Lazarus and the Rich Man


Two things puzzle me about this passage–I ponder over them every time I read it:

  1. What is the significance of the 5 brothers?
  2. How does vs 17, and especially vs 18 fit into the context?




Thank you for asking.

  1. The Richman told Abraham to warn his 5 brothers of the place of torment he was suffering . What was Abraham’s response? “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them”. Moses and the prophets represented the OT Scriptures. Then Abraham proceeds to tell the Richman verse 31 “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead” Wow. This speaks powerfully of the singular sufficiency of Scripture to overcome unbelief. The gospel itself is the power of God unto salvation (Romans 1:16). Since unbelief is at a heart a moral, rather than an intellectual, problem, no amount of evidences will ever turn unbelief to faith. But the revealed Word of God has inherent power to do so. Hope this helps. :wink:

  2. in verse 17… Jesus was teaching the great principle of the law, the eternal truths contained in the law’s types and symbols, and the promises recorded by the prophets all remain in force and are not abrogated by the kingdom message. In verse 18 it is believed that Jesus is teaching about divorce between spouses, although I believe to be an alternative meaning to this verse, but I will keep that to myself for now.


I think that this verse is talking about Hades, not hell. WHat do you think?



Hades, Sheol, Hell, whatever you call it… it is a place of being tormented in flames. :wink:


Sonia, the five brothers might well be:

Judah’s Mother, Leah, had






Judah makes six (Gen. 29:31-35, 30:18-19).

So who had five brothers? Judah.

(taken from R Ray Smith’s interpretation of this often misapplied parable)



It’s just my take, but I don’t think there is any significant to the number “5” here. Not all details of a story or parable have theological significance. Did you mean to ask how 17 and 18 fit into Luke’s overall strategy or into the context of the story of Lazarus? I don’t think they’re part of Lazarus’ story at all.



Thank you for you input. That’s an interesting idea to consider. I’ve considered the possibility that the rich man is Israel, or the Jews–having the riches of the “oracles of God,” so that might fit well.

After the previous parable, which Jesus closes by saying you cannot serve both God and Mammon, it says that the Pharisees were deriding Him because they were covetous. It seems like all of vss 15 through the next parable is Jesus’ response to this. I don’t feel I have a good understanding of all the elements of the parable, but I suspect they do have meaning. I am particularly puzzled about those 2 verses because they give the appearance of suddenly jumping topics–and I feel like they should fit somehow with what he’s been saying, and continues to say in the parable.

Of course I could be trying to read more into it than is there, that’s always a possiblity. :wink: I just have a gut feeling that says I’m not quite “getting” it.



Hi roofus,
The word used is “Hades” and the description seems to fit well with what would have been the contemporary mythology (as far as I know–I’m no expert on G/R mythology). So, I think I could agree on that.

But I don’t think this was intended particularly to be a lesson about the afterlife.

The parable of the sower seems to be about farming–how necessary it is to prepare your ground, protecting the seeds from birds, avoid rocky soil, etc. Can you imagine how people would argue over the meaning if we didn’t have Jesus’ explanation? :laughing: :laughing: I can think of a lot of goofy (and spiritual sounding) meanings for that one!




The Richman is Israel? Have we reduced this thread to mysticism? . :unamused:


So now our pesky friend throws forth the “mystic” charge not realizing it is the greatest of folly to seek to measure infinite love by human wisdom. Oh my, what shall we do with such a contrary soul but love him with that same mystical love that cried forth from the cursed tree, “Forgive, them for they know not what they do.”

My old friend George Hawtin once wrote of the mysticical way of those that walk deeply in Christ. “Though some may disbelieve it, the truth is that all spiritual men must and will appear to be mystics. It is not because they try to be so, but it is because they are so. They cannot help being oddities and misfits here because they do not belong to this world. Jesus said, ‘Ye are not of this world, even as I am not of this world.’ Therefore, because we are not of this world, we will always be strangers to it. We are foreigners and wanderers in a strange country. Our speech will always betray us. Our actions and customs will always reveal us. Our communications with the spiritual realm will mark us. The things we love will unmask us. Our lack of interest in all that belongs to this present realm will give our identity away. We will always feel that we do not belong in this realm and that we neither can belong nor wish to belong. ‘They that speak such things declare plainly that they seek a country. And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He hath prepared for them a city’” — end quote.

*So it is I pray tonight, “O my God! keep me ever in the number of those babes to whom Thou revealest thy mysteries, while Thou concealest them from the wise and prudent!”



BA, I know you don’t believe this story is a parable, but I happen to disagree. If I believe it to be a parable, it’s quite reasonable for me to discuss it’s symbolism.

The purpose of this thread was to ask for opinions on two specific points. (Perhaps I should have labeled it better.) Your participation is welcome, but please try to refrain from off-topic remarks.

Thank you,



Parable or not, Jesus spoke spiritual truth about where you spend eternity. Two places. Hades or Abraham’s bosom being divided by a great chasm gulf that you cannot cross over.The unrighteous went to Hades. The righteous went to Abraham’s bosom. Now, since Jesus went to the cross and paid the penalty of sin… the unrighteous still go to Hades…but the righteous go to heaven to be with the Lord. You can symbolize it, spiritualize it, whatever you want to do, Sonia, it still does not take away from the spiritual truth Jesus was teaching us about eternity and where you spend it. :wink:


BA, why did the rich man go to Hades and Lazarus go to what’s commonly called Abraham’s Bosum? Is there anything in this story, whether true or not, to indicate the method of salvation (in the case of Lazarus), or lack thereof (in the case of the rich man?


Here is one of the most helpful articles I’ve read on this passage: