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I want to explain to someone that people don't go to heaven right after they die and Hell isn't a torturous place that lasts forever and ever. But how do I explain The Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man in Luke 16:19-31? So far I have:

The parable of the rich man and Lazarus is only a parable. It was written by Luke who was a greek doctor and that is why there are some elements of Greek mythology in it.

Can anyone help me with this?

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Parables can be pretty abstract/indirect.  My personal view is the most revealing part of this parable's nature comes at the end 

30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.

31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

The parable for me is not meant to allude to a Heaven & Hell we enter upon death with cognitive abilities of regret and joy that only the living possess. The closing verses for me just make it clear why in death we are nothing since anything else would be meaningless.  it is meant to say If we truly care we should act and make the most of the lives we are blessed with while living because there will be no second chances or warnings from the grave.

Beyond that I believe there are many examples of scripture throughout the bible that explain death and the eternal life & destruction that will be judged only on the day our Lord returns.  A link below I found helpful has many verses on the matter that you can study in the bible on your own.  In addition it has the insightful creator's thoughts from their personal study of the subject.

Here is an explanation at this website. on free offers or free library.

It is simply a parable used to emphasize a point. Many facts make it clear that this is a parable. A few are as follows:

Abraham's bosom is not heaven (Hebrews 11:8-10, 16)

People in hell can't talk to those in heaven (Isaiah 65: 17)

The dead are in their graves (Job 17:13; John 5:28, 29). The rich man was in bodily form with eyes, a tongue, etc., yet we know that the body does not go to hell at death. It is very obvious that the body remains in the grave, as the Bible says. If you'd like to know more about what happens after you die visit The Truth About Death website.

Men are rewarded at Christ's second coming, not at death (Revelation 22:11, 12)

The lost are punished in hell at the end of the world, not when they die (Matthew 13:40-42). The point of the story is found in verse 31 of Luke 16. Parables cannot be taken literally. If we took parables literally, then we must believe that trees talk! (See this parable in Judges 9:8-15).
By representing the beggar as being in heaven and the rich man as lost, Jesus taught His hearers that, contrary to the prevailing view, wealth was not necessarily an indicator of divine favor, just as poverty was not a sign of God's judgement upon a person.

Jesus was also seeking to educate the Jews that salvation would not be theirs by birthright. The rich man in torments calls out to "father Abraham," just as the Jews of Jesus' day were mistakenly pointing to heritage as proof of their assurance of salvation.

Furthermore, Jesus was seeking to lead His hearers to understand that only faithfulness to God's Word would prepare them to enter into eternal life. He told them, "If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead" (Luke 16:31).

To use the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in order to promote the false doctrine of an eternally burning hell is to misuse God's Word and to misrepresent His character.

Not a parable, but an allegory. It represents Israel's rejection of Christ ministry.The Jews believed in a physical he'll, so Christ used what they understood.


I have a few thoughts on this. Some of these might be of use.


Luke chapter 16 begins with a parable. "There was a certain rich man, which had a steward..." (Lk 16:1). Everyone, as far as I know, accepts that this is a parable.

After delivering the parable, Jesus spoke about some principles, and then He went on to use the same language that prefaced His earlier parable. "There was a certain rich man..." (Lk 16:19). And "There was a certain beggar..." (16:20). He continues the parable style.

i.) There was a certain rich man. (Parable.) Lk 16:1.

ii.)There was a certain rich man. (Now not a parable?) Lk 16:19.


General thoughts on the rich man and Lazarus.
Three Dead Men Have a Discussion.

Let's take the description literally for a few minutes.

With regards to these three souls, their dwelling places are adjacent to each other, but they are separated by a great, impassable, gulf. And yet the inhabitants of each place are able to come near enough to recognize their former acquaintances. The former “rich man” could see Abraham on the other side of the chasm, and he could recognize “Lazarus in his bosom”. (Lk 16:23.) And even though “a great gulf” physically separates them, they can still communicate with each other.

(According to the literal view, the borders of Heaven and Hell would only be about 80-100 feet from each another.)

It is interesting that Abraham refers to the desire of some in Heaven, to travel from paradise into hell, to comfort those in torment. Abraham says that “THEY WHICH WOULD pass from here to you cannot; [and] neither can they pass to us, that would come from there.” (Lk 16:26)

If, as many believe, this is to be understood literally, then a question arises.

If people in Heaven want to visit the poor souls in Hell, WHY would they wish to? (They know it is impossible to cross the gulf, but why would they still WANT to go?)

Is it because they feel pity for them? Sympathy? Do they have it in their hearts to comfort the suffering? What a terrible situation this would be! Will the redeemed have sympathies for those that are receiving the due punishments of God? Can we see what implications this might hold? Sympathizers who want to help the suffering wicked? This could make Heaven eternally insecure.


But Mrs. White explains that "In the parable Christ was MEETING THE PEOPLE ON THEIR OWN GROUND. The doctrine of a conscious state of existence between death and the resurrection was held by many of those who were listening to Christ's words... He used the prevailing opinion to convey the idea He wished to make prominent to all..." (Christ's Object Lessons p.263)

Those words are readily confirmed.

In the days of Jesus, the Apocalypse of Zephaniah -- an old Jewish apocryphal Book not included in our Bible (and not included there for good reason,) -- expressed the view that Jesus employed. It appears that Abraham was regarded as the chief intercessor for the dead, in a similar way that Mary is thought, by some today, to be chief intercessor for the dead.

Apoc. Zeph.11:1-6
And I also saw multitudes. He brought them forth. As they looked at all of the torments they called out, praying before the Lord Almighty, saying, “We pray unto Thee on account of those who are in all these torments so that Thou might have mercy on all of them.” And when I saw them, I said to the angel who spoke with me, “<Who are these?>” He said, “These who beseech the Lord are Abraham and Isaac and Jacob. Then at a certain hour daily they come forth with the great angel. He soundeth a trumpet up unto heaven and another soundeth upon the earth. All the righteous hear the sound. They come running, praying to the Lord Almighty daily on behalf of these who are in all these torments.”

The Rich Man and Lazarus is a parable that explains that there is no second chances after death.  After death there are no second chances to make your life right with God.

The Rich Man and Lazarus explains this clearly if taken as a parable and not everything literally.

You explain it best with Prayers and studying the bible, in whatever version works for you, and with a blank sheet which means no personal biases.

Also you get close to Jesus when you read it and ask what does this tell me about the Cross and Jesus Christ My Savior and Best Friend My God.

From Luke Ch 16: vss 24 onward is a conversation between the Rich Man who went to Hades and Father Abraham, which represents Father God.  The crucial part to the conversation is the fact that the Rich Man once he is in Hades, can't receive Salvation.  Also that once the Rich Man is in Hell he would not have repented though One rise from the dead.  That One that rose from the Dead is Jesus Christ Himself.  And if someone goes to Hell or Hades he will not have a second chance at eternal life.  It also points back to Moses and the Prophets.  If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets neither will they hear even if One rise from the dead.  Which was Jesus Himself.  It is encouragement to us to hear what the bible has to say and practice it!  B/c Jesus told this parable to warn people like the Rich Man, those who had great light, but chose to reject that light and foster unbelief.  It was a warning to be faithful look out for the underprivileged to help the underdog.  To encourage the weak.  To uplift the disheartened.  and to work with the loved.  I.E. Father Abraham and Lazarus.

In the parable of Rich Man and Lazarus.  They did not work directly with each other, but they worked in harmony with each other.  This is the harmony that God the father wants with all of His children.  If we are in harmony with God's people we will be a powerful Witness for Good to the unbelieving.

thanks everyone for your replies. They helped my argument a lot!

Also thanks for not saying my explanation of the parable was absolutely terrible. It really was terrible.

I appreciate your replies very much.


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