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Answering The “Hell” Verses



Verse #5 - Matthew 13:50


And shall cast them into the furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth.

AKJV (American King James Version)


and throw them into the blazing furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

NIV (New International Version)


throwing the wicked into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

NLT (New Living Translation)


and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

ESV (English Standard Version)


And they shall be casting them into a furnace of fire. There shall be lamentation and gnashing of teeth.

CLV (Concordant Literal Version)


"and then will continue casting them into the furnace (oven; kiln) of The Fire [= God's dealings]: the weeping (crying and lamentation) and the grinding of teeth' will continue being in that situation or place.

JMNT (Jonathan Mitchell New Testament)


The Parable of the Net

…49 So will it be at the end of the age: The angels will come

and separate the wicked from the righteous, 

50 and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. 






This parable is among several given to the disciples as Jesus is explaining “the kingdom of heaven.” 



Points to consider . . . 


  1. This is a portion of a series of Jesus’ parables directed to His disciples.

  2. As other verses we’ve looked at, this passage may have at least two connotations. As a warning to those who will see the great destruction in 67-70 AD and symbolism regarding the pain and sorrow surrounding sinfulness in this world.  

  3. We should be cautious in assuming this is a premise for punishment in the afterlife especially in light of the fact that Jesus declares that He did not come to condemn the world, but to save the world in John 3:17.  

  4. As always, we need to consider the broader context of scripture and understand the scene: When and to whom these words are spoken.

  5. It is helpful to unravel Matthews use of rhetoric and tendency to highlight statements that would effect the outward behavior of others.  

  6. Jesus’ warnings are almost always to the Jewish leadership of “this generation” and describe events that occurred before the end of the current aionion in 70 AD.   SEE APPENDIX “J”  

  7. So the question that we should ask is, "Is this illustrating the same thing as the parable of the tares?”  He uses the same Greek word for what is gathered aside: poneros, "the worthless person/thing or the disadvantageous circumstance," in each case, and both are burned (vs. 40 and vs. 50), and then in both situations "the weeping (crying and lamentation) and the grinding of teeth" will be in that situation (or: place)" (vs. 42 and vs. 50).  In both cases, the Romans would be the agents that would bring the fire to Jerusalem.  In both “places” or “situations,” the weeping and grinding of teeth would refer to those who survived the fires of loss and destruction – they were still alive, not dead.

  8. Fire. - An emblem of divine judgment. It destroys what is hurtful or useless, but purifies all that is of value. Origen first argued that fire is purifying (katharsin). The word is used in Scripture in both a literal and a figurative sense. The fire in Zion (Isa. 31:9) denotes figuratively the awfulness of the tribulation experienced by the Jews (Ezek. 22:18-22), but the "fire and brimstone" of Sodom is a literal use of the word. There are other uses; as, truth is meant, in Jer. 23:29; God's all-prevailing love, Heb. 12:29; the power of kindness to consume enmity; and the purifying effect of sufferings, -- "to salt with fire" (Mark 9:49). [Universalist Book of Reference;" Hanson's "Bible Threatenings Explained.”]

  9. Furnace of Fire. - This phrase is often used in the Bible. It had been the custom in the Old Testament to call God's judgment a "furnace of fire." In Isa. 31:9, "Whose fire is in Zion, and his furnace in Jerusalem." Isa. 48:10, "The furnace of affliction." So in Ezek. 22:18-21, the house of Israel is called "brass, tin, iron, lead," to be melted in God's fiery furnace." 

  10. Our Lord had this usage in mind; and Gehenna fire, etc., is used by him to denote the approaching judgments on Judea and Jerusalem. (Matt. 13:50) "Shall cast thee into the furnace of fire; there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth." This was literally fulfilled at his second coming at the destruction of Jerusalem, when the nation was overwhelmed. Wherever this language is found in the New Testament, it refers to the woes coming on our Lord's country and race. [Hanson's "Bible Threatenings Explained;" "Universalist Book of Reference;" and Paige's “Commentary.”]

  11. Gnashing of Teeth. - A figure of speech denoting the vexation of the Jews when they should find themselves outside the kingdom of heaven, into which the Gentiles had entered before them. It relates to this world. [Hanson's "Bible Hell;" "Bible Threatenings Explained;" "Universalist Book of Reference.”]

  12. The weeping and gnashing of teeth is symbolic of utter despair, regret, anger, and uncontrollable rage and it only appears in the New Testament, all within the context of parables and in Acts 7:54, the phrase was an expression of anger of the Sanhedrin towards Stephan  following his profound speech explaining the history of Israel and the arrival of the messiah, whom they had just crucified.

  13. As in Isaiah 9:18-20 the wickedness burns like a fire and it consumes briers and thorns and the people are like fuel for the fire. Wickedness burns like a fire, fire being symbolic of the destruction that sin itself visits on the sinner. As Paul states in Romans 1, Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves. God threw them into a “furnace” according to Isaiah 9 and Matthews symbolism here.

  14. This fire of destruction (defeat), misery, and “gnashing” of teeth is similar to the image we might have of the prodigal son when he slept with the pigs after wasting his inheritance on wild living. The beautiful thing we need to always remember is his father running to him to embrace and kiss his “sinful” son. This image of our father running to embrace the worst of us is an exact opposite of the “hell concept.” [Some might rationalize away the fathers mercy by saying, “Yes. But the son was repentant.” However, we do not know this, nor do we see the father securing some sign of repentance before his love is expressed in one of the greatest scenes in all scripture.] 

  15. The phrase, the end of the age, tells us a great deal about who these evil doers were. The end of the age refers to the end of the law covenant and the beginning of the age of grace. The Jewish nation, who was hanging onto the old covenant, were the ones to be removed making the way for the aionious (age) of grace. 

  16. Paul tells us the same story in the eleventh chapter of Romans. He informs us that God uses Israel’s falling away to bring in the rest of the nations, and then promises a day “when all Israel shall be saved” as well. Paul’s profound statement occurs within this explanation: “God has consigned all to disobedience, so that He can display His mercy for all.”

  17. This passage is the third parable within a few minutes. It compares the kingdom of heaven to a net, which was thrown into the sea and brought back to land. It was full of fish. Then, the men sorted through the fish and put the good ones into vessels, and threw away the bad ones. The net was the message of grace, and it was thrown over and into the sea. This signified that it would cover all people of the earth. The good fish were the ones who on board with God’s new covenant of grace, vessels of honor, and the bad fish were the Jews who stood in the way of this good news. They had to be temporarily discarded as vessels of dishonor. They added no value during the implementation of the age of grace; they actively resisted it. However, they too will be resurrected and shown God’s mercy! The one thing the scriptures affirm that God delights to show us: His mercy. 

  18. It’s likely the disciples did not understood any of this, although they said they did when Jesus asked them. However, the understanding of these words likely came later as events foretold by Jesus unfolded. This would have given them great confidence to endure to the end.

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