re: Lazarus, the parable of the rich man and the beggar

Cloudwatch, in response to your question, this passage cannot possibly be a literal account of a rich man and a beggar, but those who wish to advance the idea of "consciousness in death" almost always insist that it is. To them, I ask, how can this be a literal account when:

  • This passage is found right in the midst of several other parables and symbolic passages.
  • It begins either identically or very similarly to the other parables that surround it.
  • It cannot be a literal story when it contains so many symbolic elements that no one can deny:
  1. The myriad of speculation as to the meaning of "Abraham's Bosom" on the part of those claiming that this is a literal passage is in itself an indictment of their entire premise, for if the passage is indeed a literal story, for what reason then should there be a need for any speculation?
  2. "Abraham's Bosom" cannot possibly be large enough to accommodate all believers who have previously died.
  3. It is entirely unreasonable to believe that a literal man completely engulfed in flames would be able to hold a thoughtful conversation with anyone else, which points to the idea that Jesus is employing a high level of symbolism in this passage.
  4. One single drop of water placed on the tongue of a person totally engulfed in flames could not possibly do anything to cool it or any other part of the body, again, making the use of symbolism here painfully obvious.
  5. The two men are in possession of body parts although according to the passage the resurrection of the just has yet to have happened. This is a major contradiction for those who teach that at death the "spirit/soul" of the dead goes flying off to heaven or hell without a body to be reunited once again only after the resurrection.
  • Many people do not realize that the word "hell" in the Bible is translated from one of four words ("Sheol" in the Old Testament and "Hades", "Gehenna", and "Tartarus" in the New Testament.) When Jesus said the Rich Man was "in hell", it is extremely important to consider that He did not choose the Greek word "Gehenna" which refers to the fiery, burning, blazing hell that so many people think of when they hear the word - He carefully and deliberately chose the word "hades", which is never translated to mean the "fiery, burning, blazing" hell but is many times translated as "the place of the dead" or "the grave". It is from this place that the dead, which includes both the dead in Christ and those dead in their sins, will come forth in the resurrection of Life or Damnation. If Jesus intended to teach that the Rich Man was a real man that had previously died and wound up in hellfire, then why did He not choose the Greek word "Gehenna" which means hellfire? Moreover, the book of Revelation says that "Hades" will be cast into the Lake of Fire, or hellfire, which proves that "Hades" and "Gehenna" are not the same thing. Jesus' deliberate choice of wording is strong evidence to support the idea that the flames which torment the Rich Man are actually a symbolic representation for some other source of the Rich Man's torment, just as the "Rich Man" himself is actually an obvious symbol for not one man, but for an entire nation of gluttonous, ungrateful, rebellious "chosen people" sitting at the Lord's "table of blessing" while leaving their poor, destitute neighbors wholly neglected. I'd be happy to provide a Biblical interpretation of this parable for you.
  • Nowhere in the Bible do we find that the dead righteous and dead wicked are able to communicate with one another. To the contrary, the Bible unmistakably speaks of the dead as being in a state of unconscious silence, without thoughts, knowledge, wisdom, reasoning ability, memory, emotions, or the ability to praise God (See Job 14; Psalms 146:4; Ecclesiastes 9; Psalms 88:10-12; Psalms 115:17). King Saul is said to have died for communicating with a "familiar spirit" that he “perceived” was the dead prophet Samuel. The fact that the disembodied "Samuel" came up from below rather than down from heaven above, as many would expect, spoke to Saul, was irritated, remembered that the Lord would give David the kingdom, and possessed knowledge of the fate of Saul and his sons proves, in light of the above Bible verses, that this could not have been the dead prophet Samuel, but a demonic spirit engaged in a work of deception by taking the form of one familiar to the living, a "familiar spirit". The Bible likely refers to it as "Samuel" merely because it took the form of the dead prophet when Saul asked the witch to conjure it.
  • In Matthew 13:34, the writer says that, "All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them", which he then says was a fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy of Psalms 78. It is there that the Lord Himself declares that He would call together His people and speak to them in parables. It is more than reasonable to expect that the highly symbolic passage of the Rich Man and Lazarus was just one of the many parables that He Himself declared He would speak when He would come to us as the "Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world."
The reason why Jesus used the proper name "Lazarus" is because of Abraham's last line in the parable: "If they will not believe Moses and the prophets, they will not believe though one rose from the dead" ("Moses and the prophets", "the Law and the prophets", "Moses and Elijah", "the Law and the Tesitmony" - all these are Biblical phrases which simply mean "The Word of God"). When the literal Lazarus was raised from the dead, instead of the Jewish leaders joyfully recognizing from the Word of God that Jesus was their predicted Messiah, they further hardened their hearts and went away to take counsel with each other in how they might destroy BOTH Jesus and Lazarus, thus fulfilling Jesus' prophetic words found in this parable.
 
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Dear Cloud. IMO the passage about Lazarus is NOT a parable at all IMHO. I know many will not accept that and that is OK with me, but it is what I have understood all along. I say that because just as you have said, Jesus uses "proper" names in His teaching. If it was a metaphor or a parable He would not have done so. REAL names of REAL people indicate that it was a REAL event given to us to show the horror of eternal damnation.

Isn't it interesting that the circumstances of the rich man and Lazarus are exactly reversed after death. The rich man, who lived in luxury, now lived in agony. He was distant from Abraham’s bosom, but was aware of what was taking place there. Lazarus, who had suffered greatly in his life now was in bliss. While he had struggled in order to get the scraps from the rich man’s table, now he reclined at Abraham’s table, leaning on his bosom! While it was formerly Lazarus who looked upon the bounty of the rich man, but did not share in it, now it is the rich man who beholds Lazarus in bounty and blessing.

It would seem that the rich man’s “hell” is something like solitary confinement in a prison. There may be others there with you, but you are hardly aware of them, nor is there any real fellowship. What you are aware of is the bliss of the righteous. It is as though hell has a one-way picture window, and each resident of hell is given a pair of binoculars. The wicked are thus enabled to see the joy and bliss of the righteous, but it appears that the righteous are unaware of the suffering of the wicked.
Perhaps, the reason for Jesus' use of the proper name "Lazarus" was to prove Abraham's last words in the passage - that when the real, literal man Lazarus was soon after raised from being dead four days in the tomb, instead of the Jewish leaders rejoicing that the Messianic prophecies contained in the writings of Moses and the prophets were fulfilled in Jesus, they hardened their hearts, they "would not believe though one rose from the dead", and went away to take counsel on how they might DESTROY both Lazarus and Jesus? After all, "when the chief priests and pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He spake of THEM." What do ya think?
 
There is an argument to be made for begging being out of God's will. But with rejecting the foodbank food there is a stronger argument that can be made and that is that we shall not tempt God. How is rejecting food when hungry not tempting Him?

I believe the rich man and Lazarus was literal. For me it is from lateral thought. 1. Jesus talks about a hell elsewhere. Hence He knows we will closely read any parable or statement made by Him on the subject of our potential eternal demise. 2. Jesus uses an actual name and Jesus does not lie. He could have said ''Joe soap'' / an obvious fictitious name.
Hey brother KJ, it's important to remember that when Jesus said that the Rich Man lifted up his eyes "in hell" the word He chose was not the fiery, burning, blazing hellfire of the Greek "Gehenna" - it was "Hades", which is never translated to mean fiery, burning, blazing hellfire. In Revelation, John says that Hades will be cast into hellfire (Rev 20:14), so Hades must be something other than hellfire if it is to eventually be cast therein. You see, the only way that the passage could be taken literally is if Jesus had said that the Rich Man lifted up his eyes "in Gehenna", but since He said "in Hades" which is not hellfire and which will eventually be cast into hellfire, Jesus is obviously here employing symbolism which must be interpreted to get the passage's true meaning.
 
Perhaps, the reason for Jesus' use of the proper name "Lazarus" was to prove Abraham's last words in the passage - that when the real, literal man Lazarus was soon after raised from being dead four days in the tomb, instead of the Jewish leaders rejoicing that the Messianic prophecies contained in the writings of Moses and the prophets were fulfilled in Jesus, they hardened their hearts, they "would not believe though one rose from the dead", and went away to take counsel on how they might DESTROY both Lazarus and Jesus? After all, "when the chief priests and pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He spake of THEM." What do ya think?

Could be, no question about that. Also the other proper name used was "Abraham". Instead of..."there was a man" He used Abraham's name to speak directly to those Jewish leaders.
 
Thought I would check out what "burning" torments the rich man was going thru. The verse is 24 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.
Looked up "flame" and found out it means "flame". Ok, looked at other scripture with same word, and saw that the others all used "of fire" after it. But not here.
Could it be that this "flame" is not necessarily burning fire. The rest of the context talks of "torment" not "burning". "Cool my tongue" connotes heat, and thirst, so I am just wondering.
 
Thought I would check out what "burning" torments the rich man was going thru. The verse is 24 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.
Looked up "flame" and found out it means "flame". Ok, looked at other scripture with same word, and saw that the others all used "of fire" after it. But not here.
Could it be that this "flame" is not necessarily burning fire. The rest of the context talks of "torment" not "burning". "Cool my tongue" connotes heat, and thirst, so I am just wondering.
Greek:

φλόξ phlox (flox') n.
1. a blaze, a flame
- Origin: "from a primary phlego (to "flash" or "flame")"

I was surprised there wasn't more synonyms...

So let's go to the OT verse that matches this and see what the Hebrew says:

Isaiah 66:24 (KJV)
And they shall go forth, and look upon the carcases of the men that have transgressed against me: for their worm shall not die, neither shall their fire be quenched; and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh.

אֵשׁ 'esh (aysh) n-f.
1. fire (literally or figuratively)
a. fire, flames
b. supernatural fire (accompanying theophany)
c. fire (for cooking, roasting, parching)
d. altar-fire
e. God's anger (fig.)​

Interestingly the paleo-Hebrew (letter meaning) of אֵשׁ is "authority [to] consume"!

If it's "fire" in two scriptural languages, I guess it's fire.
 
Could be, no question about that. Also the other proper name used was "Abraham". Instead of..."there was a man" He used Abraham's name to speak directly to those Jewish leaders.
I think Jesus purposefully made Abraham the father of the the Rich Man and he the son so as to ensure that the Jews knew exactly who the "Rich Man" symbolized - the Jewish nation. Lazarus, however was said to be with the "dogs" desiring the crumbs which were falling from the privileged Jewish table, just as the Syro-Phoenician woman said of herself when she pleaded with Him to heal her daughter, saying "yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table." Seems to me that Jesus used this passage to warn the Jews of where their rebellion would lead, not to teach about the afterlife, for if He intended to do that He would be contradicting His own doctrine regarding the afterlife.
 
After reading this topic over, I see so many good points; both pro and con as to whether the parable is an actual account of an event. I am tending to lean towards the belief that is, in fact, a real incident that Jesus is drawing from to tell this parable. Thank God my salvation does not depend upon my belief one way or the other on this particular doctrine!
 
I think Jesus purposefully made Abraham the father of the the Rich Man and he the son so as to ensure that the Jews knew exactly who the "Rich Man" symbolized - the Jewish nation. Lazarus, however was said to be with the "dogs" desiring the crumbs which were falling from the privileged Jewish table, just as the Syro-Phoenician woman said of herself when she pleaded with Him to heal her daughter, saying "yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's table." Seems to me that Jesus used this passage to warn the Jews of where their rebellion would lead, not to teach about the afterlife, for if He intended to do that He would be contradicting His own doctrine regarding the afterlife.

But if Jesus is NOT trying to teach about the after-life in this parable, and was merely warning the Jews of their folly in not believing on Him, why would He use such graphic images OF the after-life?
 
But if Jesus is NOT trying to teach about the after-life in this parable, and was merely warning the Jews of their folly in not believing on Him, why would He use such graphic images OF the after-life?
We must remember that by the time Jesus came, Greek culture had thoroughly corrupted Jews, mainly due to their leaders' desire to be "accepted" among the "learned" Greeks, much like we see today for instance where Christian "scholars" endeavor to gain the respect of the atheistic scientific community by making concessions regarding origins instead of sticking to the six day record of Creation and not being concerned with what people think. Jesus merely invoked images of what the Greek version of the afterlife depicts, but certainly not stamping it with His approval, for as I've stated earlier, for Him to do that would be for Him to completely contradict what He Himself taught or inspired others like Paul to write about the Biblical afterlife.
 
We must remember that by the time Jesus came, Greek culture had thoroughly corrupted Jews, mainly due to their leaders' desire to be "accepted" among the "learned" Greeks, much like we see today for instance where Christian "scholars" endeavor to gain the respect of the atheistic scientific community by making concessions regarding origins instead of sticking to the six day record of Creation and not being concerned with what people think. Jesus merely invoked images of what the Greek version of the afterlife depicts, but certainly not stamping it with His approval, for as I've stated earlier, for Him to do that would be for Him to completely contradict what He Himself taught or inspired others like Paul to write about the Biblical afterlife.

Thank you for your answer, Phoneman. Buy why do you feel that Jesus was merely invoking the Greek version images of the afterlife. Are there any other incidents or parables where Jesus did to set a precedent?
 
Cloudwatch, in response to your question, this passage cannot possibly be a literal account of a rich man and a beggar, but those who wish to advance the idea of "consciousness in death" almost always insist that it is. To them, I ask, how can this be a literal account when:

  • This passage is found right in the midst of several other parables and symbolic passages.
  • It begins either identically or very similarly to the other parables that surround it.
  • It cannot be a literal story when it contains so many symbolic elements that no one can deny:
  1. The myriad of speculation as to the meaning of "Abraham's Bosom" on the part of those claiming that this is a literal passage is in itself an indictment of their entire premise, for if the passage is indeed a literal story, for what reason then should there be a need for any speculation?
  2. "Abraham's Bosom" cannot possibly be large enough to accommodate all believers who have previously died.
  3. It is entirely unreasonable to believe that a literal man completely engulfed in flames would be able to hold a thoughtful conversation with anyone else, which points to the idea that Jesus is employing a high level of symbolism in this passage.
  4. One single drop of water placed on the tongue of a person totally engulfed in flames could not possibly do anything to cool it or any other part of the body, again, making the use of symbolism here painfully obvious.
  5. The two men are in possession of body parts although according to the passage the resurrection of the just has yet to have happened. This is a major contradiction for those who teach that at death the "spirit/soul" of the dead goes flying off to heaven or hell without a body to be reunited once again only after the resurrection.
  • Many people do not realize that the word "hell" in the Bible is translated from one of four words ("Sheol" in the Old Testament and "Hades", "Gehenna", and "Tartarus" in the New Testament.) When Jesus said the Rich Man was "in hell", it is extremely important to consider that He did not choose the Greek word "Gehenna" which refers to the fiery, burning, blazing hell that so many people think of when they hear the word - He carefully and deliberately chose the word "hades", which is never translated to mean the "fiery, burning, blazing" hell but is many times translated as "the place of the dead" or "the grave". It is from this place that the dead, which includes both the dead in Christ and those dead in their sins, will come forth in the resurrection of Life or Damnation. If Jesus intended to teach that the Rich Man was a real man that had previously died and wound up in hellfire, then why did He not choose the Greek word "Gehenna" which means hellfire? Moreover, the book of Revelation says that "Hades" will be cast into the Lake of Fire, or hellfire, which proves that "Hades" and "Gehenna" are not the same thing. Jesus' deliberate choice of wording is strong evidence to support the idea that the flames which torment the Rich Man are actually a symbolic representation for some other source of the Rich Man's torment, just as the "Rich Man" himself is actually an obvious symbol for not one man, but for an entire nation of gluttonous, ungrateful, rebellious "chosen people" sitting at the Lord's "table of blessing" while leaving their poor, destitute neighbors wholly neglected. I'd be happy to provide a Biblical interpretation of this parable for you.
  • Nowhere in the Bible do we find that the dead righteous and dead wicked are able to communicate with one another. To the contrary, the Bible unmistakably speaks of the dead as being in a state of unconscious silence, without thoughts, knowledge, wisdom, reasoning ability, memory, emotions, or the ability to praise God (See Job 14; Psalms 146:4; Ecclesiastes 9; Psalms 88:10-12; Psalms 115:17). King Saul is said to have died for communicating with a "familiar spirit" that he “perceived” was the dead prophet Samuel. The fact that the disembodied "Samuel" came up from below rather than down from heaven above, as many would expect, spoke to Saul, was irritated, remembered that the Lord would give David the kingdom, and possessed knowledge of the fate of Saul and his sons proves, in light of the above Bible verses, that this could not have been the dead prophet Samuel, but a demonic spirit engaged in a work of deception by taking the form of one familiar to the living, a "familiar spirit". The Bible likely refers to it as "Samuel" merely because it took the form of the dead prophet when Saul asked the witch to conjure it.
  • In Matthew 13:34, the writer says that, "All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them", which he then says was a fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy of Psalms 78. It is there that the Lord Himself declares that He would call together His people and speak to them in parables. It is more than reasonable to expect that the highly symbolic passage of the Rich Man and Lazarus was just one of the many parables that He Himself declared He would speak when He would come to us as the "Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world."
The reason why Jesus used the proper name "Lazarus" is because of Abraham's last line in the parable: "If they will not believe Moses and the prophets, they will not believe though one rose from the dead" ("Moses and the prophets", "the Law and the prophets", "Moses and Elijah", "the Law and the Tesitmony" - all these are Biblical phrases which simply mean "The Word of God"). When the literal Lazarus was raised from the dead, instead of the Jewish leaders joyfully recognizing from the Word of God that Jesus was their predicted Messiah, they further hardened their hearts and went away to take counsel with each other in how they might destroy BOTH Jesus and Lazarus, thus fulfilling Jesus' prophetic words found in this parable.

Phoneman~ I do want to reply to your post here but my reply will require more effort than I have the strength to do tonight. I did post a question to your other post. You bring out some good points, but I still have questions. So I hope you are around tomorrow evening because I will focus on making my reply to your post here.
 
Thank you for your answer, Phoneman. Buy why do you feel that Jesus was merely invoking the Greek version images of the afterlife. Are there any other incidents or parables where Jesus did to set a precedent?
In the same chapter of ; Jesus' told of the Unjust Steward who had fallen out of favor with his master and was soon to be fired, and knowing that he was unable to beg or labor by the sweat of his brow, the steward quickly visited the various merchants that owed his master money and settled their debts for "pennies on the dollar" much to the surprise and gratitude of them, so that when the steward would finally be thrust out of the master's employ, those merchants would remember his kindness and provide for him. This obviously fraudulent practice was completely outside the will of God, but perfectly in line with the "children of this world" and Jesus used it to demonstrate just how clueless the "children of light" were by being in possession of Godly knowledge but not taking full advantage of it by surrendering their hearts to "every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." In the same way, Jesus used the Greek understanding of the afterlife to convey a warning, not of what would happen when they died, but of what was soon to come upon a nation of people if they continued in rebellion to the great light that was shown to them. I'd be happy to answer any questions about why this passage can only be a parable, as well as offer JESUS OWN INTERPRETATION of this parable found in Matthew 15. :)
 
Cloudwatch, in response to your question, this passage cannot possibly be a literal account of a rich man and a beggar, but those who wish to advance the idea of "consciousness in death" almost always insist that it is. To them, I ask, how can this be a literal account when:

  • This passage is found right in the midst of several other parables and symbolic passages.
Question: And I don't mean to sound trite here...but is this fact proof that the Lazarus parable could not be true? Would it not still be possible for this parable to be true anyways?
  • It begins either identically or very similarly to the other parables that surround it.
  • It cannot be a literal story when it contains so many symbolic elements that no one can deny:
Question: See my previous question: Why do these points mean the Lazarus story could not be true? Are you very sure the symbolic elements here mean it is not true? I believe the Bible uses symbology often, but many times that same symbology can be literal.
  1. The myriad of speculation as to the meaning of "Abraham's Bosom" on the part of those claiming that this is a literal passage is in itself an indictment of their entire premise, for if the passage is indeed a literal story, for what reason then should there be a need for any speculation?
Question: Does every element in a story have to be either symbolic or literal in its entirety in order to qualify as being true?
  1. "Abraham's Bosom" cannot possibly be large enough to accommodate all believers who have previously died.
  2. It is entirely unreasonable to believe that a literal man completely engulfed in flames would be able to hold a thoughtful conversation with anyone else, which points to the idea that Jesus is employing a high level of symbolism in this passage.
  3. One single drop of water placed on the tongue of a person totally engulfed in flames could not possibly do anything to cool it or any other part of the body, again, making the use of symbolism here painfully obvious.
  4. The two men are in possession of body parts although according to the passage the resurrection of the just has yet to have happened. This is a major contradiction for those who teach that at death the "spirit/soul" of the dead goes flying off to heaven or hell without a body to be reunited once again only after the resurrection.
It all comes down to whether or not symbology can also be interpreted literally. Even with each of the points you've made pointing out symbolism, I can still see a flaming, burning hell for the rich man; a safe refuge in "Abraham's bosom", a deep chasm between the two...etc. Surely these places are spiritual and hard to understand or envision for us; hence, Jesus uses symbolism to portray them.
  • Many people do not realize that the word "hell" in the Bible is translated from one of four words ("Sheol" in the Old Testament and "Hades", "Gehenna", and "Tartarus" in the New Testament.) When Jesus said the Rich Man was "in hell", it is extremely important to consider that He did not choose the Greek word "Gehenna" which refers to the fiery, burning, blazing hell that so many people think of when they hear the word - He carefully and deliberately chose the word "hades", which is never translated to mean the "fiery, burning, blazing" hell but is many times translated as "the place of the dead" or "the grave". It is from this place that the dead, which includes both the dead in Christ and those dead in their sins, will come forth in the resurrection of Life or Damnation. If Jesus intended to teach that the Rich Man was a real man that had previously died and wound up in hellfire, then why did He not choose the Greek word "Gehenna" which means hellfire? Moreover, the book of Revelation says that "Hades" will be cast into the Lake of Fire, or hellfire, which proves that "Hades" and "Gehenna" are not the same thing. Jesus' deliberate choice of wording is strong evidence to support the idea that the flames which torment the Rich Man are actually a symbolic representation for some other source of the Rich Man's torment, just as the "Rich Man" himself is actually an obvious symbol for not one man, but for an entire nation of gluttonous, ungrateful, rebellious "chosen people" sitting at the Lord's "table of blessing" while leaving their poor, destitute neighbors wholly neglected. I'd be happy to provide a Biblical interpretation of this parable for you.
  • Nowhere in the Bible do we find that the dead righteous and dead wicked are able to communicate with one another. To the contrary, the Bible unmistakably speaks of the dead as being in a state of unconscious silence, without thoughts, knowledge, wisdom, reasoning ability, memory, emotions, or the ability to praise God (See Job 14; Psalms 146:4; Ecclesiastes 9; Psalms 88:10-12; Psalms 115:17). King Saul is said to have died for communicating with a "familiar spirit" that he “perceived” was the dead prophet Samuel. The fact that the disembodied "Samuel" came up from below rather than down from heaven above, as many would expect, spoke to Saul, was irritated, remembered that the Lord would give David the kingdom, and possessed knowledge of the fate of Saul and his sons proves, in light of the above Bible verses, that this could not have been the dead prophet Samuel, but a demonic spirit engaged in a work of deception by taking the form of one familiar to the living, a "familiar spirit". The Bible likely refers to it as "Samuel" merely because it took the form of the dead prophet when Saul asked the witch to conjure it.
  • In Matthew 13:34, the writer says that, "All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them", which he then says was a fulfillment of the Messianic prophecy of Psalms 78. It is there that the Lord Himself declares that He would call together His people and speak to them in parables. It is more than reasonable to expect that the highly symbolic passage of the Rich Man and Lazarus was just one of the many parables that He Himself declared He would speak when He would come to us as the "Lamb of God which taketh away the sins of the world."
I think basically, you and I are on similar pages but we are approaching this differently. I do understand there is a lot of symbolism used in this parable; but I don't think that fact proves that the rich man and Lazarus the beggar are not real people. Actually, as far as that goes, the ten virgins getting their oil lamps ready for the wedding could very well be something that really happened (especially considering the marriage traditions of that time); and Jesus used a very real event to illustrate a very spiritual matter. The parable of the prodigal son could be a real event as well...and so on.
The reason why Jesus used the proper name "Lazarus" is because of Abraham's last line in the parable: "If they will not believe Moses and the prophets, they will not believe though one rose from the dead" ("Moses and the prophets", "the Law and the prophets", "Moses and Elijah", "the Law and the Tesitmony" - all these are Biblical phrases which simply mean "The Word of God"). When the literal Lazarus was raised from the dead, instead of the Jewish leaders joyfully recognizing from the Word of God that Jesus was their predicted Messiah, they further hardened their hearts and went away to take counsel with each other in how they might destroy BOTH Jesus and Lazarus, thus fulfilling Jesus' prophetic words found in this parable.

This last paragraph seems to confuse the Lazarus-raised-from-the-dead with the Lazarus-the-beggar. The two are both separate events and persons. I realize Abraham's quote is referring to the hardness of unbelievers' hearts in not accepting the spiritual truths in the Bible.

Thank you, Phoneman, again for your time in helping me to understand. However, I believe I may have missed the point though because I still feel this parable can be both literal and symbolic at the same time. Do you see any harm or danger in believing this parable to be a literal account?
 
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In the same chapter of ; Jesus' told of the Unjust Steward who had fallen out of favor with his master and was soon to be fired, and knowing that he was unable to beg or labor by the sweat of his brow, the steward quickly visited the various merchants that owed his master money and settled their debts for "pennies on the dollar" much to the surprise and gratitude of them, so that when the steward would finally be thrust out of the master's employ, those merchants would remember his kindness and provide for him. This obviously fraudulent practice was completely outside the will of God, but perfectly in line with the "children of this world" and Jesus used it to demonstrate just how clueless the "children of light" were by being in possession of Godly knowledge but not taking full advantage of it by surrendering their hearts to "every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." In the same way, Jesus used the Greek understanding of the afterlife to convey a warning, not of what would happen when they died, but of what was soon to come upon a nation of people if they continued in rebellion to the great light that was shown to them. I'd be happy to answer any questions about why this passage can only be a parable, as well as offer JESUS OWN INTERPRETATION of this parable found in Matthew 15. :)

Is there an actual danger in thinking the parables could also be true events? It seems to me that the events in the parables had to have been actually seen many times in the lives of the people He was talking to, or NONE of the stories would make sense to them! He drew on common customs and traditions and laws of the times.
 
In the same chapter of ; Jesus' told of the Unjust Steward who had fallen out of favor with his master and was soon to be fired, and knowing that he was unable to beg or labor by the sweat of his brow, the steward quickly visited the various merchants that owed his master money and settled their debts for "pennies on the dollar" much to the surprise and gratitude of them, so that when the steward would finally be thrust out of the master's employ, those merchants would remember his kindness and provide for him. This obviously fraudulent practice was completely outside the will of God, but perfectly in line with the "children of this world" and Jesus used it to demonstrate just how clueless the "children of light" were by being in possession of Godly knowledge but not taking full advantage of it by surrendering their hearts to "every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God." In the same way, Jesus used the Greek understanding of the afterlife to convey a warning, not of what would happen when they died, but of what was soon to come upon a nation of people if they continued in rebellion to the great light that was shown to them. I'd be happy to answer any questions about why this passage can only be a parable, as well as offer JESUS OWN INTERPRETATION of this parable found in Matthew 15. :)

I think you may have made a typo about finding Jesus own interpretation of this parable in Matthew 15. I didn't see anything that referred to what we've been talking about.
 
The question then becomes, if Jesus was using a picture story which contradicts the real afterlife, why would He do that since it would obviously confuse those who would hear the story? One might do that to teach the negative of the point of the story, such as, since A is not true, then B must be. But here, Jesus is teaching the regret of those who do not believe and/or treat their brethren poorly. Jesus always uses some sort of universal common knowledge to analogize a greater truth. Nowhere does Jesus use untruths to teach truths. If this is a parable, He is stating it as a truth to teach them a greater truth. If it is untrue, then He is just confusing His audience.
If I were teaching a group who believed something false, like people are married in heaven, and used a parable about people who were married in heaven to convey a truth about some other issue, I would be being disingenuous and misleading.
I just don't think Jesus would play into someone's false belief system to teach on a different issue. When He does mention some wrong belief, He states that "the Pharisees believe such and such", showing it to be wrong, or calls it wrong out right.
 
I looked through a list of all of Jesus' parables. He does use unlikely scenarios to teach a greater truth, but they all could happen. If we use this concept, then Jesus is saying, "Let's say people in hell can see and talk to people in heaven, you know even though they can't. What would the person in hell say?". I just can't see how He would do that. And for what purpose? To shock the audience?
All other parables have the possibility of happening.
 
Question: And I don't mean to sound trite here...but is this fact proof that the Lazarus parable could not be true? Would it not still be possible for this parable to be true anyways?

Question: See my previous question: Why do these points mean the Lazarus story could not be true? Are you very sure the symbolic elements here mean it is not true? I believe the Bible uses symbology often, but many times that same symbology can be literal.

Question: Does every element in a story have to be either symbolic or literal in its entirety in order to qualify as being true?

It all comes down to whether or not symbology can also be interpreted literally. Even with each of the points you've made pointing out symbolism, I can still see a flaming, burning hell for the rich man; a safe refuge in "Abraham's bosom", a deep chasm between the two...etc. Surely these places are spiritual and hard to understand or envision for us; hence, Jesus uses symbolism to portray them.

I think basically, you and I are on similar pages but we are approaching this differently. I do understand there is a lot of symbolism used in this parable; but I don't think that fact proves that the rich man and Lazarus the beggar are not real people. Actually, as far as that goes, the ten virgins getting their oil lamps ready for the wedding could very well be something that really happened (especially considering the marriage traditions of that time); and Jesus used a very real event to illustrate a very spiritual matter. The parable of the prodigal son could be a real event as well...and so on.


This last paragraph seems to confuse the Lazarus-raised-from-the-dead with the Lazarus-the-beggar. The two are both separate events and persons. I realize Abraham's quote is referring to the hardness of unbelievers' hearts in not accepting the spiritual truths in the Bible.

Thank you, Phoneman, again for your time in helping me to understand. However, I believe I may have missed the point though because I still feel this parable can be both literal and symbolic at the same time. Do you see any harm or danger in believing this parable to be a literal account?
A story can't be literal and parabolic at the same time. I believe that the preponderance of evidence points to it being a parable
which requires interpretation based on the level of symbolism. The danger of taking this story literally is that it leads to the belief in eternal torment of the wicked, rather than the Biblical teaching of their ultimate annihilation where they are blotted out of existence.
 
I looked through a list of all of Jesus' parables. He does use unlikely scenarios to teach a greater truth, but they all could happen. If we use this concept, then Jesus is saying, "Let's say people in hell can see and talk to people in heaven, you know even though they can't. What would the person in hell say?". I just can't see how He would do that. And for what purpose? To shock the audience?
All other parables have the possibility of happening.
It's not possible for the dead to possess bodies before the resurrection, nor is it possible for the dead to possess thoughts, emotions and feelings, knowledge and wisdom, memories, or the ability to speak while they are dead, according to many texts of Scripture. Therefore, since parables or allegories often contain elements that cannot or do not happen in real experience, it is more than reasonable to conclude that these elements found in Luke 16, which are outside the realm of possibility, can lead to only one conclusion: they are symbols which must be interpreted.
 
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