Should Christians Wear Tattoos?

By Lynette Schaefer

It is clear that we are living in the end times, right before the return of our Lord Jesus Christ to rapture home His blood-bought bride, the Church.  It is also clear that these are perilous times. (2Tim 3:1)   The current trend that more and more Christians seem to be picking up is tattooing.  There are even “Christian” tattoo shops opening up, and deceived Christians are flocking to them more and more.  They justify this activity by saying they are “tattooing for Jesus” and it’s fun to sport their new, colorful images or statements.  Therefore, tattooing is no more an activity that the Bible expressly forbids, but it’s become the latest, cool, fun thing to do; and tattooing is popularly regarded as simply “body art”.  Well, let’s explore what tattooing really is and what God has to say about it. 

1.      The Mark of Blood.  The tattooing procedure involves cutting the flesh with a sharp needle or instrument in order to carve out or make designs.  The result is something called “blood-letting”.  Blood-letting has both occultic and demonic origins as it is considered a power source that is supernaturally unleashed.  Many pro-tattoo sources describe tattooing as having a magical, occultic connection with blood and blood-letting as being normal.  Several pro-tattoo historians indicate the connection with scarification and blood-letting associated with religious practices.  Another source indicates “the importance of licking the blood that was released during tattoo operations” (Steve Gilbert, “Tattoo History: A Source Book”, pg. 181). We read in 1Kings 18:25-28 the account of the prophets of Baal who met with Elijah to find out who was the true God.  These were satanists who were attempting to unleash supernatural power by cutting themselves (vs. 28).  In the New Testament, there was a man named Legion who was possessed by demons in Mark 5:1-9 who went about cutting himself with stones. (vs. 5)  Leviticus 19:28 says “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.”  (emphasis mine)

2.      The Cup of Devils.  Historically, the origin of the tattoo is associated with paganism, demonism, Baal worship, shamanism, mysticism, heathenism, cannibalism and many other pagan beliefs.  The tattoo has NEVER been connected with Bible believing Christians.  But today in the 21st century, the trends are reverting from paganism practices to include the modern Christian and the new “Christian” tattoo shop.  Satan is the god of this world and his agenda is to deceive many Christians, especially in the last days.  But the fact remains that the tattoo has its roots in beliefs and practices that are demonic and pagan.  Many pro-tattoo books indicate that tattooing is a magical rite and the tattooist is respected as a priest or shaman; it is connected to a religious ceremony and performed by priests or priestesses; it is intended to put the human soul in harmony with supernatural forces; at other times dancing accompanies the tattooing ritual to exorcise demons.  In other words, it is connected with the spirit world and a tattoo is really much more than simply a body decoration.   Today’s popular tattooing craze is “tribal tattoos”, which are pure paganism.  These designs bear serious symbolic mystical and occult meanings.  They are strongly connected with channels into spiritual and demonic possession.  Many pro-tattoo artists and historians can attest to this by saying things like, “tattoos have a power and magic all their own”, “there is in addition to the opening of numerous inlets for evil to enter”, “allowing his clients’ demons to help guide the needle”.  Ronald Scutt, in his exhaustive book, Art, Sex and Symbol, covers a lot about the history and culture of tattoos.  He documents that most of the time tattoos are associated with spiritual, religious and mystical purposes; linking it to mystical significance, sun-worship, serpent worship, and the sun-god Baal.  Author Steve Gilbert, of Tattoo History: A Source Book, p. 99, records, “The Spaniards, who had never heard of tattooing, recognized it at once as the work of Satan.”  Yet today’s gullible Christians are out there in droves “marking themselves for Jesus”!  Pagan tattooing is not just from the dark ages: many body artists perform ritual tattoos today as the quotes from tattoo authors above bear witness.  Some will burn incense or light candles.  1Cor. 10:21 says, “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table, and of the table of devils.”

3.      The Mark of Death.  Lev. 19:28 says, “Ye shall not make any cuttings in your flesh for the dead, nor print any marks upon you: I am the LORD.”  Yet DEATH is the number one theme of tattoos!  References from tattoo books again reveal this as a fact: “Death and darkness have always been a classic tattoo theme – skulls, snakes, demons” (The Body Art Book, pg. 56); Henry Ferguson in The Art of the Tattoo, states “probably the most popular tattooed image of today, the all-pervasive grinning skull!”; “Skulls imprinted on skin abound, and depictions of the Grim Reaper are commonly seen”; “Possibly, at the same time, to wear a death’s figure on one’s body may be an invocation of whatever indefinable forces of nature….in an attempt to protect the wearer from such a fate”.  Tattoo shops mostly display morbid scenes of death, demons, serpents, and hell.  Grim reapers, flaming skulls, snakes crawling through skulls, demons, Satan, pornography, blasphemy, naked flames of hell – every satanic scene of hell is glorified.  Who really is the Master Tattooist?  Satan, of course!  (Rev. 6:8; Heb. 2:14).  He is the author of Death; and the representative of Hell (Rev. 6:8; Matt. 25:41); also of the Serpent (Gen. 3:1; Rev. 12:9; Rev. 20:1-2); whereas Jesus is Life (John 1:3; John 6:48; John 11:25; John 14:6; Acts 3:15; Ro. 6:23; 1John 1:1-2; 1John 5:12).

Many tattoo artists embody satanic symbols of death and hell while they display demonic scenes in their shops, calling it “art”.  They are often people who demonstrate their allegiance to Satan with vile and filthy depictions of the underworld.

4.      The Mark of Rebellion.  The Bible condemns all rebellion throughout its pages and declares that rebellion is as bad as witchcraft. (1Sam. 15:23) It is clear that the tattoo has always been an indication of a spirit of rebellion and deviancy on its wearers.  All the tattoo books make comments about tattooing being rebellious.  In addition, the tattoo is considered a mark of disgrace or reproach by the same tattoo books.  Throughout history, the tattoo was used to mark the criminal, adulterers, traitors, deserters, the deviant and outcast.  Thirdly, it has been the mark of the sideshow freak throughout history.  Also, it is the mark of indecency.  They were associated with barbarians in barbaric, immoral Greece and Rome.  One tattoo book, “Art, Sex and Symbol”, 1974, by Ronald Scutt, pg. 179, says “In a society that considers nudity as dirty, indecent, and subversive or morality … – it is not surprising that decorations to the body are allocated to the same category.”   The tattoo is also considered the mark of depravity by many tattoo books.  Studies have been done that indicate a high percentage of deviant behaviors and troubled persons that were tattooed.  Studies have also been done that link tattoos to homosexuality, lesbianism, and gross sexual perversion.  Statements made in many of the tattoo books bear this out.  Recent studies on today’s tattooed young people indicate 1) they are nearly four times more likely to engage in sexual intercourse; 2) Over two times more likely to experience alcohol related problems; 3) Nearly two times more likely to use illegal drugs; 4) Over two times more likely to express violent behavior; and 5) Over two times more likely to drop out of high school. 

What about Jesus?  Wasn’t He a rebel?  NO WAY!  To the contrary: Jesus was 100 percent OBEDIENT unto death – even the death of the Cross! (Phil. 2:8)  In the Garden of Gethsemane, He prayed, “not my will, but thine, be done.” (Luke 22:42-44)  If there was the slightest chance that Jesus was a rebel, then He would have sinned against God, and we would all be lost!

5.      Tattoo’s Deadly Little Secret.  It is a well-known fact that tattooing runs a risk of acquiring any number of deadly diseases, including Hepatitis C and AIDS.  The reason is because the needle that is used to tattoo punctures the skin 3,000 times a minute.  In an hour, that would be 180,000 times that puncture wounds provide a potential path to a deadly disease.  Not only that, but it is also well documented that tattoo shops are not regulated by the government to uphold medical standards.  Also, many tattoo artists do not inform their clients of possible infection from the needle or the ink.  The Mayo Clinic sounds a warning about commercial tattooing: “Few states have hygienic regulations to ensure safe tattooing practices in commercial tattoo parlors, and even fewer monitor and enforce standards”. (Body Piercing and Tattoos: More than Skin Deep, Mayo Clinic,  Tattoos can cause many chronic skin disorders such as sarcoid, keloid scarring, allergic dermatitis, photosensitivity reactions, psoriasis, and tumors.  Finally, the Bible gives a real warning about this sort of procedure (Psm.38:5-8)

6.      Tattoos and the Bible.  We know already what Lev. 19:28 says.  But people use that to say, “But that’s in the OLD Testament!  What about the New?”  Well, do you know that Lev. 19:29 says not to prostitute your daughter; yet it says nothing in the New Testament about that, making it okay to prostitute your child?  I think not!  These moral laws are timeless and are as applicable now as then.  Lev. 19:28 indicates that we are to not print ANY marks on us.  Period.  Lev. 19:26-28 is a condemnation of assorted pagan, witchcraft and heathen practices, of which tattooing is clearly one of them.  Every commentary written on Lev. 19:28 says that tattooing comes from pagan origins.  Isaiah 44:5 & Ezekiel 9:4 indicates “he will write with his hand to the Lord.”  Some go as far as to say that Jesus Christ is tattooed!  (Rev. 19:16)  If that is literally true, then Jesus is a sinner who disobeyed Lev. 19:28.  Finally, because our bodies are the Temple of the Living God (1Cor. 6:19-20), God wants them pure for His glory.  Defiling the temple of God, him will God destroy (1Cor. 3:16-17).  God meant what He said!  (Num. 23:19; Gal. 6:7-8) 2Cor. 6:16 says, in part, “And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?  For ye are the temple of the living God.”

7.      Tattoo: The Mark of Regret.  Those who get tattoos while in a backslidden state will forever have to live with them.  Even those who flock to get laser surgery in an attempt to remove the tattoos will have to go through a lot of expensive and painful procedures, and yet the tattoo will never be totally removed and will just look ugly.  Many who are foolish enough to get tattoos later regret them and hate looking at them.  There are many consequences of getting “marked”: spiritual, health, social.  Once a person has that mark put on them, they are then in a different category: one of the gang, cool, and spiritually defiled against God who shakes their fist at His law.  Not to mention that after getting the tattoo, some serious medical problems could start to germinate.  Getting a tattoo can also damage relationships with friends, family, teachers or employers.  According to Bonnie B. Graves, Tattooing and Body Piercing, p. 43, many jobs are not available to those who have visible body art.  So, then, is getting a tattoo really worth all the consequences?

If you have tattoos and are still unconvinced that any of the above applies to you, then consider this: tattooing, in addition to being disobedient, is idolatrous because it displays an image.  If someone is “tattooing for Jesus” and thinks that’s acceptable, it isn’t because the “Jesus” (or any symbol) you are marking yourself with is an image.   God says very clearly and explicitly that we are to have no other gods before Him, and that it is He and He alone who is supreme. (Ex. 20:3; Is. 45:5)

The Bible expressly tells us to keep ourselves unspotted from the world (Jas. 1:27), to abstain from the appearance of evil (1Thess. 5:22), and that friendship with the world is enmity with God. (Jas. 4:4).   We are instructed to come out from among them and be separate from the world. (2Cor. 6:17)  Christians therefore have the responsibility to obey God’s commands and abstain from worldly associations, pastimes, or habits; not just out of duty but because we love God and have a living relationship with Him. (John 14:15).  Please beware that ALL tattooing is wrong, not just the graphic stuff described above.  It all has the same origin in paganism and is expressly commanded by the Lord that we are to avoid this practice at all costs!

If you received tattoos before conversion to Christ, then you have already been forgiven for that.  On the other hand, if you have received tattoos after giving your life to Christ, you need to repent of this sin and not repeat it, under any circumstances, because it is considered abominable. 


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Receive The Holy Spirit

Jack Kelly

I've gotten a raft of comments on  my comparison of John 20:22 with Acts 2:1-4 in a recent question.  Some were more diplomatic than others in suggesting my understanding of these verses leaves something to be desired.   So let's take another look and see how these two passages are alike and how they're different.  We'll take John 20:22 first, in the context of the passage. 

On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" After he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord.

Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent me, I am sending you." And with that he breathed on them and said, "Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven." (John 20:19-23

Some have suggested that Jesus was only pretending here, his breath meant to imitate the sound the Holy Spirit would make when He really came 50 days later, and not investing the disciples with the Holy Spirit.  But Acts 2:2 says the sound of the Holy Spirit was much different.  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. It's like comparing the sound of blowing out birthday candles to the sound of a hurricane.

And the Greek word for receive in John 20:22 is lambano and means to take or lay hold of something in order to use it, or carry it away.  It denotes permanence and possession.  The same word is used in Acts 8:17 referring to the believers in Samaria when they finally realized they  had received the Holy Spirit after Peter and John arrived.  I don't believe Jesus was pretending, any more than Peter and John were.  I think the  disciples who were present were receiving the Holy Spirit just like it says. 

Jesus met with the disciples several times after that night, speaking with them about the Kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)

On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: "Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit." (Acts 1:4-5)

The Greek word for baptize literally means to be temporarily immersed, usually in water.  Jesus explained that while that was the case with John's baptism, soon the disciples would be temporarily immersed in the Holy Spirit, giving them miraculous power.

So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?"

He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority.  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:6-8)

This gift was not the receipt of the Holy Spirit, which had already happened, but the power to do miraculous works.  Remember, He had previously told them the Holy Spirit had been with them and would be in them (John 14:17).  This had been accomplished.  Now He was saying the Holy spirit  would come upon them.

This is seen in the use of the Greek word “eperchomai” which is translated to come upon or come on. It means to over power someone, or take them over.  The same Greek word described the 2 instances recorded in Acts of Gentiles speaking in tongues.  In Acts 10:44 the Holy spirit came upon the Gentiles listening to Peter at Cornelius' house.  In Acts 19:6 the Holy Spirit came upon a group of Gentiles when Paul baptized them in the name of Jesus.  I believe both of these events were temporary situations intended to show the Jewish leadership that the Holy Spirit could come upon Gentiles as well as Jews.

The Holy Spirit had also come upon men in Old Testament times, as with Balaam (Numbers 24:2), Saul (1 Sam. 11:6), Amasai (1 Chron. 12:18), Azariah (2 Chron. 15:1) and Zechariah (2 Chron 24:20).

Understanding the difference between receiving the Holy Spirit (lambano) and having Him come upon you (eperchomai) helps clear up some of the confusion surrounding these verses.

                   And Now For Acts 2

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. (Acts 2:1-4)

The word for filled also means to be temporarily taken over.  And men had been filled with the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament as well. Examples are Joseph (Genesis 41:38) when he interpreted Pharaoh's dream, and Bezalel of the tribe of Judah who was given supernatural skill in designing and working the gold, silver, and bronze ornamentation for the tabernacle (Exodus 31:2-4). 

Both Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist, were filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41, 1:67) over 30 years before Pentecost.  In addition people are also said to be filled with wrath (Luke 4:28), fear (Luke 5:26), wonder (Acts 3:28), etc.  In every case the same Greek word is used.  And in every case it describes a temporary condition. 

So being filled with the Holy Spirit did not originate with Pentecost, nor did having Him come upon us.  But don't get the idea that temporary means it only happens once for a little while and then it's gone for good.  Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2.  But then he was filled again in Acts 4:8 and once more in Acts 4:31.  Paul was filled with the Holy Spirit in Acts 9:37 and again Acts 13:9. It can happen every time there's a need.

Here's the point I made in my answer.  When we first come to faith the Holy Spirit is sealed within us as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance (Ephes. 1:13-14)  and will remain there as long as we live on this Earth.  The disciples experienced this on the evening of the Lord's resurrection and ever since then every believer has had the same experience.  But from time to time the Holy Spirit will come upon us and we will be temporarily filled with His power to perform a miracle on His behalf.  Every believer can also experience this. It doesn't require a special ceremony, and it doesn't only happen in some churches. It can happen at any time to any believer who makes himself or herself available in faith.  It has happened to me and it can happen to you. Selah 03-27-10


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The Outer Darkness

Jack Kelly

I've received several emails lately asking for clarification of the term “Outer Darkness.” It's  mentioned a total of 4 times in the New Testament,  three by name and one by implication, and always by Jesus. The term is not used any where else, Old Testament or New, by any other writer.  Those who ask want to know if it's another name for the place of eternal punishment, or if it's someplace different.  And they want to know who's going there.

The problem I've had in researching this is there's no general agreement among scholars as to what it is, where it is, or for whom it's intended either.  There's also no agreement as to whether it's a physical location or a state of being.  The phrase Outer Darkness literally means, “outside, where there's no light”.  The Greek word for darkness can be used metaphorically to mean obscurity, which is the condition of being unknown.  And there's also a sense in which spiritual ignorance or blindness can apply.  An accompanying phrase describes it as a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth, which denotes extreme anguish and utter despair.  No matter what else you think about it, the Outer Darkness is definitely not a nice place to be.

For many generations it was simply thought to be another name for Hell.  But Hell, or more accurately Hades, is not a permanent destination.   It's a temporary one that will be thrown into the Lake of Fire at the end of the Millennium (Rev. 20:14).  To me, the concept of utter despair denotes permanence.

So let's take another look at its four appearances to see if we can answer some of the lingering questions about the Outer Darkness.

Matt. 8:12

When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help. "Lord," he said, "my servant lies at home paralyzed and in terrible suffering."

Jesus said to him, "I will go and heal him."

The centurion replied, "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I myself am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. I tell this one, 'Go,' and he goes; and that one, 'Come,' and he comes. I say to my servant, 'Do this,' and he does it."

When Jesus heard this, he was astonished and said to those following him, "I tell you the truth, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith. I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the subjects of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." (Matt. 8:5-12)

In His first reference to the Outer Darkness, Jesus was clearly speaking to and about Israel. He was criticizing the Jews for letting a Gentile Roman soldier demonstrate a stronger faith in Him than they had. He said that their lack of faith would result in people from all over the world (Gentiles) inheriting the Kingdom, while the Jews, who were the Kingdom's subjects, would be thrown into the Outer Darkness, a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Israel was then (and will be again) God's Kingdom on Earth. The Lord repeated His warning to them  in Matt. 21:43 when He said, "Therefore I tell you that the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit." It's obvious that the Lord believed they were the subjects of the Kingdom or else why would He threaten to take it away from them?

So in His first mention of the Outer Darkness the Lord warned the Jewish people that at the End of the Age Gentile believers, like the Centurion, would join their patriarchs at the Wedding Feast while they themselves sat outside in the darkness for failing to recognize their Messiah.

Matt 22:13

Jesus spoke to them again in parables, saying: "The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a wedding banquet for his son. He sent his servants to those who had been invited to the banquet to tell them to come, but they refused to come.

"Then he sent some more servants and said, 'Tell those who have been invited that I have prepared my dinner: My oxen and fattened cattle have been butchered, and everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.'

"But they paid no attention and went off—one to his field, another to his business. The rest seized his servants, mistreated them and killed them. The king was enraged. He sent his army and destroyed those murderers and burned their city.

"Then he said to his servants, 'The wedding banquet is ready, but those I invited did not deserve to come. Go to the street corners and invite to the banquet anyone you find.' So the servants went out into the streets and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. "But when the king came in to see the guests, he noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes. 'Friend,' he asked, 'how did you get in here without wedding clothes?' The man was speechless.

"Then the king told the attendants, 'Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

"For many are invited, but few are chosen." (Matt. 22:1-14)

This is the parable of the Wedding Banquet, and there are three things to keep in mind here. First, the bride is never mentioned in this parable.  Second, a bride is not considered a guest and could never be thrown out of her own wedding. And third, the banquet follows the wedding, so in the context of the parable the wedding has already taken place.  

To accept the view that this parable is about the Church you have to start with the belief that some in the Church will become the Bride of Christ while others will not. But the Bible never even hints of that.  It's a man made conclusion without any Biblical support. If we're saved, we're in the church and are the Bride of Christ.  If we're not, we're not.

In parables everything is symbolic of something else, and the Bible always explains what they stand for.  Isaiah 61:10 explains that the wedding clothes represent righteousness;

I delight greatly in the LORD;  my soul rejoices in my God.  For he has clothed me with garments of salvation  and arrayed me in a robe of righteousness,  as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,  and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.

Here's how I see it. In Rev. 16:15, just after the 6th Bowl judgment and long after the church has departed, the Lord said, "Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed."

He was alluding to the fact that the Doctrine of Eternal Security expires with the Rapture, a fact that Jesus taught in the Parable of the 10 Virgins. Tribulation believers will be saved by faith, just like everyone else, but will be responsible for keeping themselves saved, or as John said, keeping their clothes with them.  Rev. 14:12 says they will do this by obeying God's commandments and remaining faithful to Jesus.  

The man ejected from the banquet was a last minute guest.  He represents tribulation survivors who are not part of the Church. He was trying to receive the blessing of those invited to the wedding feast  that occurs at the time of the 2nd Coming (Rev. 19:9).  But He either hadn't remained faithful and had lost his salvation, or never was saved at all.  Remember the servants invited both the “good” and the “bad” and it isn't clear whether this man had wedding clothes and lost them, or never had them in the first place. When he tried to gain entrance into the banquet, he was discovered and ejected.  

So the 2nd reference applies to unbelieving survivors from the Great Tribulation who will be denied a place in the Kingdom for lack of the righteousness that comes by faith, and banished to the Outer Darkness instead.

Matt. 24:51

Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns. I tell you the truth, he will put him in charge of all his possessions.

But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' and he then begins to beat his fellow servants and to eat and drink with drunkards. The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt. 24:45-51)

The Parable of the Servants has only an  implied reference to the Outer Darkness, calling it a place for hypocrites where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  Since that phrase accompanies every other mention of the Outer Darkness, I think it's safe to include it in our study.  The timing of this parable was established as early as Matt. 24:29-30 which makes every thing that follows pertain to those on Earth at the time of the 2nd Coming.  As a matter of fact, all the Olivet Discourse parables describe the destinies of Tribulation Survivors.  You can easily confirm this by also looking at Matt. 24:36-37, Matt. 25:1, and Matt. 25:14.

This parable is about those who will have held positions of spiritual leadership during the Great Tribulation. In the Millennial Kingdom, the Lord will elevate to a place of authority leaders who have kept the word of God through the intense hardship and persecution of the times, and have taught sound doctrine to the flocks entrusted to them. (Remember, no Tribulation survivor will enter the New Jerusalem, but will dwell on Earth during the Lord's Millennial reign.)

But having forsaken the truth, the wicked servants no will longer be watching for the Lord's return, ignoring the obvious fulfillment of prophecy all around them and ridiculing those whose child-like faith sustains them. They are the worst of all enemies because they'll look and sound like friends. They're like the one John describes as appearing to have the authority of the Lamb but who speaks the words of the Dragon (Rev. 13:11).  The Greek word translated hypocrite was often used to describe an actor or pretender, someone who appears to be something he's not. So for the third time we see the Outer Darkness as a place for unbelievers. In this case it's those who have betrayed the trust placed in them.

Matt. 25:30

The Lord's final reference to the Outer Darkness appears at the end of the Parable of the Talents.

"Again, it will be like a man going on a journey, who called his servants and entrusted his property to them. To one he gave five talents of money, to another two talents, and to another one talent, each according to his ability. Then he went on his journey. The man who had received the five talents went at once and put his money to work and gained five more. So also, the one with the two talents gained two more. But the man who had received the one talent went off, dug a hole in the ground and hid his master's money.

"After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received the five talents brought the other five. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with five talents. See, I have gained five more.'

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

"The man with the two talents also came. 'Master,' he said, 'you entrusted me with two talents; see, I have gained two more.'

"His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'

"Then the man who had received the one talent came. 'Master,' he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man, harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not scattered seed. So I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the ground. See, here is what belongs to you.'

"His master replied, 'You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have received it back with interest.

" 'Take the talent from him and give it to the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.' (Matt. 25:14-30)

For a more complete treatment of the Parable of the Talents click here. The relevant points for this study are that like the other Olivet Discourse parables, the timing is after the 2nd coming, the judgment is on Earth, and the man who had his only talent confiscated demonstrated a complete lack of knowledge of and faith in his master.  He thought of Him as a hard man who accepted credit He didn't deserve and he was afraid the master would treat him unfairly.  No believer feels that way about Jesus.  His punishment was to be consigned to the outer darkness.  

So in all four cases, the ones being judged are unbelievers and their punishment is to live in a state of total obscurity where they will experience extreme anguish and utter despair.  The fact that there's no expanded teaching on the Outer Darkness elsewhere in the Bible leads me to believe the Lord was speaking of a place we're already familiar with, but describing it in a way that helps us understand how it will feel to be there.

Remember, the words obscurity, extreme anguish and utter despair are associated with the phrase outer darkness. To be there is to be cut off from the presence of the Lord and everyone else, existing in total obscurity.  The dictionary defines anguish as excruciating or acute distress, suffering, or pain, and despair as a state of utter hopelessness.  

That, my friends, is the consequence of unbelief. Whether you call it Hell, Hades, Gehenna, the Lake of Fire, or the Outer Darkness, it's all the same and you wouldn't want your worst enemy to spend even an hour there.  03-13-10  


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