Christian Churches of God
Lazarus and the Rich Man
(Edition 1.0 19971120-19971120)
The parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man has been used by traditional Christianity for a number of incorrect purposes. It has been used to support the doctrines of the Soul and also to support the doctrines of Heaven and Hell as abodes of the dead. What does the parable mean? To whom was it addressed?
Lazarus and the Rich Man
To understand the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man and also the reasons behind why Christ gave this parable and to whom it was addressed, we should look first at the story of Lazarus. Here we find a number of messages and lessons that are central to the doctrines of the Church and also to the message of Christ to the Jews.
This story does not and cannot support the doctrines of the immortal soul and the existence of heaven and hell as abodes of the dead as we will see.
The story of Lazarus
We find this well known story in John chapters 11 and 12.
This miracle was the fundamental miracle that caused the Jews to seek Christ’s death. We see in this story a deliberate activity and plan of Messiah.
John 11:1-4 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) 3 Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. 4 When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. (KJV)
Here we see that Messiah took action according to a deliberate plan for the glory of God and the identification of himself as the son of God. Indeed, it was this miracle which identified him as Messiah and from which the high priest Caiaphas based his prophecy.
Mary, in this text, makes direct appeal to Messiah for their brother based on his love for him. The text makes it plain that Messiah held the entire family in great affection. Yet we see that when he heard Lazarus was sick he dallied for two days before he moved to Bethany in Judaea. He was in danger there because they had sought to stone him already and the disciples knew this as we see from verse 8.
John 11:5-8 Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. 6 When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. 7 Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. 8 His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? (KJV)
Jesus was not afraid and that was not the reason he went. He spoke of the light of the world. He also spoke here of the length of the day. He made reference to the day and the night and to the spiritual conditions of light and darkness.
John 11:9-11 Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. 10 But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. 11 These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. (KJV)
He spoke of sleep here but he meant death. He was showing that Lazarus was a type of the Church. To the Church death was simply sleep, waiting for the resurrection. By this act he was to point to the resurrection of the Church at the coming of the Messiah. The disciples did not understand this message as yet. Nor did they suspect what he would do. They considered that if Lazarus was able to get a decent sleep he was blessed.
John 11:12-13 Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 13 Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. (KJV)
He was not, however, asleep. He was dead and Christ then made it plain to them.
John 11:14-16 Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. 16 Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him. (KJV)
Messiah makes it plain here that he was glad that he was not there, as it would have limited the demonstration of his power in the resurrection of the dead.
It is not clear from the comment of Thomas whether Thomas was being sarcastic or not. The absence of any indicator of irony in the Greek would more likely mean that Thomas the twin saw at once the potential of the resurrection and the intent of Messiah to perform a significant miracle.
They left after allowing enough time for Lazarus to have lain for four days in the grave. He was thus legally dead – being in excess of the three-day period. Bethany was also some three kilometres from Jerusalem on the other side of the Mount of Olives and, thus, here was a major opportunity to witness to the Jews of Jerusalem and the Temple.
John 11:17-19 Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. 18 Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: 19 And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. (KJV)
They were with Mary and Martha. Yet it was Martha only that came to Christ with the expression of faith in his power over the resurrection. The addition of the word still in the KJV and RSV is not in the Greek and makes an implication against Mary that may not be warranted. It is more likely that she had to deal with her other guests and mourners.
John 11:20-28 Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. 21 Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 22 But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. 23 Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. 24 Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? 27 She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. 28 And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. (KJV)
Here we see the real intent behind Mary remaining. Martha secretly called her and informed her. The matter is then clear. They did not wish to give any indication that Christ was there as it may have resulted in another incident of stoning which is what seems to be perhaps intimated by Thomas. Mary reacted immediately. The faith of both of these women in the power of the Messiah as the Son of God over death in the resurrection is the central issue. Mary was obviously also very distressed and the reaction of the guests confirms this point.
John 11:29-32 As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto him. 30 Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. 31 The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. 32 Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. (KJV)
We have here the reproach of grief and belief in the power of Christ but not yet over the power of death. Messiah groaned in the spirit at this problem because of the effect it had on Mary.
John 11:33-36 When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, 34 And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. 35 Jesus wept. 36 Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! (KJV)
The word embrimaomi here was not to groan but to snort as a horse does and, hence, express strong emotion, indignation, fear or anger. This strong emotion was to the point of tears.
The expression which follows is probably the result of the thoughts and emotions that Christ picked up and which caused his emotion. The voicing of the sentiment again caused him concern.
John 11:37-38 And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? 38 Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. (KJV)
This whole process pointed towards the death by persecution and martyrdom of the elect over the entire period until the advent. Lazarus was a type of the Church. His followers, like the entire world, were subject to death through the failure of Adam.
They would come to live through him and the later advent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost.
Through Messiah, the second Adam, they would experience the resurrection. However, as his followers, the world would seek to put them to death as they would put him to death. This process was to continue more or less unchecked until he came again to save those who eagerly awaited him. This first time he came to deal with sin. He saw forward through the Jubilees until his return and that was what was causing Messiah the distress. He could raise Lazarus but the death of the elect was a matter for God as was his own death.
We now proceed to the description of the miracle itself. Martha was given instruction and even though she had expressed the belief in his power and asked him to perform the miracle, when it was about to happen she did not understand what he was about to do. This in its own way reflects the spiritual condition of the Church in the last days prior to the return of Messiah and the first resurrection of the elect.
John 11:39-40 Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. 40 Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
Here Messiah rebuked her for not remembering the promise he had made to her. This also is the problem of the Church in the last days. Martha is the type of the Church at work troubled by the cares of the world losing sight of the promise of God and the soon coming advent of the king in glory and exerting power.
John 11:41-42 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. (KJV)
We see here the discussion recorded not for God’s education but for ours. The message is to demonstrate the power of Messiah as the son of God and also to record the function of prayer and our relationship with God who always hears.
John 11:43-44 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. (KJV)
This must have been a very moving sight. The temptation, of course, was that those who had no axe to grind took it on face value and those in the pocket of the priesthood found fault with it.
John 11:45-46 Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. 46 But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. (KJV)
This then led to the actions at the Passover. They saw that they had to act. If men believed Christ then the priesthood had no further place because his message challenged their position. That is still the problem with Judah today, even down to the laity, because salvation has come of the Gentiles.
John 11:47-48 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. 48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. (KJV)
Here we see the dismay of the high priest at the appalling ignorance of his own people. He did not understand the Scriptures which demanded that Messiah had to die as the priest Messiah first, before he could come as the king Messiah. He spoke to them in the Holy Spirit moved by God.
John 11:49-52 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, 50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. 51 And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation; 52 And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. (KJV)
Here we see that it was not simply for the nation of Judah but for the children of God that were scattered abroad. Thus, it was implicitly understood that the tribes were scattered and that salvation was also extended beyond Judah and the Levitical priesthood. Because of that, they did what they have always done to the prophets and what they later tried to do to the Church. They sought to kill him.
John 11:53-54 Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. 54 Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples. (KJV)
It is not accidental that Messiah then went from here to the city of Ephraim.
He symbolised that the power of the Spirit was going to be taken and given to a nation showing the fruits of the Kingdom of God and the Holy Spirit.
John 11:55-56 And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves. 56 Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast? (KJV)
This purification process took place in accordance with the law. The sanctification of the simple and the erroneous took place on the seventh day of the first month. The setting aside of Messiah as the lamb took place on the tenth day.
John 11:57 Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him. (KJV)
We take up the story six days before Passover at Bethany. This was at Lazarus’ house with his sisters. Thus we see that Mary was the one who anointed him with ointment following on from the miracle of the resurrection of her brother. She also understood he was to die because of that miracle.
John 12:1-6 Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. 2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. 3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. 4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, 5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. (KJV)
Judas was caught in his own desires. He was carnal, and he wanted a Messiah that would rule and would give him power then. He was no different from the multitude of tele-evangelists and ministry that proliferate the English-speaking world and, particularly, in the United States of America. He sold Messiah because he knew they were all going to be persecuted. The Church of God has been plagued with these fair-weather money-changers for centuries.
John 12:7-11 Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. 8 For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always. 9 Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; 11 Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus. (KJV)
Lazarus was the evidence of the miracle and he too had to die. Lazarus was the type of the Church and was persecuted for its relationship to Messiah and the witness it gave.
The next day was the fifth day before the Passover or the tenth of the month and he was set aside as the lamb from this day. He was hailed as king by those who had seen the miracles he had wrought. They expected him to perform as a king Messiah – not as a sacrifice.
John 12:12-19 On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. 14 And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, 15 Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt. 16 These things understood not his disciples at the first: but when Jesus was glorified, then remembered they that these things were written of him, and that they had done these things unto him. 17 The people therefore that was with him when he called Lazarus out of his grave, and raised him from the dead, bare record. 18 For this cause the people also met him, for that they heard that he had done this miracle. 19 The Pharisees therefore said among themselves, Perceive ye how ye prevail nothing? behold, the world is gone after him. (KJV)
The Pharisees, who later became the rabbinical system, saw the danger to their position. The understanding of the advent of the priest Messiah was already held by the Essene (see Geza Vermes, The Dead Sea Scrolls in English re Damascus Rule VII and the fragment from cave IV). The zealots appear to have been associated with them from what we now know of the findings in the Genizah at Masada.
The reports had spread to the diaspora and people were demanding that they see him. This was the indication to Messiah that the time had come.
John 12:20-26 And there were certain Greeks among them that came up to worship at the feast: 21 The same came therefore to Philip, which was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and desired him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus. 22 Philip cometh and telleth Andrew: and again Andrew and Philip tell Jesus. 23 And Jesus answered them, saying, The hour is come, that the Son of man should be glorified. 24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit. 25 He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal. 26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour. (KJV)
The same message is given here to the Church. By the witness and death, much fruit was borne. So, too, we bring forth fruit from our sacrifices as Christians. No one can save us from the duties that are laid upon us as the Church. Lazarus had to die for his involvement with Christ. But the significance was that he and everyone else knew that Messiah had the power to raise him from the dead when the time arrived at the direction of the one true God.
John 12:27-29 Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour. 28 Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again. 29 The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. (KJV)
The voice from heaven was not God the Father as no man has ever heard His voice. The text tells us that an Angel spoke so that the witness could be given to men of the involvement and control of the Father in this event.
John 12:30-33 Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes. 31 Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out. 32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. 33 This he said, signifying what death he should die. (KJV)
Here we see the prophecy regarding the prince of this world being cast out. He then was cast down and pursued the woman with anger.
Christ knew how he was to die and showed thereby the control God had exercised in this matter.
John 12:34-36 The people answered him, We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up? who is this Son of man? 35 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. 36 While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them. (KJV)
The people were beginning to question what Christ was saying. They did not want a son of man that was going to be crucified. They wanted a son of God that would be victorious. They wanted to be free of the Roman yoke and also from the Edomite royalty.
John 12:37-41 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: 38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? 39 Therefore they could not believe, because that Esaias said again, 40 He hath blinded their eyes, and hardened their heart; that they should not see with their eyes, nor understand with their heart, and be converted, and I should heal them. 41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him. (KJV)
This example was to show that the elect were a select few and it had been prophesied that they would be a select few. Judah was to lose its position for almost two thousand years. Only individuals would succeed in becoming part of the system of Messiah as the elect. Many would suffer as Lazarus. Many of the rulers or the aristocrats who were also of the Sadducees believed in Messiah.
John 12:42-43 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: 43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God. (KJV)
The fundamental problem with the Church has been that many who enter it love the praise of men more than the praise of God. This has resulted in more fractured theology than anything else.
The belief is that those who believe in Christ believe not on him but on God that sent him.
John 12:44-45 Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. 45 And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. (KJV)
This view and text is not understood by mainstream Christianity.
Christ does not judge those who hear and do not believe because they are not under judgment yet. Christ did not come to judge the world but to save it and, hence, their time of judgment is not yet. Only the house of God is under judgment now.
John 12:46-48 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. 47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. 48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. (KJV)
Thus their judgment is in the last day and it is against the word of God that they will be judged. Theirs is a judgment of decision and correction or krisis.
John 12:49-50 For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak. (KJV)
The Father commands what Messiah says and what we all say. Give no thought of what you will say – it will be given to you. As Lazarus was resurrected so too was God to resurrect Jesus Christ.
The scene was thus set for the most significant event of human history. The details, namely the crucifixion and the resurrection, are given in the paper Timing of the Crucifixion and the Resurrection (No. 159).
We now proceed to examine the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man in light of the history of this story of Lazarus which is of itself central to the resurrection.
The parable is found in Luke 16. The parable actually follows an earlier parable both of which refer to the Pharisees and the Judaic system. We will examine both to understand fully what Christ was saying.
Luke 16:1-2 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. 2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. (KJV)
Here Messiah was pointing at the priesthood who had stewardship over the oracles of God (see the paper The Oracles of God (No. 184)). They had failed in their stewardship and the stewardship was to be removed from them.
They then devised a plan to pervert the laws of God and make their position more acceptable within the household of the world. They later did this by the destruction of virtually every single aspect of the laws of God. The calendar was altered to ensure that nothing could be kept on the correct days. They turned on the Church which was the promise of the covenant and tried to destroy it.
Luke 16:3-9 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. 4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. 5 So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? 6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. 7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. 8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. 9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. (KJV)
Here Messiah was making a distinction in the faith between those of the elect and those of this world. There is a streak of naivety that runs in the children of light. The unrighteous are the called but not chosen and hence they are destined to fail. They are not under judgment now and, hence, Christ’s comment.
The elect are tested in their stewardship as were the Levites and the Pharisees.
Luke 16:10-12 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. 11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? 12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own? (KJV)
The message here was that the Levites and the Pharisees had been unfaithful in the laws of God. The authority was being removed from Judah and its leadership. For this reason they first derided Messiah and then killed him.
Luke 16:13-18 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. 14 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. 15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. 16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. 17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. 18 Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery. (KJV)
Here we see the distinction in the structure of the law and the prophets and the declaration of the Kingdom of God. Judah and the Levitical priesthood were removed from that Kingdom. Only individuals were being pressed into it.
The Pharisees heard these words of Christ and they derided him and then he gave the parable of Lazarus which was both a parable of the Church and a prophecy of both the resurrection of Lazarus and the relationship of Christ and the Church.
Luke 16:19-21 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. (KJV)
Remember here also the Church was persecuted horribly by the Jews in the Middle East over the early centuries wherever they had control. For these reasons, they were sent into captivity and dispersed. They would not and did not repent.
The parable takes up with a theme centred on Abraham and then uses a pictographic symbolism to explain the variant relationship around the rich man who was the lover of unrighteous mammon referred to in the earlier parable. Lazarus gets a mention by name here as the story develops.
Luke 16:22 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; (KJV)
The concept here is of the first and second resurrection. Lazarus was carried to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man died and was buried. The children of Abraham are explained in the text regarding the elect. They are Abraham’s seed.
Galatians 3:29 And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise. (KJV)
Paul dealt with these concepts in Romans from the end of chapter 8 to chapter 10.
Romans 10:1-9 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. 5 For Moses describeth the righteousness which is of the law, That the man which doeth those things shall live by them. 6 But the righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? (that is, to bring Christ down from above:) 7 Or, Who shall descend into the deep? (that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.) 8 But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; 9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. (KJV)
This process makes the distinction between the sons of Abraham of the elect typified by Lazarus and those who were of the lineage of Abraham but who were not of Israel but of mammon and the second resurrection. The function of the story here is the resurrection of the dead.
Luke 16:23-24 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 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. (KJV)
The tou hade here is the grave. This was the place from which the resurrection took place. The story showed that the Judaic system was confined to the second resurrection mentioned specifically in Revelation 20. This takes place at the end of the Millennium. This is the resurrection of the whole house of Israel referred to in Ezekiel 37:11 and is of the flesh.
Luke 16:25-26 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. 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. (KJV)
The story here is of two other parables. The first is of the sheep and the goats where the nations are given according to their treatment of the elect. The second is of the elect being refined by fire in persecution that we see from Revelation chapters 1 to 6. The gulf referred to is the gap caused by the failure of flesh and blood to inherit the Kingdom of God. Judah, under the Levitical priesthood, can never inherit the Kingdom of God. That is why Paul says they have zeal but not according to knowledge. Here we get to the centre of the parable. Lazarus is asked to be sent to the house of his fathers which is, of course, Judah. The reply from the mouth of Abraham is the key as are the five brothers.
Luke 16:27-28 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. (KJV)
The five brothers of Judah are the sons of Leah. She had seven children (six sons and one daughter) as we know. Judah’s five brothers are Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Issachar and Zebulun. Judah, Issachar and Zebulun are the three tribes of the eastern division and first in order of march. They are followed by Levi as the priesthood and Reuben Simeon and Gad of the southern division and next in order of march (cf. Num. 10). Reuben had lost his birthright and Simeon was scattered for his cruelty. We see that we are talking of the people of Israel that comprised the nation called the Jews. Issachar and Zebulun were associated with them and at that time were north of Israel. The five brothers are simply a reference to the sons of Leah that would clearly identify Judah from his half-brothers who were the rest of the tribes.
Luke 16:29-31 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. (KJV)
Here we see that Abraham is held to say to them that they have Moses and the prophets to teach them. The clear and positive text is that they did not hear Moses and the prophets. They were thus perverting the law by misrepresenting the spirit of the law. This is what Paul also said.
The question is then put in the mouth of Abraham by Messiah regarding the doubtful possibility of them hearing one from the dead if they would not hear the law.
The resurrection of Lazarus was thus given in parable and then performed in fact to demonstrate the power of God and the message of Messiah in the correct application of the law. Christ was derided for the message. They knew he spoke against the Pharisees (who later became the rabbinical system).
He performed the miracle and they hated him for it and counselled to put him and the man he resurrected to death. They then put him to death and later the elect that followed him because he was the son of God.
This story has nothing whatsoever to do with the concepts of heaven and hell or the soul doctrine. It deals with the salvation of Judah and their failure to hear the law and the word of God. It deals with their expulsion and dispersion. It is a direct prophecy by Messiah of the resurrection of Lazarus which was a powerful sign and wonder performed by him to show Judah the danger they were in.
They did not listen just as mainstream Christianity does not listen today.