Posted on

The rich man and Lazarus – is this account literal?


Fri Apr 19, 2013

Editor: Some people would refer to the account at Luke 16:19-31 to try to prove that hellfire is real. However, this account does NOT prove the existence of hellfire. Why can I say this? As I mentioned in the article last week, Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6,10 clearly prove that those who die are unconscious – they cannot feel or know anything.{{more}} The account at Luke 16 shows that the rich man died. (Luke 16:22) Hence, if this were literal, then the rich man cannot be feeling torment in hellfire since the Bible shows that the dead are unconscious. The Rich man could not be literally seeing Abraham.

(Luke 16:23) Nor could a literal tip of water cool the rich man’s tongue in blazing fire. (Luke 16:24) All indications are that the account at Luke 16 is a parable or illustration that Jesus gave. The context shows that Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees. (Luke 16:14) The rich man represented the religious leaders, including the Pharisees, who were money lovers, Sadducees, scribes and chief priests who were all rich in spiritual privileges and opportunities.

The beggar Lazarus represented the common poor people whom the religious leaders deny proper spiritual nourishment and privileges. The common people hunger and thirst for any morsel of spiritual food. As Luke 16:22 shows, both Lazarus and the rich man died. Their deaths are symbolic, representing a change in their conditions. With the preaching of Jesus Christ, the common poor people, represented by the beggar Lazarus, died from their former spiritually deprived state and were now in a position of divine favour, benefiting from the teachings/spiritual food imparted by Jesus Christ.

The rich man (religious leaders) died from their former, seeming state of divine favour and came into a position of divine condemnation since they refuse the teachings of Jesus Christ. They are in FIGURATIVE torments. God’s fiery judgment messages proclaimed by Jesus and his disciples torment the religious leaders, so they want Jesus and the disciples to stop preaching God’s judgment messages so they can get some relief. (tip of water to cool their tongue). They even later killed Jesus Christ. Abraham, in the parable, represents the Almighty God, who show the religious leaders (rich man) that they can listen to Moses and the prophets in order to be saved. (Luke 16:29). That is, they can read Moses’ and the prophets’ writings recorded earlier in God’s Word and apply them. So may no one mistakenly use the parable at Luke 16 to attempt to prove a hellfire.

Doing so would certainly be misleading.

Ariston Coombs