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Confusion comes from the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.

From: Patrick
To: The Path of Truth
Sent: Sunday, October 23, 2016 2:46 PM
Subject: Rich man & Lazarus parable.

I saw your article and would be interested in defending the placement of this parable in the AV.  I agree with many of your observations; however, I believe one more piece of evidence could put you on the road to seeing the “big picture” of this parable in why it gives these outlandish details….respectfully yours, Patrick

From: Paul Cohen
To: Patrick
Sent: Sunday, October 23, 2016 9:08 PM
Subject: RE: Rich man & Lazarus parable.

We’d be interested in hearing your argument for the parable, Patrick. 

Paul

From: Patrick
To: The Path of Truth
Sent: Tuesday, October 25, 2016 9:37 AM
Subject: Re: Rich man & Lazarus parable.

Hi Paul, Delighted to get your response.  I pray these following insights will help you in your quest to make sense of this parable, and to find greater joy in understanding truths set forth in scripture.

First thing that comes to my mind is “big picture” gleaned from considering the context and setting of the parable.  It is part of a sequence of parables that spring forth from the narrative of chapter 15, verse 1:  “Then all the tax collectors and the sinners drew near to HIm….”this man receives sinners and eats with them”.  Jesus then sets forth a string of parables, all of which evolve around the theme of the worth of a soul, and God’s great love for all men.  Chapter sixteen, beginning with the parable of the “Unjust Steward” continues along this theme, but illustrates this love through the impartation of wisdom and (practical) exhortation directed to two separate groups:  The disciples (Unjust Steward), and The Pharisees (Rich man and Lazarus).  Several years ago, through much contemplation, I came to the understanding that before before I can understand Jesus’ motive in speaking the Rich Man parable, I must come to an understanding of the Unjust Steward Parable. It is the central message of this latter parable that the Pharisees “derided him” over.  

As ridiculous as this sounds, the practical exhortation Jesus delivers in the Unjust Steward parable (IMO) is this:  Use the Master’s wealth to make make friends to yourselves….And do so, by giving them (Master’s clients) what THEY DO NOT DESERVE (verses 5 & 6).  Paul did the same for the Corinthian church (“I robbed other churches to do you service” – II Corinthians 11:8, 9).  The Philippian believers where Paul’s “joy and crown” (Philipians 4:1) and he realized that they were partakers of grace (including everlasting life) with him (1:7).  I Thessalonians 2:19, Paul says of these brethren:  …’what is our hope [Pauls’, Silas’, and Timothys’], or joy, or crown of rejoicing?  Is it not even YOU in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming?  For you are OUR glory and joy.”  This all corollates to the message of verses 9 and 10 of the parable:  “And I say to you, make friends for yourselves by unrighteous mammon, that when you fail [die], they [your friends] may receive you into everlasting habitations”.  I know the argument:  

“Well, you are not saved by works!”.  True, and let’s quallify that statement a bit further:  “We are not saved by [our] works, but WE ARE saved by works: just those which did not originate from us, but through faith (obedience) to Him.  Works DO play a hand in salvation because faith CANNOT have its intended effect apart from works, as book of James makes quite clear. 

The Pharisees derided Jesus over this logic of giving to others what they do not deserve for one reason: their affections were about mammon (v.13) instead of serving God.  It’s interesting to observe how the negative side of the “Unjust manager” parable applied to them.  As managers and “stewards” of God’s law, they were reducing the debt that their brethren owed to God through their unscrupulous handling of His law [they did this through their “Corban” teaching (neglecting the obligation of parental care)].  It appears that Jesus had in mind something to do with marriage in the confrontation of verse 18  [Perhaps the Pharisees were selling marriage annulments (divorce), and making it seem perfectly acceptable – an abomination in God’s sight].  

Now we get to the main body of the parable, and on this, I totally agree with your observations about the Biblical doctrine of death, and the fact that Jesus was not teaching this parable in order to impart doctrine regarding the “afterlife”.   But before delving into this matter, there’s something that has helped me understand this parable in years gone by, and it came by considering the following:  I am not sure whether Jesus spoke this parable before the raising of Lazarus, or afterwards…it appears to have been spoken in Capernaum or somewhere in Galilee (matthew 17:22 – chapter 18), at a time when he started working his way south to Jerusalem for his (final) ascent.  If this is true, then this parable gives a prophetic portrayal of something that actually came to pass; that is, the raising of Lazarus, which happened in close proximity to the “passion week”.  

This event was insufficient to convince the religious leaders to repent ( even as the Rich man’s brethren – v.31) seeing that they had no ear to hear Moses and the prophets (which is sufficient).  Either way, before or after, the central point of the parable is really highlighted by this thread of thought:  Living the immoral, ungoldy lifestyle occasioned by the love of money leads one to embrace false teaching.  False teaching leads one to espouse a false hope; and a false hope (expectation) will most certainly be met with a huge surprise (not a good one, though!).  “Master, didn’t we cast out demons in your name….and etc. etc? ” Depart from me you workers of iniquity!…..I never knew you.”

Without going into too much more detail, perhaps it would be good to visit the idea of substituting the characters of the story with their true identity.  Jesus taught this substitution principle with the sower parable, and the parable of the tares. In this parable, Abraham is Abraham,  Lazarus is Lazarus.  Simple enough.  Who is the rich man, and who are his 5 brethren???…hint:  there’s much detail added for our consideration, especially when one considers the corelation of biblical and historical data relating to the identity of the rich man.  Verse 19 drops a big biblical data hint in the description of the purple and fine linen worn by the rich man.  The five brethren also is another hint; albeit, an historical one.  

The extra biblical descriptions of hell and what’s going on there can be seen in the Book of Enoch…although devoid of biblical authority (being part of the pseudopedigraphia (spelling???), the value of studying this is that it can give one insights into some of the beliefs that were held and cherished by religious Jews.

From: Patrick
To: The Path of Truth
Sent: Thursday, October 27, 2016 12:48 PM
Subject: Re: Rich man & Lazarus parable.

Correction on the statement:  “by giving them [Master’s clients] what they do not deserve”  This would have been better stated as such:  

After the unjust servant was informed of his impending audit by his Master, this servant goes out and still does business in his Master’s name; He is not fired just yet.  So, this man goes out to track down his Master’s debtors; and using the authority of his Master’s name (as well as HIs resources), he reduces the debt of these creditors;  He is assuming the responsibility of this reduction.  We are also exhorted to do this in Galatians 6:2 where it says:  “bear you one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ’.  Of course, to the Pharisees, poor people (even if their fellow brethren) were worthless; underserving of compassion.

From: Victor Hafichuk 
To: Patrick
Sent: Sunday, October 30, 2016 7:32 AM
Subject: Re[4]: Rich man & Lazarus parable.

Hi Patrick, 

You’re mistaken that I’m on a quest to make sense of the Rich Man and Lazarus parable. I simply invited you to share the thoughts you ventured could change our minds about what we’ve posted. What you shared, however, doesn’t bring anything revelatory or new. Indeed, your explanation is just another example of how confounded and carnal the parable is, eliciting foolish speculation. We stand by the Word of the Lord: He never spoke it.

Victor Hafichuk

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