The Rich Man & Lazarus is Not a Picture of Heaven and Hell Luke 16:19-31

The allegory/parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus found in Luke 16:19-31 has been taught that it shows that we are alive after death but in different areas based upon if you were good or bad. Firstly, all parables are not based on real historical events, but use imagery that the hearers would have understood. In this instance the Jewish Priesthood is the target audience like they were in so many of Jesus parables as the below notes and the 2 part video teaching demonstrate very clearly.

Many view this portion of scripture as either historical fact due to someone names being used or that at minimum Jesus is still teaching something straightforwardly.

Let us first consider the identification of Lazarus. This is the only time in Christ’s parables that a person’s name is used. Some have imagined that this use of a personal name precludes the story being a parable. But this is not true as the name is an important part of the parable. The name “Lazarus” is a transliteration of the Hebrew “Eleazar” (which means “God/Lord has helped”). The name was a common Hebrew word used for eleven different persons in the Old Testament.

If you look up Lazarus in the Tayer dictionary it states that Lazarus = “whom God helps” (a form of the Hebrew name Eleazar) G2976 and then Strongs says Lazaros Probably of Hebrew origin [H499]; Lazarus (that is, Elazar) so the link of this name to Jesus as the messiah would have been clearly understood by the listeners.

When looking up Eleazar in the Strongs for H499 ‘el‛âzâr it states that it is From H410 and H5826; God (is) helper; Elazar, the name of seven Israelites: – Eleazar one of which was Aarons sons.

Lev 10:12  And Moses spoke to Aaron, and to Eleazar (H499) and Ithamar, his sons who were left: “Take the grain offering that remains of the offerings made by fire to the LORD, and eat it without leaven beside the altar; for it is most holy. 

We all have some sort of glasses through which we see scripture in this instance and these glasses have a tint of Greek philosophy based on Platonian beliefs of the makeup of man. We are truth seekers who need to learn when our worldview is impacting the truth contained in the biblical scripture.

NB: Tim Warner does not believe in divine healing the way that this blog and many of my subscribers do. That should not detract from the teaching on the meaning of this parable. Tim makes a negative comment in the second video in that healing is available only in the resurrection.

The allegory of the Rich Man and Lazarus only found in Luke 16:19-31 is about Jesus (Lazarus) and the destruction of Jerusalem in AD70 & The Priesthood (The Rich Man). 

All of the elements of this allegory/parable are drawn from four OT prophecies, all of which prophesy the destruction of Jerusalem & the priesthood in AD70. 

  1. Deuteronomy 31:28-30; 32:5,15-29 
  2. Isaiah 28:1-19; 29:1-14 
  3. Isaiah 50:6-11 
  4. Malachi 1:6 – 3:5 

The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) 

A allegory/parable, not literal history. One of the earliest manuscripts, Codex Bezae (5th century, Italy), begins vs. 19 as follows: Ειπεν δέ και ετεραν παραβολην  – “But He spoke also another parable, …”

  1. The last in a series of parables spoken to the Jewish leadership. (compare Lk. 16:1)
  2. The “Rich Man” – the apostate Jewish Priesthood – Levites a. Justified themselves (Luke 16:15 / Mal. 1:6; 2:14,17; 3:8,13) b. Improperly divorced wives and remarried (Luke 16:18 / Mal. 2:13-16) c. “Lovers of money” (Luke 16:14) who had “robbed God” (Mal. 3:8-10). d. Dressed in purple and fine linen with pruple “Purple” was the clothing of kings (Mark 15:17). “Fine linen” was the clothing of priests (Exodus 39:27-29).
  3. The Hasmonean Dynasty (from the Maccabees) were “priest-kings,” and continued to rule under Herod the Great.
  4. “Lazarus” – Jesus Christ, Greek form of the Hebrew “E’leazar,” means “God is My Help.”  
    1. A term applied to Jesus several times: (Psalm 22:16-19; Psalm 40:6-17)
  5. The name “Lazarus” was drawn directly from Isaiah’s prophecy of Jesus and the destruction of the Levitical priesthood (Isaiah 50:6-7).
  6. He came as a “poor beggar,” born in a stable, homeless, dependent on support of others.  a. Luke 9:58; 2 Cor. 8:9 
  7. Full of “sores” – bearing our diseases and infirmities (Matt. 8:16-17; Isaiah 53:4-5 LXX) 
  8. The “dogs” – the Gentiles (Matt. 15:22-28)
  9. Desiring to eat the crumbs (as a Man, humble food) 
  10. The beggar died – the crucifixion of Christ. 
  11. Carried by the angels – His bodily ascension into heaven (Acts 1:9-11, cf. Matt. 24:31) 
  12. Abraham’s Bosom – The ‘Seed’ of the Abrahamic Covenant
  13. A term used in Gen. 16:5 for Abraham’s intimacy with his wife to produce an heir.
  14. Lazarus in “Abraham’s bosom” shows that He (Jesus) is the promised Seed. 
  15. The rich man died afterwards – the destruction of Jerusalem 40 years later in AD 70 
  16. Priesthood demolished – Deut. 32:19-22; Isaiah 28-29; Isaiah 50:11; Mal. 1:6 – 3:12 12. “In Hades” – refers to the priesthood in exile from the Land & Temple. 
  17. “Hades” is the “grave” of humanity (Num. 16:33; 1 Kings 2:9; Ezek. 32:27; 1 Cor. 15:55). 
  18. The unfaithful priesthood punished in “Hades” (Deut. 32:19-22; Isa. 28:15,18; 29:4). 
  19. Tormented in the flames – God’s wrath (Deut. 32:19-22; Isa. 50:11; Mal. 3:2-3).
  20. Send Lazarus to bring relief – Send the Messiah to restore Israel (Hosannah – “save now”)  
  21. The Great Gulf – the blindness imposed on Israel (Isa. 6:9-13; Matt. 13:10-15; Rom. 11:7-10). 
  22. Five Brothers – the other 5 tribes of Israel from the same mother – Leah 

a. Levi had 5 brothers: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun (Gen. 30). 

21. If they will not hear Moses, they will not hear the One who rose from the dead – Jesus. 

a. No sign would be given to that wicked generation (Mark 8:11-12). (For the “sign of Jonah” see the following article:

b. Jesus refused to show Himself resurrected to unbelievers (John 14:19-20; 1 Cor. 15:3-8).

It is hoped you will be blessed and your love and obedience to Christ Jesus will grow and that this will lead you to further renewing of your mind to the things of God and not of men.

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