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Luke 15-16. The Rich Man and Lazarus. Tertullian (160-225 AD)

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Luke 15-16

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Luke 15-16

The Rich Man and Lazarus

  • Tertullian (160-225 AD)

  • At that greatest of all spectacles, that last and eternal judgment how shall I admire, how laugh, how rejoice, how exult, when I behold so many proud monarchs groaning in the lowest abyss of darkness; so many magistrates liquefying in fiercer flames than they ever kindled against the Christians; so many sages philosophers blushing in red-hot fires with their deluded pupils; so many tragedians more tuneful in the expression of their own sufferings; so many dancers tripping more nimbly from anguish then ever before from applause.

  • Augustine (354-430 AD)

  • They who shall enter into [the] joy [of the Lord] shall know what is going on outside in the outer darkness. . .The saints'. . . knowledge, which shall be great, shall keep them acquainted. . .with the eternal sufferings of the lost.

  • Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274)

  • In order that the happiness of the saints may be more delightful to them and that they may render more copious thanks to God for it, they are allowed to see perfectly the sufferings of the damned…So that they may be urged the more to praise God…The saints in heaven know distinctly all that happens…to the damned.

  • John Calvin (1509-1564)

  • Forever harrassed with a dreadful tempest, they shall feel themselves torn asunder by an angry God, and transfixed and penetrated by mortal stings, terrified by the thunderbolts of God, and broken by the weight of his hand, so that to sink into any gulf would be more tolerable than to stand for a moment in these terrors.

  • There are babies a span long in hell.

  • John Bunyan (1628-1688)

  • Set case you should take a man, and tie him to a stake, and with red hot Pincers pinch off his flesh by little pieces for two or three years together, and at last, when the poor man cryes out for ease and help, the tormenters answer, Nay but besides all this you must be handled worse. We will serve you thus these 20 years together, and after that we will fill your mangled body full of scalding lead, and run you through with a red hot spit, would this not be lamentable?...But he that goes to hell shall suffer ten thousand times worse torments then these, and yet shall never be quite dead under them.

  • Isaac Watts(1674-1748)

  • What bliss will fill the ransomed souls, When they in glory dwell, To see the sinner as he rolls, In quenchless flames of hell.

  • Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)

  • “Here all judges have a mixture of mercy, but the wrath of God will be poured out upon the wicked without mixture. Imagine yourself to be cast into a fiery oven…and imagine also that your body were to lie there for a quarter of an hour, full of fire, as full within and without as a bright coal fire, all the while full of quick sense; what horror would you feel at the entrance of such a furnace? Oh! Then how would your heart sink if you knew that after millions and millions of ages your torment would be no nearer to an end than ever it was. But your torment in hell will be immensely greater than this illustration represents.”

  • John Wesley (1703-1791)

  • Is it not common to say to a child, ‘Put your finger in that candle, can you bear it even for one minute?' How then will you bear Hell-fire? Surely it would be torment enough to have the flesh burnt off from only one finger; what then will it be to have the whole body plunged into a lake of fire, burning with brimstone?...Consider that all these torments of body and soul are without intermission. Be their suffering ever so extreme, be their pain ever so intense, there is no possibility of their fainting away, no, not for one moment…They are all eye, all ear, all sense. Every instant of their duration it may be said of their whole frame that they are ‘Trembling alive all o'er, and smart and agonize at every pore.' And of this duration there is no end … Neither the pain of the body nor of soul is any nearer an end than it was millions of ages ago.” Sermon 73

  • J.I. Packer (1926 - )

  • " and pity for hell's occupants will not enter our hearts."


Disagreeing with spiritual giants

  • “My spirit cannot accommodate itself to this book. For me this is reason enough not to think highly of it: Christ is neither taught nor known in it.” – Luther

  • “There is no excuse for any one in taking the position that there is no more truth to be revealed, and that all our expositions of Scripture are without an error. The fact that certain doctrines have been held as truth for many years by our people, is not a proof that our ideas are infallible. Age will not make error into truth, and truth can afford to be fair. No true doctrine will lose anything by close investigation.” Review and Herald, Dec. 20, 1892

  • According to Christianity, eternal suffering awaits anyone who questions God's infinite love. That's the message we're brought up with, believe or die. "Thank you, forgiving Lord, for all those options." --Bill Hicks

  • So revolting to my moral nature is the creed of eternal punishment that it, more than any other cause, produces the most widespread unbelief. Compared with this, all objections to Christianity fade to insignificance. --Loren Anderson

Does God enjoy seeing his enemies punished?

  • “Tell them that as surely as I, the Sovereign LORD, am the living God, I do not enjoy seeing sinners die. I would rather see them stop sinning and live. Israel, stop the evil you are doing. Why do you want to die?” (Ezekiel 33:11)

  • “How can I give you up, Israel? How can I abandon you? Could I ever destroy you as I did Admah, or treat you as I did Zeboiim? My heart will not let me do it! My love for you is too strong.” (Hosea 11:8)

  • “You have heard that it was said, 'Love your friends, hate your enemies.' But now I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may become the children of your Father in heaven. For he makes his sun to shine on bad and good people alike, and gives rain to those who do good and to those who do evil.” (Matthew 5:43-45)

Why tell the parable?

  • “One day when many tax collectors and other outcasts came to listen to Jesus, the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law started grumbling, ‘This man welcomes outcasts and even eats with them!’ So Jesus told them this parable:

5 parables contrasting parables

  • 99 sheep; one is lost

  • 9 silver coins; one is lost

  • The “loyal” son; the “lost” son

  • The shrewd manager; “people who belong to the light”

  • The rich man; Lazarus

  • ‘Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them---what do you do? You leave the other ninety-nine sheep in the pasture and go looking for the one that got lost until you find it. When you find it, you are so happy that you put it on your shoulders and carry it back home. Then you call your friends and neighbors together and say to them, ‘I am so happy I found my lost sheep. Let us celebrate!’ In the same way, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine respectable people who do not need to repent.’” (Luke 15:1-7)

  • Who are the 99?

  • Who is the lost sheep?

    • “I tell you: the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the Kingdom of God ahead of you.” (Matthew 21:31)

  • “Or suppose a woman who has ten silver coins loses one of them---what does she do? She lights a lamp, sweeps her house, and looks carefully everywhere until she finds it. When she finds it, she calls her friends and neighbors together, and says to them, ‘I am so happy I found the coin I lost. Let us celebrate!’ In the same way, I tell you, the angels of God rejoice over one sinner who repents.’” (Luke 15:8-10)

  • Jesus went on to say, ‘There was once a man who had two sons. The younger one said to him, ‘Father, give me my share of the property now.’ So the man divided his property between his two sons. After a few days the younger son sold his part of the property and left home with the money. He went to a country far away, where he wasted his money in reckless living. He spent everything he had. Then a severe famine spread over that country, and he was left without a thing.” (Luke 15:11-14)

  • “So he went to work for one of the citizens of that country, who sent him out to his farm to take care of the pigs. He wished he could fill himself with the bean pods the pigs ate, but no one gave him anything to eat. At last he came to his senses and said, ‘All my father's hired workers have more than they can eat, and here I am about to starve! I will get up and go to my father and say, ‘Father, I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer fit to be called your son; treat me as one of your hired workers.’

  • So he got up and started back to his father. He was still a long way from home when his father saw him; his heart was filled with pity, and he ran, threw his arms around his son, and kissed him. ‘Father,’ the son said, ‘I have sinned against God and against you. I am no longer fit to be called your son.’

  • “But the father called to his servants. ‘Hurry!’ he said. ‘Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and shoes on his feet. Then go and get the prize calf and kill it, and let us celebrate with a feast! For this son of mine was dead, but now he is alive; he was lost, but now he has been found.’ And so the feasting began.” (Luke 15:23,24)

  • “In the meantime the older son was out in the field. On his way back, when he came close to the house, he heard the music and dancing. So he called one of the servants and asked him, ‘What’s going on?’ ‘Your brother has come back home,’ the servant answered, ‘and your father has killed the prize calf, because he got him back safe and sound.’ The older brother was so angry that he would not go into the house; so his father came out and begged him to come in.

  • But he spoke back to his father, ‘Look, all these years I have worked for you like a slave, and I have never disobeyed your orders. What have you given me? Not even a goat for me to have a feast with my friends! But this son of yours wasted all your property on prostitutes, and when he comes back home, you kill the prize calf for him!’ ‘My son,’ the father answered, ‘you are always here with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be happy, because your brother was dead, but now he is alive; he was lost, but now he has been found.’” (Luke 15:25-32)

  • The prodigal son:

    • rebels who came home

  • The other son:

    • loyal legalists who stayed home but do not know God

The shrewd manager

  • “No servant can be the slave of two masters; such a slave will hate one and love the other or will be loyal to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. When the Pharisees heard all this, they made fun of Jesus, because they loved money.” (Luke 16:11-14)

  • “Jesus said to them, ‘You are the ones who make yourselves look right in other people’s sight, but God knows your hearts. For the things that are considered of great value by people are worth nothing in God’s sight. The Law of Moses and the writings of the prophets were in effect up to the time of John the Baptist; since then the Good News about the Kingdom of God is being told, and everyone forces their way in.’” (Luke 16:15-16)

5 parables contrasting parables

  • 99 sheep in the pasture; one is lost

  • 9 silver coins; one is lost

  • The “loyal” son; the “lost” son

  • The shrewd manager; “people who belong to the light”

  • The rich man; Lazarus

  • “There was once a rich man who dressed in the most expensive clothes and lived in great luxury every day. There was also a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who used to be brought to the rich man’s door, hoping to eat the bits of food that fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs would come and lick his sores.

  • The poor man died and was carried by the angels to sit beside Abraham at the feast in heaven. The rich man died and was buried, and in Hades, where he was in great pain, he looked up and saw Abraham, far away, with Lazarus at his side. So he called out, ‘Father Abraham! Take pity on me, and send Lazarus to dip his finger in some water and cool off my tongue, because I am in great pain in this fire!’

  • “But Abraham said, ‘Remember, my son, that in your lifetime you were given all the good things, while Lazarus got all the bad things. But now he is enjoying himself here, while you are in pain. Besides all that, there is a deep pit lying between us, so that those who want to cross over from here to you cannot do so, nor can anyone cross over to us from where you are.’ The rich man said, ‘Then I beg you, father Abraham, send Lazarus to my father’s house, where I have five brothers. Let him go and warn them so that they, at least, will not come to this place of pain.’

  • Abraham said, ‘Your brothers have Moses and the prophets to warn them; your brothers should listen to what they say.’ The rich man answered, ‘That is not enough, father Abraham! But if someone were to rise from death and go to them, then they would turn from their sins.’ But Abraham said, ‘If they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone were to rise from death.’” (Luke 16:19-31)

Literal interpretation?

  • Abraham’s bosom?

  • Chasm in between?

  • If the soul is apart from the body, is there a need to cool the tongue?

  • Why only a drop? Why not ask for a bucket?

  • This is the only case in which Hades is associated with any punishment

  • Do we take the individual points of other parables literally?


Who is the rich man? (“dressed in purple and fine linen”)

Who is Lazarus?

‘That is not enough, father Abraham! But if someone were to rise from death and go to them, then they would turn from their sins.’ But Abraham said, ‘if they will not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone were to rise from death.’”

“From that day on the Jewish authorities made plans to kill Jesus…the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus too, because on his account many Jews were rejecting them and believing in Jesus” (John 11:53)

A hard parable for a hardened & proud people

  • 1. Listen to Moses and the prophets

  • 2. they will not be convinced even if someone were to rise from death

  • Peter’s speech in Acts 2:

    • “Many of them believed this message and were baptized, and about three thousand people were added to the group that day.” Acts 2:41

What is hell?

  • "If you call your brother a worthless fool, you will be in danger of going to the fire of hell" (Matthew 5:22).

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