The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Luke 16:19-31 rich man in "hell"


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.

Matthew 7:21 never enter heaven?

There appears to be no indication that the story of the rich man & Lazarus disproves universalism.

Yes because it’s not about hell, it’s part of a group of 5 or so parables that Jesus was giving to the Pharisees and it’s about the Jewish nation who looked to Father Abraham as their insurance with God as the one to save them but they didn’t believe Moses and the Prophets and not even one who was raised from the dead. So because of their disbelief they would lose their status as God’s people to the gentiles (Lazarus). This parable reminds me of “The Prodical Son.”


The normal use of ἁδης (hadās), or as it is normally transliterated “hades,” is the exact equivalent of the English word “hell” as it was originally used. “Hell” meant “hidden place.” It used to be said that lovers sought a hell so that they could be alone together. In our day, gardeners speak of “hilling” potatoes, but it seems the original expression was “helling potatoes,” that is covering up around the plant to hide the potatoes that they wouldn’t be exposed to the sun and turn green. The word “hades” in the NT usually refers to “the grave” or in some instances “death.”

The following verses are from the NKJV, but the added words of explanation within brackets are mine:

However the Jewish people of Jesus day, thought of “hades” as a place where the souls of all people go at death (it would still be a “hidden place,” hidden from the living). They believed that hades consisted of two compartments, with the righteous in one, and the unrighteous in the other. It seems that Jesus used this common Jewish belief in his parable of the rich man and Lazarus in order to teach that even if it were possible for a righteous man to arise from the dead, the people of the Jewish religion whom He was addressing, still wouldn’t believe.

The Jewish historian, Josephus, in his writing “Discourse to the Greeks concerning hades” describes “hades” in much the same way Jesus did in His parable, but in much greater detail.

You can read an extract from Josephus’ discourse here:


Earlier in Luke we read:

Fear not, said the angel who announced it, for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. Luke 2:10.

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. Luke 2:14.

But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you
will be sons of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Luke 6:35

Luke 15:3 And he spake this parable unto them, saying, 4What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?

Luke 15:8 Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?


" 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."

Some people would question if he had actually died. OTOH if it were the resurrected Jesus, and they could stick their hands into His side, or see Him suddenly appear in a room with closed doors, as doubting Thomas did, then they might believe:

John 20:24 But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. 25 The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

26 And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. 27 Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. 28 And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. 29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.

Compare also:

Matthew 11:21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.

Luke 10:13 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon, which have been done in you, they had a great while ago repented, sitting in sackcloth and ashes.

Will Tyre & Sidon be damned forever because they didn’t get a chance to see what would have brought about their repentance?


Paidion said:

Give me some background on this thinking? Where did you get this info?


Maintenance Man, you ask where I got this information? Do you mean the information that the Jewish people of Jesus day believed in hades as a post-mortem place where all the dead go? If so, I gave you one source in my most recent post—the Jewish writer Josephus. I also provided a link to an extract from his discourse of “hades” or “hell.” As I said, that discourse describes hades in a similar way to the description in our Lord’s parable of the rich man and Lazarus—only in greater detail.

Do you require more evidence?


I don’t think this parable is even about the afterlife. I think it’s about Jews losing the preeminence they’d enjoyed under the old covenant.


Allegedly the Jews used Gehenna & Hades interchangably. Here’s an article on Gehenna & ancient Jewish (Pharisaical) beliefs:

As i’m sure you’re aware, the Sad-you-sees did not believe in a “hell” or an afterlife of any kind for anyone. Pretty sad.

The article predates the discoveries of the Dead Sea Scrolls, so the site may have no info on the views of the Essenes.


The article on Sheol (Hades) is far more Scripturally based:


Thanks all, you have shed some insight on some questions :smiley: I appreciate it. :slight_smile:


Lk.16:25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things,…

Lit., child.

“…Here, too, was one who, even in Hades, was recognised as being, now more truly than he had been in his life, a “child” or “son of Abraham.”
(Comp. Luke 19:9.) The word used is the same, in its tone of pity and tenderness, as that which the father used to the elder son in the
parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:31), which our Lord addressed to the man sick of the palsy (Matthew 9:2), or to His own disciples (John 13:33).”


Tom Talbott said:

“As for the unbridgeable chasm of which Jesus spoke in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, not one word in this parable, even if taken as literal history, as some do take it, implies that the chasm between Hades and Abraham’s bosom will remain unbridgeable forever. Do not Christians believe that the cross has already guaranteed the ultimate destruction of sin and death, where the “last enemy to be destroyed,” as we have already noted, “is death” itself? When 1 Peter 3:19 depicts Jesus as preaching to the spirits in prison (or those who were disobedient in the days of Noah) and 1 Peter 4:6 also depicts him as preaching the gospel to the dead, do these texts not illustrate perfectly the view of Elhanan Winchester,13 who wrote: “I believe, that Jesus Christ was not only able to pass, but that he actually did pass that gulph, which was impassable to all men but not to him”?14 Even if one should take the details of this parable more literally than one should, in other words, one can still view the Cross as the means whereby Jesus Christ has bridged this hitherto unbridgeable gulf. By flinging himself into the chasm between the dead and the living and by building a bridge over it, Jesus thus brought his message of repentance and forgiveness to all people, including those in Hades, which is the abode of the dead.”

Matthew 7:21 never enter heaven?

" “So even if we made the mistake of trying to extract from the details of this parable a position on the issue of whether there will be further chances, there still wouldn’t be much cause for taking this passage as supporting the doctrine of no further chances with any force at all. For as long as the [one] who believes in further chances sensibly allows for the possibility that, while punishment is occurring, those suffering from it can’t just end it any time they want, she can make perfectly good sense of the words this parable puts into the mouth of Father Abraham. After all, if a road has been covered with deep enough snow drifts, we’ll tell someone who must drive on that stretch of road to get to where we are, “You cannot cross over from there to us.” We’ll say this quite properly and truthfully, even if we know full well that the road will be cleared in a few days, or that, in a great enough emergency, a helicopter could be used to get across to us even today, if, say, we’re at a hospital. [But doesn’t that show that there is a sense, then, in which they can cross over to us? Yes, there’s a perfectly good sense in which they can, and a perfectly good sense in which they cannot. For enlightening and accessible explanations of the meaning of “can” and related words, I recommend Angelica Kratzer’s “What ‘Must’ and ‘Can’ Must and Can Mean” (Linguistics and Philosophy 1 (1977): pp. 337-355) and example 6 (“Relative Modality”) of David Lewis’s “Scorekeeping in a Language Game” (Journal of Philosophical Logic 8 (1979): pp. 339-359.]”

Matthew 7:21 never enter heaven?

From christian forums dot com re Luke 16:19-31:

Some people don’t presently believe Scripture or even if they see a miracle. That doesn’t prove they will never believe. Thomas was a disciple of Jesus for years, saw many of His miracles, yet refused to believe in His resurrection unless He saw the resurrected Jesus. Just like many atheists today. One day they will see Him, just like Thomas did. And all of them will eventually believe, repent & be saved.

Jesus also said it is impossible for men to be saved. Yet with God all is possible. Men are not able to cross the chasm in their own ability, but Love Omnipotent is able to bring them across. God doesn’t let those evil doers in Hades cross just because they want to, for then they would all cross over immediately & not learn the lessons they need to learn to become saved. They must meet the usual conditions for salvation, confession, repentance & genuine faith.