ESV - 23 And in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.
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Abraham was neither resurrected in an eternal, glorified body (as only Jesus was), nor taken from earth without dying (as Enoch and Elijah were).The parable of Lazarus and the rich man depicts the soul of Abraham as being in a glorified state in Paradise (denoted by the phrase "Abraham's bosom", as well as being the same place where Jesus told the repentant thief that they would be that day (Luke 23:39-43)), which was a temporary abode of the souls of those whom God accounted as righteous because of their faith in Him during their earthly lives (Genesis 15:6), pending the resurrection of Christ (which indicated that Christ had fully paid by His atoning death the penalty owed to God by all of humanity because of its collective sin, and which made it possible for the redeemed to be in God's direct presence).
In the New Testament, John tells his followers: “He who comes after me has surpassed me because He was before me” (John 1:15). This informs us that Jesus was before John, or, before John was, I AM. In like manner: “…Before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58). We are further informed that Jesus was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world (Revelation 13:8). Therefore, the first begotten status of Jesus was established from eternity. Jesus declared of His life: “No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:18). It should be highlighted here that while the people of God were given the 10 commandments, and then the new commandment of love in John 13:34, only Jesus is given a commandment that directly gives Him authority over death. Abraham did not receive such a commandment. This commandment over death was not limited to the body of Jesus, as we learn that Jesus resurrects Lazarus from the dead in John 11. This Lazarus preview alerts us to the fact that all those who believed and previously knew death would also be resurrected. Whereby Jesus said: “I am the resurrection and the life; he that believes in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). Moreover, I AM He that liveth [today], and was dead [yesterday]; and, behold, I AM alive for evermore [forever], and have the keys of hell and death, as in Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today, and forever (Revelation 1:18, Hebrews 13:8). Thus, I AM is not bound by the linear constraints of life and death as Abraham knew. Ephesians 4:8 tells us: "When He ascended on high, He led a host of captives…” We are then asked in verse 9 what “He ascended” could mean except that He also descended to the lower, earthly regions. While Lazarus was the preview, Jesus’ descent, with the keys of hell and death, was the motion picture. The lower, earthly regions contained the abode of Abraham, and all the righteous saints who knew death, but by His resurrection glory, Jesus set the captives free into life eternal. Therefore, we can be assured that whom the Son sets free is free indeed (John 8:36).
Jesus came down from heaven and went back to heaven. Abraham went to paradise when he died. Jesus went to paradise when He died. Paradise is under the earth. Hell on one side, and paradise on the other. Jesus told the thief on the cross, today you will be with me in paradise. Not heaven. When Jesus was in paradise he took all of the old testament saints out of paradise to heaven. But only their soul/spirit. After Christ we go straight to heaven when we die. But just our soul/spirit which never dies. The rich man asked Abraham to send Lazarus with a drop of water to cool his tongue. So there was a gulf between paradise and hell that the rich man could call across to Abraham in paradise. At the rapture of the church the dead in Christ who are now in heaven will receive there glorified bodies. First Thessalonians is all about the rapture of the church. The dead in Christ shall rise first and those that remain alive will be transformed and go to meet the Lord in the clouds. Ephesians 1:13-14 is our guarantee of eternal life. When we trust in Jesus alone apart from works He imputes His Spirit into us as a seal for eternal life. Hebrews 13:5 He will never leave us or forsake us. John 10:28-29 No one can pluck us from HIs hand. Romans 4:5.Faith alone in Jesus alone for the free gift of eternal life. We could never do anything that would save us. We can only be saved by what He did for us.
The story of the rich man and Lazarus (Lk 16) is a parable. According to Dictionary.com, a parable is "A short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson. Also, "A statement or comment that conveys a meaning indirectly by the use of comparison, analogy, or the like." So what lesson or moral truth is Jesus attempting to teach? I say "attempting" because I don't know if He got the message over. This question is about Abraham being resurrected; the story of the rich man and Lazarus is the reason for the confusion. What is a resurrection? It is the act of rising from the dead. That wasn't what Jesus was trying to emphasize by telling this story, I don't believe. What was he trying to teach? What brought this on, this story about two men who had died, one going to a peaceful place and the other going to a place of terrible torment? Is Jesus telling us what the afterlife is like? I don't think so. If not, then what is He trying get across? In the previous chapter (Lk 15) He told three parables about people losing something of great value, searching for it, or in the case of the son whom the father had lost, longing for the son to return on his own accord. The beginning of chapter 15 gives a clear explanation for why Jesus told the three stories. The Pharisees and scribes were "grumbling, saying, 'this man receives sinners and eats with them"'' (Lk 15:2). That was what brought on the three parables about losing something of value, getting it back, and celebrating because of the happy ending. That's it right there: "the happy ending." If the sinners Jesus was receiving and eating with would repent there would be a happy ending, a reason to celebrate. The next chapter begins by Jesus telling a story about how an unjust steward (crooked business manager), whom the owner of the business has discovered to be not growing the business, but rather is wasting his money. So the owner of the business tells the manager to get the books ready to be looked over, and he's going to be out of a job. The crooked manager starts wheeling and dealing so that when he is let go, he'll have some friends to turn to. And the business owner praised his shrewd behavior (Lk 16:1-8). Jesus' moral to the story is "Make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails, they will receive you into eternal dwellings" (vs 9). There it is again: So that you can have a happy ending. Then he tells the story of the rich man and Lazarus coming to very different "eternal dwellings," but He doesn't give a reason that tracts with the truth of the gospel. He simply says that Lazarus had a hard life and the rich man had a life of relative ease. Neither of these is a reason to live eternally in a certain place. What's the point of the parable? I believe the point of the parable is to warn us about how the love of money can cause us to not love God, the One from whom all blessings come. The people of that day thought the same way many today think: that God favors the rich, wealthy, well connected, etc. Why do people think like that? Because of scriptures like Jas 1:17. "Every good and perfect gift is from above..." Wealth is not a perfect gift so it couldn't have been that to which James was referring. A man has a hundred sheep, loses one and is distraught until he gets it back. A woman has ten coins, loses one and is upset until she recovers it. A man has two sons, one leaves him and the man isn't happy until the wayward son returns. All three of these stories ended well because there was always a chance that the problem could be resolved. The story of the rich man and Lazarus makes it clear that there was nothing that could be done to reverse the decisions that led to this ending. You can see the sage in that in every area of life. (1) Choose God over wealth. (2) Choose people over wealth. (3) choose life over death.
The Bible teaches that Jesus is the “firstborn from the dead” (Col 1:18) because He is. Bible mentions several persons being resurrected, however, none of them seem to have received their glorified bodies, only Jesus did. Regarding Abraham and Luke 16:19-31, in my opinion, the text is not talking about the afterlife. There is no indication anywhere in the Bible that Abraham was resurrected or that his spirit ascended to heaven after death. The Bible simply says that he died and was buried (Gen 25:7-9). Also, there is no Bible text saying that upon death the souls of the righteous are taken to Abraham's bosom and the wicked to hell. If we believe that humans have immortal souls and upon death are taken to heaven or hell, we run into problems that cannot be explained using the Bible. Although Jesus in Luke 24:39 said that “a spirit does not have flesh and bones” both the Rich Man and Lazarus are taken to their respective places of reward and punishment with physical bodies: with eyes, fingers, and tongue. The rich man while tormented begs for water to cool his tongue, lifts his eyes, and engages in conversation with people in heaven. Are we to believe that the righteous will spend eternity within an earshot of the wicked tormented in hell? I hope not!
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