh; and to my servant, Do this, and he doeth it.

(Mat 8:10 KJV)  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.

(Mat 8:11 KJV)  And I say unto you, That many shall come from the east and west, and shall sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven.

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

(Mat 8:13 KJV)  And Jesus said unto the centurion, Go thy way; and as thou hast believed, so be it done unto thee. And his servant was healed in the selfsame hour.

Verses 11 and 12 provide us with the idiomatic definition of “outer darkness”. It is a failure of the “children of the kingdom” to enter into the kingdom of heaven. The “many” that “come from the east and west” are those in the Church who qualify for positions in the kingdom of heaven. The “children of the kingdom” who are “cast into outer darkness” are the Jews who rejected Jesus and failed to enter into the kingdom of heaven with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the many from the east and the west. This failure of the nation of Israel to enter the kingdom of heaven is addressed in the following Scripture:  

(Mat 21:42 KJV)  Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?

(Mat 21:43 KJV)  Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.  

The “stone” that was rejected was Jesus and the builders were the Jews. They rejected Jesus, so the kingdom was taken away from them and given to another group of people. The “nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” is the Church. Just as there were some Jews in the nation of Israel who did not lose their inheritance of reigning and ruling with Jesus, there will be Christians in the Church who will lose their inheritance, even though the kingdom was given to the Church. Please note in verse 43 that the “kingdom of God” was “taken from” them and given to someone else. It was not a place that was taken away from the Jews, but the authority to reign and rule from the heavens.

Outer Darkness for Saved Gentiles  

The following passage of Scripture addresses “outer darkness” for saved Gentiles who are in the last half of the tribulation period. Even though saved and they are present at the beginning of the millennial kingdom, the lack of a garment of good works will disqualify them from entering into the earthly aspect of the kingdom.  

(Mat 22:1 KJV)  And Jesus answered and spake unto them again by parables, and said,

(Mat 22:2 KJV)  The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,

(Mat 22:3 KJV)  And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.  

The marriage in verse 2 is the Firstfruits Rapture of the faithful Church, and his servants doing the calling are those who provide Meat In Due Season, or the five wise virgins. Those bidden to the wedding are the entire Church, but they rejected the offer to come to the wedding. They are the five foolish virgins who prepared not themselves and would not seek the kingdom of God.  

(Mat 22:4 KJV)  Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage.  

These “other servants” are those who become faithful during the first half of the tribulation period and they tell the main body of the Church about the wedding feast that is going to take place. Note: The wedding and the wedding feast are separate events.  

(Mat 22:5 KJV)  But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:  

Again, there are Church members who do not take the wedding feast seriously, and they remain caught up in the cares of the world.  

(Mat 22:6 KJV)  And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.  

The remnant is the remaining ones from the previous two groups of faithful Church and unfaithful Church. Consequently, the remnant is the rest on the earth who are not Church. The remnant took the faithful servants and abused them and even slew them.  

(Mat 22:7 KJV)  But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.  

This verse is the wrath of God in the last half of the tribulation period. He destroys those who abused and killed His servants and he destroys the cities of the earth.  

(Mat 22:8 KJV)  Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.  

The King then sends his servants—the 144,000 Jewish Firstfruits—to the saved Gentiles to bid them to the wedding feast, which will take place on the earth during the millennial kingdom. This is the earthly aspect of the kingdom, and numerous Gentiles will be called into the earthly aspect of the kingdom during the last half of the tribulation period.  

(Mat 22:9 KJV)  Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage.

(Mat 22:10 KJV)  So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.  

The above two verses describe the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom during the last half of the tribulation period. The gospel of the kingdom is always to the saved, and in this case it would be to saved Gentiles. All are saved, but not all have on the wedding garment of good works. This is seen in the following verses where the one without the wedding garment will be cast into outer darkness, or into a position outside of the earthly aspect of the kingdom.  

(Mat 22:11 KJV)  And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:

(Mat 22:12 KJV)  And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.

(Mat 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.

(Mat 22:14 KJV)  For many are called, but few are chosen.  

The parable is ended with the statement that many Gentiles will be saved during the tribulation period, but only a few are chosen to reign and rule in the earthly aspect of the kingdom.

Outer Darkness for Church Members

We have seen that the first use of outer darkness was to Jews who failed to enter the heavenly aspect of the kingdom. The second use of outer darkness was to Gentiles saved in the tribulation period who fail to enter into the earthly aspect of the kingdom. We will now look at the third use of outer darkness, which pertains to members of the Church who fail to enter into the heavenly aspect of the kingdom—even after going through the first half of the tribulation period.  

(Mat 25:14 KJV)  For the kingdom of heaven is as a man travelling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.

(Mat 25:15 KJV)  And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.

(Mat 25:16 KJV)  Then he that had received the five talents went and traded with the same, and made them other five talents.

(Mat 25:17 KJV)  And likewise he that had received two, he also gained other two.

(Mat 25:18 KJV)  But he that had received one went and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.

(Mat 25:19 KJV)  After a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and reckoneth with them.

(Mat 25:20 KJV)  And so he that had received five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: behold, I have gained beside them five talents more.

(Mat 25:21 KJV)  His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

(Mat 25:22 KJV)  He also that had received two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: behold, I have gained two other talents beside them.

(Mat 25:23 KJV)  His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

(Mat 25:24 KJV)  Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strowed:

(Mat 25:25 KJV)  And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, there thou hast that is thine.

(Mat 25:26 KJV)  His lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strowed:

(Mat 25:27 KJV)  Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and then at my coming I should have received mine own with usury.

(Mat 25:28 KJV)  Take therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him which hath ten talents.

(Mat 25:29 KJV)  For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath.

(Mat 25:30 KJV)  And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  

NOTE: Please read my exegetical discourse on The Olivet Discourse for a verse-by-verse exegesis of the above passage of Scripture.  

Briefly, the above passage pertains to those in the Church who are left behind in the Firstfruits Rapture to go through 42 months of tribulation. All three servants are Christians who are separated (i.e., cut asunder) at the Firstfruits Rapture. Two out of three servants in this parable of the talents become faithful and receive their reward, but the third one does not become faithful, and he loses his reward. Christians who do not become faithful in this life lose their positions and do not enter into the kingdom of heaven. They are cast into outer darkness. Outer darkness does last for the thousand years, but it is not a place separate and apart from heaven, for the simple reason that it is not a place.  

Outer darkness is not punishment for sin, but it is the loss of reward. It does result in shame for the individual and strong rebuke from the Lord Jesus Christ. It does result in weeping and gnashing of teeth by Christians who lose their inheritance, but it is not banishment from heaven for the thousand years. It is the failure to reign and rule with Jesus Christ for the millennium.

All Christians will dwell in heaven for the millennium and forever. Their dwelling place in heaven will be the New Jerusalem, which is the heavenly city of God, prepared by Jesus Christ for his Church. There will definitely be levels of intimacy with Jesus Christ, and levels of authority in the New Jerusalem, but the whole Church will be there forever.

It is true that all Christians must stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ to be judged for their works. Many will lose their reward and be severely chastised for their lives, but all will be cleansed and purified and will dwell in the New Jerusalem. The following passage of Scripture in the book of Revelation addresses the Main Harvest Rapture of the Church, which will include faithful and unfaithful Christians. Please note that there is no mention of reigning and ruling with the Lord Jesus Christ, but the whole Church is before the throne of God praising and worshipping God.

(Rev 7:9 KJV)  After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;

(Rev 7:10 KJV)  And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

(Rev 7:11 KJV)  And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,

(Rev 7:12 KJV)  Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

(Rev 7:13 KJV)  And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?

(Rev 7:14 KJV)  And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

(Rev 7:15 KJV)  Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.

(Rev 7:16 KJV)  They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.

(Rev 7:17 KJV)  For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

It is very important to see that this additional group of Christians in heaven around the throne came out of great tribulation, have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb. At the Main Harvest Rapture of the Church, all Christians will be totally cleansed and purified by the Lamb of God—even though the unfaithful will forfeit their inheritance in the kingdom of God. Please note the very important distinction between those who have just arrived in heaven with white robes out of great tribulation and the “four beasts” (i.e., four living creatures) and the elders. The four living creatures and the twenty-four elders have been in heaven since the very beginning of the seven-year tribulation period. This is not true for the majority who have just arrived in heaven with white robes—there is no mention of thrones or crowns for these newly arrived Christians.

One additional analogy that distinguishes the difference between entering the kingdom and being cast into outer darkness is the Olympic Games. Athletes from all nations compete in numerous athletic events to win medals that bring honor and glory. At the end of the competition the winners are announced, and the winners take their rightful positions on pedestals with the gold medal winner being on the highest pedestal, the silver medal winner on the second highest pedestal and the bronze medal winner being on the lowest pedestal. All three are in the limelight of attention and receive glory and honor. THE WINNERS ARE IN THE LIMELIGHT. THE LOSERS ARE IN THE “OUTER DARKNESS” JUST OUTSIDE OF THE LIMELIGHT. The losers are in the same place as the winners, but the winners are in the spotlight. The losers are in a POSITION just outside of the limelight in outer darkness. The definition of outer darkness is the darkness just outside of the light. Wherever the Olympic winners go they receive honor, glory and recognition for their achievements, and they go down in history as Olympic winners. This means they are immortalized. The losers do not receive honor and glory, and they are relegated or cast into obscurity. The winners remain in the light wherever they go, but the losers remain in the darkness just outside of the light.

The Christian who enters into the kingdom of heaven will enter into a position of responsibility, honor, glory and immortality. The Christian who fails to enter the kingdom of heaven is cast into outer darkness. He fails to enter into a position of honor, glory and immortality. This Christian’s home will still be the New Jerusalem, and he will still be cleansed, purified and conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. He will still receive a glorified body, and the following passage of Scripture describes the lot of this Christian:

(Rev 7:15 KJV)  Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.

(Rev 7:16 KJV)  They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.

(Rev 7:17 KJV)  For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.