on Matthew 8 :12
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
on Matthew 8 :12
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.
on Matthew 8 :12
8:12 The outer darkness - Our Lord here alludes to the custom the ancients had of making their feast in the night time. Probably while he was speaking this, the centurion came in person. Matt 13:42,50; 22:13; 24:51; 25:30.