Q396 : Are Christians at Risk of Being Cast into Outer Darkness?

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Q396 : Are Christians at Risk of Being Cast into Outer Darkness?

Hello Tony,

I heard a preacher who claims that Matthew 24-25 concerns the Church too, but what’s worse, he claims that the parables about the 10 virgins and about talents refer to the newborn Christians who finally wiil not be allowed to enter the Millenial Kingdom because they were not prepared enough (10 virgins) and the last servant who neglected his talent from God will be cast out into the outside darkness.

He claims, it is not the hell but you will spend your life outside the Millenium Kingdom with pagans, unborn pagans there during the Millenium time.

You will enter heaven later of course (the salvation is received by grace and faith only) but you won't enter this Kindgom.

It sounds for me a little bit strange?

And we know there wiil be a lot newborn Christians from the all ages (the Church age, the Tribulation time as you said), but how big will be the area of the Millenium Kingdom and some newborn Christians will be left outside the Kingdom?

Thank you very much in advance for your time and explanation.

God's blessings for you Tony.

A396 : by Tony Garland

I concur that the teaching that some "underperforming" Christians will be held in "outer darkness" during the millennial kingdom represents a serious distortion of the passages involved and misplaces believers into situations of judgment for unbelief.

To clarify, by "Christian" here, I mean a true, born-again believer — not just a professing believer who does not trust in Christ.

If we make a short survey of the "outer darkness" passages, we'll notice that the judgment mentioned goes far beyond chastising a true believer, or even loss of rewards, but involves punishment and damnation — being forever lost.

In Matthew 8:10-12, Jesus contrasts the faith of a Roman centurion (a Gentile) with that of the "sons of the kingdom" (Jews).

10 When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel! 11 And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. 12 But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Mat. 8:10-12)

The contrast is between believing Gentiles and unbelieving Jews — not between two classes of Christian. The conclusion is that unbelieving Jews—who should be the ones most naturally to receive their Messiah—will be damned while, unexpectedly, Gentiles will exercise saving faith. The unbelieving Jews are cast into hell and lost forever.

In Matthew 22:11-14, we again see a contrast between unbelieving Jews (initially invited to a wedding feast, but unwilling to come) and believing Gentiles — those out on the highways — who attend.

11 But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. 13 Then the king said to the servants, ‘Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ 14 “For many are called, but few are chosen.” (Mat. 22:11-14)

The wedding garment which the man lacks represents the righteousness of Christ (Rev. 3:4-5,18). Hence, the man is most certainly an unbeliever.

Even though this Gentile came to the feast, he lacks the proper attire (wedding garment) and gets cast into outer darkness. The parable not only contrasts believing Gentiles with unbelieving Jews, but also illustrates that whether Jew or Gentile, only those clothed in the righteousness of Christ (Rev. 3:4-5, 18) get to attend the wedding feast (which takes place during the Millennial kingdom). Again, the one cast into outer darkness is an unbeliever, not an under-performing Christian. Notice especially the closing line: "For many are called, but few are chosen." This is a reference to God's election of true believers.

In the passage you asked about, Matthew 25:30, the unprofitable servant is cast into outer darkness.

30 And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Mat. 25:30)

This parable follows that of the wise and foolish virgins. Both parables concern two classes or people. But are they "performing" and "non-performing" Christians? No: the five foolish virgins are akin to the unprofitable servant — neither class represent believers. This is why Jesus can say to the foolish virgins, "I do not know you" (Mat. 25:12 cf. Mat. 7:23). It is unthinkable that Jesus would say this to a true believer.

It is my view that those who believe that true believers are at risk of being cast into outer darkness misapply passages meant for professing Christians — who are not true believers — as if they apply to born-again Christians.

They often hold a legalistic/performance-based view of Christianity. In their hands, protestant Christianity becomes little better than Catholicism because, even if you believe in Christ, you still might be in for some serious suffering: weeping and gnashing of teeth! Maybe it won’t be so bad, since it is "only" for 1,000 years?! How uncannily similar to Catholicism's unbiblical notion of purgatory!

How could believers experience the peace of God if there is a real possibility they'll miss the millennial kingdom and suffer in outer darkness for 1,000 years?

This performance-based view of Christianity generally shows itself in another error such interpreters make: identifying the "overcomers" of Revelation chapters 2 and 3 as higher-performing Christians, while other lackluster believers don't merit the level of being an "overcomer."

However, when we examine the promises made to the overcomers in Revelation 2 and 3, we find a number of them which are equivalent to salvation:

  • Eating from the tree of life (Rev. 2:7)
  • Exemption from the second death, consignment to the Lake of Fire (hell, Rev. 2:11)
  • Clothed in white garments — remember the parable of the wedding feast — and name not blotted from the Book of Life (Rev. 3:5)
This identifies overcomers as those who are saved. In other words, all Christians are overcomersa.

The same author, John, gives us the Scriptural definition of what it means to be an overcomer: faith in Christ.

4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith. 5 Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God? (1 John 5:4-5)

Overcomers are not a separate class of "super-Christians". Rather, all true believers are overcomers simply by faith in the One Who overcame the world: Jesus!

Why am I discussing the overcomers? Because some of the promises to the overcomers also specify that they will rule with Christ (Rev. 2:26; 3:21) and we know that the co-rule of believers with Christ begins at the start of the millennial kingdom (Rev. 20:4). Since all Christians are overcomers through their identity with Christ, no Christian will miss the millennial kingdom.

This also follows from the words of Christ at the last supper—when he promised he would drink the fruit of the vine with us in His Father's kingdom (Mat. 26:29; Mark 14:25; Luke 22:18)—this takes place in the millennial kingdom. He is speaking to those who participate in the New Covenant (all believers).1

When we survey other interpreters of these passages, we find we are in good company understanding "outer darkness" to be an alternative description of separation from God which only unbelievers will experience.

I've appended some remarks from those resources below.

Blessings in Christ - Tony

The outer darkness (Mt 22:13; 25:30) and weeping and gnashing of teeth (13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30) are metaphors for the experience of God’s judgment reserved for unbelievers. Some scholars view those in the outer darkness as believers excluded from the celebrative aspects of the kingdom because they failed to live for God (the view of Zane C. Hodges, Grace in Eclipse: A Study on Eternal Rewards [Dallas: Redención Viva, 1985], 83–95). This view is impossible, however, in light of 13:42, 50, where tares—who are labeled “sons of the evil one” in 13:38, bad fish in 13:48, and called “wicked,” not righteous, in 13:49—experience this judgment.2

Mat. 22:13 outer darkness. This would describe the darkness farthest from the light, i.e., outer darkness. weeping and gnashing of teeth. This speaks of inconsolable grief and unremitting torment. Jesus commonly used the phrases in this verse to describe hell (cf. 13:42, 50; 24:51).3

Mat. 25:26–30. The fact that the latter man is called wicked and slothful and an unprofitable servant (vs. 30) who is cast out into outer darkness, certainly indicates that he was not a true disciple of the Master. The idea of this illustrative parable is that all true believers will produce results (elsewhere, “fruits”) in varying degrees. Those who produce no results are not truly converted. Those who deny soul-winning, personal evangelism, and church growth will find no comfort in this story. Those who hide their treasure (probably, the life-changing message of the gospel), because of a harsh view of the Master’s sovereignty over them, reveal that they do not really love people and, therefore, their own salvation is questionable!4

The one-talent man, while deficient in works, was condemned because of his lack of faith. Accordingly, the one-talent man is not an illustration of a backsliding Christian, as no Christian justified by faith and declared righteous by God could ever be cast into the outer darkness. — Walvoord, They Kingdom Come, Mat. 25:30, p. 5

At that time there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew frequently mentioned this reaction to judgment (Matt. 8:12; 13:42, 50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30), and Luke mentioned it once (Luke 13:28). Each time it is used, it refers to judgment on sinners before the Millennium is established. “Weeping” suggests sorrow and grief (emotional agony of the lost in hell), and grinding of one’s teeth speaks of pain (physical agony in hell). These are some of the many references in Matthew to judgment.6

The problem of this parable [Mat. 25:15-18] concerns the servant who received on talent. Is he a believer who receives no rewards or is he a lost man? It is evident from the punishment of this servant that he, like the five foolish virgins, is a lost man. — Toussaint, Behold the King7


1.It is my view that all believers participate fully in the New Covenant or they could not be saved or “in Christ.”
2.Ref-1411, 1466
3.Ref-0089, 1434
4.Ref-0132, 1951
5.Ref-0937, 199
6.Ref-0038, 1:50
7.Ref-0143, 286


Ref-0038John Walvoord and Roy. B. Zuck, The Bible Knowledge Commentary (Wheaton, IL: SP Publications, 1983).
Ref-0089John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible (Nashville: Word Publishing, 1997).
Ref-0132King James Version Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1997, c1988).
Ref-0143Stanley D. Toussaint, Behold The King (Portland, OR: Multnomah Press, 1980). ISBN:0-930014-39-1b.
Ref-0937John Walvoord, Matthew: Thy Kingdom Come (Chicago, IL: Kregel, 1998). ISBN:0825439698c.
Ref-1411Michael A. Rydelnik, J. Spencer, eds. The Moody Bible Commentary (Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers, 2014).

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