LAZARUS AND THE RICH MAN
"What is Hell?, Part II"
by: Ted Roberts
Seeking the Everlasting Gospel Ministries, Houston, TX
©copyright 2015 by Ted Roberts
NOTE: All Scriptural quotes are from The King James Version, unless otherwise noted. The passages or words are sometimes in CAPITALS or BOLDING for emphasis. Words in italics, however, within quoted scriptures, are not for emphasis, but were placed within by the King James editors, who 'added' these words for sentence flow, which were not in the original autographs. Text [within brackets] are the authors own thoughts inserted into the biblical text for teaching purposes.
But then this house [Herod's Temple], as it was divided into two parts, the inner part was lower than the appearance of the outer, and had golden doors of fifty-five cubits altitude, and sixteen in breadth; but before these doors there was a veil of equal largeness with the doors. It was a Babylonian curtain, embroidered with blue, and fine linen, and scarlet, and purple, and of a contexture that was truly wonderful. Nor was this mixture of colors without its mystical interpretation, but was a kind of image of the universe; for by the scarlet there seemed to be enigmatically signified fire, by the fine flax the earth, by the blue the air, and by the purple the sea; two of them having their colors the foundation of this resemblance; but the fine flax and the purple have their own origin for that foundation, the earth producing the one, and the sea the other. This curtain had also embroidered upon it all that was mystical in the heavens, excepting that of the [twelve] signs, representing living creatures.
~ Josephus, Wars of the Jews: Excerpt from Book 5, Chapter 5, Section 4
In order to get the full meaning about Jesus' parable, Lazarus and the Rich Man, we must take and dissect Luke 16:19-31 very carefully. A lot of folks like to use this parable to help them construct their ideas of how hell really is, in a literal sense. As I've already touched on the subject of Hell in "Satan, the Devil, and Hell: The Evil Part of Creation, Part I; aka: What is Hell?, Part I," I would very much like to continue the topic of Hell here. There are three words in the Bible to describe Hell (or, main words, I should say - since there are descriptive words throughout the Biblical text), which are Sheol, Hades, and Gehenna; and I do touch on Gehenna more in this other writing, so we will concentrate on Sheol and Hades herein, since Jesus mentions Hades in the parable in question, and since Sheol is the Hebrew word equivalent . . . . Let's begin with verse 19:
There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day.
Here is our beginning, and we start with the "rich man." Now, of course, we are about to be introduced to the "beggar" in the next verse, and he contrasts with the rich man in that he is viewed as being poor, financially speaking. Our first thoughts with our first glances may be obvious about what we are reading. We've got a guy with lots of cash, and he shuns and is being mean to a poor beggar guy who violates his home by sitting outside his gate, and is begging for some food! Why, he would even take some table crumbs if that is all he could get. Of course the rich man will have nothing to do with him, and feels confident in his position of being stingy . . . . However, and as I would like to point out, we already have a false interpretation of what is going on here, and our deductive reasoning is at a low swing for missing all the clues at hand.
On closer observation, we see this as another parable against the religious leaders of Jesus' day (the "rich man" in question.) Of course, like many of Jesus' other teachings, we can expand beyond the 'contemporary' examples of the early church period, and fit His teachings with our own situations. But, the clues herein can leave little doubt of the direction of His thoughts in this parable concerning religious persecution. Even though rich people are known to dress very nice, and perhaps could have purple and some fine linen, it would have been a waste of Jesus' time to make an example of a rich man in general, who had no religious design in their life. Not only this, but Jesus is known to have said things harshly against the religious leaders of his day on several occasions; such as in Matthew Chapter 23.
In an observation of priestly garments, we must first examine Exodus Chapter 28. But for the sake of room, I will give you the highlights:
Verse 6: And they shall make the ephod of gold, of blue, and of purple, of scarlet, and fine twined linen, with cunning work.
Verse 39: And thou shalt embroider the coat of fine linen, and thou shalt make the mitre of fine linen, and thou shalt make the girdle of needlework.
And this type of dress may bring to mind the Mother of Harlots in Revelation:
So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration.
At first it may seem that I stretch the notion just too far with this passage from Revelation, but we must observe (especially if you have already read chapter 28 of Exodus) that her array is very similar to the priests of Judaism (who become our prime example of false religious leaders throughout time). But do not think that I am pointing fingers to any single person individually with this, but rather to the old priesthood as a whole (as a primary example), of who were directly against Christ, and doing their best to stop Him. Why, in our readings of Matthew 23, Jesus said plainly what their evil plans toward His chosen ministers would be:
Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city.
And truly we read about that in the book of Acts! And does this not sound like the Mother of Harlots who got "drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus"? Surely, it does! In fact, it would not be odd to consider such a city gone astray as being called
And their dead bodies shall lie in the street of the great city, which spiritually is called
And these thoughts finally bring us to our quote from Josephus, that we read at the beginning of this chapter, of how, ironically, the very curtain (the main curtain, hanging in between the two compartments of the Temple; and of which was probably replaced or sewn after the first was torn in two by the earthquake at Jesus' death) that was chosen by those false religious leaders was actually made in Babylon! Hey, that's no coincidence....
Not only this, but they also were getting rich, financially, off the people. Even though the Levites were at first set-up to receive money from the other tribes, things got out of hand!
For among my people are found wicked men: they lay wait, as he that setteth snares; they set a trap, they catch men. As a cage is full of birds, so are their houses full of deceit: therefore they are become great, and waxen rich.
Bringing to mind "
And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying,
Which also brings to mind what Josephus had to say about the nature of the Jews in A.D. 70:
Chapter 10, Book 5, Verse 5
It is therefore impossible to go distinctly over every instance of these men's iniquity [i.e. the Jews]. I shall therefore speak my mind here at once briefly: - That neither did any other city ever suffer such miseries [By the hands of the Roman soldiers], nor did any age ever breed a generation more fruitful in wickedness than this was, from the beginning of the world. Finally, they brought the Hebrew nation into contempt, that they might themselves appear comparatively less impious with regard to strangers. They confessed what was true, that they were the slaves, the scum, and the spurious and abortive offspring of our nation [Josephus himself was a Jew], while they overthrew the city themselves, and forced the Romans, whether they would or no, to gain a melancholy reputation, by acting gloriously against them, and did almost draw that fire upon the Temple, which they seemed to think came too slowly; and indeed when they saw that Temple burning from the upper city, they were neither troubled at it, nor did they shed any tears on that account, while yet these passions were discovered among the Romans themselves; which circumstances we shall speak of hereafter in their proper place, when we come to treat of such matters.
By these observations it is plain to see that Jesus would be more apt to warn people against false religious leaders, rather than against a rich person in general....
And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his [the rich man's] 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.
It has been pointed out more than once that this beggar would be described as being a Gentile (a non-Jew); one who would, sort of, replace the Jew (making the Israelite jealous) as to being the 'new' children of God . . . I can't say for certain where the thought goes from there by most people, but I would not be too far from them in similar thought. Verses 20-21 give us the necessary clues. But, let us begin with the obvious:
The woman was a Greek, a *Syrophenician by nation; and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter. But Jesus said unto her, Let the children first be filled: for it is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it unto the dogs. And she answered and said unto him, Yes, Lord: yet the dogs under the table eat of the children's crumbs.
Can we really compare the passage of Luke 16 with this passage in Mark 7? That is, the comparison of grabbing the bread crumbs that fall from the table? Our first glance was of a false religious leader who does not allow this beggar to have even the crumbs that fell from his table, so that Lazarus' body could be nourished - healing the sores that have accumulated because of malnutrition.* But then we see, in comparison, Jesus, who does allow a believer to have some crumbs, so that there is healing for her daughter. And, according to author A.T. Robertson, in his wonderful book "A Harmony of the Gospels," Jesus spoke to the Phoenician woman before he spoke on Lazarus and the Rich man [on pages 85; 94; 131; and 135]. In fact, it was, perhaps, only a few months before the telling of the parable; but not too long, perhaps, for the incident with the woman to still be fresh on Jesus' mind as He expounded the parable. So, if we can but dare make the connection between Luke 16 and Mark 7, then we can see that the dogs in both cases are the Gentiles, as Jesus makes that plain in Mark 7. So, the dogs who lick Lazarus' wounds in Luke 16 are the Gentiles, who become a more willing people to help one another, and to whom the bulk of the Gospel would be turned over to. And who, in contrast to the proud, rich Jewish leader, would do more than simply give bread crumbs to the sick and needy, but would go as far as to lick the sores of them! Not literally, mind! But, symbolically, as in helping others out of true love.
Let's see, briefly, and with scripture, how the
And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
Be it known therefore unto you, that the salvation of God is sent unto the Gentiles, and that they will hear it.
That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
And all such like scripture....
Now, does that make Lazarus himself a Gentile? Well, this may be where my thoughts differ. I don't think that Lazarus is particularly a Gentile, but not particularly a Jew either; for, in Christ, those things begin to matter no more ~ for God is bigger than Gentile verses Jew [Galatians 3:28]. In fact, Lazarus may best be described as to being a "spiritual" or a "true" Jew .... First, let's observe his name, which is a Hebrew name, and not a Gentile name:
Wikipedia ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lazarus_(name)
Lazarus is a given name and surname. It is derived from the Hebrew Eleazar, meaning "God has helped".
Eleazar, meaning God helps, is a common Jewish given name for a male.
"God has helped," seems to be the implication here. The false religious leaders failed in helping the children of God, but God Himself helps them - and He does that by sending His other children, of whom the Jews consider nothing more than dogs! But those "so called" dogs by the Jews actually lick the sores of the oppressed! In fact, Peter was of this mindset when the Lord had asked him to minister to some Gentiles. At first this was done by showing Peter a bunch of unclean animals [Acts 10:11-16]. Peter resisted by stating that nothing unclean or common had ever entered his mouth. The Lord retorted by saying "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common!"
John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible (on Luke 16:21)
By the dogs are meant not the Jews, though they are sometimes so called, and especially the Scribes and Pharisees, Psalm 22:16 for these made his sores and wounds, or were the authors of his sorrows and sufferings; but rather the Gentiles, who were so called by the Jews; See Gill on Matthew15:26 because these creatures were unclean by the law . . . as the Gentiles were by the Jews esteemed unclean and unfit, either for civil or religious conversation; and were treated as aliens by them.
Chapter 2: Who is the Beggar?
Wikipedia ~ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Syrophenician
Syrophenician - "a Greek, a Syrophoenician by nation" (Mark 7:26), i.e., a Gentile born in the Phoenician part of
Even though malnutrition won't cause body sores to develop (except around the mouth for lack of vitamins), it can cause present wounds and sores not to heal; it gives increased susceptibility to infections; and causes skin and hair to become dry. Skin may appear dry, and flaky (see: http://www.news-medical.net/health/Symptoms-of-malnutrition.aspx ). Therefore, the description of Lazarus is perhaps one of the worst cases of malnutrition and hardship. We are also reminiscent of the boils all over Job's body as he went through his trials [Job 2:7] . . . . However, all this only works if we are to believe these are actual physical sores. We must keep in mind that these body sores could simply be an allegory of hardships, trials, and tribulations that Lazarus is going through.