What is the "Outer Darkness"?


Sorry to start so many threads, but I have lots of questions that I’ve been trying to answer for years.

My mother used to warn me about the “outer darkness”, which is kind of strange since she believes in eternal security. I was reading that passage one day and it is where Jesus is warning the children of the kingdom. I picked up on that “children of the kingdom” business and thought, “Aha! These are not unsaved, unconverted people, but those belonging to God.” So I knew He could not be talking about Hell.

Later I got in with this group who expounded on that. They believe that the holding place of the righteous dead is not in “Heaven” (wherever that is) but that it is still in the heart of the earth in what was called sometimes “Hades” or “The Bosom of Abraham.” They told me that the “outer darkness” is where Jesus comes back to rule and reign for a thousand years. It is the time of the wedding feast and those who did not overcome must remain there until there are no offenses left in them.

That made a sort of sense to me, except that I wondered later why God would stash the righteous dead in Hades for all those years and then just begin to start work on them during the thousand-year reign. But then I read that angels will gather all things out of His kingdom that offend, and then the remarks of Jesus “If your right eye offend you…” began to click again.

I truly believe that many righteous do not have completely clean walks and that God works all of our lives to weed things out of us. We have to cooperate with Him in working out our salvation/sanctification even after we are “saved” (get in the door before going down the path). So, I tend to believe that the outer darkness serves this purpose, but that we shall be reconciled to Him at the end in the fullness of our reward when we can enter into His kingdom without offenses.

This is where other Protestants do not agree with me. It sounds a little like Purgatory, and indeed I think it is a purging. But that name gets in the way and I don’t even know if what I am describing is exactly the same. But my personal spiritual goal is to overcome all things in THIS life. That is why I stress transformation so much and losing our live for His sake.

Am I crazy, Protestants? Is this Purgatory I am describing, Catholics? What is it?

Okay, I will not start any more new threads… the crowds began to throw tomatoes


This may be what you are thinking of

Though it can hardly be claimed, on the evidence of extant literature, that a definite and consistent belief in the limbus patrum of Christian tradition was universal among the Jews, it cannot on the other hand be denied that, more especially in the extra-canonical writings of the second or first centuries B.C., some such belief finds repeated expression; and New Testament references to the subject remove all doubt as to the current Jewish belief in the time of Christ Whatever name may be used in apocryphal Jewish literature to designate the abode of the departed just, the implication generally is

that their condition is one of happiness,
that it is temporary, and
that it is to be replaced by a condition of final and permanent bliss when the Messianic Kingdom is established.
In the New Testament, Christ refers by various names and figures to the place or state which Catholic tradition has agreed to call the limbus patrum. In Matthew 8:11, it is spoken of under the figure of a banquet “with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of Heaven” (cf. Luke 8:29; 14:15), and in Matthew 25:10 under the figure of a marriage feast to which the prudent virgins are admitted, while in the parable of Lazarus and Dives it is called “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22) and in Christ’s words to the penitent thief on Calvary the name paradise is used (Luke 23:43). St. Paul teaches (Ephesians 4:9) that before ascending into Heaven Christ “also descended first into the lower parts of the earth,” and St. Peter still more explicitly teaches that “being put to death indeed, in the flesh, but enlivened in the spirit,” Christ went and “preached to those souls that were in prison, which had been some time incredulous, when they waited for the patience of God in the days of Noah” (1 Peter 3:18-20).

It is principally on the strength of these Scriptural texts, harmonized with the general doctrine of the Fall and Redemption of mankind, that Catholic tradition has defended the existence of the limbus patrum as a temporary state or place of happiness distinct from Purgatory. As a result of the Fall, Heaven was closed against men. Actual possession of the beatific vision was postponed, even for those already purified from sin, until the Redemption should have been historically completed by Christ’s visible ascendancy into Heaven. Consequently, the just who had lived under the Old Dispensation, and who, either at death or after a course of purgatorial discipline, had attained the perfect holiness required for entrance into glory, were obliged to await the coming of the Incarnate Son of God and the full accomplishment of His visible earthly mission. Meanwhile they were “in prison,” as St. Peter says; but, as Christ’s own words to the penitent thief and in the parable of Lazarus clearly imply, their condition was one of happiness, notwithstanding the postponement of the higher bliss to which they looked forward. And this, substantially, is all that Catholic tradition teaches regarding the limbus patrum


Wow…thanks! That’s amazing!

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