The Rich Man and Lazarus
And there was a certain rich man, and he wore crimson and fine linen, making merry splendidly every day. And there was a certain pauper named Lazarus, who was laid at his gate with sores, and longing to be satisfied from the crumbs which fell from the table of the rich man; but even the dogs came and licked his sores.
And it came to pass that the pauper died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell, lifting up his eyes, being in torments, he sees Abraham from far off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
And calling out he said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am grieved in this flame. But Abraham said, Child, remember that thou didst receive thy good things in thy life, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted, but thou art grieved. And besides all these things, between us and you a great gulf is fixed, so that they who will to pass from hence to you cannot, neither can they cross over from thence to us.
And he said, I beseech thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
Abraham says to him, They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them. And he said, No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead went to them, they will repent.
And he said to him, If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one should rise again from the dead.
The rich and poor
AC 10227:20. Those who do not know that by the “rich” are meant those who possess the knowledges of truth and good, thus who have the Word; and that by the “poor” are meant those who do not possess these knowledges, but who nevertheless desire them, cannot know otherwise than that by the “rich man who was clothed in crimson and fine linen,” and by the “poor man who was cast forth at his entrance” (Luke 16) are meant a rich and a poor man in the common meaning of these terms; when yet by the “rich man” is there meant the Jewish nation which had the Word. By the “crimson” with which he was clothed is meant genuine good (n. 9467); and by the “fine linen,” genuine truth (n. 5319, 9469, 9596, 9744). And by the “poor man cast forth at the entrance” are meant those who are outside the church and do not have the Word, and yet long for the truths and goods of heaven and of the church.
AC 9231:3. By “the rich man clothed in purple and fine linen,” is signified those who are within the church. “The purple and fine linen” with which he was clothed are the knowledges of good and truth from the Word. By “the poor man” is signified those within the church who are in but little good by reason of their ignorance of truth, and yet long to be instructed (n. 9209). That he was called “Lazarus” was from the Lazarus who was raised by the Lord, of whom it is said that the Lord “loved him” (John 11:1–3, 5, 36), that he was the Lord’s “friend” (John 11:11), and that he “reclined at table with the Lord” (John 12:2). His “desiring to be filled with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table” signified his longing to learn a few truths from those within the church who had abundance of them. “The dogs which licked his sores” are those outside the church who are in good, although not in the genuine good of faith; “licking sores” is healing them by such means as are within their power.
Heaven and hell in scripture
LJ 19. That heaven and hell are from the human race, the church might have known from the Word, and made it a part of its doctrine, if it had admitted enlightenment from heaven, and had attended to the Lord’s words to the robber, that today he should be with Him in paradise (Luke 23:43); and to those words which the Lord spoke concerning the rich man and Lazarus, that:
The one went to hell, and spoke from there with Abraham, and that the other went to heaven (Luke 16:19–31).
Also to what the Lord told the Sadducees respecting the resurrection, that God is not the God of the dead, but of the living (Matt. 22:32).
And furthermore they might have known it from the common faith of all who live well, especially from their faith in the hour of death, when they are no longer in worldly and bodily things, in that they believe they will go to heaven as soon as the life of their body departs. This faith prevails with all, so long as they do not think, from the doctrine of the church, of a resurrection at the time of the Last Judgment. Inquire into the subject and you will be confirmed that it is so.
Questions and Comments
- Heaven and Hell 1 says that “The man of the church at this day knows scarcely anything about heaven and hell or about his life after death, although all these matters are set forth and described in the Word.” What are some things this parable teaches about life after death?
- What does this parable teach us about the eternity of the hells?
- What does this parable teach us about how the Lord protects our freedom?
- It seems some people have dreams about others who have died, or near-death experiences, and these can have a big impact. How can those situations be reconciled with this parable?