The Rich Man and Lazarus
In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, what is said to have become of Lazarus?
"And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom." Luke 16:22.
What befell the rich man?
"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." Luke 16:22, 23.
NOTE: The rich man "died and was buried." The man himself -- the very being who died -- was buried. And he -- the man who died and was buried -- lifted up his "eyes" in hell (hades, the place or state of the dead, the grave (Rev. 20:13; 1 Cor. 15:55, margin). The Beggar "died, and was carried" by the angels into Abraham's bosom.
What request did the rich man make of Abraham?
"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." Luke 16:24.
NOTE: Here the members of a physical body are brought to view, which we know always rest in the grave till the resurrection.
Upon making the request for Lazarus to be sent to his father's house to warn his brethren, what did Abraham reply?
"Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them." Luke 16:29.
What earnest appeal did the rich man then make?
"And he said, Nay, father Abraham; but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent." Luke 16:30.
NOTE: It seems that the rich man is represented in the parable as understanding that Lazarus was dead, and not in heaven, Said he: "If one went unto them from the dead;" as much as to say, that such a miracle would certainly cause them to repent.
But had Lazarus gone on such a mission, what must have taken place?
"And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead." Luke 16:31.
NOTE: This is a plain statement that Lazarus was dead, and in the grave. Before he could warn others, he must rise from the dead.
When are the wicked punished?
"The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished." 2 Peter 2:9.
When will the judgment take place?
"I charge thee therefore before God, and the lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom." 2 Tim. 4:1.
NOTE: If the wicked are reserved to the day of judgment for their punishment, and the judgment takes place only in connection with the coming of Christ, it follows that the wicked do not enter upon their punishment at death.
When are the righteous to be recompensed?
"And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee; for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just." Luke 14:14.
When do the angels gather the elect to Christ?
"And they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other." Matt. 24:30, 31.
NOTE: Thus far it has been seen that the narrative under consideration deals with physical men altogether. Nothing is said about their souls or spirits. The parable also states emphatically that Lazarus would have to rise from the dead in order to carry out the request of the rich man. Now as we have also seen that the wicked do not go to their punishment till after the judgment, and that the righteous do not go to their reward till the coming of Christ with the angels, we are forced to the conclusion that the Saviour used in this parable a figure of rhetoric known as personification, a figure in which an inanimate being is represented as animated, or endued with personality. By this form of speech Christ could forcibly teach what would occur in the future, by representing it as already taking place.
Does God in other places speak of things that do not exist, as though they did exist?
"(As it is written, I have made thee a father of many nations) before Him whom he believed, even God, who quickeneth the dead, and calleth those things which be not as though they were." Rom. 4:17.
Name some instances given in the Old Testament which show that the figure of personification is a common mode of expression.
"For the stone shall cry out of the wall, and the beam out of the timber shall answer it." Hab. 2:11 (2 Kings 14:9) (Judges 9:7-15) (Gen.4:10).
Does the New Testament sometimes use the same method?
"Behold the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth." James 5:4.
NOTE: The object of the parable was to show that although the Jews claimed to be the children of Abraham, and looked down upon the Gentiles, especially those who were poor, yet many of the very ones whom they despised would finally be counted the children of Abraham, while the rich Jew would find himself without any claim to the promises made to his natural father, Abraham. The lesson was put in the form in which we find it, in order to show the absolute certainty of the punishment of one, and the reward of the other.