“Outer Darkness” Versus the Lake of Fire

man in forest spooky halloween mood

Matthew 22:13, Outer [or exterior] darkness. This is likely not a reference to destruction in the lake of fire, which is the fate of the wicked, but rather the place where those who will be least in the kingdom (Matt 5:19) will reside.

In this same parable, Yeshua alludes to the lake of fire in verse seven where he mentions the fate of the wicked who refused the invitation to the wedding of the king’s son. This refers to those who refuse to respond favorably to the gospel message.

Those who are invited guests to the son’s wedding, but who weren’t properly attired, are those saints who will be in the kingdom of Elohim, but who will not have attained the higher reward of being the bride of the king’s son (i.e. the bride of Yeshua). They will not be living in close proximity to Yeshua as his bride in the New Jerusalem, which is a place where there is no darkness or night, for Yeshua who is the Sun of Righteousness (Mal 4:2) and whose face shines like the suns (Rev 1:16) will be the light of the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:23; 22:5). Rather, the place of reward for those who weren’t properly attired in robes of righteousness (Matt 22:11) will be to live further away from the New Jerusalem somewhere on the New Earth. These  appear to the those who refers to in Matt 5:19 as “the least in the kingdom.”

Moreover, light is a biblical metaphor for a knowledge of YHVH’s truth or being able to see spiritually, while darkness is a metaphor for ignorance or spiritual blindness. It is possible that these who will be least in the kingdom, though possessing eternal life, will be living in a state of not possessing as much divine revelation or spiritual light because their reward. This is because they failed to properly prepare their robes of righteousness to be the bride of Yeshua as the lesson of the previous parable teaches us. The reward of these people who will be least in the kingdom will be to abide in a place on the new earth that is further away from the New Jerusalem and that has less spiritual light shining on it.

Outer darkness being a lower position in the kingdom of Elohim as opposed to being cast into the lake of fire seems to be more consistent with Yeshua’s other usages of this phrase elsewhere (e.g. Matt 8:12; 25:30). In the verbal imagery of Yeshua, being cast into outer darkness seems to be in direct contrast to being cast into a fiery furnace, which is a reference to the fate of the wicked. This fate is final and refers to eternal damnation in the lake of fire (Matt 13:42, 50 cp. 3:12; 25:41; Mark 9:43–49; Rev 19:20; 20:10, 14, 15; 21:8).


8 thoughts on ““Outer Darkness” Versus the Lake of Fire

  1. Hi Natan – thanks for your thoughts on these scriptures. Outer darkness being a lesser reward seems bit of a stretch to me, for 2 reasons. First to be bound indicate a lack of freedom and impending punishment. Second, there is weeping and gnashing of teeth, which Luke 38:28 shown is due to what was lost out on, entry into the kingdom. I know for myself, if Yahuwah willing I make it into the kingdom, even at the lowliest position, I would be eternally happy, as at least I’m in the kingdom. Just my 2 cents.

    • Okay, you make some good points and you may be right, and I have indeed considered these possibilities. However, if you have a better explanation, then please share it.

      Unless one holds to the fantastical, fairy tale extra-biblical notion of hell as a place of eternal torment as perpetuated by the mainstream church system, then outer darkness cannot refer to the lake of fire unless there
      such a thing as dark fire.

      Indeed, the book of Revelation reveals that even the saints will have some tears to wipe away (Rev 7:17; 21:4). Yeshua also said that those who think they’ll be first in the kingdom will be last and the last shall be first. This, then, leads me to the opinion that some who thought they should have had a higher reward in Yeshua’s kingdom may be disappointed or chagrined (even angry?) that they received a lesser reward than they were anticipating. This may engender some momentary weeping and teeth grinding due to the stress of realizing that their religious activities they thought were important weren’t as high on the Master’s priority list.

      Granted, this is educated speculation. I’d be interested in anyone’s thoughts on this matter. Honestly, these scriptures have puzzled me for many years, and my mind is still open to new understanding.

      • Hi natan,

        This is my take:

        The outer darkness is the purging process prior to the white throne judgement.

        Those who weep, remorseful, and repentant, and will call upon the name of the Lord will be given mercy at the Mercy Seat ofChrist in the white throne judgement. They will be the sheep and the nations in the New Heaven and New Earth.

        Those who gnashed their teeth, bitter, disappointed, and cursed the name of the Lord for letting them suffer in the outer darkness even if they prophesied, healed, and cast demons in His Name, will be the goats in the white throne judgement, and their names are not found in the book of life, they will be thrown in the lake of fire to be totally destroyed and cease to excist anymore, just like what will happenn to death, hades, the fallen angels, satan, the beast, and the false prophets, destroyed. Matthew 10:28

      • Thank you for your thoughts on this. I’m not dogmatic about my understandings on this subject. Two things we know: We want to stay close to Yeshua, so that we won’t find ourselves in outer darkness, whatever it may be. Second, we’re all looking through a glass darkly on these subject about which not much is said.

  2. I once believe in this hell fire teaching, of people being punished even now. However careful study of scripture shows this to not be the case. All people who have died, both good and bad are just that, dead, for the dead know nothing. Ecc 9:5. We are not currently immortal to live after death either in heaven or hell, only Yahuwah & Yahushua are immortal(1 Tim 1:17), we must put on immortality(1 cor 15:54).
    2 Thes 1:9, Matt 24:46 shows that the punishment(for those do not want to follow God’s program) is eternal, that it is final cannot be reversed, they have lost their part in life, the second death. Even John 3:16 has the contrast of perish(destroyed, blotted out, no longer existing, no life, as if they never were) versus eternal life. What I believe the lake of fire does it consumes utterly and nothing remains. My speculation is that outer darkness is a reference to nothingness, this was the state everything before Yahushua spoke everything into existence and when someone is taken out of existence they become nothingness. If we look at out physical universe, the scientist say it is expanding into nothingness, the outer edge may be outer darkness. Again speculation.
    So as I see it, outer darkness a reference to nothingness, the lake of fire or the fire of God consumes utterly so that nothing remains, and that state is like when there was nothing (outer darkness).

    I agree there will be levels of rewards as taught in Luke 19:15-19.

    BTW another reason not to believe God is eternally punishing people in hell, is what would the kingdom be like for those in the kingdom, knowing that possibly friends, loved ones and neighbors are burning eternally in hell. What is more merciful eternal punishing or everlasting destruction(the destruction is everlasting).

    Just my thoughts – hopefully there is some insight.

    • Good comments. I agree with your state of the dead understanding.

      If what you say is true about outer darkness, then how will those who are burned up in the lake of fire be cognizant of outer darkness?

      • Hello Natan, I loved your sermon on how the church left its Jewish roots. Independently, I came to the same conclusion that you have come to about outer darkness. It is outside the light of New Jerusalem. These people experience the normal light and dark cycle of the earth , In which the light is still darkness compared to the light of the New Jerusalem.

        Isaiah 24:23 KJV
        [23] Then the moon shall be confounded, and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in mount Zion, and in Jerusalem, and before his ancients gloriously.

      • I struggle with things but I love the Lord as far outer atkness I can’t see it as a place of happiness at all but a place of loniliness of a broken soul o would hope god would have mercy on these souls and somehow they would come to purification but I don’t know

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