Here is the hot question for the day from my in-box:
First, I’d like to say that I appreciate GES, and I’m in agreement with much of what I’ve read and heard so far.
One thing I am not currently understanding clearly is the phrase ‘bind him hand and foot’ pertaining to the outer darkness events. I understand the concepts and can see GES’s point on this matter, but that phrase is hard to get past. Please give me some insight on this or refer me to a resource that touches on the phrase “bind him hand and foot.” Thank you.
There are several articles on our website that explain this verse. Greg Sapaugh wrote his master’s thesis at DTS on Matt 22:1-14, the Parable of the Wedding Feast. You can see an article by him here. You can hear an hour-long podcast on that parable by Zane Hodges and me here. Michael Huber wrote his master’s thesis at DTS on the broader subject of the outer darkness in three passages in Matthew. You can see an article by him here.
There is also an entire book on the outer darkness by Zane Hodges and me. It is available at our website (see here).
Now I’ll provide a brief explanation. I think nine points will summarize the explanation.
First, the outer darkness is only found in Matthew (Matt 8:12; 22:13; 25:30). Since it is used so rarely, and with little explanation, we should be cautious about coming to conclusions which contradict other clear texts. Well, we always should be cautious of that. But that is especially the case in a rarely used expression.
Second, the Greek more literally means the darkness which is outside or the farther out darkness. This is not an expression used in the Greek Old Testament (LXX). If it refers to Hades or the lake of fire, we’d need to see evidence in the three Matthean contexts to show that. There is no such indication elsewhere.
Third, in Matt 8:12 those cast into the outer darkness are called “the sons of the kingdom.” That sounds like believers are being cast there. The only other use of the expression “the sons of the kingdom” in Matthew is in the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares. “The good seeds,” Jesus explains, “are the sons of the kingdom” (Matt 13:38). The good seeds get into the kingdom. This strongly suggests that those cast into the outer darkness in Matt 8:12 are believers, not unbelievers. Believers can’t lose everlasting life (John 11:25-27).
The outer darkness is a metaphor which represents lost opportunity. The unfaithful believer will not experience the joy shared by all who will rule with Christ in the life to come. They will, of course, be joyful. But their life will not be as abundant, or joy-filled as it could have been (John 10:10; Luke 19:16-26; 2 Tim 2:11-13; 4:6-10).
Fourth, in the Parable of the Marriage Supper there are several waves of wedding invitations being sent out. These likely look at OT calls to faith, calls to faith by the Lord and His apostles during His ministry, and calls to faith during the Church Age.
Those who accept the invitation illustrate believers, including Gentile believers (Matt 22:10, “the highways”). However, being a believer is not the only matter under consideration in this parable. A second concern is whether the wedding guests, the believers, are well dressed or not. One man is found who is not wearing a wedding garment (v 12). Garments in Scripture often illustrate the righteous acts of believers: “And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints” (Rev 19:8; see also Rev 16:15).
The poorly dressed guest represents a believer at the Judgment Seat of Christ who will be found to be deficient in righteous acts.
Fifth, being bound hand and foot is not a common theme in the Bible. In fact, it is very rare. When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, he came out bound hand and foot (John 11:44). Jesus said, “Loose him, and let him go” (John 11:44). The implication is that Jesus was setting Lazarus free to serve Him. If so, to be bound hand and foot would symbolize being restricted in one’s ability to serve Christ (e.g., not being able to rule with Him in the kingdom).
Daniel’s three friends were cast bound into a fiery furnace (Dan 3:20-21). While the text does not specifically say they were bound hand and foot, that is implied. This binding restricted their actions.
It would be odd to refer to eternal condemnation as being bound hand and foot. It is not used in that way elsewhere in the Bible.
Sixth, the reference to weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matt 22:13) is an expression of grief. While those in Hades will weep and gnash their teeth, it would not be surprising to learn that believers who are rebuked by Christ at the Judgment Seat of Christ (e.g., Luke 19:20-26) will experience grief.
Seventh, “many are called, but few are chosen” is a rewards concept, not a salvation concept. The issue here is who will be chosen to reign with Christ, not who will be chosen to have everlasting life. In my opinion there is no such teaching in Scripture as election to everlasting life. Election and choosing in Scripture are always to service.
Eight, a comparison of the third servant in Matt 25:30 and the third servant in Luke 19:20-26 shows that he represents a believer. He is called a servant of Christ. Unbelievers are not servants of Christ. He is not slain in Luke 19:20-26. Nor is he called an enemy of Jesus. In Luke 19:27 the enemies of Jesus are brought to Him and slain. But not the third servant. The analogy of faith kicks in here. Luke 19:20-26 is clear that the third servant gets into the kingdom. That helps explain the less clear situation of the third servant in the Parable of the Talents.
Ninth and finally, the epistles show that some believers will not be praised or approved by Christ at the Bema (cf. 1 Cor 4:1-5; 9:27; 2 Cor 5:10; Gal 6:7-9; Col 1:21-23; 2 Tim 2:12; 4:6-10; Jas 3:1; 5:9; 1 John 2:28; 4:17-19). A major reason why many think the outer darkness refers to Hades is because they think that there is no such thing as failure in the Christian life. Anyone who fails is automatically said to have not been born again in the first place.
The evidence overwhelmingly favors the outer darkness as a metaphor for missing out on ruling with Christ and the joys associated with that co-rulership.