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. As these feasts are often alluded to by the evangelists, I would observe, once for all: - that they who were invited to them entered by a gate designed to receive them; whence Christ, by whom we enter into the marriage feast, compares himself to a gate, John 10:1, John 10:2, John 10:7, John 10:9. This gate, at the time the guests were to come, was made narrow, the wicket only being left open, and the porter standing there, that they who were not bidden to the marriage might not rush into it. Hence Christ exhorts the Jews to enter in at the strait gate, Matthew 7:13, etc. When all that were invited were once come, the door was presently shut, and was not to be opened to any who came too late, and stood knocking without; so after the wise virgins had entered with the bridegroom, the gate was shut, and was not opened to the foolish virgins, who stood knocking without, Matthew 25:11. And in this sense we are to understand the words of Christ, Luke 13:24, Luke 13:25. Many shall seek to enter in, but shall not be able. Why? because the master of the house hath risen up and shut to the door; they would not come to him when they might, and now the day of probation is ended, and they must be judged according to the deeds done in the body. See Whitby on the place. How many of those who are called Christians suffer the kingdom, the graces, and the salvation which they had in their hands, to be lost; while West-India negroes, American Indians, Hindoo polytheists, and atheistic Hottentots obtain salvation! An eternity of darkness, fears, and pains, for comparatively a moment of sensual gratification, how terrible the thought! What outer darkness, or το σκοτος το εξωτερον, that darkness, that which is outermost, may refer to, in eternal damnation, is hard to say: what it alludes to I have already mentioned: but as the words βρυγμος των οδοντων, gnashing or Chattering of teeth, convey the idea, not only of extreme anguish, but of extreme cold; some have imagined that the punishment of the damned consists in sudden transitions from extreme heat to extreme cold; the extremes of both I have found to produce exactly the same sensation.
Milton happily describes this in the following inimitable verses, which a man can scarcely read, even at midsummer, without shivering.
Beyond this flood a frozen continent
Lies dark and wild, heat with perpetual storms
Of whirlwind and dire hail
- the parching air
Burns frore, and cold performs the effect of fire
Thither by harpy-footed furies haled,
At certain revolutions all the damn'd
Are brought; and feel by turns the bitter change
Of fierce extremes, extremes by change more fierce,
From beds of raging fire, to starve in ice,
- and there to pine
Immovable, infix'd, and frozen round
Periods of time; thence hurried back to fire
Parad. Lost, book ii. line 586
There is a passage in the Vulgate, Job 24:19, that might have helped Milton to this idea. Ad nimium calorem transeat ab aquis nivium. "Let him pass to excessive heat, from waters of snow." This reading, which is found only in this form in the Vulgate, is vastly expressive. Every body knows that snow water feels colder than snow itself, even when both are of the same temperature, viz. 32, because the human body, when in contact with snow water, cools quicker than when in contact with snow. Another of our poets has given us a most terrible description of perdition on the same ground.
The once pamper'd spirit
To bathe in fiery floods, or to reside
In thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice;
To be imprison'd in the viewless winds,
And blown with restless violence round about
This pendant world; or to be worse than worst
Of those that lawless and incertain thoughts
Similar to this is that dreadful description of the torments of the wicked given in the Institutes of Menu:
"The wicked shall have a sensation of agony in Tamisra, or utter darkness, and in other seats of horror; in Asipatrauana, or the sword-leaved forest, and in different places of binding fast, and of rending: multifarious tortures await them: they shall be mangled by ravens and owls, and shall swallow cakes boiling hot, and shall walk over inflamed sands, and shall feel the pangs of being baked like the vessels of a potter: they shall assume the forms of beasts continually miserable, and suffer alternate afflictions from extremities of cold and heat; surrounded with terrors of various kinds. They shall have old age without resource; diseases attended with anguish; pangs of innumerable sorts, and, lastly, unconquerable death." - Institutes of Menu, chap. 12. Inst. 75-80.
In the Zend Avesta, the place of wicked spirits is termed, "The places of darkness, the germs of the thickest darkness." An uncommonly significant expression: Darkness has its birth there: there are its seeds and buds, there it vegetates everlastingly, and its eternal fruit is - darkness!
See Zend Avesta, vol. i. Vendidad sadi, Fargard. xviii. p. 412.
And is this, or, any thing as bad as this, Hell? Yes, and worse than the worst of all that has already been mentioned. Hear Christ himself. There their worm dieth not, and the fire is Not Quenched! Great God! save the reader from this damnation!
The children of the kingdom - That is, the children, or the people, who “expected the kingdom,” or to whom it properly belonged; or, in other words, the Jews. they supposed themselves to be the special favorites of heaven. They thought that the Messiah would enlarge their nation and spread the triumphs of their kingdom. They called themselves, therefore, the children or the members of the kingdom of God, to the exclusion of the Gentiles. Our Saviour used the manner of speech to which they were accustomed, and said that “many of the pagans would be saved, and many Jews lost.
Shall be cast out into outer darkness - This is an image of future punishment. It is not improbable that the image was taken from Roman dungeons or prisons. They were commonly constructed under ground. They were shut out from the light of the sun. They were, of course, damp, dark, and unhealthy, and probably most filthy. Masters were in the habit of constructing such prisons for their slaves, where the unhappy prisoner, without light, or company, or comfort, spent his days and nights in weeping from grief, and in vainly gnashing his teeth from indignation. The image expresses the fact that the wicked who are lost will be shut out from the light of heaven, and from peace, and joy, and hope; will weep in hopeless grief, and will gnash their teeth in indignation against God, and complain against his justice. What a striking image of future woe! Go to a damp, dark, solitary, and squalid dungeon; see a miserable and enraged victim; add to his sufferings the idea of eternity, and then remember that this, after all, is but an image, a faint image, of hell! Compare the notes at Matthew 22:13.
The disciples were to go forth as Christ's witnesses, to declare to the world what they had seen and heard of Him. Their office was the most important to which human beings had ever been called, second only to that of Christ Himself. They were to be workers together with God for the saving of men. As in the Old Testament the twelve patriarchs stood as representatives of Israel, so the twelve apostles stand as representatives of the gospel church. AA 19.1
During His earthly ministry Christ began to break down the partition wall between Jew and Gentile, and to preach salvation to all mankind. Though He was a Jew, He mingled freely with the Samaritans, setting at nought the Pharisaic customs of the Jews with regard to this despised people. He slept under their roofs, ate at their tables, and taught in their streets. AA 19.2
The Saviour longed to unfold to His disciples the truth regarding the breaking down of the “middle wall of partition” between Israel and the other nations—the truth that “the Gentiles should be fellow heirs” with the Jews and “partakers of His promise in Christ by the gospel.” Ephesians 2:14; 3:6. This truth was revealed in part at the time when He rewarded the faith of the centurion at Capernaum, and also when He preached the gospel to the inhabitants of Sychar. Still more plainly was it revealed on the occasion of His visit to Phoenicia, when He healed the daughter of the Canaanite woman. These experiences helped the disciples to understand that among those whom many regarded as unworthy of salvation, there were souls hungering for the light of truth. AA 19.3Read in context »
Christ had said to the nobleman whose son He healed, “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe.” John 4:48. He was grieved that His own nation should require these outward signs of His Messiahship. Again and again He had marveled at their unbelief. But He marveled at the faith of the centurion who came to Him. The centurion did not question the Saviour's power. He did not even ask Him to come in person to perform the miracle. “Speak the word only,” he said, “and my servant shall be healed.” DA 315.1Read in context »
A centurion's servant was lying sick of the palsy. Among the Romans the servants were slaves, bought and sold in the market places, and often treated with abuse and cruelty; but the centurion was tenderly attached to his servant, and greatly desired his recovery. He believed that Jesus could heal him. He had not seen the Saviour, but the reports he had heard inspired him with faith. Notwithstanding the formalism of the Jews, this Roman was convinced that their religion was superior to his own. Already he had broken through the barriers of national prejudice and hatred that separated the conquerors from the conquered people. He had manifested respect for the service of God and had shown kindness to the Jews as His worshipers. In the teaching of Christ, as it had been reported to him, he found that which met the need of the soul. All that was spiritual within him responded to the Saviour's words. But he thought himself unworthy to approach Jesus, and he appealed to the Jewish elders to make request for his servant's healing. MH 63.1
The elders present the case to Jesus, urging that “he was worthy for whom He should do this: for he loveth our nation, and he hath built us a synagogue.” Luke 7:4, 5. MH 63.2Read in context »
The centurion who desired Christ to come and heal his servant felt unworthy to have Jesus come under his roof; his faith was so strong in the power of Christ that he entreated Him just to say the word and the work would be done. “When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to them that followed, Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel. 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. But the children of the kingdom shall be cast out into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 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.” 4T 233.1
Here Jesus exalted faith in contrast with doubt. He showed that the children of Israel would stumble because of their unbelief, which would lead to the rejection of great light and would result in their condemnation and overthrow. Thomas declared that he would not believe unless he put his finger into the prints of the nails and thrust his hand into the side of his Lord. Christ gave him the evidence he desired and then reproved his unbelief: “Because thou hast seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” 4T 233.2
In this age of darkness and error, men who profess to be followers of Christ seem to think that they are at liberty to receive or reject the servants of the Lord at pleasure and that they will not be called to an account for so doing. Unbelief and darkness lead them to this. Their sensibilities are blunted by their unbelief. They violate their consciences and become untrue to their own convictions and weaken themselves in moral power. They view others in the same light with themselves. 4T 233.3Read in context »