What does "gnashing of teeth" refer to?


Hope you are doing well. I really like your new look in your web site, and the convenience it offers. Great work! Thanks, it makes it easier to navigate.

I have a question about something that Jesus said more than once, usually (I think) during the telling of parables. It concerns passages in Matthew.

Matthew 13:41-42 The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of this kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.

Matthew 13:49-50 says the same thing, nearly word for word.

Matthew 23:13 Then the king said to the attendants, 'Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.

What, in particular, does it mean to 'gnash their teeth'? Is it like a 'grinding of the teeth', maybe in anguish? Does it have another meaning, such as to indicate someone snarling at you, or a sneer, or something entirely different? I am not so sure I understand this part. I do think I understand that the whole meaning in each passage is to show or demonstrate, partially, what hell will be. That being, absolute anguish from being separated, or not in the presence of God. But if you have comments or information that is relevant, I am listening. Thanks much.


I'm glad the effort in updating the web site is meeting my goal. As the web site continues to grow, I find that I must reorganize many of the sections and the new design is an attempt both to make it easier on me as well as easier to find the information on the site.

In answer to your question, gnashing teeth is an expression of someone in intense stress. A person might gnash their teeth at someone else because they are so angry. Another person might grind his teeth at night because of bodily pain. So you are correct that this is a way to describe the torment of being in hell and away from the presence of God. Some commentators also believe it could include the idea of people expressing their anger at God for putting them in hell.