OceanSide church of Christ

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Part of the series: PARABLES OF JESUS
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Luke 16:19-31

Victor M. Eskew




A.   The Bible refers to death as an enemy of men (I Cor. 15:26).


And the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.


B.    Unless the Lord Jesus Christ returns, all of us will have to face this persistent opponent (Heb. 9:27).


And as it is appointed unto men once to die…


C.   Having seen death, man often wonders:  “What happens when one dies?”

1.     On his own, man has no way of answering this question.

2.     Fortunately, deity has provided us some insight into this matter.


D.   In this lesson, we are going to study:  “The Rich Man and Lazarus” (Luke 16:19-31).

1.     Some refer to this as a parable.

2.     Others do not believe it is a parable.

a.     Because of the way the account begins (Luke 16:19)


There was a certain rich man…


b.    Because the account is so literal:  a beggar named Lazarus, angels, Abraham, and the rich man’s brothers.


I.           DISPARITY IN LIFE (Luke 16:19-21)


There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sump-tuously every day:  and there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which laid at his gate, full of sores, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table:  moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.


A.   Here, we see the two opposite poles of economic status:  one was rich and one was poor.

1.     This distinction within society will never be overcome (Matt. 26:11; Mark 14:7; John 12:8).


For ye have the poor always with you…


2.     The “perfect” society will never be created from an economic perspective.  All societies will always have poor people and rich people.


B.    The rich man

1.     Abundance:  Rich – abounding in wealth

2.     Basics:  Clothed in purple and fine linen

3.     Luxuries:  Fared sumptuously

4.     Constantly:  Every day


C.   The poor man

1.     Distressed:  a beggar – straitened in circumstances

2.     Humbled:  laid at the rich man’s gate

3.     Infirmed:  full of sores

4.     Desperate:  desirous of the crumbs

5.     Miserable:  the dogs came and licked his sores


D.   Lesson:  We desire the first position.  Yet, the blessings of salvation are most often appreciated by the poor (James 2:5).


Hearken, my beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?


II.         COMMONALITY IN DEATH (Luke 16:22)


And 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.


A.   Death has been called the “equalizer” of mankind.


B.    The rich and the poor will all face the appointment of death.

1.     Job 21:13


They spend their days in wealth, and in a moment go down to the grave.


2.     Ecclesiastes 8:10


And so I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of the holy, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done:  this is also vanity.


3.     James 1:11


For the sun is no sooner risen with a burning heat, but it withereth the grass, and the flower thereof falleth, and the grace of the fashion of it perisheth:  so also shall the rich man fade away in his ways.


III.       DISPARITY IS DESTINIES (Luke 16:23-26)


And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.  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.  But 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 are tormented.  And beside 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.


A.   When one dies, he enters into the hadean realm.

1.     The word “hell” in verse 23 is “hades,” not “gehenna.”

2.     This is referred to as “the unseen realm of the dead.”

3.     It is divided into two sections.

a.     Abraham’s bosom:  a place of comfort (Luke 16:25)

b.    Torments:  a place of anguish and agony (Luke 16:25-26)

4.     This unseen realm is a place of

a.     Consciousness:  these men were cognizant of their surroundings after death and could interact

b.    Recognition:  the rich man saw and recognized Lazarus and named Abraham

c.    Feelings:  “Have mercy upon me” and “I am tormented in this flame”

d.    Unmet needs:  “Cool my tongue”

e.     Remembrance:  “Son, remember” (See also vs. 27-28)

f.     Separation:  “There is a great gulf fixed…”


B.    This account always raises some questions.

1.     Is one judged immediately after death?

2.     If not, but your destiny is sealed, what is the purpose of judgment?

3.     Answers:

a.     Question #1:  No, we are not judged at death.  The Bible teaches that there will be a “day” of judgment (Matt. 10:15; 11:22, 24; 12:36; Mark 6:11; Rom. 2:5; II Pet. 2:9; 3:7; I John 4:17; Jude 1:6).  On this day, all nations shall be gathered before the Son of God to be judged (Matt. 25:31-32).


When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him.  Then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory:  and before him shall be gathered all nations:  and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats.


b.    Question #2: 

1)     We get to give an account of ourselves unto God (Rom. 14:12).

2)     God will issue final sentencing either to heaven or hell (Matt. 25:34, 41).


Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world…Then shall he say unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.




Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house:  for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.  Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.  And he said, Nay, father Abraham:  but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.  And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.


A.   It is interesting that the attention of the rich man turns from himself to his brother in the flesh.


B.    NOTE:  He does not want his brethren to come to this place of torments.

1.     Often people learn that their relatives were never saved as they study to become Christians.

2.     Many get angry.  Others terminate the study.

3.     They need to understand, that if their relatives are lost, they do not want them coming there.  They want their family members to give heed to the Word of God and escape the place of torments.


C.   God provides all men with the opportunity to learn of Him by means of the Word of God.

1.     Today, the Old Testament has been abolished (Eph. 2:14-15).

2.     We are now under the New Testament (Heb. 9:15-17).

3.     Man needs to give ear to its demands (Heb. 2:1).

4.     One returning from the dead would not suffice in convincing individuals to be obedient unto God.




A.   Death is coming to all of us.


B.    We will meet one of two ends that we read about in this account:  torments or Abraham’s bosom.


C.   Right now, each of us can give ear to the Word of God.  Right now we can impact our eternal destinies.