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The Rich Man and Lazarus

19 “There was a rich man who dressed in purple[a] and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously[b] every day. 20 But at his gate lay[c] a poor man named Lazarus[d] whose body was covered with sores,[e] 21 who longed to eat[f] what fell from the rich man’s table. In addition, the dogs[g] came and licked[h] his sores.

22 “Now[i] the poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side.[j] The[k] rich man also died and was buried.[l] 23 And in Hades,[m] as he was in torment,[n] he looked up[o] and saw Abraham far off with Lazarus at his side.[p] 24 So[q] he called out,[r] ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus[s] to dip the tip of his finger[t] in water and cool my tongue, because I am in anguish[u] in this fire.’[v] 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child,[w] remember that in your lifetime you received your good things and Lazarus likewise bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in anguish.[x] 26 Besides all this,[y] a great chasm[z] has been fixed between us,[aa] so that those who want to cross over from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’ 27 So[ab] the rich man[ac] said, ‘Then I beg you, father—send Lazarus[ad] to my father’s house 28 (for I have five brothers) to warn[ae] them so that they don’t come[af] into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said,[ag] ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they must respond to[ah] them.’ 30 Then[ai] the rich man[aj] said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone from the dead[ak] goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 He[al] replied to him, ‘If they do not respond to[am] Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”[an]

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  1. Luke 16:19 sn Purple describes a fine, expensive dye used on luxurious clothing, and by metonymy, refers to clothing colored with that dye. It pictures someone of great wealth.
  2. Luke 16:19 tn Or “celebrated with ostentation” (L&N 88.255), that is, with showing off. Here was the original conspicuous consumer.
  3. Luke 16:20 tn The passive verb ἐβέβλητο (ebeblēto) does not indicate how Lazarus got there. Cf. BDAG 163 s.v. βάλλω 1.b, “he lay before the door”; Josephus, Ant. 9.10.2 (9.209).
  4. Luke 16:20 sn This is the one time in all the gospels that a figure in a parable is mentioned by name. It will become important later in the account.
  5. Luke 16:20 tn Or “was covered with ulcers.” The words “whose body” are implied in the context (L&N 23.180).
  6. Luke 16:21 tn Grk “to eat his fill,” but this phrase has been simplified as “to eat” for stylistic reasons.
  7. Luke 16:21 tn The term κύνες (kunes) refers to “wild” dogs (either “street” dogs or watchdogs), not house pets (L&N 4.34).
  8. Luke 16:21 sn When the dogs came and licked his sores it meant that he was unclean. See the negative image of Rev 22:15 that draws on this picture.
  9. Luke 16:22 tn Grk “Now it happened that the.” The introductory phrase ἐγένετο (egeneto, “it happened that”), common in Luke (69 times) and Acts (54 times), is redundant in contemporary English and has not been translated.
  10. Luke 16:22 tn Grk “to Abraham’s bosom.” The phrase “carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom” describes being gathered to the fathers and is a way to refer to heaven (Gen 15:15; 47:30; Deut 31:16).
  11. Luke 16:22 tn Grk “And the.” Here καί (kai) has not been translated because of differences between Greek and English style.
  12. Luke 16:22 sn The shorter description suggests a different fate, which is confirmed in the following verses.
  13. Luke 16:23 sn The Greek term Hades stands for the Hebrew concept of Sheol. This is where the dead were gathered (Pss 16:10; 86:13). In the NT Hades sometimes has an additional negative force of awaiting judgment (Rev 20:13).
  14. Luke 16:23 sn Hades is a place of torment, especially as one knows that he is separated from God.
  15. Luke 16:23 tn Grk “he lifted up his eyes” (an idiom).
  16. Luke 16:23 tn Grk “in his bosom,” the same phrase used in 16:22. This idiom refers to heaven and/or participation in the eschatological banquet. An appropriate modern equivalent is “at Abraham’s side.”
  17. Luke 16:24 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “so” to indicate the implied result of previous actions in the narrative.
  18. Luke 16:24 tn Grk “calling out he said”; this is redundant in contemporary English style and has been simplified to “he called out.”
  19. Luke 16:24 sn The rich man had not helped Lazarus before, when he lay outside his gate (v. 20), but he knew him well enough to know his name. This is why the use of the name Lazarus in the parable is significant. (The rich man’s name, on the other hand, is not mentioned, because it is not significant for the point of the story.)
  20. Luke 16:24 sn The dipping of the tip of his finger in water is evocative of thirst. The thirsty are in need of God’s presence (Ps 42:1-2; Isa 5:13). The imagery suggests the rich man is now separated from the presence of God.
  21. Luke 16:24 tn Or “in terrible pain” (L&N 24.92).
  22. Luke 16:24 sn Fire in this context is OT imagery; see Isa 66:24.
  23. Luke 16:25 tn The Greek term here is τέκνον (teknon), which could be understood as a term of endearment.
  24. Luke 16:25 tn Or “in terrible pain” (L&N 24.92). Here is the reversal Jesus mentioned in Luke 6:20-26.
  25. Luke 16:26 tn Grk “And in all these things.” There is no way Lazarus could carry out this request even if divine justice were not involved.
  26. Luke 16:26 sn The great chasm between heaven and hell is impassable forever. The rich man’s former status meant nothing now.
  27. Luke 16:26 tn Grk “between us and you.”
  28. Luke 16:27 tn Here δέ (de) has been translated as “so” to indicate the rich man’s response to Abraham’s words.
  29. Luke 16:27 tn Grk “he”; the referent (the rich man, v. 19) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  30. Luke 16:27 tn Grk “Then I beg you, father, that you send him”; the referent (Lazarus) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  31. Luke 16:28 sn To warn them. The warning would consist of a call to act differently than their dead brother had, or else meet his current terrible fate.
  32. Luke 16:28 tn Grk “lest they also come.”
  33. Luke 16:29 tn Grk “says.” This is one of the few times Luke uses the historical present.
  34. Luke 16:29 tn Or “obey”; Grk “hear.” This recalls the many OT texts calling for a righteous heart to respond to people in need (Deut 14:28-29; Isa 3:14-15; Amos 2:6-8; Mic 2:1-2; Zech 7:9-10).
  35. Luke 16:30 tn Here καί (kai) has been translated as “then” to indicate the implied sequence of events within the narrative.
  36. Luke 16:30 tn Grk “he”; the referent (the rich man, v. 19) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  37. Luke 16:30 sn If someone from the dead goes to them. The irony and joy of the story is that what is denied the rich man’s brothers, a word of warning from beyond the grave, is given to the reader of the Gospel in this exchange.
  38. Luke 16:31 tn Here δέ (de) has not been translated.
  39. Luke 16:31 tn Or “obey”; Grk “hear.” See the note on the phrase “respond to” in v. 29.
  40. Luke 16:31 sn The concluding statement of the parable, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead, provides a hint that even Jesus’ resurrection will not help some to respond. The message of God should be good enough. Scripture is the sign to be heeded.