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Rich Man and Lazarus

Discussion in 'Parables of Jesus' started by Chad, Aug 8, 2014.

  1. The Rich Man and Lazaru
    The Rich Man and Lazarus | Amazing Facts

    Much argument has taken place over whether the words of Jesus in Luke 16:19-31 were intended to be understood literally or as a parable. Some Christians feel that in this story, Jesus was offering His hearers a glimpse of what existence in the afterlife is like. Others, citing numerous passages of Scripture that seem to contradict the portrayal of heaven and hell contained in this passage, feel that Jesus was teaching an altogether different kind of lesson. Unfortunately, many modern religious teachers have isolated the story from its original context and used it as a device for scaring people. Religious “conversions” resulting from a fear of hell as it is depicted in this passage have indeed occurred, but are based on a foundation sorely in need of the strength that comes only from a genuine appreciation of God’s character and a proper understanding of Scripture. To begin this study, we’ll take a closer look at just what a parable really is, and then examine the setting in which Jesus told this story. Perhaps then we will better understand what lessons there are for us in the story of the rich man and Lazarus.

    The Random House College Dictionary describes a parable as “a short, allegorical story designed to convey a truth or moral lesson.” Cruden’s Complete Concordance further expands this concept, saying that parables in the Bible were used “more generally than elsewhere.” We know that the Bible writers used situations both imaginary—as in the trees asking the bramble to be king over them (Judges 9:8-15)—and realistic in parables. Whatever form the parable took, it was only a vehicle for the moral lesson being taught.

    Jesus recognized the value of parables in teaching the people. He desired to stimulate their deepest thought and contemplation, and He knew that if He spoke too literally, certain of His hearers would quickly forget His words. Not only that, but others, for whom certain of His parables contained stern rebuke, would be so angered by straight speaking that they would attempt to silence Him by violence. Wise as a serpent but harmless as a dove, Jesus recalled the words of Isaiah 6:9 and told His disciples, “Unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God: but to others in parables; that seeing they might not see, and hearing they might not understand.” Luke 8:10. Cruden’s Concordance explains: “Our Saviour in the gospels often speaks to the people in parables. He made use of them to veil the truth from those who were not willing to see it. Those who really desired to know would not rest till they had found out the meaning.”

    It is appropriate here to ask to whom Jesus was speaking in Luke 16:19-31. Which category of people was He dealing with? The last verse before Jesus’ voice begins in this passage tells us. Verse 14 says, “And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him.” Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees, a class of men who were notorious all through the Gospels for their refusal to deal honestly with Him and the truths He taught.

    We can be sure that of all the people Jesus taught, none were handled more guardedly than the wily Pharisees. They dealt in deception and subterfuge, but Jesus dealt with them wisely and truthfully. The safest way for Him to do this was by parable and allegory. Evidence that they did not understand many of His teachings can be found in Jesus’ prayer in Luke 10:21, “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hath revealed them unto babes.” Mark 4:33, 34 clearly shows that Jesus’ lessons were almost invariably couched in parables: “And with many such parables spake he the word unto them: as they were able to hear it. But without a parable spake he not unto them; and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples.”

    Now we are ready to examine the story of the rich man and Lazarus itself, and try to ascertain the real message Jesus was seeking to convey through it.

    “There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.” Luke 16:19-21.

    Who was the symbolic rich man? The Jews had been blessed above measure by a knowledge of God and his plan of salvation for all mankind. They had received “the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises.” Romans 9:4. Only a Jew would pray to “Father Abraham,” as we find the rich man doing later in the story. The Jewish nation was clearly represented by this character.

    By contrast, Lazarus symbolized all those people in spiritual poverty—the Gentiles—with whom the Israelites were to share their heritage. The words of Isaiah were well known to the Jews. “I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6.

    Unfortunately, the Jews had not shared their spiritual wealth with the Gentiles at all. Instead, they considered them as “dogs” that would have to be satisfied with the spiritual crumbs falling from their masters’ tables. The metaphor was known. Jesus had used it before in testing the faith of the Canaanite woman. “It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs.” She responded accordingly: “Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ tables.” Matthew 15:26, 27.

    The rich Jews had hoarded the truth, and in so doing, they had corrupted themselves. Only moments before relating this parable, Jesus had rebuked the Pharisees for their spiritual conceit. “Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.” Luke 16:15. What was to be the result of this terrible conceit?

    “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.” Luke 16:22-26.

    The Jews had enjoyed “the good life” while on earth but had done nothing to bless or enrich their neighbors. No further reward was due. “Woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation. Woe unto you that are full! for ye shall hunger.” Luke 6:24, 25.

    Conversely, the poor in spirit, symbolized by Lazarus, would inherit the kingdom of heaven. The Gentiles who hungered and thirsted after righteousness would be filled. The “dogs” and sinners, so despised by the self-righteous Pharisees, would enter heaven before they would. “Verily I say unto you, That the publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you.” Matthew 21:31.

    The parable concludes with the rich man begging for his brethren to be warned against sharing his fate. Asking Abraham to send Lazarus on this mission, he alleges “if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.” Luke 16:30. Abraham replies, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Verse 31.

    Jesus thus rebuked the Pharisees for their disregard of the Scriptures, foreseeing that even a supernatural event would not change the hearts of those who persistently rejected the teachings of “Moses and the prophets.” The miracle of raising the real-life Lazarus from the dead soon afterward confirmed the accuracy of Jesus’ conclusion. One did rise from the dead, yet the brothers of the “rich man” did not repent. In fact, the Pharisees even plotted to kill Lazarus after his resurrection. His very life was a reminder to them of their own hypocrisy.

    Today many Christians believe that the story of the rich man and Lazarus is a historical account of two individuals’ literal experiences in the afterlife. Based on this belief, some people teach that those who are consigned to the fiery torments of hell will never stop burning throughout all eternity. As with the parable of the trees and the bramble (Judges 9:8-15), however, serious problems arise with a literal interpretation of the story elements.

    Can we believe that all the saints are even now gathered in Abraham’s bosom? If they are, in whose bosom does Abraham rest? And if there is really a great gulf fixed between heaven and hell, how could the rich man possibly have been heard by Abraham? Perhaps more disturbing, how could the saints enjoy the comforts of heaven while enduring the cries of the wicked being tormented?

    Another dilemma that arises with a literal interpretation of this story could be called “the mystery of the empty graves.” If this is taken literally, apparently neither of the two leading characters spent very long in the grave—both being whisked away rather quickly to their respective places of reward. Their bodies obviously came along, for we find the rich man lifting up his eyes, and desiring to have his tongue cooled by a drop of water from the finger of Lazarus who was resting, as we have seen, in Abraham’s bosom. Enough graves have been exhumed in recent years to know that the bodies of the deceased are carried neither to heaven or hell after burial. They finally turn to dust and await the resurrection.

    From these few examples, we begin to see that in this parable, Jesus was not trying to explain the physical realities of the afterlife. Instead, He was referring to the unfaithfulness of the Jews regarding their assigned responsibility. As stewards of the special message of truth, they utterly failed to share it with the Gentiles, who were eager to hear it. In fact, the entire chapter of Luke 16 is devoted to the subject of stewardship.

    Beginning in verse one, Christ gave another parable about stewardship of money or property. “There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods.” After dealing with the principle of being entrusted with material goods, Jesus opened up the issue of being entrusted with the truth. By the parable of another rich man, He graphically illustrated how they had proven just as unfaithful with spiritual riches as the steward had been unfaithful with physical wealth.

    To attempt to stretch the parable of the rich man and Lazarus to cover the doctrine of hellfire is to miss the point Jesus intended to convey. The Bible speaks with unmistakable clarity on the subject of hell in many other places. Nowhere do the Scriptures teach that the wicked will continue to suffer in the fires of hell through the ceaseless ages of eternity. Rather, they will be utterly destroyed. Jesus never would have compromised the integrity of the Holy Scriptures by teaching a doctrine contrary to its own overwhelming testimony on the subject.

    The truth about hell may be ascertained by examining even a few of the many Bible texts that speak directly on the subject. Before examining these, however, we must remember that “the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life.” Romans 6:23. There are only two alternatives for every soul. Those who accept Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice will live forever; those who do not accept Jesus will die. If the wicked suffered without end, eternal life—however painful—would be theirs. But we know that eternal life is available only to those who accept Jesus.

    Consider these clear texts of Scripture that speak of the reward of the wicked: “But the wicked shall perish, and the enemies of the Lord shall be as the fat of lambs: they shall consume; into smoke shall they consume away.” Psalm 37:20.

    “For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: andthe day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the Lord of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.” Malachi 4:1.

    “And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the Lord of hosts.” Malachi 4:3.

    “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28.

    “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.” 2 Peter 3:10.

    “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.” Revelation 21:8.

    Many other texts could be cited, but these clearly illustrate that the ultimate fate of the wicked is death. Notice that the Scriptures choose the strongest possible words to describe the complete annihilation of the wicked. In no way should these clear words be misunderstood by one who honestly desires to know truth. There is a fire reserved for the wicked, but a fire so hot it will utterly destroy all who are engulfed by it. When the fire has done its work, it will go out. Eternally burning fire is not taught anywhere in the Bible—not even in the story of the rich man and Lazarus. (Some people have wondered what the expression “for ever” means in the usage of Revelation 20:10. Other similar passages demonstrate this merely to mean as long as a person lives. See Exodus 21:6; 1 Samuel 1:22; Jonah 2:6, etc. Also, the expression “eternal fire” may be understood in terms of consequences rather than duration, as in the example of Sodom and Gomorrha in Jude 7).

    It would be tragic to miss the actual point of the parable by removing it from the setting in which Jesus gave it. Let’s accept the lesson He was trying to teach and apply it to our own lives. Are we doing all we can to spread the message of salvation to others? Do we have a genuine love for those around us, and have we invited them to share our spiritual inheritance? If we hoard our riches, like the Jews of old, we will become self-righteous and corrupt. In contrast, by active, loving service, our relationship with Christ as well as with others will become stronger and more meaningful.

    Let us not make scary stories the basis of our Christian experience. Instead, let us understand that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16.

    Some Difficult Texts Explained​

    1 Samuel 28:14: “And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.”

    This spiritualistic séance has been cited as evidence for life after death. However, here are points to the contrary:
    1. Wizards had been sentenced to death and banned from the land (verse 3; Leviticus 20:27).
    2. God had left Saul and would not communicate with him (verse 15).
    3. Samuel was supposedly “brought up.” Other expressions: “ascending out of the earth,” “Cometh up,” and “Bring … up.” Is this where the righteous dead are—down in the earth? Not according to those who believe in the immortal soul. 4. Samuel is described as “an old man covered with a mantle.” Is this the way immortal souls appear? And where did the soul get the body? They’re supposed to be disembodied. Was there a resurrection? Did God obey the beck and call of the witch, and raise up Samuel? If not, can Satan raise the dead?
    4. The apparition of Samuel told Saul, “Tomorrow shalt thou and thy sons be with me.” Saul committed suicide on the battlefield the next day. Where did Samuel dwell, if the wicked Saul was to go to the same place?
    5. The record never says that Saul saw Samuel. He received his information as second hand from the witch, and only concluded it was Samuel from her description. The truth is that the devil deceived the dissolute old woman, and she deceived Saul. It was nothing more than a devil-generated séance.
    6. The enormity of Saul’s sin is revealed in these words, “So Saul died for asking counsel of one that had a familiar spirit, to inquire of it; And inquired not of the Lord: therefore he slew him.” 1 Chronicles 10:13, 14.
    Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

    Jesus clearly teaches in this text that the soul is not naturally immortal. It can and will be destroyed in hell. But what does He mean about killing the body, but not the soul? Is it possible for the soul to exist apart from the body? Some say it is, but the Bible indicates otherwise.

    The Hebrew word “psuche” has been translated “soul” in this text, but in forty other texts it has been translated “life.” For example, Jesus said, “Whosoever will lose his life [psuche] for my sake shall find it.” Matthew 16:25. Obviously, “psuche” could not mean soul in this instance, or people could be said to lose their soul for Christ’s sake. It is properly translated “life.”

    But what of Matthew 10:28? Put in the word “life” instead of “soul” and the text makes perfect sense in its consistency with the rest of the Bible. The contrast is between one who can take the physical life, and He who can take away eternal life. Here is proof in the words of Jesus: “And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell.” Luke 12:4, 5.

    In other words, the word “soul” here means not only life, but also eternal life. Notice that Luke says everything just like Matthew except that he does not say “kills the soul.” Instead, he says, “cast into hell.” They mean the same thing. Men can only kill the body and take away the physical life. God will cast into hell and take away eternal life. Not only will their bodies be destroyed in that fire, but also their lives will be snuffed out for all eternity.

    Matthew 25:46: “And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.”

    It is well to notice that Jesus did not say that the wicked would suffer “everlasting punishing.” He said “everlasting punishment.” What is the punishment for sin? The punishment is destruction, and it is of eternal duration (2 Thessalonians 1:9). In other words, it is a destruction which never ends, because there will be no resurrection from that destruction.

    Paul says, “the wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23. John describes that death as “the second death” in Revelation 21:8. That death or destruction will be eternal.

    Mark 9:43, 44: “And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched: Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”

    In this verse, the word “hell” is translated from the Greek word “Gehenna,” which is another name for the Valley of Hinnom just outside the walls of Jerusalem.There the refuse and bodies of animals were cast into an ever-smoldering fire to be consumed. Maggots that fed on the dead bodies were constantly destroying what might escape the flames. Gehenna symbolized a place of total destruction.

    Jesus taught in this verse that the fire of hell could not be quenched or put out by anyone. Isaiah said, “They shall not deliver themselves from the power of the flame.” Isaiah 47:14. Yet, he hastened to say in the same verse, “There shall not be a coal to warm at, nor a fire to sit before it.” So the unquenchable fire will go out after it has finished its work. Jerusalem burned with unquenchable fire (Jeremiah 17:27) yet it was totally destroyed (2 Chronicles 36:19-21).

    The flames and worms of Gehenna represented the total annihilation and obliteration of sin and sinners. With the fires of Gehenna burning before their eyes, Jesus could not have spoken a more graphic word to the Pharisees to describe the final total destruction of sinners.

    Those who cite this text to support their doctrine of the natural immortality of the soul are thrown into a real dilemma. Why? Because the fire and worms are working, not upon disembodied souls, but bodies! In Matthew 5:30 Christ said, the “whole body” would be cast into hell.

    In Isaiah 66:24, the same Gehenna picture of hell is presented with the unquenchable flame and the destroying worms. But in this case, the word “carcasses” is used, revealing the fact that the fire consumes dead bodies, not disembodied souls.

    Luke 23:43: “And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise.”

    Some have assumed from this verse that souls go to their reward immediately after death, contrary to scores of other Bible texts. But notice two things wrong with this assumption. First, even though Jesus told the thief, “Verily I say unto thee, To day shalt thou be with me in paradise,” three days later He told Mary that He had not yet ascended to His Father. Here is the evidence that His Father was in Paradise: Revelation 2:7 says the tree of life “is in the midst of the paradise of God,” and Revelation 22:1, 2 describes the tree of life by the side of the river of life which flows, in turn, from the throne of God. So there is no question about Paradise being where the Father’s throne is located. The question is: How could Jesus tell the thief that he would be with Him in Paradise that day, when He did not go there until three days later?

    In the second place, Jesus and the thief did not even die on the same day. When the soldiers came just before sunset to take the bodies off the cross, Jesus was already dead (John 19:32-34). The thieves were very much alive, and their legs were broken to hasten death and to prevent them from escaping. They undoubtedly lived on past sunset into the hours of the Sabbath and possibly longer. So how could Jesus assure the thief of being with Him in Paradise that day when they did not both die on “that day”?

    The apparent contradictions clear up when we consider that the punctuation of Luke 23:43 was added by uninspired men when our English Bible was translated. They placed a comma before the word “today,” when in reality it should have been placed after “today.” Then the verse would correctly read, “Verily I say unto thee today, thou shalt be with me in paradise.” In other words, Jesus was saying, “I give you the assurance today, when it seems I can save no man; today when my own disciples have forsaken me and I’m dying as a criminal dies—yet I assure you of salvation right now.”

    Please notice that the thief did not ask to be taken to Paradise then. He asked, “Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.” That’s exactly when he will be remembered and taken into that Kingdom. 2 Corinthians 5:6, 8: “Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: … We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

    In verses 1-8, Paul is contrasting the present mortal state with the future immortal life in heaven. Notice the expressions he uses for the two conditions:

    [TABLE="width: 50%, align: center"]
    [TD]earthly house[/TD]
    [TD]building of God[/TD]
    [TD]this tabernacle[/TD]
    [TD]house not made with hands[/TD]
    [TD]our house from heaven[/TD]
    [TD]in the body[/TD]
    [TD]absent from the body[/TD]
    [TD]absent from the Lord[/TD]
    [TD]present with the Lord[/TD]

    He also speaks of being clothed with “our house which is from heaven,” (verse 2) and again, he longs “that mortality might be swallowed up of life.” Verse 4. But the key to the entire discourse lies in the description of a third condition. After desiring to be clothed upon with immortality, Paul states that “being clothed we shall not be found naked.” Verse 3. Putting it yet another way, he said, “not for that we would be unclothed.” Verse 4.

    Clearly, the naked or unclothed state was neither mortality nor immortality, but death and the grave. Paul realized that one did not pass instantly from being clothed with this tabernacle into being clothed with our house from heaven. Death and the grave came in between, and he referred to it as being unclothed and naked.

    In another text, Paul spelled out exactly when that change from mortality would take place. In 1 Corinthians 15:52, 53 he wrote, “The trumpet shall sound and this mortal must put on immortality.” That will be when Jesus comes.

    1 Peter 3:18-20: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.”

    There has been considerable misunderstanding of these verses of Scripture. It has been preached that Christ actually descended into the lower regions of the earth and preached to lost souls that were imprisoned in some purgatory or limbo.

    This is very far from what the text actually says. Let’s look at it closely now and get the real message of these verses. It says that Christ suffered once for sin that He might bring us to God by being put to death in the flesh. But He was quickened by the Spirit by which also He went and preached.

    First of all, notice how Christ preached to those spirits in prison. He did it by the Spirit, and that word is capitalized in your Bible. It actually refers to the Holy Spirit. So whatever Christ did in preaching during this period of time, He did it through or by the Holy Spirit.

    With that in view, let’s ask this: When was the preaching done? The answer is plainly given in verse 20, “When once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing.” So, the preaching was actually done while the ark was being built—during the preaching of Noah to that antediluvian world. Now, one more question: To whom was the preaching done? The text says here “to the spirits in prison.” Throughout the Bible, we find this terminology used in describing those who are bound in the prison house of sin. David prayed, “Bring my soul out of prison.” Psalm 142:7. Paul spoke of his experience in these words: “bringing me into captivity to the law of sin.” Romans 7:23.

    What Peter is telling us here is simply that Christ through the Holy Spirit was present while Noah preached; Christ was there through the Holy Spirit to speak conviction to their hearts and appeal to them to come into the ark. There is absolutely nothing here that indicates that Jesus departed from the body during the time He was dead to go to any subterranean place to minister to wicked spirits. The three questions are clearly answered in the text itself, that He preached by the Holy Spirit, He did it while the ark was being prepared, and He did it to the spirits in prison or to those individuals whose sinful lives were bound in the prison house of sin.

    Revelation 14:10, 11: “The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” The words “for ever” do not necessarily mean “without end.” In fact, the Bible uses the term 56 times (“for ever” can be found in your biblical concordance under “ever”) in connection with the things that have already ended. In Exodus 21:1-6 the Hebrew servant was to serve his master “for ever,” but it was obviously only as long as he lived. Hannah took her son Samuel to God’s house to abide “for ever,” but she plainly limited that time to “as long as he liveth.” 1 Samuel 1:22, 28.

    The term is very clearly defined in Psalm 48:14, “For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death.” The desolation of Edom was to continue “for ever and ever.” Isaiah 34:10. Christ is called “a priest for ever” (Hebrews 5:6), yet after sin is blotted out Christ’s work as a priest will end. The Bible states, “The wicked … shall be destroyed for ever.” Psalm 92:7.
    Br. Bear and Jesus_is_LORD like this.
  2. On the one hand I don't believe Jesus's primary goal with this parable was to give us a glimpse of the afterlife.
    On the other hand, I don't believe Jesus was lying or would make up a story with purely fictional characters, events and places, like a Hollywood movie would.
    Jesus would not have told a parable using space aliens for example, or a fictional place called Utopia.
    I believe how Jesus described the afterlife to be is real and factual.
    Dovegiven likes this.
  3. I personally don't believe this was a parable for two reasons.

    Usually when He told a parable.. it was identified as a parable. (i.e. Matt 13:18; Matt 13:24; Mat 13:31; etc.. )
    Also in every other parable he used improper nouns such as "a man" or "a servant".
    But in the story of Lazarus and the rich man, he specifically identifies them with proper nouns.
  4. Good point to Bac! Never did say it was did it?? lol
    Br. Bear likes this.
  5. This article brings up some very interesting questions that are worthy of research.
    The story/parable only names Lazarus and that translates to "without hope".
    Isaiah and Ezekiel spoke of an underworld when they were ranting against Foreign Kings but the educated Jews had no afterlife doctrine at all.
    Isaiah and Ezekiel were actually mocking pagan Kings using the pagans own belief system.
    By the time of Jesus many of the common uneducated Jews formed what the Apostle Paul referred to as "Jewish myths".These included stories of the underworld brought back by the the masses which had spent 70 years steeped in pagan ideas from the Babylonian religion.

    The old testament claims that the dead know nothing so that means they were not being tormented but could be forgotten.David's hope was that God would remember him.
    Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the realm of the dead, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
    Isaiah 26:14
    They are now dead, they live no more; their spirits do not rise. You punished them and brought them to ruin; you wiped out all memory of them.

    Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.

    The word "eternity" means no beginning and no end,always was and always will be.
    Jesus defined "eternal life as Knowing God and the son.
    That seems to contradict any traditional notion of the beginning or end of anything that can happen eternally.
    Br. Bear likes this.
  6. You are probably right.
  7. It could be the understanding of Sheol/Hades in the times of the Old Testament was wrong.
    I would think Jesus (who created everything) and has actually been to Hell ( Eph 4:9-10; Acts 2:31; ) would know more about it than even Solomon (as wise as he was, but he wasn't wise enough to fall to idols).
    Was there really a conversation between two people in Sheol/Hades? I don't know.
    But many of us believe people simply lie "asleep" in the ground until the resurrection. There may be a few people from ancient times that are remembered (Solomon, David, etc..)
    but I suspect far and large, the masses of antiquity have been forgotten. (at least by men, but not by God). But even so, there will come a day of resurrection (even the wicked) so they
    can be judged. ( John 5:29; Acts 24:15; )
    Dave M likes this.
  9. Let's take a closer look.
    1. "educated Jews had no afterlife doctrine at all" doesn't account for the great debate between Pharisees and Sadduces in Jesus' time over resurrection from the dead, which included doctrines of Sheol among both parties, the place where the dead wander. If the Pharisees were right, then the dead had to know something, be aware, at some point while dead, rising to give account for their rebellion. The concept of a burning hell (Sheol) begins in Deu 32:22, Moses given word from God, not
    2. Isaiah 26 is a prophecy concerning the Millennium, when all enemies of Israel will have been destroyed and not even left in the memory of the living. Ezekiel's millennial Jerusalem is rebuilt, the people rejoicing a thousand years.
    3. Throughout the Bible God has taken measures to identify errors of doctrine. It would serve no good purpose to allow false myths to creep in from pagan sources without telling his people they are false beliefs. Whatever is directly stated about Sheol can't be other than truth, else the whole Bible be suspect as a book of fables. Metaphors are also identified with many clues that something else is the subject, though so nearly like the thing spoken that the two objects are inseparable in nature.
    4. I rely heavily on context, the more the better, so I can gather more of the topic. Looking at the surrounds of your Eccl 5 reference.......Ecclesiastes 9:4-6 (KJV)
    4 For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
    5 For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.
    6 Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.
    The whole of it says to me those apply to what's going on among the living, those subject to light of the sun, on the earth, not beneath. The dead are oblivious to our world. One of the deceptions of witches is calling on the dead to give up hidden knowledge. They can't know about or teach the living. All they could know is what's beneath the surface.

    I am convinced the statements of status of the dead are literal, nothing in the Bible to hint the doctrines are anything but true facts of what happens upon death of the body. The doctrines of Sheol predate the Babylonian exile period, is a literal place and situation of the departed souls, described by God in the old testament, and by Jesus more often speaking of it than speaking of heaven.
  10. John 10:8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.

    God brought correction through Jesus who informed us that God is love.
    The Pharisee believed in a resurrection of the dead and the Sadducee did not.
    Jesus corrected Mary when she said that her brother Lazarus would live again in the resurrection.
    He said,"I am the resurrection".So a person can be an event.Jesus claimed to be that event and he also said that event transcended time.

    John 5:25 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.
    The hour "now is" tells us that we can't use our scientific understanding of time.
    However if this is an eternal event then it always was,is and will be Christ.

    The word eternal means "no beginning and no end,always was and always will be".
    That is a description of our eternal nature in Christ,it is not taking place in time and space as we perceive it.
    The kingdom of heaven is within us not somewhere or sometime.
    Ephesians chapter 2 claims we died with Christ and resurrected 2000 years ago.
    Just because you don't remember it does not mean the bible is in error.

    What If the rich man opened his eyes and suddenly perceived the condition of his temporal self through eternal eyes.
    The issue with "eternal" is there is no beginning so you really can't go anywhere eternally that you did not come from.

    A verse i Job always made me wonder if God was sarcastic but now I know that love is not sarcastic so the only way I can see this verse in Job in light of the context is to simply take God at his word.
    Job 38:21 Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!
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  11. The real dilemma is having no point of reference when describing the spiritual realm. It would be like trying to describe the colors red and blue
    to a person who was born blind and had no reference of colors. We, in this realm, have no idea of what its like there and how things operate.
    Jesus would have to put things into context for us to understand. He would have used physical terms, such as eyes, convey an
    understanding. In reality, the man's body had started its decaying process. When the rich man asked for a drop of water because he thirst,
    well, he doesn't have a body to thirst. The reality behind that may be far worse than can be described in terms our minds can relate to.
    Many times Jesus would say, "The Kingdom of Heaven is like..." and then give a description. The limitations are our point of reference to
    understand. Jesus had to put things on a level and point of reference that we could draw from and understand.
    Jesus_is_LORD and Dovegiven like this.
  12. 1 Corinthians 2:12-14 (KJV)
    12 Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God.
    13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
    14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

    Israel in Jesus' presence was largely of "natural man", blind to the truth by Satan. But that wasn't an excuse for Jesus to teach mysteries based on false myths. He wouldn't get away with that because the Holy Spirit would verify the truth as spoken, among those that are prepared to compare spiritual to spiritual. All Jesus' words were Spirit, from the Father God. God can't lie. Any example used for a parable to those people had to be based on truth, else the lesson is based on a lie, and to be discarded.

    There are many details about hell in that parable, which was used to teach concerning covetousness, using the specter of hell as a deterrent to such sins. Do the wicked sleep nicely in the ground awaiting judgment? Not according to Jesus.
    An example of accountability for truthfulness of a scripture (word of God) given by Jesus is his teaching that Abraham knew about Moses, and communicated that knowledge to the rich man, who was both in hearing and viweing distance of Abraham and Lazarus. If that wasn't true, then how could that be spiritual compared to spiritual, even though the hearers were natural men unable to comprehend the spiritual? God doesn't need lies, false myths, and such to teach the spiritual.

    The rich man knew he was speaking with Abraham. How could someone in a coffin in a grave do that?

    None of the rich man's requests were filled. Abraham cited the great gulf was fixed between him and any help from the living. That indicates very powerfully the hopelessness of anyone ending up in that place, not subject to being raised from it to glory, because they rejected glory while alive. There's nothing to prove Abraham, Moses, Elijah and others who pleased God were actually in heaven at that point in time, but certainly in Paradise, able to appear on the surface, as Moses and Elijah did to Jesus in Mt 17:3, and the dead prophet Saqmuel to king Saul in
    1 Samuel 28:14-15 (KJV)
    14 And he said unto her, What form is he of? And she said, An old man cometh up; and he is covered with a mantle. And Saul perceived that it was Samuel, and he stooped with his face to the ground, and bowed himself.
    15 And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up? And Saul answered, I am sore distressed; for the Philistines make war against me, and God is departed from me, and answereth me no more, neither by prophets, nor by dreams: therefore I have called thee, that thou mayest make known unto me what I shall do.

    Maybe some folks would consider that a parable with no reality to it, even though Samuel's last prophecy came true for the king.
  13. "And Samuel said to Saul, Why hast thou disquieted me, to bring me up?" establishes that the dead do know. At least Samuel knew, knowing Saul, knowing he was called up, and had a prophecy from the Lord for Saul. The dead man conversing with a live man is a compatible fact with Moses and Elijah visiting Jesus to speak of his coming death. It also supports the dead conversing with the dead, in that the dead know, have memory, can talk, and even be upset.

    I posted above in #8 that the dead shouldn't know anything about what's happening up here. Their decomposing bodies in the graves certainly couldn't know anything, "waiting" for resurrection, whether to eternal life with God, or eternal death in the lake of fire, into which hell itself will be cast along with Satan and all followers of his. It turns out to be a bad idea letting the dead in Sheol in on our goings-on, certainly for Saul. That's why necromancy is a very serious sin, God forbidding the living to even try communicating with the dead. How did Jesus know about Paradise? Aside from Jews believing it, whatever he told came straight from the Father.
  14. Luke 13:26.. Then you will begin to say, 'We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.'
    Luke 13:27.. But he will say, 'I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!'
    Luke 13:28.. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out.
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  15. His body is in the ground, decaying. The rich man was somewhere else. The things you see now, you aren't
    actually seeing it. Your brain is just interpreting signals sent by your eyes. The physical eyes in your body
    may just be filters. When a person dies and they leave the body, they may start seeing with their eyes, without
    the physical filters, that we consider eyes. Our soul/spirit seems to be wired into our brain. Everything we hear, taste,
    see, feel, and smell, is just signals sent to the brain and interpreted for us. Our soul may contain the real eyes, nose, mouth
    and ears and everything we experience in this life is just through filters. The question may be asked, why would our physical
    bodies be filtered? Maybe God doesn't want people seeing the devil and fallen angels running around all over the place.
    Or hear them or smell them.

    People who die with cancer or some other slow type of death, usually start seeing people that aren't there. Well, others
    can't see them. Near the end, they start seeing and talking with people, no one else can see. As the body goes into
    the slow shut down process, the individual may start becoming detached from their brain interface, little by little.
    They might be seeing more with their real eyes, rather than through the eyeball filters.

    So, when Jesus said the rich man saw with his eyes, that might be 100% correct, rather than just putting it
    into context.
  16. Very well said.
    I will admit that I grew up believing in eternal hell fire but lately I have been flooded with scripture ( not just from here) that show overwise.

    Thanks Chad. Thiscrosshurts, that makes sense because if eternal life is Knowing God, and if the unrepentant dead will perish, then they will never get to know God (or have eternal life).

    Not surprisingly it was the serpent(The Devil, Satan) who first started the idea about the fact that we wouldn't die.That is what he told Eve. Genesis 3:4 reads, " You will not certainly die," the serpent said to the woman."

    It reminds me of unrepentant sinners who reply to the notion of eternal hellfire by saying, "Well I'll just have fun with my buddies and the Devil forever", such are twiced deceived. They are deceived into thinking they will life forever, therefore no matter how painful hell seems, the notion of having eternal life gives them something to boast about. If they realized that hell was not only painful but also an end to life, there would be nothing to boast off.

    Remember it was the Devil in Genesis 3:1 who started it in the Eden with first challenging the plain interpretation of God's WORD(Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, "Did God really say, 'You must not eat from any tree in the garden'?") as well as planting the idea of living forever. Lying is his native tongue meaning everything be says is a life. If he speaks the truth it would be like me speaking Chinese( a foreign language that I don't speak). So if the devil is saying they won't die and lies are his native language, then the devil was lying, which means that sin will bring death.

    To understand death we first must understand life, since most will agree that death is the taking away of life. Whether it is physical life or spiritual life. Now let us ask, when did Adam first receive life? I would answer in Genesis 2:7 which reads, "Then the LORD God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being." The word for "The Breath" is neshamah, which means , blast, breathe, life, persons alive, or Spirit. This is what gives us life.

    Now God's threat of death (if death is the absence of life) would mean a removing of His breathe of life from us. If God's breath is what sustains our bodies and souls unto life, what would there be to sustain us and keep us alive in hell forever? God would have to keep His breath of life in us while in hell for someone to be alive but tormented for eternity. Remember life only comes from the Spirit of God. So I see no way for a person to be alive in hell unless God is sustaining them with His breath(Spirit). The only alternative would be ethier A, something else will sustain those in hell like the devil, but we are reminded that He comes to kill, steal, and destroy, not to go give live, or B, believe that God will keep a portion of His Spirit in those in hell but disconnect that part of Himself from His primary Spirit. That (B) doesn't make sense either because hell is about being separated from God, this is why paradise is where God is.
  17. That is very true that we view through filters. We also would mostly admit that there are angels and demons around us. The Bible certainly talked about many many many demon possessed people who it seemed Jesus could see as He often times spoke directly to the Spirit that others could not see.

    I think regardless of whether one believes that hell is eternal or temporary I think we can all agree (correct me if I'm wrong ) that we don't want anyone to go through

    Someone may say, " Yes we don't want anyone to go to hell but truth is important and false doctrine can lead people astray." Though I totally agree, I think such a discussion of the duration of hell is more one for believers to have with other believers, I don't see it as an evangelism tool.

    By this I mean, I don't see an atheist who beleives that God doesn't exist because he has been taught that hell was eternal and he couldn't serve a God like that , suddenly saying, now all the Christians are united and saying hell is temporary so I change my mind and now I believe God.

    I don't see that happening. All the details of Scripture is not what saves a person. We need to share the gospel and help others to get to know Jesus. The problem I find is that too many people have this mindset nowadays of "I can't believe in God if He would < fill in the blank>". Let's assume that hell is eternal, for such a person who can't believe that God would be so " hateful" to send someone to eternal punishment the main issue isn't if they are right or wrong but their desire for God to be as they would imagine. So what happens if you convince that person that hell is not eternal, what next? You then share God's grace with them? To which they may respond, I can't believe in a God who would kill His own Son or I can't believe that God would be so loving to forgive my sins. Once again the problem would continue, the problem not being a lack of Scripture support or evidence but the problem being that man wants to make God in his image. Therefore the answer is people need to really get to know God for themselves.

    Which is why Jesus doesn't tell those awaiting hellfire, " you didn't believe in the right doctrine of hellfire, you didn't know your Bible verses", but He says "depart from me, I never knew you".

    It's all about knowing God. Such a topic is great for in the body of Christ, but I would not us it as my bait when fishing for men for the Kingdom of Heaven. Let's us not try to help fit God into the mold that men have created for Him so they can better understand Him but rather introduce them to God through our life, our testimony, and through serving them so that they can know Him for themselves.
  18. I would tend to agree with that.

    There is another option and that is "something we have not yet considered".

    Ecclesiastes 12:7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

    I agree that B does not seem to make sense but I think A has some clues to follow up on.
    Flesh and spirit return to where they came from but something is missing.
    Where is the soul?
    What are we a body,a spirit,a soul or some combination?
    I don't have time to elaborate but study the word soul and some interesting things come up that give us more to consider.

  19. Trialism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    This idea has been debated for a while now.

    You seem to have the idea that we existed before our earthly bodies were created. I don't see this in the
    Bible. It fact, one of things that makes us "not God" is that we were created. We had a starting point.
    Our bodies came from the dirt. But our spirit didn't exist before our bodies did. ( ! Cor 15:46; )
    Our bodies go back to the dirt. But our spirit...

  20. Good luck trying to figure out what my idea is because I don't know,that's why I ask questions and seek truth.
    However according to:
    Ephesians 2:6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,
    Things happened to me that I don't remember like being raised up and seated in Christ before I was even in a body.

    Job 38:19 "What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside?
    Job 38:20 Can you take them to their places? Do you know the paths to their dwellings?
    Job 38:21 Surely you know, for you were already born! You have lived so many years!

    I used to think that God was being sarcastic or mocking Job but sarcasm and mocking someone in misery is just cruel.
    The idea of being born a sinner kind of implies that we sinned before being born or it would be better if we had never been born.

    Ecclesiastes 12:7 and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.

    God is one and he gave the spirit so it seems to me then that spirit is one also.
    The body was created and that dust became a soul.
    It's interesting that if we walk in the spirit we are above the lusts of the flesh or soul/body combination.

    Matthew 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

    Body and soul can be destroyed but we see nothing about the spirit.

    In Hebrew soul is Nephesh = a soul, living being, life, self, person, desire, passion, appetite, emotion
    In Greek soul is psuché = (a) the vital breath, breath of life, (b) the human soul, (c) the soul as the seat of affections and will, (d) the self, (e) a human person, an individual.
    Person is from Greek= persona and means = a false face

    I always thought we were supposed to die to the self,self desires, self appetites and individualism and be one with the Father.
    Why would we want to save our soul when we can be one with the father and live by the spirit he gave us?

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