Gospel of Luke ~ Chapter 16
Outline of the Book:
I. Preface: The Method and Purpose of Writing, Luke 1:1-4.
II. The Identification of the Son of Man with Men, Luke 1:5-4:13.
III. The Ministry of the Son of Man to Men, Luke 4:14-9:50.
IV. The Repudiation of the Son of Man by Men, Luke 9:51-19:27.
I. Instruction in the Light of Rejection, Luke 12:1-19:27.
14. Concerning wealth, Luke 16:1-31.
a. The unrighteous steward, vs. 1-9.
b. Principles on the righteous treatment of wealth,vs. 10-13.
c. Rebuke of the Pharisees’ love of money, vs. 14-18.
d. The rich man and Lazarus, vs. 19-31.
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d. The rich man and Lazarus, vs. 19-31: Good stewards will be rewarded.
Continuing His discourse on being a good steward of finances, our Lord’s rebuke of the Pharisees’ love for money leads Him to telling a story about the potential results of loving money in this life. It indicates that loving money leads to negative judgement in the afterlife. It continues the warning that loving money results in being blinded to knowing Jesus Christ as the Lord and Savior, which results in spending eternity in the Lake of Fire. This story is only recorded in Luke’s Gospel.
Some believe this is another parable, and is not a true depiction of the afterlife. But, because Jesus uses an actual name in this story, Lazarus, it indicates it is a true story. If it were a parable, it would be the only one that Jesus taught which has an actual name in it, which would be out of character. Furthermore, parables are always identified or explained as parables. Therefore, this is a true story and actual depiction of life and the after-life.
This true story is also sometimes entitled, “Dead men tell tales.” This true story describes the first and second compartments of Sheol or Hades during the dispensations of the OT. There are three perspectives given in this passage.
1) The perspective of life, vs. 19-21.
2) The perspective of death, vs. 22.
3) The perspective of Sheol or Hades after death, vs. 23-31.
Luke 16:19, “Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day.”
This is the description of the first main character the “rich man.” Apparently, he is a wealthy unbeliever. As in vs. 1, we once again have a “rich man,” ANTHROPOS PLOUSIOS, also in vs. 21-22.
There is nothing immoral, wrong, or sinful about being rich. That is an evil philosophy, which has extended into socialism and communism. There are certain worldly problem solving devices connected with being rich and having an abundance of possessions, just as there are certain worldly problem solving devices connected with being poor.
When a nation has rich people, it means that nation follows the principles of free enterprise, which are a part of the laws of Divine establishment. Therefore, having wealth in a nation is a good and healthy sign that the nation is doing well and right, rather than poorly. The idea of redistribution of wealth is an evil that enslaves the masses, as illustrated by those under the domination of the Russian experiment since 1917. Nevertheless, the rich should not “lord” their wealth over those less fortunate, and there is no excuse for the poor envying the rich.
Unfortunately, one of the main problem solving devices of being rich is to ignore the fact that there is life after death. Many become self-indulgent, and forget Mark 8:36-37, “For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? 37For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?” So, they give no thought to eternity and life after death. Yet, time is just a drop in the bucket compared to eternity. Hence, the tendency of the wealthy person is to ignore the fact that only through personal faith in Jesus Christ can an individual have eternal life.
In other words, there is no way you can buy your way into heaven. Jesus Christ purchased our salvation on the Cross, as taught by the doctrine of Redemption.
But, like anything else in life, money has its problem solving devices and money has its benefits. Money often creates illusions, e.g., money means happiness or security, or that money can buy anything. That is not true. Money cannot buy eternal life, happiness, love, or virtue. It is not true that you are happy because you have money or miserable because you are poor. Happiness and misery are not based upon one’s economic status. People with very little can be extremely happy; people with very much can be very miserable, and vice versa.
Those who lust for money become a slave to money. But those who acquire wealth through the grace of God have discovered how to make money their slave. But the person who regards money as his #1 priority in life becomes a slave to money. Apply the priority principle. You concentrate on whatever is your #1 priority. Then you organize your life around priority #1. Therefore, you organize your thinking around priority #1. This determines the outcome of your life.
This rich man spent all his concentration, time, and life on self-indulgence. Some of the most important things in life cannot be purchased with money, such as eternal life, or sharing the happiness of God, love, and virtue. Again, those who lust for money become slaves to money, and it is one of the worst categories of slavery in the world. This principle applies to power as well. Those who lust for power are slaves to power, but those who acquire power through the grace of God can enjoy it without abusing it or stepping beyond their capacity for it.
Luke 16:13, “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”
Mark 10:25, “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Rich people and poor people are saved exactly the same way, by faith in Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, because the rich man tends to be preoccupied with himself and his life on this earth to the extent that he has forgotten about eternity, he is not interested in Jesus Christ.
This man is described in two ways, his dress and his lifestyle, as dressing well and living in the lap of luxury. The greatness of his wealth is indicated in the description of his clothing and life style, “habitually dressed in purple and fine linen,” and “joyously living in splendor every day.”
“Habitually dressed,” is the Imperfect Middle Indicative of the Verb ENDIDUSKO, ἐνδιδύσκω that means, “put on clothes or to dress.” It is only used here and in Mark 15:17; Luke 8:27. In Matthew, it is used for the clothing the Roman soldiers put on Jesus during His scourging prior to the crucifixion, to mock His messianic claims. In Luke 8:27, it is used for the demon possessed man who had not worn clothes for a long time. Therefore, we have an indication that ENDIDUSKO relates to sin, which Jesus paid for at the Cross.
This rich man’s clothing was colored “purple,” PORPHURA, πορφύρα. It is used in Mark 15:17, 20, for the robe the soldiers dressed Jesus with, and in Rev 17:4; 18:12, to indicate great riches and wealth of the false church of the Tribulation, “the Woman,” i.e., Mystery Babylon, who rides on the back of the “Beast,” i.e., the Antichrist.
PORPHURA was originally used for the murex, a special shellfish from which purple dye was obtained, cf. 1 Mac 4:23. Later the word came to designate the dye itself. In the NT, it denotes purple cloth. Because of the great expense involved in producing the dye, one gram required 8,000 mollusks, purple garments were always considered a sign of wealth, royalty, 1 Mac 10:62, royalty, and distinction. Cf. John 19:2, 5; Acts 16:14; Rev 17:4: 18:16.
“Fine linen,” is the Noun BUSSOS that was usually made of Egyptian flax. It was delicate, soft, and very costly. It is only used here and Rev 18:12 in the same context, as an evidence of the rich man’s wealth.
Moving from the description of His wealth to the description of his gaiety, our Lord states, “joyously living in splendor every day,” EUPHRAINO, “to rejoice, be merry, be happy, etc.,” LAMPROS, “splendidly, magnificently, lavishly, brilliantly, etc.” It is only used here in the NT. And finally, KATA HEMERA, that means, “according to the day or daily.” Therefore, this rich man’s wealth was evident by what he wore and how he lived.
There is nothing wrong with dressing well and there is nothing wrong with luxury as such. There are problem solving devices with wrong emphasis on status symbols of life, money, power, success, approbation, pleasure, material things, luxury, social life, sex, health; i.e., anything that takes precedence over Bible doctrine. When these worldly PSD’s become prevalent to the exclusion of God’s Word and believing in Jesus as Savior, it is wrong.
The wealthy unbeliever enjoys life so much that he forgets about death and eternity. He forgets Heb 9:27, which says, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment.”
Therefore, this rich man lusted for wealth and became the slave to wealth. As a slave to money and pleasure, he had no time for the gospel until it was too late, i.e., after he died.
Luke 16:20, “And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores.”
Next, we are introduced to a suffering believer, as we have the description of the second main character, the “poor man,” PTOCHOS, “poor, oppressed, destitute, pitiful, or beggarly.” In Luke 4:18; 7:22, Jesus proclaimed to be the fulfillment of the prophecy of Isa 61:1, “to preach the gospel to the poor.” Luke also used PTOCHOS in Luke 6:20; 14:13, 21.
This man’s name was “Lazarus,” LAZAROS, Λάζαρος. Luke only uses this name in this story, vs. 20, 23-25. John used it for the brother of Martha and Mary who died and Jesus resuscitated, John 11, 12.
Not only was he PTOCHOS, but he was mistreated by society, as he “was laid at his gate.” “Was laid at his gate,” uses the Pluperfect, Passive, Indicative of the Verb BALLO, “to throw, cast, lay, etc.” The Pluperfect is a fairly rare tense in the NT. It means completed past action with existing results in the past. Therefore, this action that Lazarus received was completed in the past, and has results that existed in the past. It indicates what happened to him during his life here on earth that is now over, as he died and is in Paradise. The Passive voice of BALLO indicates that Lazarus received the action of being thrown down at this gate. It indicates that he was acted upon by a cruel mob that tossed him away. By this language we see that Lazarus was helpless. He did not place himself there. In addition, once he was put there, apparently he could not move from that spot. So, we see the great cruelty of man toward helpless man. It was violence against the weak and helpless, exactly what the Bible tells us not to do, Zech 7:10; cf. Job 24:9; Jer 5:28; Mat 6:2-3; Luke 14:13, 21; Gal 2:10; James 2:2-6.
Zech 7:10, “And do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.”
“At his Gate,” is an interesting statement, as it indicates he was thrown down at the “Rich man’s” gate, using the Third Person, Singular, Pronoun of AUTOS. Then we have the location of where Lazarus was thrown away to, PULON, that means, “gate, porch, or vestibule.” It describes the entrance way to a house, city, and even the New Jerusalem in Rev 21. Here, Lazarus was thrown down at the entrance to the rich man’s home. We can possibly assume the reason the mob threw Lazarus there was that the “Rich man,” might take pity on him and show some charity, as the wealthy of this world should do with their riches. Yet, given the language in the rest of this story, it appears that no charity was shown by the “Rich man” towards Lazarus. He most likely turned a blind eye towards him, while enjoying his lavish lifestyle. Therefore, not only do we see the cruelty of the mob towards Lazarus, but also the cruelty of the rich man towards him by not helping a man in need. Both had the opportunity to help him. Both were not operating as God’s Word commands. So, we see that Lazarus had been thrown or cast at the rich man’s gate, and he would lie there until he died.
Now, like the rich man, we have two descriptions of his wealth, or lack thereof, as in this case, he was destitute. He too is described in two ways; his dress, in this verse, and his lifestyle in vs. 21.
Here, we understand that he was “covered with sores.” This was his dress or covering, as compared to the rich man’s purple and fine linen clothing. “Covered with sores,” the Perfect, Passive, Participle of the Verb HELKOO, ἑλκόω, “covered with sores, boils, or abscesses.” The Perfect tense is like the Pluperfect where it describes completed past action, but differs in that it emphasizes the present condition. Interestingly, this alludes to the fact that he had sin upon him, as in the ancient world, if someone had an illness such as this, it would be the result of sin in his life. This points to the fact that we are all covered with boils. In other words, we all have sin and need a Savior. From the rest of this story, we understand that Lazarus understood that fact and had accepted the Messiah as His Savior. He recognized that His Savior would cover his sins. This is in contrast to the Rich man who was covered with worldly wealth and was blinded by it to see that he was a sinner and needed a Savior. As a result, he never came to salvation faith.
Being “covered with sores,” sounds similar to Job’s plight when he was placed under evidence testing by God through the hand of Satan, Job 2:7. This may have been leprosy, although Luke, the physician, would most likely have used LEPRA here if that were the case, as in Luke 5:12-13. Nevertheless, it was a terrible skin disease or ailment that was debilitating.
Therefore, there is a definite parallelism between Lazarus and Job. Both were mature believers facing evidence testing, but with different results. Both were covered with sores and ulcers. Hence, both Job and Lazarus had loss of health and were maltreated by people, because they were repulsive to the eyes of the beholder. Yet, what Job lost in time he regained in time; what Lazarus lost in time he regained in eternity as he was being blessed in Abraham’s bosom / Paradise. Job emphasizes living grace in Evidence Testing. Lazarus never recovered his health and eventually died. Therefore, Lazarus emphasizes dying grace related to Evidence Testing.
Luke 16:21, “And longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores.”
The second description of Lazarus’ destitute situation during his life on earth is described in this verse. “Longing to be fed,” is the same phrase used for the Prodigal son’s longing to eat what the swine were given for food in Chapter 15. It first uses the Present, Active, Participle, Nominative of the Verb EPITHUMEO that means, “desire or long for.” Then it uses the Aorist, Passive, Epexegetical Infinitive of the Verb CHORTAZO, that means, “satisfy, satiate hunger, or fill.” The Epexegetical Infinitive doubly emphasizes his longing or desire to have scraps of food. The Passive Voice says that he receives the action of this verb too.
Interestingly, in the parable of the Prodigal son, the son was in this destitute situation because of his poor choices in life. His free will volition chose to live sinfully which led to his Divine discipline of self-induced misery. Yet, on the other hand, Lazarus is not seen to be a sinner, but still found himself in a destitute situation. Therefore, “You cannot judge a book by its cover.” In other words, whether someone is rich or poor is not an indicator of their spiritual life. Therefore, we should never judge people based on their socio-economic status.
Then we have what he was longing for, “the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table,” APO HO PIPTO APO HO TRAPEZA. “Crumbs” was added to some later manuscripts for emphasis, but is not in the original Greek. It simply states he was longing for that “which fell from the table,” which we can assume is some sort of food falling off. Yet, it this was a money changing table, he longed for the pennies that might have fallen from it.
Assuming we are talking about food, this food was “falling from,” PIPTO APO, “the rich man’s,” HO PLOUSIOS, “table,” TRAPEZA, indicating it was the leftovers and scraps that the rich man did not care for. But yet, even this was not given to Lazarus by the rich man, as he had no concern for him at all. TRAPEZA means, “table or bank,” and is used for the money changers tables, cf. Mat 21:12; Mark 11:15; John 2:15. As “money-changing tables,” like the ones Jesus overturned, this may allude to the sinful nature of the rich man’s table.
It also may allude to the faith that Lazarus had, as the Canaanite woman demonstrated her great faith with a similar phrase in Mat 15:27-28.
Mat 15:27, “But she said, “Yes, Lord; but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table”.”
In addition, it alludes to the great blessing he will receive in the eternal state, just as the Apostles of Jesus will receive great blessings in the eternal state in Luke 22:30, “That you may eat and drink at My table in My kingdom, and you will sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”
And, like Luke 16:13, Paul used it to demonstrate that you cannot serve two masters, 1 Cor 10:21, “You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons.”
Therefore, as the Rich man was dressed in purple-colored fine linens, Lazarus was dressed with sores and boils. While the Rich man was joyously leading a lavish lifestyle of eating and drinking the finest foods and beverages, Lazarus was starving, longing for the scraps that fell off of the Rich man’s table, which he did not receive. This last part is also in parallel with the Prodigal son, as in vs. 16b, “no one was giving anything to him.” For the Prodigal son, it was a sign of Divine discipline. For Lazarus, it is a sign of undeserved suffering for blessing under Evidence Testing, due to the hard heartedness on the part of the Rich man and society.
Like the Prodigal son, as if Lazarus’ destitution was not severe enough, we see insult added to injury as, “besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores,” ALLA KAI HO KUON ERCHOMAI EPILEICHO AUTOS HO HELKOS. EPILEICHO, “lick or lick over,” is only used here in the NT.
“Dogs,” KUON, κύων is also used in Mat 7:6; Phil 3:2; 2 Peter 2:22; Rev 22:15. It was not thought of back in the day as “man’s best friend,” as it was used to describe the lowliest of people, that which is impure or unclean, enemies of unrighteousness, and scavengers. Since dogs were scavengers, the ancient Greeks often used KUON as a derogatory epithet. Maybe it was an allegory for the evil people of the society. Nevertheless, these dogs were coming to Lazarus trying to heal him, as dogs lick their wounds in order to heal them. They were his only friends. Therefore, Lazarus was lower than the lowliest, as his body being cared for by the dogs.
In the description of Lazarus’ poverty we see he was going through Suffering for Blessing, a suffering which glorified God to the maximum, like that of Job; a suffering that makes Lazarus one of the great all-time believers, recognized as such by our Lord.
Lazarus had loss of health, and real pain. He was cut off from any form of love, friendship, or compassion. In fact, he experienced only cruelty from people. People ostracized him, rejected him, and ridiculed him. Though he was totally helpless and weak, they pushed him around and threw him around. Finally, they tossed him at the Rich man’s gate. Lazarus’ only compassion came from the dogs. But, Lazarus was a mature believer and realized the importance of his suffering. He would demonstrate to both mankind and angels the importance of eternity compared to time. In contrast, the rich man was demonstrating daily that to him, only time was important; eternity did not matter.
We apply to Lazarus 1 Cor 10:13, “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” Therefore, Lazarus did not complain or fall apart, even though he had normal desires.
Solomon was a believer who had everything in life, and yet he was very miserable. Lazarus was a believer who had nothing, but he was very happy. Lazarus demonstrates the principle of being happy without having anything at all. While Lazarus had nothing, he had the true Problem Solving Devices, like +H, and he used them.
2) The perspective of death, vs. 22.
Luke 16:22, “Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried.”
Here, we see the death of both main characters. The “poor man,” PTOCHOS, “died,” the Verb APOTHNESKO ἀποθνῄσκω, which is also used in Luke 8:42, 52-53, that means, “die, be put to death,” or sometimes “renounce.” Likewise, the “rich man,” PLOUSIOS, “died,” APOTHNESKO. Therefore, both men died, as all men do, with the exception of the Rapture generation, 1 Thes 4:15-17; Enoch, Gen 5:24; Heb 11:5; and Elijah, 2 Kings 2:9-12.
Gen 5:23-24, “So all the days of Enoch were three hundred and sixty-five years. 24Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.”
Yet, there were two very different outcomes for these two men upon their death, as the poor man “was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom,” and the rich man “was buried.” It was a glorious event for the poor man and a rather somber, non-eventful one for the rich man.
“Was carried away,” is the Verb APOPHERO, “carry or lead away,” also used in Mark 15:1, for Jesus being led away by the Pharisees to Pontius Pilate; Acts 19:12, for handkerchiefs being taken from Paul’s presents to the sick for healing; 1 Cor 16:3, for carrying gifts; Rev 17:3; 21:10, for John being carried by the angel to the visions of the end times.
“By the Angels,” is HUPO HO and the Plural of the Noun AGGELOS, ἄγγελος. ANGELOS means, “one who brings a message.” In the OT “angels” are revealed as heavenly beings sent by God to carry messages and perform certain tasks. One of the main Hebrew words translated with ANGELOS in the Septuagint IS MALAKH that means, “messenger.” They were also called “sons of God, spirits, or winds” in the OT. The Sadducees of the Sanhedrin did not believe in angels, or the resurrection, or in spirits, Acts 23:8.
These are the elect angels as part of God’s creation before the creation of mankind. Angels are generally classified as 1) unfallen, holy, elect, Mark 8:38, or 2) fallen, Mat 25:41, were as the “fallen angels” are typically classified as such or as demons.
Here, we see elect angels in their office as ministers to the heirs of salvation, Mat 24:31; Mark 13:27; Heb 1:14.
Heb 1:14, “Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?”
Mat 24:31, “And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.”
Mark 13:27, “And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.”
- Angels are created beings, Psa 148:2, 5; Col 1:16; Rev 4:11. According to Col 1:16, creation included “things” invisible as well as things visible and angels are among the things that are invisible.
Psa 148:5, “Let them praise the name of the LORD, for He commanded and they were created.”
Col 1:16, “For by Him (Jesus Christ) all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.”
- They make up an innumerable company of spirit beings, Rev 5:11, that the Scriptures ive much testimony about.
Rev 5:11, “Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands.”
They are mentioned 117 times in 108 verses in the OT and 182 times in 172 verses in the NT, predominately in the Gospels and Revelation. “Angel” in the Hebrew is MALAK that generally means “messenger.” But in the Greek, it is AGGELOS where we get our English word “angel,” (a double “γ” or “g” in Greek, is pronounced like ng in English.) In any case, ANGELOS also simply means “messenger,” and in rare instances it is used of men, cf. Luke 7:24; James 2:25; Rev 1:20.
- They are spirit beings, Psa 104:4; Heb 1:13-14; 12:22-23; Col 1:16, although at times can take on visible form according to God’s will, cf. Luke 1:11-38; 2:13-15.
Luke 2:13, “And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying…”
- They are immortal, Luke 20:34-36,though not eternal beings because they were created, yet they will have no end.
Luke 20:36, “For they cannot even die anymore, because they are like angels, and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.”
- They are presently higher than man, Psa 8:4-5; 103:20; Heb 2:7; 2 Peter 2:11,yet in heaven we will be higher than angels, 1 Cor 6:3.
Psa 8:5, “Yet You have made him (Jesus Christ) a little lower than God (angels), and You crown Him with glory and majesty!”
1 Cor 6:3, “Do you not know that we will judge angels? How much more matters of this life?”
- They have freewill, Isa 14:12-14; 2 Peter 2:4; Jude 1:6, 9.
Jude 1:9, “But Michael the archangel, when he disputed with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you!””
- They are legion, Psa 68:17; Dan 7:10; Mat 26:53; Heb 12:22; Rev 5:11; they form the hosts of heaven, Luke 2:13. Numerically, angels neither increase nor decrease.
Heb 12:22, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels.”
Rev 5:11, “Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands.”
- Although we have a description of Satan, the Seraphim (six winged angels), and Cherubim (four winged angels), we are not given description of the rank-and-file angel’s bodies. However, we know they are spirit beings, Psa 104:4; Heb 1:13-14; 12:22-23; Col 1:16. They appear as men when so required, Gen 18:2;Mat 28:3; Mark 16:5; Luke 24:4; John 20:12; Heb 13:2. They are said to fly, Isa 6:2; Ezek 1:6; Dan 9:21; Rev 14:6.
Isa 6:2, “Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.”
Luke 24:2-4, “And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, 3but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus. 4While they were perplexed about this, behold, two men suddenly stood near them in dazzling clothing.”
Heb 13:2, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
- Their abode is evidently in heaven; but reference is made to the second heaven, the stellar universe, Mat 24:29. Christ passed through the angelic sphere going to and coming from earth, Eph 1:21; Heb 2:7; 4:14.
Heb 4:14, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.”
- The ministries of the angels are varied and are described in the Bible, but generally they serve and worship God. Psa 34: 7; 91:11; 103:20; 104:4; Dan 4:13, 17, 23; 6:22; Mat 4:11; Luke 16:22; Acts 5:19; 8:26; 10:3; 12:7; 27:23; 1 Cor 11: 10; Col 2:18; Rev 22:8-9.
- The vast empires of angels are occupied with many enterprises and the execution of their governments, and they behold the things of earth, Luke 12:8-9; 15:10; 1 Cor 11:10; Eph 6:12; Col 1:16; 1 Tim 3:16; Rev 14:10.
Col 1:16, “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.”
- Their presence is recorded at creation, Job 38:7, at the giving of the Law, Acts 7:53; Gal 3:19; Heb 2:2; cf. Rev 22:16, at the birth of Christ, Luke 2:13, at the scene of His temptations, Mat 4:11; Luke 22:43, at the resurrection, Mat 28:2, at the ascension, Acts 1:10, and they will be at the Second Coming, Mat 13:37-39; 24:31; 25:31; 2 Thes 1:7.
- There will be war in heaven between the two classes of angels in the end times, Rev 12:7-10.
So, there were at least two angels who escorted the poor man to “Abraham’s bosom,” ABRAAM KOLPOS. This indicates that the believer will be personally escorted by angels at their death to heaven.
This ABRAAM is the OT character as the father of the Hebrews and of all those who believe. KOLPOS, means, “bosom, breast, chest,” here and vs. 23, with John 1:18; John 13:23; and Luke 6:38, “lap,” and sometimes as “bay,” Acts 27:39. In the NT, it is used to express a very close and personal relationship. In John 13:23, it was used during the Passover banquet to relate the close relationship of John to our Lord. It is used figuratively to denote paradise in our passages and heaven in John 1:18.
John 1:18, “No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.”
Therefore, to be in “Abraham’s bosom,” was to be in a place of honor and fellowship; on the couch at Abraham’s right at the banquet table. As such, the poor man is being honored by enjoying close fellowship with Abraham at the Messianic banquet, cf. Luke 13:29. As the poor man Lazarus was shunned and abused by society and the rich man, being left in great hunger, in the eternal state, he was given great honor and is enjoying a great banquet.
Next, we see what happened to the rich man upon his death, “and the rich man also died and was buried.”
“Rich man,” is PLOUSIS once again, and “died” is APOTHNESKO as seen previously for Lazarus’ death.
“Was buried,” is the Aorist, Passive, Indicative of the Verb THAPTO, θάπτω that means, “to bury.” It is used in Mat 8:21-22; Luke 9:59-60, for the principle taught by our Lord, “Let the dead bury the dead;” for the burial of John the Baptist, Mat 14:12; for the fact of the burial of David, Acts 2:29; for the Sin Unto Death disciple of Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:6, 9-10; and for our Lord’s burial regarding the Gospel principles, 1 Cor 15:4.
THAPTO was used in classical Greek for all the activities involved in “burying someone,” including funeral rites, expenses, and even cremation. In this story, our Lord did not use this word for Lazarus’ death, but only for the rich man’s. It indicates the continuation of his earthly wealth and riches, having a funeral and prestigious place of burial, cf. Mat 27:57-60.
Therefore, it emphasizes his earthly riches, which could not save him. As such, the rich man simply died and was buried, without any heavenly honors. To the end of his life, he enjoyed luxury and did not suffer any earthly loss. But death is the great equalizer, even reverser, since after death the one thing that counts is the human heart. Possessions and status symbols are all left behind. As the saying goes, “You can’t take it with you.” What God considers is not written down with numbers and dollar signs.
As such, Lazarus dies and is welcomed into Divine favor; being placed in Abraham’s bosom. He is in the place of blessing. Yet, when the rich man dies and is buried, and as we will see in the next verse, he ends up in Hades, a.k.a., hell, in torment, far away from Lazarus. In that place their roles are reversed. Lazarus is now in a place of prominence; the rich man is now outside of that place looking in, laying at the gate in agony, as it were. Cf. Psa 49:16-20.
Psa 49:16-20, “Do not be afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house is increased; 17For when he dies he will carry nothing away; His glory will not descend after him. 18Though while he lives he congratulates himself— and though men praise you when you do well for yourself— 19He shall go to the generation of his fathers; they will never see the light. 20Man in his pomp, yet without understanding, is like the beasts that perish.”
Luke 16:23, “In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom.”
Here we see the two contrasting environments of Hades prior to the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.
“In Hades,” in the Greek is, EN HO HADES, where HADES, ᾅδης is the Greek Noun that is transliterated in the English to Hades and means, “the underworld or the realm of the dead.” It is used in Mat 11:23; 16:18; Luke 10:15; Acts 2:27, 31; Rev 1:18; 6:8; 20:13-14.
Rev 20:13, “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. 14Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.”
There are three Greek words that can refer to “hell,” including Hades, Gehenna, and Tartaroo, not to mention the “Lake of Fire.” In ancient Greek usage and culture, Hades was the name of the Greek god of the underworld and the name of the underworld itself.
Another seeming synonym is the word Gehenna, but it is analogous only to the compartment in Hades called the Place of Torments, where the rich man resides, and also for the Eternal Lake of Fire. Gehenna is from two Hebrew words GE HINNOM meaning “valley of Hinnom.” It originally referred to a ravine on the south side of Jerusalem where pagan deities were worshiped, 2 Kings 23:10; Jer 7:32; 2 Chron 28:3; 33:6. Later, it became a garbage dump outside of Jerusalem and a place of abomination, where fire burned continuously, 2 Kings 23:10; cf. Mat 18:9; Mark 9:43, 45, 47; James 3:6. Gehenna became synonymous with “a place of burning,” and therefore hell or later the Lake of Fire.
Next is the Greek word TARTAROO, “cast into hell,” that we call Tartarus, 2 Peter 2:4. The word appears in classical Greek to refer to a subterranean region, miserable and dark, regarded by the ancient Greeks as the abode of the wicked dead. It was thought of as a place of punishment. In the sole use of the word in the NT, it refers to the place of punishment for rebellious fallen angels.
2 Peter 2:4, “For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment.”
The NT understanding of Hades is built upon the OT, with the Hebrew word Sheol, (SHE’OL, שְׁאוֹל), and closely parallels the conceptions of later Judaism. Sheol is used 65 times in the OT. With rare exceptions, like Elijah, 2 Kings 2:1-12, all people were believed to go to Sheol when they die, Job 3:11-19; Psa 89:48. It is a place which is “down” in contrast to heaven which is “up,” Mat 11:23; Luke 10:15. It is the place where the soul goes, Acts 2:27, while the body is destroyed, Acts 2:31.
In our passages, Jesus made a close distinction between the two conditions in Hades, at that time. Lazarus was in “the bosom of Abraham,” where he was being comforted, while the rich man was at the “place of agony,” where he was suffering. As we will note below, the compartment of Hades called Abraham’s bosom was taken to heaven upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ, Eph 4:8; cf. Psa 68:18.
On the cross, Jesus promised the repentant thief, “Today you will be with me in Paradise,” Luke 23:43. Later, Paul wrote that he was caught up into paradise (the third heaven), 2 Cor 12:2-4. It is interesting that nowhere in the NT epistles does it say that the believer of the Church Age who dies goes to Hades, but it does say that he goes to be with the Lord, 2 Cor 5:8; Phil 1:23. Today, Christ is in heaven, seated at the right hand of the Father, therefore, Jesus is not in Hades today, neither is Abraham’s Bosom / Paradise, as they are now with Christ in heaven / Paradise, Eph 4:8, as all Church Age believers go directly to upon their death. 2 Cor 5:6-8; Phil 1:23; Rev 6:9; 7:9ff; 15:2ff, all teach that the current abode of believers immediately after death is with Christ and God in heaven.
Phil 1:23, “But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better.”
In our study of Hades, we also see that Jesus holds the keys to both Hades and death, Rev 1:18. As such, it is still an active place today, but for who? Well, that is the place where the rich man went and remains today, as all unbelievers have gone there upon their death, and will continue to go there until the Great White Throne Judgement Seat of Jesus Christ, when he casts Satan, the Fallen Angels and all unbelievers throughout all time into the Lake of Fire, Rev 20:14.
Rev 1:18, dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.”
Rev 20:14, “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.”
Jesus’s soul visited Hades after His death upon the Cross until His resurrection, Acts 2:27, 31, as prophesized in Psa 16:10, where the Hebrew equivalent is Sheol, cf. Eph 4:9.
Eph 4:9, “Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?”
His Spirit went to the 3rd Heaven to be with the Father, Luke 23:46, John 19:30, and His Soul went to Hades, Luke 23:43, Acts 2:27, 31; Eph 4:9, while His body remained in the tomb, Luke 23:50-53. After three days, the Father brought His Spirit back to His body, Eph 1:20; Col 2:12; 1 Thes 1:10; 1 Peter 1:21; Heb 13:20, the Holy Spirit returned His Soul from Hades, Acts 2:24; Rom 1:4; 8:11; 1 Peter 3:18, and Jesus raised His own Body from the tomb, John 10:17-18.
In David’s prophecy of Psa 16:10, he said, “For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.”
Notice that David makes a distinction between Paradise or Abraham’s bosom where the soul is located and the grave where the body is located. David was not speaking about himself, because his body has undergone decay, Acts 2:29, and his soul went to paradise after he died. Acts 2:29, “Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.” David was prophesying about the soul of the humanity of Jesus Christ in Hades after his physical death.
No OT believer could go to the 3rd heaven until Jesus Christ had been judged for their sins upon the Cross. At that point, the OT believers were all transferred in a triumphal procession into the presence of God in heaven. Today, after the Cross, when any believer dies, his soul and spirit is absent from the body and face to face with the Lord in heaven, 2 Cor 5:6-8; Phil 1:23.
2 Cor 5:6-8, “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord—7for we walk by faith, not by sight—8we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord.”
Therefore, we know Psa 16:10, does not refer to David but is a prophecy referring to Jesus Christ because it is quoted by Peter in Acts 2:27, “Because You will not abandon My soul to hades, nor allow Your Holy One to undergo decay.” This verse is then interpreted in Acts 2:31, “He looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that HE WAS NEITHER ABANDONED TO HADES, NOR DID His flesh SUFFER DECAY.” Our Lord only spent three days in Hades.
As Satan had “the power of death,” Heb 2:14; cf. Rev 6:8, Hades was a place where the dead would go, and due to sin being in the world because of Satan, it is that stronghold over death and Hades that was conquered by Christ at the Cross, Col 2:15. As such, Christ can proclaim His victory in the realm of the dead, 1 Peter 3:19.
Col 2:15, “When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities (Satan and the Fallen Angels), He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him.”
1 Peter 3:19, “In which also He went and made proclamation to the spirits now in prison, (incarcerated demons).”
This is why Jesus said to Peter in Mat 16:18, that the gates of Hades will not overpower / prevail against His Church.
Therefore, Hades is an intermediate state between death and resurrection, divided into two parts; one, the abode of the blessed, and the other of the lost. At the time of Christ’s speaking, Hades was the interim place for believers to reside until His resurrection and ascension. And, it was, and is today, the prison where the wicked dead are held until there resurrection to the second death at the Great White Throne Judgment day, when at that time both death and Hades are cast into the Lake of Fire, Rev 20:14.
“Language about hell seeks to describe for humans the most awful punishment human language can describe to warn unbelievers before it is too late. Earthly experience would lead us to believe that the nature of punishment will fit the nature of the sin. Certainly, no one wants to suffer the punishment of hell, and through God’s grace the way for all is open to avoid hell and know the blessings of eternal life through Christ.” (Holman Bible Dictionary).
1) The second chance view: After death there is still a way to escape hell.
Answer: Heb 9:27, “It is appointed unto men once to die and after that the judgment.”
2) Universalism: All are eternally saved.
Answer: It denies the truth of salvation through Christ, which means that a person decides to either trust in Christ or else he/she rejects Christ and goes to hell, John 3:16; 3:36.
3) Annihilationism: Hell means a person dies like an animal; they cease to exist.
Answer: It denies the resurrection of the unsaved, John 5:28. It denies conscious torment, like in the case of the man. John 5:28, “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice, 29and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.”
In conclusion, we see that the unbelieving rich man was residing in the compartment of Hades called the Place of Torments, as he himself was in torment, and the believer Lazarus, the poor man, was now in a place called Paradise or Abraham’s Bosom being comforted, blessed, and honored.
For the rich man, we see his eternal state of “being in torment,” which starts with the Verb HUPARCHO that means, “be, exist, have, or possess,” which is an ironic word choice, as this is all that the rich man possesses for all of eternity, in contrast to the great riches, wealth, and joyous living he possessed in life. The only thing he possesses is “torment,” which is the noun BASANOS, βάσανος that means, “torture, torment, or great pain.” It is only used three times in the NT, its cognates BASANIZO, BASANISMOS, and BASANISTES are used more frequently. BASANOS is only used in this story here and vs. 28, and in Mat 4:24. The latter describes the torment people were in who sought Jesus to heal them. Ironically, because the rich man did not seek Jesus, he did not believe in the Messiah, he is now and forever in torment. This suffering is described further in vs. 24.
These are just a few of the verses that describe what Hades / the Place of Torments and the Lake of Fire are like for the occupants. Other verses that speak to the abode of the unsaved include, Isa 66:24; Mat 3:12; 8:12; 13:41-42; 22:13; 25:30, 41; Mark 9:43, 48; Jude 1:7, 13; 2 Peter 2:17.
Isa 66:24, “Then they will go forth and look on the corpses of the men who have transgressed against Me. For their worm will not die and their fire will not be quenched; and they will be an abhorrence to all mankind.”
Mat 3:12, “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”
Mat 8:12, “But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into the outer darkness; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Mark 9:48, “Where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.”
Jude 1:13, “Wild waves of the sea, casting up their own shame like foam; wandering stars, for whom the black darkness has been reserved forever.”
Therefore, for the unbelieving rich man, as to his soul, he was alive, fully conscious, in exercise of his mental faculties, yet in great torment. And, unlike the compartment called Paradise, which has already been taken to heaven, it is thus apparent that insofar as the unsaved dead are concerned, no change in their abode or state is revealed in Scripture in connection with the ascension of Christ, and it will not change until the Great White throne Judgement of Rev 20:13-14.
Now, when the suffering rich looked across the great chasm into the other compartment in Hades called Paradise, he “saw,” HORAO, “Abraham,” ABRAAM, “from afar,” the Adverb, MAKROTHEN, μακρόθεν that means, “from afar or from a distance.” This indicates the long ways away from the holiness and righteousness of God this unbeliever was, as all unbelievers are, especially in the eternal state.
Not only did he see Abraham, but he saw Lazarus “in his bosom,” EN AUTOS HO KOLPOS. As we have noted in vs. 22, this phrase indicates a close relationship, place of honor, favor, blessing, and comfort. This is what Lazarus was now enjoying for all of eternity, in contrast to the suffering he endured during his earthly life.
As Lazarus suffered in his physical life, he did so to demonstrate the importance of eternity compared to time. Time is just a drop in the bucket compared to eternity, according to James 4:14, “Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor for a little while and then vanishes away.”
Time is the only opportunity to gain eternal life, 2 Cor 6:2, “For He says, “At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you.” Behold, now is “the acceptable time,” behold, now is “the day of salvation”.”
It only takes one second in time to believe in Jesus Christ, yet the rich man did not even take that one second to do so, yet Lazarus did. Time is the special opportunity for the believer to glorify God, and to demonstrate to the angels the greatness of God’s justice, wisdom, and grace policy. Phil 4:11, “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”
Time is the mechanism for resolving the Angelic Conflict. Lazarus was one of the greatest testimonies to angelic creatures as to what is important in life. As such, for the believer, time is the opportunity to glorify God, and to demonstrate to angels the greatness of God’s justice and wisdom.
Luke 16:24, “And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame’.”
Ancient Jewish literature, cf. 2 Esdras 7:85, 93, does express the belief that communication is possible between the two divisions of Hades, just as we see here that the rich man called to Abraham.
The rich man, “cries out,” PHONEO, to Abraham calling him “Father Abraham,” PATER ABRAAM. This indicates that the rich man was a Jew, not a Gentile. This is a huge statement, as the rich Jewish Pharisees thought they had a direct ticket to heaven, just by being of the tribe of Abraham. But Jesus is pointing out that heritage does not save anyone. Only faith in the Messiah / Savior / King saves anyone.
By calling Abraham Father, the rich man was guilty of the very presumption which John the Baptist had earlier condemned: “Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father” Luke 3:8. The Jews of Jesus’ day were convinced that they merited eternal life simply because they were descended from Abraham. John 8:31-59. On the contrary, said Jesus, their real father was not Abraham because they did not do the works of Abraham; rather, their father was the devil, the father of lies, because they did his works instead, John 8:39-44.
The same is true of the rich man in this story. He had no right to call Abraham “Father,” because he had not done the works of Abraham, (i.e., believe / have faith). Therefore, it was useless for him to claim that relationship. Jesus made this clear when He said that at His Second Coming even some who spoke in His name would be condemned because they worked iniquity, Mat 7:21-23.
This rich man then asks Abraham for “mercy,” ELEEO, ἐλεέω that means, “have mercy or pity on (someone), or show mercy.” It is in the Aorist, Active, Imperative, for a strong request from the rich man to Abraham.
This is the first time Luke uses ELEEO. He will use it again in Luke 17:13; 18:38-39. In those three usages, it is followed by people who wanted healing, but also had faith for salvation. Interestingly, those cases where during their life on earth, where they had the opportunity to receive salvation. But in the rich man’s case, he is now in the afterlife, where it is too late to receive salvation, just as it is too late to lessen the severity of his punishment.
- Time is the only time that one can believe for eternal salvation.
- Time is the only time that one can believe so that their suffering in the afterlife is removed.
- Once you reach the afterlife, your eternal fate and situation is sealed for all of eternity.
The other point we see here is the continued arrogance of the unbelieving rich man and lack of remorse he has regarding his earthly life, as he demands mercy for himself, even though he showed no mercy towards Lazarus during his suffering on earth. In addition, he had the gall to ask Abraham “to send,” the Aorist, Active, Imperative of the Verb PEMPO, Lazarus to perform the merciful act. The fact that he knew Lazarus’ name indicated that he had been familiar with him and his plight in the previous life, although he did nothing to ease Lazarus’ suffering at that time. What arrogance, as he still saw himself as superior to Lazarus even in his current situation.
This is the problem with the self-righteous arrogant person, believer or unbeliever. They always want everyone to feel sorry for them and do things for them to make them feel better, yet they never lift a finger to help those who may be hurting around them. The believer in Jesus Christ must take their eyes off of themselves and look to how they can help others, without whining and complaining about it. If you whine or complain you have blown it!
The act of mercy the rich man demanded was for Lazarus to “dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue.”
Interestingly, “dip,” is the Greek Verb BAPTO, “to dip or immerse,” where the word baptism comes from. Because he did not get baptized for salvation in time, he will not get a baptism for relief in the eternal state. In this life repentance is possible, in the next it is not.
“The tip of his finger,” is the Adjective AKROS, ἄκρος, “end, extremity, tip or outermost,” that is only used four times in the NT, Mat 24:31; Mark 13:27; Luke 16:24; Heb 11:21. The other three have to do with seeing the fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation, which the rich man is missing out on.
This is used with the Noun DAKTULOS, δάκτυλος, “finger,” that is first used in the NT in Mat 23:4, regarding the arrogance of the Pharisees and Lawyers for not preaching the truth of the Gospel, while having the people serve them, cf. Luke 11:46.
Mat 23:4, “They tie up heavy burdens and lay them on men’s shoulders, but they themselves are unwilling to move them with so much as a finger.”
The other usages have to do with Jesus’ healing, providing salvation, and forgiving sin, Mark 7:33; Luke 11:20; John 8:6; 20:25, 27.
Therefore, we see this request/demand from the rich as a continuation of his self-righteousness, unmerciful, self-centered arrogance to relieve his pain and suffering. And, because he did not lift a finger to help Lazarus in time, he will not receive help in the eternal state.
This also shows us the severity of suffering in the Place of Torments, as even a minute drop of “water,” HUDOR, would have provided tremendous relief. Likewise, as stated above, because he did not receive the water of life in time, John 4:14; Rev 7:17; 21:6; 22:1, 17, he will not receive a drop of relief in the eternal state.
John 4:14, “But whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
The rich man wanted Lazarus to give him a drop of water to “cool off his tongue,” that uses the Verb KATAPSUCHO, “cool or refresh,” only used here in the NT. The root word PSUCHE means life or soul. So, we have a subtle meaning here of “soul refreshment,” which the rich man desired but is prohibited from receiving.
With that is the Noun GLOSSA, “tongue or language.” The first use in the NT is in Mark 7:33, that also is used with “finger,” DAKTULOS, and has to do with Jesus healing and providing salvation. Because the rich man did not even use his words for refreshment, (i.e., speak the gospel of Jesus Christ), in time, he is unable to even be refreshed on his tongue in the eternal state.
Next, he describes the suffering he is under in that place of torments. In vs. 23, the rich man said he was “in torment,” which was the noun BASANOS, βάσανος that means, “torture, torment, or great pain.” Here he states, “for I am in agony in this flame’.”
“Agony,” is the Verb ODUNAOMAI, ὀδυνάομαι that means, “cause pain; feel pain, or be tormented.” The latter is why this compartment of Hades is called the “place of torments.” It is used here and vs. 25, and in Luke 2:48, for the anguish Mary and Joseph had when they left Jesus behind in Jerusalem and could not find Him for 3 days. It is also used in Acts 20:38, for the Ephesians heartfelt sorrow when Paul had to depart them realizing they would not see him again. From those usages we see the torment being one of an absence of lost relationship, that is, with God in this case.
In its active sense it means, “to cause intense pain,” and in its passive sense it means, “to be anguished or tormented.” Here, it is in the Middle or Passive Deponent, which means the action of his life has led to him receiving this agonizing suffering. As such, the rich man was physically, mentally, and spiritually, “tormented,” as all unbelievers are who are in Hades.
“In this flame,” is EN HOUTOS HO PHLOX, where the Noun PHLOX means, “flame or flaming fire.” It is first used here in the NT, and also in Acts 7:30; 2 Thes 1:8; Heb 1:7; Rev 1:14; 2:18; 19:12.
In 2 Thes 1:5-9, it describes the judgment for the unbeliever, as in our passage, “This is a plain indication of God’s righteous judgment so that you will be considered worthy of the kingdom of God, for which indeed you are suffering. 6For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, 7and to give relief to you who are afflicted and to us as well when the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, 8dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. 9These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power.”
Therefore, we see that “flame or fire” describes the environment of the Place of Torments, as it does for the Eternal Lake of Fire. It is hot and incredibly dry, feeling like you are burning without being burnt up, and thirsty where your thirst cannot be quenched. All of this suffering is the result of rejecting Jesus Christ as your Savior / Messiah / King during your life here on earth.
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