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Luke 16:19-31 - The Man wealthy and the poor man God Has Helped

Jesus said, [19] "There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. [20] And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, [21] who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man's table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores. [22] The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. [23] In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side. [24] He 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.' [25] But 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. [26] Besides 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.' [27] He said, `Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father's house—[28] for I have five brothers-- that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.' [29] Abraham replied, `They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.' [30] He said, `No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.' [31] He 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.'"


This reading selection is led by Jesus being asked by Pharisees ridiculing Jesus about his parable of the unrighteous steward. This led Jesus to speak of the law and the prophets, which comes up as the conclusion of this story. In verse seventeen (not read aloud from above), Jesus said, “it is easier for heaven and earth to fall away, than to have one stroke of a letter of the law be dropped.” After that, Jesus said, “Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and whoever marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery,” which was a law ignored by many Jews. This is comparable to what Jesus said in Matthew 5:31-32.

I wrote about this parable in a book I published (Explaining the Parables: From the Gospel of Luke). In that work, I realized the translation above paints a poor picture of what Jesus intended to be seen. I invite readers to buy that book and see the depth that I revealed, as I will not rewrite the entirety of that interpretation here.

First, it is important to see that the Greek written by Luke begins verse nineteen with a capitalized “Anthrōpos,” where the capitalization elevates “A Man” to a level of Yahweh, where this “Man” is related to Yahweh. When this is followed by Luke writing, “de tis ēn,” which translates to say in English, “now certain he was,” this means “A Man” was a Jew, so he was taught the Torah, Psalms, and Prophets. It is then this knowledge of Yahweh and the Law that made this “Man wealthy” (from “plousios”). This becomes a statement that the “wealth” possessed by the “Man” was relative to his knowing about Yahweh and the Word sent by Yahweh to His people.

When Luke then wrote a comma mark of separation, followed by the Greek word “kai,” denoting importance that must be found next, relative to the “wealthy Man,” was the “Man” was “clothed in robes colored purple kai fine linens.” This is what says the “Man” took his “wealth” of religious knowledge and then sold it to Jews, as if he were royalty because he had memorized the Hebraic scrolls. From the profit as a ‘lawyer,’ the “Man” ruled over the Jews as if he were connected to some line of David or another king of Israel or Judah. Luke then added in the last segment of verse nine that the “Man” lived every day in the lap of luxury, always cheerful for being rich and respected as powerful, with no one making his life miserable.

Now, from seeing that this “Man” is not just some ordinary Joe rich guy (like a Roman or other nationality that makes a living as a vendor of wares people love to spend their money on), it is important to see verse ten setting up a description of the opposite of the “Man” who profited from Yahweh’s Word. Here, Luke wrote of “a poor man now certain,“ where there is no capitalization that relates this Jew’s “poverty” to the level of Yahweh. This says the “man poor” was a Jew, whose lack was not from worldly possessions, but from being unable to find the spiritual wealth he sought. Whereas Luke did not bother to name the “Man now wealthy,” he wrote this “poor man now certain” was “name Lazarus.” Here, the repetition of “now” (from “de”) is a statement that both the “wealth” of the “Man” and the “poverty” of the “man” were relative to a temporary slice of time, which was then the present. The present does not forecast the future; so, one who is “wealthy” may not always be so, neither can a “poor man” always be projected to be “poor.” Thus, the name “Lazarus” means “God Has Helped” or “God Is My Helper.” That is an indication that the spiritual poverty of the “poor man” that was a Jew would be supplied with spiritual food, whereas there was nothing naming the “Man wealthy” as having such help to count on in his future.

Now, when the English translation says “at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,” this implies that Lazarus was either lazy and unwilling to stand, or he was crippled and could not stand on his own. This is not what was written. The Greek text literally translates into English saying, “[Lazarus] was cast (or thrown) advantageous for this porch (or gateway, vestibule) of him [the “Man wealthy”]. This does not say that Lazarus lay at the gate of some mansion owned and lived in by the “Man wealthy,” but it says the “Man wealthy” wore his fancy robes and clothing in the Temple of Jerusalem, where the “poor man” was an outcast, one who had to remain outside the steps where the Pharisees orated. He had to wait with the great ‘unwashed’ Jews, on Solomon’s Portico. The reason for this casting out of the Temple was the “poor man” “was full of ulcers, sores, or wounds,” which to Jews was an indication the “poor man” was a sinner.

With verses nineteen and twenty developing two different Jews, one welcomed into the Temple and one outcast, verse twenty-one then ties the two together in a relationship. This verse is led by Luke writing a “kai,” indicating importance needs to be understood from what is written next. Here, Luke wrote (literally translated into English): “desiring to be fed from of these of their fallings away from of this of dining table”, this says the “poor man” Jew was not simply interested in what the Temple ‘lawyers’ said Scripture meant, he was “desiring” or “lusting after” spiritual food from Scripture. His expectation was to be “fed from” the lessons and sermons “of these” who were all “wealthy” from knowing the Law to afford “purple robes kai fine linens” to wear, as ornate and haughty rulers. Instead, the ‘crumbs’ that were “their fallings away” were not dropping that fell on the floor, but indications “of these” who sold knowledge of Scripture had “fallen under” the condemnations of Yahweh. The “dining table” where the truth of Scripture would be shared by saints and true men in sacred standing with Yahweh was empty, with no spiritual food upon it.

Following a semi-colon, which says a new statement is made, relative to the prior statement where those of the Temple were worthless, empty of spiritual knowledge about Scripture, Luke then wrote: “on the other hand kai these dogs , coming , they were licking these wounds of him (the poor man)”. This has nothing to do with physical canine animals; and, it has nothing to do with physical lesions of the flesh, such as sores would be. The use of “dogs” must be seen as all of the outcast Jews who were just like this “poor man,” who were also “coming” to the Temple for spiritual nourishment. The “wounds” were the heartfelt sorrows that the “poor man” felt from not getting the answers he sought from the truth of Scripture. To the “Man wealthy,” all the outcast Jews were “dogs,” which means they were sinners. He, nor any of the Temple rulers like him, saw in value in “dogs,” as they had no money that could be taken and kept for their own “rich” tastes in material things. This lead all the “dogs” that were Jews and even though outcast were still “coming” to hear the Word of Yahweh spoken, so they could be forgiven for their sins. They commiserated with the “poor man,” which led him to be divinely inspired to begin preaching the Word of Yahweh, which made the “poor man” who “God Has Helped” become a saint like Jesus.

In verse twenty-two, we have statements that both the “poor man” and the “Man wealthy” die. This parallels the statements on verses nineteen and twenty, about the two different lives these Jews led. With the “poor man” death, we find he “was carried away by angels” and then taken “into the bosom of Abraham.” Here, it is vital that one has a grasp of the meaning of the name “Abraham” – “Their Shield.” The Jews believe they are the children of God because of the covenant Yahweh made with Abraham, about all of his descendants being more numerous than the stars in the heavens. The truth of that lineage is it is spiritual, not a promise made to a bloodline. Only those souls who marry Yahweh and become His Son reborn – as had Abram – are those descendant that shine the light of truth in the vast darkness of those souls lost in their flesh. Thus, to be taken “into the bosom of Abraham” says the “poor man’s” soul was indeed one reborn as Jesus, thus a shining star of Abraham’s spiritual line. It is also a big clue for this conclusion that the soul of the “poor man” was “carried away by angels” – Yahweh’s elohim.

When we read of the “Man wealthy” dying, Luke wrote, “within to this Hades,” where “within (from “en”) means the soul of the “Man wealthy, and “Hades” means “Underworld,” which is where valuable ores are mined. While the source of the “Man wealthy’s” riches were precious metals (coins), to have his soul go to the “Underworld,” which was the “Land of the dead,” the connection between that mined from underground and their material value is they both remain in the realm of the earth, which is where mortals come to die. It was in this place of death that the “Man wealthy” was placed when buried – death to be mined for more death.

When the once “wealthy” man sees Lazarus with Abraham, he calls out to Abraham as if his is part of his lineage, when he is not. Lazarus never responds to the calls from the man’s soul in Hades. This says the soul gone to Hades is actually amid a sea of other lost souls awaiting their Judgment, but none of them can see the others. In the same way, Lazarus can neither see not hear the calls from the soul of the “Man” who was once materially “wealthy,” falsely profiting from the name of Yahweh (and Abraham). The refusal of Abraham to do anything to assist the wants of the soul suffering in Hell says the soul was no longer a “Man certain,” as his soul was no longer a Jew, no longer associated in any way to Yahweh, His Law, or His Word. The responses of Abraham say to the lost soul, “Yahweh does not know you.” The element of the Law and the prophets can save the soul’s five brothers (who his soul was no longer related with, because of his physical death) says the “Man wealthy” had everything he needed to warn his physical brothers, when he was a ‘lawyer,’ but he chose to do like everyone in his physical family, which was cheat the poor and steal the wealth of Yahweh as their own worldly gain. To have in the material world means to have not in the spiritual world.

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