Vol. 19, No. 46 – November 29, 2020
d. The rich man and Lazarus, vs. 19-32, 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.
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If you would like more information on this subject, you may watch/listen to lesson:
#20-126 & 20-127
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A PERSONAL NOTE FOR YOU
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I am here to tell you that Jesus loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His life for you. God the Father also loves you. He loves you so much that He gave His only Son for you by sending Him to the Cross. At the Cross Jesus died in your place. Taking upon Himself all of your sins and all of my sins. He was judged for our sins and paid the price for our sins. Therefore, our sins will never be held against us.
Right where you are, you now have the opportunity to make the greatest decision in your life. To accept the free gift of salvation and eternal life by truly believing that Jesus Christ died for your sins and was raised on the third day as the proof of the promise of eternal life.
So right now, you can pause and reflect on what Christ has done for you and say to the Father:
“Yes Father, I believe that Your Son, Jesus Christ,
died on the cross for the forgiveness of my sins.”
If you have done that, I welcome you to the eternal Family of God!