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Matthew 22:13 – Weeping and Grinding of Teeth

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Matthew 22:13 Then the king said to the servants, “Bind him hand and foot, take him away, and throw him into the outer darkness; there is where the weeping and grinding of teeth will be.” — World English

This is part of the parable concerning the wedding feast. One came into the feast without a wedding garment, and the king tells the servants to throw him into outer darkness. Nothing is said about him being thrown into hell, or into an eternity of suffering. He is thrown into outer darkness – he is not in the light of the truth, where he does suffer weeping and gnashing of teeth.

We are all familiar with weeping, as the poet has expressed it:

“Now the world is full of suffering,
Sounds of woe fall on our ears.”

It is the “gnashing of teeth” or “grinding of teeth” that seems to be the unusual feature, and it is expression that many seem to interpret as meaning “eternal suffering” or “eternal torture”. Nevertheless, what in this expression, looked at with deliberation, indicates eternal suffering? True, it is not a common expression in our day, but we can readily see that it signifies chagrin, disappointment. We have the same phrase used elsewhere in the Scriptures, not as representing a future torment, but by men in the present life. For instance, when Stephen, the first Christian martyr, preached to his opponents, we read – “When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth.” (Acts 7:54) The expression, “gnashed at him with their teeth,” is evidently no more of a figurative expression than the associated one, “they were cut to the heart.” The meaning is evident: they were angered, vexed, chagrined, and manifested their feelings outwardly. We should not attach any other than this correct meaning to the words of our text, and any other analogous statement.

Regardless, there is nothing in this scripture about anyone suffering for eternity in hell.


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