19There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24And 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. 25But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 26And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. 27Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: 28For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
The duration, nature & purpose of the torments the rich man was suffering are not revealed in this story. His torments there could have lasted less than 5 minutes.
“If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there; If I make my bed in the nether-world (Sheol/Hades/hell), behold, Thou art there.” (Psalm 139:8)
We are told the rich man requested water. He seemed to think a few drops of water would ease his sufferings. Apparently this isn’t served in “hell” (Hades), but whether or not alcohol & morphine is on the menu is not revealed. After all, God is omnipresent.
Luke 16:27-28 seems to show the rich man’s concern for others. Perhaps he was beginning to have a change of heart. Supposedly that is the purpose of those in Hades recieving the word of the Lord, in this case via Abraham.
So does this story do more harm than good for the endless tormenting god position, even if taken literally?
The version quoted speaks of a great gulf fixed stopping the transfer of persons from one place to the other place. It does not say this gulf will remain in place forever. Only that at that moment in time it was so. Possibly the chasm barrier refers to the unrepentant state of those in Hades, & that once they repent the barrier stopping any individual from leaving is removed. Nor does the passage deny the possibility of salvation to the rich man in Hades while he remains there.
There appears to be no indication that the story of the rich man & Lazarus disproves universalism.
They get out of “hell” (Luke 16:19-31) in Revelation 20:11-15, if not sooner.