In Matthew 8:11-12 we encounter one of Jesus’ most controversial statements. In reaction to the extraordinary faith of the Roman centurion Jesus declares,  “I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness.”

Jesus responds to the faith of the centurion with a prophecy that Jewish people will return from exile (those who “will come from east and west”) to the land of Israel and dine as guests at a banquet hosted by the Patriarchs. This future banquet is just one of the many ways that the Hebrew Bible spoke about the kingdom of God that is yet to come.

But why does Jesus link the faith of this Gentile with a prophecy concerning the return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel? Many have mistakenly concluded that he is reapplying “those from east and west” to Gentile Christians and making a contrast between Gentile Christians and the nation of Israel. They believe the point of this passage is to teach that Gentile Christians have replaced Israel as God’s people.

Unfortunately, these individuals have missed the point of Jesus’ “Old” Testament imagery! The prophets did envision the restoration of Israel but they also envisioned the conversion of the Gentiles who would turn to God in faith as a result of Israel’s salvation. The restoration of Israel and the conversion of the Gentiles are inseparable events. The faith of the Roman centurion demonstrates that the kingdom of God has arrived. In fact, it confirms, rather than denies, God’s covenant faithfulness to the Jewish people.

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106 COMMENTS

  1. And yet the very blatant phrase, spoken by Messiah Himself, remains… and has not been addressed. To whom, other than the (original) children of promise, would “the sons of the kingdom… thrown into the outer darkness” refer? The nations of the east and west obviously ARE the non-Israeli peoples.

    • Unfortunately I don’t think the identity of those who come from “East and West” is as obvious as you suggest. It’s actually a subject of much debate among scholars. In my opinion, Jesus’ OT allusion here is really quite complex. Those who come from East and West primarily refers to the Twelve Tribes that have been scattered among the nations. However, the allusion also encompasses the gentile nations that will flock to the land of Israel in order to return the Jewish Exiles to their homeland. Israel’s restoration and the salvation of the nations are inseparable!

      • Not at all “unfortunate,” but a very good answer; thanks. That those coming from the east and west were actually scattered members of the tribes themselves was not a possibility I had considered, but is, indeed, plausible. And for the record, I am not at all of the opinion that the Word means anything but what it says in its reference to the eventual salvation of all of Israel. ‘Israel’ refers to Israel and the Jews – and no one can REPLACE their importance to YHWH or their purpose in His plan to reconcile all men to Himself.

      • A great point you have made. I believe the restoration of Israel and the overall salvation of the Gentile Nations are inseparable.

      • Recall that Matthew most often has Jesus referring to “the Kingdom of Heaven” and that the other gospel writers, in parallel passages, has Him speaking of “the Kingdom of God”. Matthew only speaks of the “Kingdom of God” four times but all other references are to “the Kingdom of Heaven”. What was Matthew trying to convey? Being a “money changer” it may be that Matthew was being more precise–recall that Jesus told His persecutors that His Kingdom was a “spiritual Kingdom” and not of this world. (John 18:36) (cont. on next post).

        • John the Baptist began announcing that the Kingdom had arrived in the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. It is a Kingdom that has at least two phases–1) a spiritual Kingdom intended to call Israel back to fidelity to Yahweh (it was then offered to whoever would come when the nation of Israel refused to come to the banquet). 2) a physical Kingdom which will be married to the spiritual Kingdom after a great war is conducted, with Messiah Yeshua establishing His rule over the physical as well as the spiritual (Psalm 110; Rev. 11:15)

    • When you’re in Christ Jesus you are in the kingdom his church. Galatians 3:26 For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. We must obey the faith. Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as hath been baptized into Christ hath put on Christ. There is no future kingdom on earth, there is no future restoration of Israel. The Jews who rejected the Messiah will be in outer darkness.When Jesus returns he’s not looking for Israel he’s looking for those who obeyed the gospel and are in his kingdom the church.

      • Fortunately Jesus, Matthew and the rest of the NT writers (including Paul) would reject your statements without hesitation. Citing Paul’s remarks out of context does not invalidate Matthew’s argument or what Paul says elsewhere. Your claim would be news to Jesus who told the disciples, “In the age when all things are renewed, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes.” And to be clear “judge” means “rule over.”

      • The church and the Kingdom of God are not the same. The church is part of the Kingdom. Jesus said Repent for the Kingdom is at hand. The Kingdom is now and yet to be fulfilled in its fullness. The King, Jesus , rules over all things. The Kingdom of God encompasses every area of life not just the church. The Kingdom has existed since He created everything, the church has not. The Kingdom is Gods domain and authority the church is Gods family.

      • 6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers. 7 To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain. For this hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused by the Jews. Acts 6 32 And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. Luke 1

      • 8 Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers Romans 15 And regarding promises that were made to the fathers please read Tanach!

    • Fully agree. I believe that with greatest respect the exegesis offered is incorrect. It is very obvious that our dear Lord is speaking of the centurions great faith by the prophecy that His church finally will consist of Jew and Gentile. There are certainly not two churches of Jesus Christ in Scripture-One Church of converted Jews and converted gentiles.

    • I believe that you are on the right track. Isaiah 65 and 66 speak directly to this day. It also speaks to the fulfillment of covenant Moses wrote a song about recorded in Deuteronomy 32. The chapters 28-31preceeding the song show the motivation for it, especially 31:17-18, 24-29. “That day” will be a day of sorrow and a day of joy (Is. 65}. The grace of the Lord Jesus be with all the saints. Amen.

      • Shalom Randall. I also think that’s where the biblical evidence leads us. Glad you are with us.

  2. Salvation is and has been always the same. For a Gentile, they join themselves to Israel and worship and trust in the God of Israel. By grace all who trust in Him are saved, through their faith and trust in Him alone. But Gentiles join Israel; Israel does not join the Nations. So if I read you right here, what you say is correct. This prophecy links Gentiles who come to Yeshua and Jews who believe on Him as HaMoshiach as they come to worship the Elohim of Avraham, Yitzach and Ya’akov; El Elohe Yisroel.

      • When Jesus died on the cross , He called out “it is finished” At that moment old testament prophesies were fulfilled , but of greater significance is the sealing of the new covenant in His blood. In the new covenant the Jew and the Gentile became united in the body of the Saviour. Hebrews 12:24 And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaks better things that that of Abel. Galatians 3:29 And if you be Christ’s, then are you Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Ephesians 3 : 5

    • Thank you very much for that explanation. I have that heritage from my grandmother, who was a Jew from Germany. They hid it from the people in America when they came here, afraid of trouble. After the war, they were treated badly because they were from Germany. She told me of her faith as she accepted Yeshua as Messiah. Thank you Dan.

    • Doesn’t the Bible state that to be saved you must believe in God, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, be baptised, and be filled with the Holy Spirit. “Joining Israel” is not stated as a factor in salvation. Paul stated “there is now no more Jew or Gentile but……….”

      • It isn’t a matter of YOU having to do anything to join Israel, it is that you become grafted into Israel the moment you first believe in the Lord. Your status is that you have been grafted into the tree that is Israel.

  3. I have for some time now received your Emails in which I do find some useful thoughts. However it does read as if God has two differing groups of Christians, the gentiles and the somewhat superior Jews. I am in no way anti-Semitic but in this area you do seem to skirt around the written word to somehow make the Jewish Christians a little more saved than the rest of Gods people.

    • Hi Colin, Sorry to hear you say this but let me reassure you this is NOT what Matthew or any other NT writer is suggesting. There is no hint of “ethnic superiority” anywhere in the biblical text (and to be honest, I don’t I suggested that either). On the other hand, there is no escaping the fact that the NT – especially Acts and Romans envisions the Ekklessia to be one community with two “wings” – a Jewish wing and a Gentile wing. Hence, the Apostle’s frequent admonitions for mutual respect, love and understanding

      • So, keeping in mind what I said above, I need to add one more comment – which I pray won’t cause offense. The truth is – on the historical level, Matthew engages Gentiles only on a peripheral level. Matthew’s main goal is to show that Jesus came inaugurate the nation’s eschatological restoration. As part of the NT canon, Matthew, of course, has application for all. But on the historical level, the book is focused on the Jewish people.

        • No offence brother. There are and will be disagreements in our theological interpretations. Because we may see some things differently in our Theological thinking we are not like the world but in love for the same Lord simply agree to disagree.

    • Hi Joy, I may need to post another blog about this passage because this is such an important (and frequently misunderstood) passage. But that said – my “short answer” is that in context, this phrase refers to those within the nation – specifically the Pharisees, who have rejected the messiahship of Yeshua. He is NOT referring to all Jewish people or the nation as a whole.

      • Are the “good” Jews those who have embraced Jesus as the Messiah, the remnant in Jesus and Paul’s time? Add to them the elect Gentiles who come to believe in Jesus as the Messiah sent by God, who are also included in the promises to Abraham, and finally all the elect Jews who turn to Jesus when the time of the gentiles comes to an end. The “bad” Jews are the sons of the kingdom who do not come to the Father through the Son of God , whom God has made both Lord and Messiah.

  4. Jesus was commenting on the lack of faith among the Jews. He compared their lack of faith to the great faith of the centurion. It was a warning to those Jews of little faith that if they don’t straighten out their act they will be on the outside, “weeping and gnashing of (their) teeth”. Matthew was a book for the Jews. Unfortunately, like so many times in the past (the whole Old Testament was a story of their coming and going in God….their adulterous nature and their coming back into obedience with God), there are those that will not heed.

  5. This prophecy is apparently referring to the times of the gentiles, when many would come to faith in the ELOHIM of Israel, whilst many of the covenant descendants of Israel would be prodigal. This is a fact of history todate. Nevertheless, there is also that prophecy about the subsequent return of the prodigal son; of the valley of dry bones becoming a great army!

  6. Hi! I have always struggled with understanding this verse. Who would Yeshua have meant when he said “the sons of the kingdom “? And what is the outer darkness referring to? Thank you.

  7. I am very interested in “unlearning” replacement theology. Replacement theology makes words like “faith” abstract (disconnected from God). I see your word faith is connected to both prophecy and God’s faithfulness. I had to go back to the basics to get a more concrete definition of faith (reconnects rather than replaces). The definition I found has to do with authority “to appointment to a position.” To consider God in a position of authority sounds like repentance to me.

  8. I am for all people on earth to find life in Christ and that is my prayer every day. I am wondering who the ‘sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness’.

    • Evil Shepherds of Israel, Judean Establishment. Jesus came to judge them this is particularly clear in John’s Gospel. If you get a chance read my book Jewish Gospel of John.

      • Thanks. I did buy that book and my wife enjoyed reading it when she did her Bible study at BSF on the Gospel of John.

    • Evil Shepherds of Israel, Judean Establishment. Jesus came to judge them this is particularly clear in John’s Gospel. If you get a chance read my book Jewish Gospel of John.

      • This – I certainly believe. I thought you were saying those whom God calls from east and west were Jews only. Scripture is clear that Gentiles who believe in Yeshua have been ‘grafted’ in to the Olive Tree (Romans 9-11 – Children of the Promise – a remnant who believe in Yeshua as HaMashiah). Those ‘cast out’ are Jewish unbelievers in Him. Obviously, hosts of non-believing Gentiles aren’t grafted in. In the end-times, however, a host of newly repenting Jews will receive Yeshua – and they will be placed back into the Tree.

  9. It must be acknowledged that some Gentile Christians do not believe they have replaced Israel but have been ‘adopted into’ the Holy Nation of Israel. Adoption does not mean replace it means join into. Scripture tells us that Jesus will return and will give instruction to bring his people home from the 4 corners of the earth. By acceptance of the promises made to Abraham, King David etc and baptism into the name of Jesus the faithful gentile Christians will be ‘joined into’ the Holy Nation of Gods’ family.

    • And so they will be, when they finally recognize Him and say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.” Israel is, for the most part, still in unbelief but the number of Messianic believers in Yeshua is growing by leaps and bounds. I believe that is the meaning of the “Dry Bones” prophecy in the Book of Ezekiel. As Ezekiel watched, the dry bones grew flesh and became alive. So will Israel.

      • Before WWII, there were, in Europe, approximately, 250,000 Jews who believed in Jesus. All but perhaps two dozen were killed in the Nazi camps. But those two dozen made it to Israel and now, there are about 250,000 Jews who believe in Yeshua, living in Israel!

  10. Have been taught dispensational theology all my life and am really beginning to question it. So, are you saying the true Church is true Israel??

    • No, no, no. Not at all. What did I say that led you to draw this conclusion? I want to clear that up, right away : – )

  11. My understanding is that the restoration of Israel is dependant on various factors happening, amongst others, Firstly the lost 10 tribes were dispersed and never heard of again, which will be neigh impossible. Secondly the rebuilding of the temple, which the Moslems will not allow for religious reasons. Further, there are 8 billion people on earth, of which approx.3 billion are Christians of various denominations. Do we expect the approx. 5 billion who are all non-believers are going to be cast into darkness or hell? I would love to hear comments here on

    • Is it not written that the road to everlasting life is narrow and few are those who have chosen to walk therein; and broad is the way to gehinom where many have chose to follow therein?

  12. Matthew 8:11-12 reminds me of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.Yes, it is a parable – as a literal account it is ridiculous, since the first reason Abraham gives the rich man for the gulf between them is to keep those in his bosom from leaving to go to the “other side” where there is torment. ??? Judah had five brothers, the tribe of Judah had the kingship (clothed in purple), the temple & Levitical sacrifices in Jerusalem (fine linen, eating sumptuously). Lazarus symbolizes Gentiles. Search other passages with the terms “crumbs” “dogs” & “table” and compare contexts.

    • Also, the name Lazarus is a form of Eliezer, who Abraham thought for a long time would be his only heir, but who wound up getting nothing. The idea of having to “join Israel to be saved” has the cart before the horse. I see it more as any person who turns to God in faith is saved, and is then made part of “Israel”. I also wonder if the message of “repentance” tashuva that John preached in the wilderness, was a call to Israelites to “return” to Mt. Sinai to reconsider their response to God’s offer in Exodus 19:5.

  13. To me Mat 8:11-12 only Seriously emphasizes Exod. 4:22-23 etc. that Israel as God’s first son chosen as a nation of Priests to bring His light to the Nations may lose that special love. And the nations they were supposed to impact will end up in Abraham’s bossom whereas the ones specially chosen may be cast out. Thus emphasizing that He is God of all people not just of the Jews. I don’t believe in replacement theology. Salvation is for all people but His emphasy is that it must start from Israel because of His covenant with Abraham

  14. Thank you, for your LOVE AND commitment to the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY OF ISRAEL, HOLY WORD. When I sometimes say the GOD OF ABRAHAM, or ISRAEL people are offended? Why, when the Bible state this information?

  15. Those who will be thrown out in this context are the unbelieving Jews who witnessed all that Yahshua did & yet rejected Him. This does not refer to the entire nation. All the apostles and most of the early believers were Israelites–THEY WILL NOT BE THROWN OUT. Also, hundreds of thousands of Israelites are now following Yahshua today. I am excited about this. Honestly, we gentiles need not boast at all because the ’No-Torah’ religion that most people hold on to is lower than the real faith which Yahshua and his apostles practiced. Thanks Dr.

  16. Dr. Eli, I read in your book that Jesus came in judgment against the evil shepherds (p. 288). I am wondering if my word judgement is lacking. I learned to associate the word judgement with hell. The judgement in Ezekiel seems more about power. Were the sons of the kingdom doomed to eternal damnation, or does thrown into the outer darkness mean they will be powerless over the sheep. Do saved Christian shepherds have power over the sheep, or are they to powerless?

    • Hi Laura, Great question. In Matthew, as well as first century Judaism, the “outer darkness” is a place of eternal punishment for the wicked.

  17. Yeah,I agree with one count of Dr. Noel Rabinowitz’s comments that the gospel of MATTHEW is written keeping JEWISH people in mind ,because he mentions KINGDOM OF HEAVEN always instead of KINGDOM OF G-D.and that he does not want to hurt the feelings of JEWISH people when it comes to the context of pronouncing the very name of the ALMIGHTY.

  18. I will humbly suggest that we all go back to the Fall in Genesis 3. We understand that all humanity was in Adam in creation. When Adam fell all humanity sinned and all were separated from God. There was no Jew and there was no Gentile. And God’s promise of His redemption first spoken of in Genesis 3:15 was also to all humanity, again not only to Jews or Gentiles. So, it begun in Eden, and ends in Christ for all . Read my book “Set Apart by Love, for Love and to Love” on Amazon or Xulon Press.

  19. In my understanding there is a huge gap in how we understand and or use the word judgment. Most use judgement as synonymous with condemn. Jesus said he did not come to condemn and he has not, yet. We can say he did in fact come to judge and then to set right by fully declaring the Law of Moses. This is the all to often used argument of fulfill (Matt 5:17) that leads to fulfillment theology. He came to judge the evil shepherds so that they may abandon their ways and turn to the Fathers ways, rightfully following Torah.

    • Thanks, Sean. I can agree with you to a point – the leaders are definitely the object of Matthew’s scorn. They are portrayed as the shepherds that have abandoned the sheep. Nevertheless, Matthew makes it clear to his readers that they have to make a decision and chose which side they will align themselves with – the Pharisees who face judgment or the Disciples who will govern the Twelve Tribes in the Age to Come.

  20. Are the “good” Jews those who have embraced Jesus as the Messiah, the remnant in Jesus and Paul’s time? Add to them the elect Gentiles who come to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, who are then included in the promises to Abraham, and finally all the elect Jews who turn to Jesus when the time of the gentiles comes to an end. The “bad” Jews are the sons of the kingdom who do not come to the Father through the Son of God , whom God has made both Lord and Messiah.

  21. Very complicated and deep learning. I say that “all Israel will be saved” means just what it says. Remember, as Paul taught us” those “of the nations” should be very grateful to the Jews who rejected Yeshua. And why, in large part, did they? Because HE had hardened their hearts so that they were unable to see Ha-Or. At this point, all I can ask (for sake of room)- please read Ezekiel 36 from vs 22 on. Salvation is GIVEN to the Jews; NOT earned. Hope to hear back. b’Shem Yeshua Mesha.

  22. “The main thing it is not Jews vs. Gentiles, but Jews vs. (Good) Jews” , Certainly worth pondering Dr.ELi.

  23. Well the turning point has come in the twelfth chapter of Matthew when the covenant keeping Jews(Pharisees)acting as the leadership of the Nation of Israel,formally reject Jesus Christ as Messiah saying that His power comes not from G-D but from Satan What an awful statement was that ! Christ’s ministry changes immediately with His new teaching of Parables.,increased attention given to His disciples ,and His repeated statement that His death is now near . That ‘has brought a great difference between these two—-covenant keeping Jews and the other Covenant transgressor Jews.. It is only my assumption Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenbergi.

    • “… the covenant keeping Jews(Pharisees)acting as the leadership of the Nation of Israel,formally reject Jesus Christ as Messiah…” If the Pharisees had indeed been covenant keeping, they would not have been guilty of “omitting the weightier matters of the law”! They wouldn’t have been called “hypocrites”, etc. Let us not quickly discount the fact that believing Jews were “zealous of the law”. They were covenant keeping Jews!

  24. and I see theres’ a lot of meaning in Bruce Hal Miner’s comment that SALVATION is GIVEN and not EARNED by the Jews and it is possible through YESHUA the Messiach. Beautiful discussion are emanating through this wonderful study.The Spirit of SPEAKING through each one the participant writers/students /comperes..Shalom

  25. I place this passage in the context of who will be given Eternal Life in the Kingdom of Heaven and who will be condemned to suffer. That brings up the Two Great Commandments, the Good Samaritan, the Parable of the Separation of the Sheep and Goats, the saying that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for s rich man to gain entry into Heaven. It also brings up what Jesus thought about harming little children. He made it clear: Follow His doctrines or suffer after Judgment Day.

    • Follow his doctrines???? 🙂 Actually, last I remember he said something a big different in Matt.25: 37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ 40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did

  26. Not about replacement but justification for those who believe in Jesus Christ consist of all nations (cf. Rom 9:6).

    • No one doubt that all nations of the world are invited (surprisingly) into the New Covenant that was made ONLY with house of Israel and house of Judah (Jer.31:31-33). This is what Apostle Paul termed a mystery in the Book of Romans – Gentiles are co-heirs together with the Jews of the promises of God! Wow.

  27. Is not Islam and Arabs considered to be Gentile nations, so would they turn to Jews and become followers of Judaism or should they become Christians or are they who reject these teachings of Judao-Christian be cast into utter darkness ?

    • They should and are always invited to become worshipers of Israel’s God through Christ Jesus our King and our Lord.

  28. The bible teaches that you are about half right. Jesus allusion to the OT Patriarchs is concerning the re-gathering of A RENMENT. In Matthew/Luke their is a narrow/wide path and narrow/wide door. They write to the Jews, there will be a time coming that they are invited to the feast but few will accept the invitation. In Luke, from the four corners of the earth means all nations of the gentiles that have been grafted into the tree of Israel. When the temple was destroyed, few had accepted that Yashua Moshiach reign would be a spiritual kingdom not physical.

  29. The Heavenly Kingdom is for those who are saved by grace through faith–just as were all the O.T. saints, as well as the Church. BUT, Israel has been tasked with the administration of that Kingdom in the world. They were to be a light to the nations, but, instead were led into darkness by the nations (thus Jesus observation about the “blind leading the blind” in Matthew 15:14 and His rebuke of Nicodemus in John 3:10). There has been a delay but not elimination of the Kingdom of God here on earth. (see Romans 11)

  30. By no means was Jesus implying that all Jews would be rejected and Gentiles would take their place in the Kingdom of Heaven. He was also dispelling the misconception that no Gentile would ever enter the Kingdom of heaven. We know Jesus had warned the Pharisees that, just because they were descendants of their Father Abraham, this does not guarantee them a place in the Kingdom of Heaven. A right heart and right relationship with G-d, bought and paid for with the blood of the spotless Lamb of G-d, Jesus the Messiah, was available to all, both Jew and Gentile.

    • Shalom Ken, You’re right, Jesus was not implying that Jews would be rejected and Gentiles would take their place. Nevertheless, that is unfortunately still how many Bible teachers and Bible students read this passage.

  31. I believe that the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of heaven are for anyone who accepts the teachings of Jesus, be they Jews, Israelites, Gentiles, Pharisees. If you read the Bible and believe what is written is by inspiration of God and we are part of creation. (Adam and Eve) After so many generations we do not know if we are descendants of Abraham or Abraham’s brothers. What I do believe is that I know Jesus the Messiah, the Anointed, and I try to follow his teachings.

  32. I guess I have always read into Matt 8:7 that the centurion recognized Jesus (unlike the Jews according to my doctrine), yet when Jesus said “I will come and heal him” the centurion said no. What does “speak the Logos only” mean?

  33. I think that all the Jewish leaders who were God- fearers and God-worshippers were assasinated by Rome when Rome took over and replaced with corrupt cronies to Rome, which is what caused their envy of the true Messiah: Jeshua.

    • Thank you for your comment. Please, fill out your name next time you make a comment (we do not allow anonymous comments) :-).

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