World Wide Study Bible
a Bible passage
The Rich Man and Lazarus
19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. 22The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. 24He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’ 25But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony. 26Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ 27He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house— 28for I have five brothers—that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’ 29Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’ 30He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”
20, 21. laid—having to be carried and put down.
full of sores—open, running, "not closed, nor bound up, nor mollified with ointment" (Isa 1:6).
21. desiring to be fed with—but was not [Grotius, Bengel, Meyer, Trench, &c.]. The words may mean indeed "was fain to feed on," or "gladly fed on," as in Lu 15:16 [Alford, Webster and Wilkinson, &c.]. But the context rather favors the former.
licked, &c.—a touching act of brute pity, in the absence of human relief. It is a case of heartless indifference, amidst luxuries of every kind, to one of God's poorest and most afflicted ones, presented daily before the eye.
22. died—His burial was too unimportant to mention; while "the rich man died and was buried"—his carcass carried in pomp to its earthly resting-place.
in to Abraham's bosom—as if seen reclining next to Him at the heavenly feast (Mt 8:11).
23. in hell—not the final place of the lost (for which another word is used), but as we say "the unseen world." But as the object here is certainly to depict the whole torment of the one and the perfect bliss of the other, it comes in this case to much the same.
seeth Abraham—not God, to whom therefore he cannot cry [Bengel].
mercy on me—who never showed any (Jas 2:3).
send Lazarus—the pining victim of his merciless neglect.
that he may—take me hence? No; that he dares not to ask.
dip … tongue—that is the least conceivable and the most momentary abatement of his torment; that is all. But even this he is told is (1) unreasonable.
25, 26. Son—stinging acknowledgment of the claimed relationship.
thou … Lazarus, &c.—As it is a great law of God's kingdom, that the nature of our present desires shall rule that of our future bliss, so by that law, he whose "good things," craved and enjoyed, were all bounded by time, could look for none after his connection with time had come to an end (Lu 6:24). But by this law, he whose "evil things," all crowded into the present life, drove him to seek, and find, consolation in a life beyond the grave, is by death released from all evil and ushered into unmixed and uninterrupted good (Lu 6:21). (2) It is impossible.
26. besides all this—independently of this consideration.
a great gulf fixed—By an irrevocable decree there has been placed a vast impassable abyss between the two states, and the occupants of each.
27-31. Then he said—now abandoning all hope for himself.
send him to my father's house, &c.—no waking up of good in the heart of the lost, but bitter reproach against God and the old economy, as not warning him sufficiently [Trench]. The answer of Abraham is, They are sufficiently warned.
30. Nay—giving the lie to Abraham.
but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent—a principle of awful magnitude and importance. The greatest miracle will have no effect on those who are determined not to believe. A real Lazarus soon "rose from the dead," but the sight of him by crowds of people, inclined thereby to Christ, only crowned the unbelief and hastened the murderous plots of the Pharisees against the Lord of glory; nor has His own resurrection, far more overpowering, yet won over that "crooked and perverse nation."