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Luke 16:19-31 (KJV)

19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 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; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

could it be there is transition immediately after death into either bliss or hell as soon as man die

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In the Orthodox Christian interpretation (based on a patristic hermeneutic) there is a particular judgment for man that follows immediately after death, followed by a later general judgment of all. An explanation for this interpretation is given by the Russian Orthodox Protopresbyter Michael Pomazanski in his Orthodox Dogmatic Theology (p. 332):

The state of the soul after death, according to the clear testimony of the word of God, is not unconscious but conscious (for example, according to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Luke 16: 19– 31). After death man is subjected to a judgment which is called “particular” to distinguish it from the general Last Judgment. It is easy in the sight of the Lord to reward a man on the day of death according to his conduct, says the most wise son of Sirach (11: 26). The same thought is expressed by the Apostle Paul: It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment (Heb. 9: 27). The Apostle presents the judgment as something which follows immediately after the death of a man, and evidently he understands this not as the General Judgment, but as the Particular Judgment, as the Holy Fathers of the Church have interpreted this passage. Today shalt thou be with Me in Paradise (Luke 23: 43), the Lord uttered to the repentant thief.

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I've heard two explanations for this parable:

  • At that time in Israel's history, popular beliefs included many corruptions from surrounding pagan religions, such as the afterlife as taught by Greek mythology. Jesus wasn't presenting literal Biblical truth, but simply using images and references that the Pharisees were familiar with.

  • The angels did carry Lazarus to where Abraham was, but notice that there is no mention of Heaven in this parable. Lazarus has died, been buried for centuries, and is finally resurrected and taken to Paradise, the Kingdom of God, here on Earth. This would either be in the first general resurrection at the beginning of the Millennium, when the few people that have been saved are resurrected as spiritual beings, or more likely, be in the second general resurrection at the end of the Millennium, when those that haven't had their opportunity for salvation are physically resurrected. The rich man on the other hand is possibly in the third general resurrection, when those that knowingly rejected God's way of life are briefly physically resurrected before being completely and permanently destroyed. (Note that "in hell" literally means "in the grave".)

In either case, remember that this is a parable, not a literal event. Jesus isn't teaching doctrine; he is presenting images and ideas to illustrate his point and to make people think. This parable is sufficiently ambiguous that its message can be understood the same way regardless of the beliefs of the listeners.

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Peace.

On the surface, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus seems to be about literal death and the afterlife.

But this is really a parable about losing one’s life in order to preserve it (as Lazarus). The rich man sought to save his joyous sumptuous life that he once experienced only to lose it.

Luke 17:33-34 (33) Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.

One was taken and the other was left. Lazarus was carried by the “angels” into Abraham’s bosom…and the other (the rich man) was left behind as he “died and was buried”.

(34) I tell you, in that night there shall be two in one bed; the one shall be taken, and the other shall be left.

These are 2 very different transitions being highlighted but not involving literal death.

Lazarus transitioned from receiving evil things to being comforted while the rich man transitioned from receiving good things to being tormented.

The righteous shall be recompensed in this earth….and so shall the wicked and the sinner. The parable of the rich man and Lazarus is not about literal death and the afterlife as it seems but about a reversal of roles through one's actions towards the hearing of His voice in this coming time.

Proverbs 11:31 KJV (31) Behold, the righteous shall be recompensed in the earth: much more the wicked and the sinner.

There will be two responses to the hearing of the Lord’s voice as He opens up the Scriptures to our ears: lose our own thoughts and ways for His or seek to keep them in a wrathful response towards what we hear.

We find peace in the first situation (losing our life to save it) but no peace when we seek to keep our own thoughts and ways when we hear His interpretation of the Scriptures in this coming time.

There is a parallel to explore with the parable of the rich man and Lazarus and Isaiah 57.

Lazarus….the righteous…was taken away from the company of the rich man.

In Isaiah 57:1: The righteous “perish”….that is, lose one’s self. Lazarus lost his life to save it and was taken away (carried by the angels unto Abraham’s bosom) into peace.

Merciful men…..the righteous…are to be taken away from the rich pastors’ churches in order to preserve them from the evil to come that comes upon those who seek to save their lives in their church denominations. “Lazarus” will not share in the coming sins and plagues of those who will stubbornly stick with their church denominational thinking and ways in this coming time when the Lord comes to open up our minds to the Scriptures so that we may show we know God in our responses to His voice.

Isaiah 57:1-4 KJV (1) The righteous perisheth, and no man layeth it to heart: and merciful men are taken away, none considering that the righteous is taken away from the evil to come.

Lazarus was carried away by the “angels”….which are the messages/sayings/ words of spirit and life spoken by the Lord… into Abraham’s bosom. Again, the “angels” are the words of life and spirit of the Lord that we are “carried away with” and gives us peace.

Lazarus entered into peace….

(2) He shall enter into peace: they shall rest in their beds, each one walking in his uprightness.

….while the rich man did not as his own tongue brought him torment as he opened up his mouth up wide to speak evil against what he heard (the angels….the messages of the Lord) and spoke evil of Lazarus who left his company.

The wide mouth = the “great gulf fixed”. The wicked shall not have peace and their judgment is final until they perish from the earth in their sins…in their evil speaking.

(3) But draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulterer and the whore.

The tongue is a fire. The wide mouth opened to speak evil = the great gulf fixed in final judgment.

(4) Against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth, and draw out the tongue? are ye not children of transgression, a seed of falsehood,

The tongue is fire. The tongue of the rich man was on fire (enflaming himself with torment). The word “idols” in verse 5 = “strength”.

The wicked will speak in their wrath strong words against “Lazarus” in this coming time and all the while think that they are doing God service for such things. They will use “strength” in the “stream” of their words against the righteous as they “slay” them with false accusations.

Yet, the righteous will not return evil for their evil. They will not “cool” the tongue of the wicked by doing so.

(5) Enflaming yourselves with idols under every green tree, slaying the children in the valleys under the clifts of the rocks?

This parable is about the current status of the church as many are not being fed spiritually by the “rich man”….the rich pastors who get all of their earthly needs met by those they are not feeding. They “fare sumptuously”…..they rejoice brilliantly in this situation.

Luke 16:19-31 KJV (19) There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:

Many lay at the “gate”….at the mouth of the rich pastor waiting to be fed the Word of Truth but are not. They are spiritually sick as there is much envy, strife and hatred of one another when we have no understanding in the denominations of men.

(20) And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,

Yet, they pacify the people by saying “peace, peace” when there is really no peace. They heal the “hurt” of His people by doing so. The “dogs” came and licked Lazarus’s sores…. Saying “peace, peace” when there is none.

(21) And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.

But the Lord shall deliver His people from the rich pastors and their loyal followers. He comes to speak His living words of spirit….the “angels” of the Lord.

“Lazarus” means “God has helped” as He delivers them from their rulers….their oppressors and their churches where the Word of Truth is not being heard.

The Lord’s words of life and spirit are the “angels” (messengers) that will carry them away from their churches where they are not currently being spiritually fed. They will hear and believe (Abraham believed).

They will hear His words and “die” (not physical death) in the Lord. They will die to sins…die to evil speaking…and receive His words of life and spirit in faith (Abraham). They will keep the sacrifice of the Lord…the Lamb…which will torment those they leave behind.

The “beggar” (the poor in words) dies continually to sin (evil speaking) toward the hearing of His words of life and spirit and gets carried away with the Lord’s words (His words = the “angels”)…departing from those who are living in error.

The “rich” will continue to use strong words in abundance (rich in evil words spoken in their wrath). Their judgment is finalized because then they show that they do not know God through their evil behavior towards Lazarus…those who will believe in what they hear the Lord saying (the “angels”…the words of His mouth).

Lazarus was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom as he inherits the promises made to Abram who was told to get out of his country and from his kindred and from his father’s house and go unto a land that God would show him (Genesis 12:1). “Lazarus” in this coming time will also get out of his church and depart from the rich pastors who have only been feeding themselves.

One of those promises made to Abraham concerns those who bless us and those who curse us: God will bless them that bless you and curse them that curse you (Genesis 12:3). It is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you. This is the source of the rich man’s torment as he was using his tongue to speak evil of Lazarus who departed from his company.

(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;

The wicked (being tormented by their own tongues that will speak evil) shall not understand.

The rich man was in “hell”….in Hades…in the “unseen” (not knowing)… lifted up his eyes seeking understanding for his torment. The righteous shall understand and have peace while the wicked will not have peace nor understanding. The wicked shall not understand.

(23) And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

“Lazarus” in this coming time will rest in Abraham’s bosom as God shall recompense tribulation to those who will trouble him as promised to Abraham: He will curse those who curse him.

2 Thessalonians 1:4-9 KJV (4) So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure: (5) Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer: (6) Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;

The words (the “angels”) of the Lord are mighty and will cause the wicked to speak all kinds of evil at the hearing of them which will cause them “torment”.

(7) And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, (8) In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: (9) Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

“Lazarus” shall be carried away from the presence of the “rich man”….the rich pastors. He/they will be taken away from the evil that shall come upon those who will be left behind and will show that they know not God and will not obey the good news of our Lord.

2 Thessalonians 2:6-8 KJV (6) And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. (7) For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.

The Lord shall consume the wicked with the spirit (breath) of His mouth as they will be tormented in the presence of His “angels”…of His words. They will not be able to receive His words and will speak evil which will bring them punishment. The believers of His words whom the wicked unbelievers will persecute will keep the sacrifice of the Lord (the Lamb) in their lives in the face of their evil words directed at them. This is the “brightness of His coming”…or presence…that we keep which will destroy those who will curse us.

(8) And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming:

The wicked will not receive mercy…but will receive the full strength of the wrath of God for their sins…their evil speaking. The rich man died and was buried….as the judgment is final until one dies from this earth.

The wicked will be “tormented with fire”….as the tongue is a fire which will speak all kinds of evil which brings the torment. They will be tormented with fire and “brimstone” (meaning “divine”)….the manifest righteous judgment of God upon them. It is a righteous thing that God will recompense tribulation to those who will persecute us for believing the words of the Lord….the “angels of the Lord”.

The wicked will be tormented in the presence of the holy “angels”….His words of life and spirit…as they will not be able to stand what He has to say and will speak all kinds of evil in their resistance towards what they hear. It will consume them.

They will be tormented in the presence of the Lamb as those who will suffer their persecutions (as “Lazarus”) will keep the dying of the Lord (the Lamb) in their lives and will die to sin. They will not return evil for their evil. They shall have “rest” as they “die in the Lord”….keeping the sacrifice of the Lamb which brings their persecutors torment.

Lazarus keeps the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus in his tribulations and persecutions (2 Thessalonians 1:4, Revelation 14:12) suffered at the hands of the unbelievers in the churches of men.

Revelation 14:10-13 KJV (10) The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: (11) And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name. (12) Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.

“Lazarus” died and was carried to Abraham’s bosom. Lazarus will find rest…peace. He “dies in the Lord”…keeping the sacrifice of the Lord (the Lamb) which brings the persecutors in the churches of the unbelievers torment in this coming time.

(13) And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

The rich man cried for mercy….but there is no more sacrifice for willful sins (evil speaking) as the wicked will drink of the wine of the wrath of God which will be poured out without mixture (no mercy) into the cup of His indignation.

"Lazarus" will not return evil for the rich man's evil which would then "cool" his tongue if he did. If we keep the sacrifice of the Lord (the Lamb) in our lives, then we shall not render evil for evil which would then not cool their tongues. Returning evil for their evil words directed at us would "cool" their tongue from the flame.

Luke 16: (24) 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. (25) 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 art tormented.

The judgment upon the wicked is then “fixed”. The open mouth that speaks evil is the “great gulf fixed”. The wicked can no longer then be able to believe as they did reject what they heard. There will be no way to persuade them as the final judgment of God is upon them for their willful sins….evil speaking.

(26) And beside all 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. (27) Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: (28) For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. (29) Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. (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.

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