Doesn’t the story of the rich man and Lazarus teach an eternal hell?

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The the narrative of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16:19-31, doesn’t teach eternal hell. It is only a parable used to stress a particular lesson. Many facts make it clear that this is only a parable. Here are a few:

  1. Abraham’s bosom is not heaven (Hebrews 11:8-10, 16).
  2. There is no communication between people in Hell and those in heaven (Isaiah 65:17).
  3. 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 the moment of death. It is very obvious that the body remains in the grave, as the Bible says.
  4. Men are rewarded at Christ’s second coming, not at death (Revelation 22:11, 12).
  5. The lost are punished in hell at the end of the world, not when they die (Matthew 13:40-42).

Parables cannot be taken literally

If we took parables literally, then we must believe that trees talk (Judges 9:8-15). This parable cannot be used to teach that people who die before the last judgment day at the end of the world will go straight to heaven because Jesus declared, that judgment takes place only at the last day. “The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day” (John 12:24).

So, what’s the lesson taught in this parable? The rich man was a symbol of the Jewish nation, feasting on the Scriptures while the beggar at the gate represented the Gentiles, who were starving for God’s Word. Jesus concluded the parable with the observation that “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead” (Luke 16:31). And, when Jesus did later raise a man named Lazarus from the dead, most of the Jewish leaders still chose not to believe in Him (John 12:9-11). Jesus was reaching out for the Jewish religious leaders who had all the light in the scriptures yet they still rejected Him.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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