Jehovah`s Witness/hello again
I was waiting to see if you would respond to Derrick before I wrote to you again, but it appears that you haven't yet. So may I ask what does the Luke 16 parable mean?
Thanks for writing again.
Nice to hear from you.
Before I answer let me set you a foundation.As I explained in my last letter logic dictates how we understand scripture. Never has God said anything to anyone that couldn't be worked out in the realms of human understanding, it's just never happened. It doesn't mean you necessarily understand it straight away, but in time it becomes clear. Every SINGLE verse in the bible has a logical interpretation. It just has too otherwise the bible would have to read something like this
9 “For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So my ways are higher than your ways(LOGICAL)
56 This is what Jehovah says:
“Uphold justice, and do what is righteous,
For my salvation will soon come
And my righteousness will be revealed(NOT LOGICAL)
57 The righteous one has perished,
But no one takes it to heart(NOT LOGICAL)
Every verse would have to tell you how to read it . So you knew where to pick and choose how to read it. The idea that you get to pick and choose where to decide a verse is logical and were to decide it is not, is purely a "manmade" teaching. There is NOT ONE verse in the bible that you can just dismiss by saying "it doesn't or can't be explained logically" as Christendom claim.
A second point to remember is this, you can read a verse and get two or three interpretations on that verse all could seem to make sense initially . But when you examine it using logic and it then becomes illogical your assumption on what that verse means is wrong or if your understanding of that verse contradicts another bible verse that is another way you know your assumption is wrong. It's at the point you realize that, that God expects you to humbly change what you originally thought about the verse and teach the new interpretation, Christendom refuse to do that . Jehovah's witnesses do not. Christendom mock us for doing that but we don't care we're proud to obey our Fathers wishes.
Now one final point before I answer is this. Scriptural precedent dictates all what I've said above .I've used both these verses before to make this point and I shall do so again.
17" But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad, you must not eat from it, for in the DAY you eat from it you will certainly die".......3: 4 At this the serpent said to the woman: “YOU positively will not die"
Now this verse could teach that God is a liar and Satan told the truth.After all they didn't literally die that day (I've had people actually say that to me on the ministry).However It's not until you think it through and use other scriptures that you understand the words. Firstly they certainly did die spiritually that day. Secondly when we look at this verse
2 Pet 3:
8 "However, do not let this escape your notice, beloved ones, that one day is with Jehovah as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day"
and this verse then we get an understanding
23" But turning his back, he said to Peter: “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me, because you think, not God’s thoughts, but those of men"
When you think how God thinks and not like men ,the answer becomes clear
This is another one
John 6:54 "Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has everlasting life, and I will resurrect him on the last day"
Just bear in mind what I said and let me ask you the question do you think that this verse could have more than one interpretation when you first read it? and how would we find out what Jesus really meant? You can answer that for yourself I won't tell you.
So with that in mind let's get on to answering your question properly.
Now as I explained in my last letter. Luke 16 does not teach hellfire that idea is totally manmade and goes completely against bible precedent and many other scriptures. Now I'm also gonna show you another way how it goes against bible precedent. I told you the other two accounts left it out well they did that for a reason.
So the first thing we need to remember about the gospels is they're accounts of Jesus life written from four different perspectives. Here's some things we know about Jesus he always spoke in parables and he was always having debates with the pharisees they were always challenging him trying to catch him out and Jesus was always responding and denouncing them.
The second thing we must get clear in our minds is context This is a vitally important part of bible understanding. Context is basically(as far as we need to go here anyway)who's the person speaking (or writing) addressing, who's the audience, who are there(all that sort of thing)what's the build up, and what's the subject. So basically we're trying to get what lesson the account is teaching us. We need to know what's on the speaker or writers mind .We can't just throw random teachings in when the speaker or writer wasn't even thinking about that.
Here's an example. Me and my wife where watching a film called "Monster in law" the other day.I'd never seen it before, but my wife had. Now there was a scene where Jane Fonda was giving someone an autograph. I looked at my wife and said "who's she?" she said "Jane Fonda" I said "No, who is she in this?" she said "Oh she's J Lo's mother in law" I said "No she's just given someone an autograph so who is she?"she said "Oh I see, she's a famous talk show host"
So it's an example that shows that you have to get the idea of what the speaker is thinking and you have to do that by getting more and more information about what is on the persons mind. Before you get the facts.
So by looking at the context surrounding the rich man and Lazarus we can get to know what Jesus is teaching us.
So what's important to remember about Luke 16 is that Jesus starts it with a parable and the pharisees are there.
In fact let's start from chapter 15 we can see all what's going on in the time leading up to the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Now before I do this I just have to say I cannot do justice to any of the accounts of our Lords teachings he was such an absolutely phenomenol teacher. I can just kind of paraphrase and give you the gist of what he's doing.
15 Now all the tax collectors and the sinners kept gathering around him to hear him. 2 And both the Pharisees and the scribes kept muttering: “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.”
Firstly we see tax collectors and sinners are there and the pharisees are doing their usual sneering at Jesus. Then we get Jesus explaining why he sit's with tax collectors and sinners.
Then we come into chapter 16 vs 1-8 and he gives a further illustration subtly related to what he's just said but with another lesson also involved.
Then Jesus very cleverly stops the parables and makes a very direct point still based on what he's been talking about but at the same time one that he knows will spark a reaction out of the pharisees. vs 9-13. The final part say's this
13"You cannot be slaves to God and to Riches"
Now he's in a debate with the pharisees.
This next bit particularly from vs 16 on is vitally important to remember. For the rich man and Lazarus.
vs 14 Now the Pharisees, who were money lovers, were listening to all these things, and they began to sneer at him. 15 So he said to them: “You are those who declare yourselves righteous before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is considered exalted by men is a disgusting thing in God’s sight" 16 “The Law and the Prophets were until John. From then on, the Kingdom of God is being declared as good news, and every sort of person is pressing forward toward it. 17 Indeed, it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to go unfulfilled"
Then after this we have to do a bit more digging because Luke only records what seems like a random statement but when we go to a parallel account we can see that it is isn't random.
Matt 19:3 cuts to the chase really. It say's that the Pharisees intent on testing him asked him about divorce. which culminated in Jesus saying this
Luke 16:18 “Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and whoever marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery"
But that bit we can ignore for now. It's not majorly important to this subject.
So now we have the build up to the rich man and Lazarus.Jesus now cleverly tells a parable of his denunciation of the pharisees.
The Real Meaning Behind The Rich Man and Lazarus:
“There was a rich man who used to dress in purple and linen, enjoying himself day after day with magnificence.
The Rich Man is the Jewish religious leaders decked out in purple a color denote royalty and honor and white linen(linen was naturally white) a colour denoting righteousness or in this case self righteousness because their righteousness is before men.
Matt 15:17" And they dressed him in purple"
Rev 19:8 "fine linen stands for the righteous acts"
Matt 6 "Take care not to practice your righteousness in front of men"
The modern day parallel is Babylon the great
Rev 18:16 "Too bad, too bad, the great city, clothed with fine linen, purple
" But a beggar named Laz′a·rus used to be put at his gate, covered with ulcers and desiring to be filled with the things dropping from the table of the rich man. Yes, even the dogs would come and lick his ulcers"
Lazarus is the common people who the religious leaders are supposed to feed spiritually but they look down on them with contempt. Jesus denunciation of them such as here makes that clear
Matt 23:15 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! because you travel over sea and dry land to make one proselyte, and when he becomes one, you make him a subject for Ge·hen′na twice as much so as yourselves"
The pharisees are not properly nourishing the common people spiritually just giving them what drops of off their table.
22" Now in the course of time, the beggar died and was carried off by the angels to Abraham’s side“Also, the rich man died and was buried"
Death denotes a spiritual change
Eph 2 "Furthermore, God made you alive, though you were dead in your trespasses and sins"
There was about to be a spiritual change Jesus had just literally said it to the pharisees before he told this parallel. This was the verse I just said was vitally important to remember
16 "The Law and the Prophets were until John. From then on, the Kingdom of God is being declared as good news, and every sort of person is pressing forward toward it. 17 Indeed, it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to go unfulfilled"
We can gradually see the parable begins to take shape through context.
23 And in the Grave he(the rich man) lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and he saw Abraham(God) from afar and Laz′a·rus by his side. 24 So he called and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Laz′a·rus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this blazing fire"
This newly dead spiritual state brings torment to the Jewish religious leaders this is where they weep and gnash their teeth they ask for the JUDGEMENT MESSAGE from God to be cooled down to cool their tongue from the weeping and teeth gnashing. This next verse is virtually the same point Jesus makes here, but worded differently.
Matt 8:11" But I tell you that many from east and west will come and recline at the table with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the Kingdom of the heavens; 12 whereas the sons of the Kingdom will be thrown into the darkness outside. There is where their weeping and the gnashing of their teeth will be"
25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you had your fill of good things in your lifetime, but Laz′a·rus for his part received bad things. Now, however, he is being comforted here, but you are in anguish"
So God(Abraham)says CHILD(Natural Jew).You have reaped what you have sown!
Gal 6:7 "Do not be misled: God is not one to be mocked. For whatever a person is sowing, this he will also reap"
26 And besides all these things, a great chasm has been fixed between us and you, so that those who want to go over from here to you cannot, neither may people cross over from there to us"
So God say's my judgement are unchangeable they are so far apart from what you view as righteous judgements, just like a huge chasm.
Psalms 36:6 Your righteousness is like majestic mountains;
Your judgments are like vast, deep waters"
(There are some more lessons from the chapter all related which if anyone wants to ask me we can go over them.)
So you see looking through the context we can see the rich man and Lazarus is all about the change in spiritual condition after Jesus death from the Jewish religious leaders and the common man and how the Jewish religious leaders want relief from the anguish of the judgement's that would be called upon them.
Now why I said it was important to remember that the other accounts don't mention this parable is because they don't mention this part either.
Luke 16:16“The Law and the Prophets were until John. From then on, the Kingdom of God is being declared as good news, and every sort of person is pressing forward toward it. 17 Indeed, it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter of the Law to go unfulfilled"
They don't mention this or the Rich Man and Lazarus parable because they are related to the message Jesus was giving here. Those other gospels do not mention any of this conversation with the pharisees at all. They both just jump straight in on the divorce lesson.
Incidentally it isn't a surprise that Luke mentions it as he was a doctor ulcers and all that sort of medical stuff would interest him.
So we use scripture(verses and precedent) logic and reasoning ability to understand the meaning of the rich man and Lazarus.
It's a very cleverly executed teaching by our Lord and it has nothing to do with the Catholic church's manmade doctrine of hell fire.
Also remember no matter what anybody claims God has never said anything to any human that couldn't be explained within the realms of human understanding and EVERY SINGLE bible verse can be interpreted logically . That alone should tell anybody the Bible was written that way.
Follow up if you need