For to everyone who has will more be given,
and he will have an abundance.
But from the one who has not,
even what he has will be taken away.
And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness.
In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Before we begin our discussion, I urge you to re-read Matthew 25 and Luke 19, and revisit the Parable of the Talents. As we discussed in last Sunday's post, the purpose of this Parable is to illustrate how the servants are rewarded with what they do with "the goods" their Master leaves in their charge. The Parable is a simple story that Jesus uses to impart a spiritual lesson to His followers. "The goods" is the Gospel Message; the faithful servants are those who spread the message of Christ's redeeming death, burial, and resurrection. When the Master returns, He is pleased with the profit of those servants who increased what He left them; just as Jesus will be with those of us who win souls for Him when He returns to rule in His Millennial Kingdom.
But today, we will contemplate the final words of this Parable, and what Jesus is telling the servant who brings Him no gain. The first thing I want to address is the oftentimes misunderstood implications of "casting the worthless servant into the outer darkness", and just where is "that place where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
The Church has long implied that these verses point to Hell. In fact, if you Google outer darkness and weeping and gnashing of teeth, and click on "Images", you will see countless depictions of people writhing and burning in the fiery pits of hell. I DO NOT believe that this is what Jesus is conveying.
To help prove my point, I would like to offer you an expanded Greek translation of these verses. Unlike the standard Authorized Greek translation of 1611, or the American Revised Greek version of 1901, this expanded translation by Kenneth Wuest follows the Greek order of words in the sentences, which I think gives us a more accurate and clearer interpretation of Jesus's words. This expanded translation reads as follows:
...for to the one who has shall be given, and he shall be furnished with a superfluity,
and he who does not have, even that which he has shall be taken from him.
And the good-for-nothing slave, throw [him] out into the darkness; that which is outside.
There, in that place, there shall be lamentation and the gnashing of teeth.
We must remember that Jesus is speaking to the Disciples, the first members of His Church -- and the servants that He is talking about in the Parable are His own servants; those that belong to Him (Believers). The talents (or the money) represented the stewardship of the Gospel that we, as Believers, are given in His absence. Just like the servants, we can decide what we will do with that special privilege. The reward of each servant did not depend on the fact that they possessed the talents, but what they did with them. Hence, our reward, when our Master returns, does not rest upon His gift of salvation, but with what we have done for Him with it!
At this point, we must recognize that Jesus is ultimately talking about how He will reward Believers when He returns and sets up His Millennial Kingdom. In Revelation 20:6, we are told that there is an inheritance to be gained in this Millennial Kingdom, when we "will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years." IT IS IMPORTANT that you understand that ALL Believers will gain entry into the Millennial Kingdom, but I do not believe that all will be given roles of authority and "rule or reign" with Him. That mandate will be given to only those who have shown they can produce fruit for Him.
So what does Jesus mean when He says to throw the "good-for-nothing" slave into the outer darkness? In John 8:12, Jesus says "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." When we are in the presence of Jesus -- when we are closest to Him -- we are in His light. Here, He is saying, "Whoever follows me -- whoever takes up my Cross and spreads my Gospel Message -- will have the light of eternal life." When we accept our salvation through faith in Jesus, we gain entry into this Millennial Kingdom; but there will be degrees of rewards, depending on what we did for Him and what we produced for Him while He's been away. Being in the nearness of His light is one of the privileges of having done well for Him. All true Believers will enter the Millennial Kingdom, but Jesus makes it very plain who will be allowed to co-reign with Him. Matthew 25:23 says it all: "His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord."
Then he turns around, and in verse 30, pronounces the reward on the unfruitful servant. This servant is in the Kingdom; he is in the presence of the returning Master. But his failure to do anything to increase the Master's Kingdom has resulted in him being unable to rule and reign with Christ and he will not be within that inner circle of light that surrounds the King of Kings. REMEMBER, John 3:18 tells us that "Whoever believes in Him is not condemned." Condemned equals hell. This servant is not condemned; he is just cast into the outer reaches of the Millennium Kingdom, or the darkness outside of God's presence. He has gained entry, but no inheritance of authority or rulership.
As to weeping and gnashing of teeth, this refers to profound regret, or the deep remorse of a man who was an unfaithful servant. Can you not picture yourself grieving if you arrive in the Millennial Kingdom and realize that you didn't do all you could to advance the Gospel Message and save souls for Christ? Imagine this: you're in the Kingdom, but assigned to the outer edges (away from Christ's light) because what you were given was taken away and given to others who bore more fruit than you... doesn't that perfectly describe the state of the unprofitable servant in the Parable of the Talents?
So I hope that this discussion might have given you a new perspective on this wise Parable. As always, I urge you to do your own study and be like the Bereans of Acts 17:11, receive the Word with readiness, and search the Scriptures to see if these things be so. Jesus desires that all of us be like the two servants who took their stewardship and responsibilities seriously; He wants to reward us when He returns. May the Holy Spirit guide you in accomplishing great things for His kingdom.