Death and Hell


Eons and Ages


Word of God



   The Apocalypse





Statement of Faith






  Right Division    Jesus Christ       The Walk         The Key



   New Audio Room


   New Forum


   New Blogger



   Test Your 



   View Guestbook

   Sign Guestbook


new_tiny.gif (143 bytes)

The Pleroma



   Plainer Words


   Tom Ballinger


Library of Articles

new_tiny.gif (143 bytes)

Theme of The Bible  The Kingdom of God


The Times of Refreshing


S. Van Mierlo


Summary of the Divine Plan 


The Message of the Kingdom


Three Spheres



new_tiny.gif (143 bytes)

The Works of Flavius Josephus



Quick Search

Bible Studies

 Alphabetical Analysis



  Also -





   "Practical Truth in Ephesians"


A Study in Pentecost


Heavenly Places

by Charles H. Welch PDF

The One Great Subject of

 The Word



By Charles H. Welch



 by E.W. Bullinger



 by Tom Ballinger


Present Truth


The Foundations of Dispensational Truth


Introduction To Acts 28


 Dispensational Expositions


ACTS 28. The Dispensational Boundary


None Other Things




Tested Truth


Things That Differ 


Before and After Acts 28:28


The Hope of Paul's

Acts Epistles


Who is YOUR Apostle


The Ministry of Paul 




The Structure

of Ephesians


A Study in Pentecost


The Elect Remnant 


Time and Eternity

Death, Soul and Hell

Do YOU have an Immortal Soul?

The Resurrection

of the body


Visible Hell

The Gift, Hope and the Prize

The Fullness

Three Spheres of Blessing

The Bride and The Body

Structures or Parallel Lines


Children vs. Sons

Earthly Things




Dispensational Outline Of The Books Of The N.T.


Gementria in Christ's Geneaolgy



















By Otis Sellers


Is Luke 16:19-31 A Parable


    Suppositional stories can be parables, but I do not believe that the story of the rich man and Lazarus is a parable. However, I would at this point repudiate the many foolish arguments that are advanced by some who also insist that this is not a parable. There is a marginal note in the Scofield Reference Bible (page 1098)

that declares this is not a parable because, "In no parable is an individual named." Yet as a chapter heading for Ezekiel 23 the Scofield Bible gives, "The parable of Aholah and Aholibah." If there is any single passage in the Word that is manifestly a parable it is Ezekiel 23:1-4, and yet two names are given in it. "Thus were their names; Samaria is Aholah, and Jerusalem Aholibah." I think it would be well for all to read this portion, then cease forever the puerile argument that Luke 16:19-31 cannot be a parable because a man is named in it.

I have carefully considered the position, set forth by many teach­ers, that this story is a parable. Some have corresponded with me concerning this, and I have ever been sympathetic to their argu­ments. It is evident that they are seeking some honest method of understanding this story. They cannot accept this narrative as literal history, since this conception throws it into conflict with the entire Old Testament revelation concerning death, sheol, and the state of men between death and resurrection. However, many of them err in their attitude that if this is not literal history, then it must be a parable. They assume that there are only two literary forms in the Word of God.

Those who declare that this is a parable are forced to interpret it as a parable. Every attempt that has been made to do this has been wholly unsatisfactory. In many cases doctrines and manu­factured to fit the things set forth. The Greek word parabole means to cast alongside, that is, a placing beside for the purpose of com­parison. The story in a parable must be in all main points parallel to that which it is illustrating. Not everything in a parable needs to be a representation, and some things are inserted for the purpose of carrying along the story and linking together the points that do represent. This can be seen in the parable of the tares among the wheat where the men who slept, and the servants who inquired about the tares are passed over in the interpretation given by our Lord.

In seeking to interpret the story of the rich man and Lazarus as a parable, a great number of meanings have been set forth for the figures and actions in it. A composite of these interpretations would seem to be that the rich man represents faithless and selfish Israel; the fine clothing and sumptuous living is made to represent God's great provision for that people, and Lazarus is made to stand for the publicans and sinners who were thrust outside of Israel's blessing by those in control. The deaths of these two men is regarded as being Israel's national death which affected alike all classes of the nation. The flames and torments are regarded as representations of Israel's present sufferings.

Other interpretations follow different lines or differ in details. I have tried to consider all of these in my study of this portion, but find them to be inadequate, incomplete, forced, and quite often contrary to divine revelation. It is my conviction that to treat Luke 16:19-31 as a parable will only increase our difficulties, leave all our questions unanswered, and all our problems unsolved. It forces upon us the task of trying to show what each main character, event, action, and place represents. This is utterly impossible, especially when we come to the conversation between Abraham and the rich man, and the "five brethren" who were still on earth and not being tormented.

Again let it be said that if we reject the idea that this story is literal history, and also reject the idea that it is a parable, we have not yet exhausted all methods of interpreting it. There are many other rhetorical devices used in the Word of God.


Is Luke 16:19-31 A Satire


The word satire is a broad term and its meaning is hard to en­compass in a brief definition. As used in this study satire means a literary form or rhetorical device, a type of writing or speaking, wherein a suppositional story is told the object of which is to hold up vices, follies, ideas, abuses or shortcomings to censure by means or ridicule. It is a literary form which is by most feebly understood, and it has fallen into disrepute due to those who have grossly abused the use of it. Nevertheless there are excellent examples of satire in its most exalted form in the Bible, and our knowledge of this rhetorical form can be greatly advanced by examining several of these. [ My own interest in the satirical method in literature was greatly quickened in 1946 when my daughter Jane was approaching her final year in college and was casting about for a theme upon which to write her graduation thesis. I suggested that she write on "The Satirical Method of Lewis Carroll", an idea which she adopted. Later her faculty advisor suggested that she enlarge the subject to "The Satirical Method in Literature." It was at this time that I began a study of satire in literature for my own purposes, especially in the Bible]


The Satirical Fable in Judges 9:8-15


    In order to appreciate any satire one must be completely familiar with the thing that is being satirized. This is a simple matter in the case of Jotham's satire, for the actual event that caused it to be spoken as well as the background for the event is given in detail in Scripture.

The man Gideon had placed the people of Israel forever in debt to him because of his deliverance of them from the bitter bondage of the Midianites. His grateful countrymen offered to make him king but he declined. Nevertheless, he served Israel as captain and judge throughout his life. At the time of his death he had forty sons for he had many wives, also one son, Abimelech, by a concubine. After his death his good works were quickly forgotten and his house and family were sorely neglected.

Soon after his death Abimelech went to his mother's brethren in Shechem and intimated that the forty sons of Gideon were going to take over the government of Israel. And, as is so often the case, he had a prearranged solution for the false alarm he had raised. He asked if it were better to be reigned over by forty or by one, and at the same time he suggested himself as the one who should be sale ruler in Israel.

His words that accompanied this suggestion - "remember also that I am your bone and your flesh" - were nothing more than a promise that they would all enrich themselves at public expense when he became king.

So the men of Shechem supplied him with money with which he hired some worthless and reckless followers, and in true dic­tatorial fashion he went to his father's house at Ophrah and killed thirty-nine of his brethren upon one stone. Only one, Jotham by name, was able to hide himself and escape. Following this the men of Shechem made Abimelech king, and a report of this was brought to Jotham.

Upon hearing it Jotham went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim and cried aloud, "Hearken unto me, ye men of Shechem, that God may hearken unto you." This man had something to say. His purpose was to hold up their sin to exposure, ridicule, and condemnation. The method he chose to do this resulted in one of the oldest and one of the finest satirical fables to be found in all literature. Consider his words:


     The trees went forth on a time to anoint a king over them; and they said unto the olive tree, Reign thou over us.

But the olive tree said unto them, Should I leave my fatness, where­with by me they honor God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?

And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us.

   But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees?

   Then said the trees unto the vine. Come thou, and reign over us.

   And the vine said unto them, Should I leave my wine, which cheereth God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?

    Then said all the trees unto the bramble, Come thou, and reign over us.

And the bramble said unto the trees, If in a truth ye anoint me king over you, then come and put your trust in my shadow: and if not, let fire come out of the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon. Judges 9:8-15.


It can be seen that if this satirical fable is treated as a parable, then we would need to find parallels for each symbol in it, the olive tree, the fig tree, the grape vine, and the bramble. Of course we will have no problem concerning the bramble as it points powerfully and directly to Abimelech, but the rest of this fable fits nothing in history as far as is known. However, if we consider this to be a suppositional story! told in a satirical manner then we are not required to find parallels for the leading actors and events in the story.

In fact this story in no way fits the course of Abimelech. The men of Shechem had not gone out looking for a strong and good man to be king over them, then upon being refused by three such men, offer the kingship to an incompetent as a final resort. It was Abimelech that sought the position; the position did not seek him. It was not a case of the bramble being asked by the trees, but just the reverse. Therefore, we cannot treat this as a parable, as Scofield suggests in his marginal notes; it must be recognized as a satiric fable. Some will even be able to detect a humorous strain in it when the bramble bush is made to say to the trees, "then come and put your trust in my shadow." Imagine, if you can, a cedar of Lebanon finding refuge from the hot sun in the shade of a bramble.


Nathan's Satirical Narration We read of this is 2 Samuel 12:1-4:


And the Lord sent Nathan unto David. And he came unto him, and said unto him, There were two men in one city; the one rich, and the other poor. The rich man had exceeding many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing, save one little ewe lamb, which he had brought up and nourished up: and it grew together with him, and with his children; it did eat of his own meat, and drank of his own

cup, and lay in his bosom, and was unto him as a daughter. And. there came a traveler unto the rich man, and he spared to take of his own flock and of his own herd, to dress for the wayfaring man that was come unto him; but took the poor man's lamb, and dressed it for the man that was come to him.


This story is mild satire, told to expose and rebuke King David. It is not harsh like Jotham's fable as its purpose is to correct and bring about improvement. Scofield states that this also is a parable, but such a conception creates impossible difficulties. In this story the outstanding event is the killing of the poor man's lamb. With­out this there would be no story, but there is nothing in the great sin of David that is parallel to this. It is a simple matter to say as some do that the rich man represents David, the poor man re­presents Uriah, the "exceeding many flocks" of the rich man re­presents David's numerous wives, and that the one little ewe lamb represents Bathsheba, the only wife of Uriah. However, at this point in the story all representations go awry since it was Uriah (the poor man) who was killed, and Bathsheba (the little ewe lamb) became the wife of David. 1£ this were a parable then the story would probably have been that the rich man murdered the poor man, stole his lamb and added it to his numerous flocks.

A very important principle is seen in this. The flow of a parable must always be in harmony with that to which it is parallel, but in satire there is no such need. A satire is more free since it is not illustrating. Since it points to things but does not represent, it is at liberty to take off in any direction. It does not need to run par­allel with that which it is exposing. Once we recognize that in the story of the rich man and Lazarus our Lord was speaking satirically, all difficulties will disappear. However, before we give this de­tailed consideration, several other principles related to our Lord's words must be established.


Elijah on Mount Carmel, 1 Kings 18:17-41

An important principle in divine revelation can be found in the record of Elijah and the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. Elijah seems to have been amused at the great physical efforts put forth by the prophets of Baal in order to stir up their god and cause him to act. He taunted them with these words of mockery and sarcasm:

And it came to pass at noon that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud: for he is a god; either he is talking, or he is pursuing, or he is in a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth and must be awakened. 1 Kings 18:27.

Would anyone care to say that Elijah was serious in this advice, that he actually believed that Baal may have been in conference, on a hunting trip, or taking a journey? Could his statements be used to show that he believed that a god called Baal actually existed, and that he would answer if he were aroused from his preoccupation? Of course not!

These are words spoken in mockery, and they demonstrate that one of the greatest of all God's prophets made effective use of this sharp weapon to cut down the pretensions of those who wor­shipped Baal and who rejected the true God. And since it is true that Elijah used the verbal weapons of sarcasm and mockery to demolish these false prophets, then it presents no problem when we find that our Lord used weapons like these against those who loved money, who served mammon, and who made the Word of God void by their traditions. Correct handling of the Word of God means that we must recognize the true character of Elijah's state­ments. How unjust to him it would be to label his words, "Elijah's conception of BaaL"

Careful study of the rhetorical devices used in the Word of God will show that when men deal in sarcasm, irony, or satire they may say things which are not at all expressions of what they believe.


The Ironical Statements of Christ


In the words of Christ we find certain statements that are sar­castic, ironical, and satirical and should not be regarded as ex­pressions of what He believed or taught. [ Irony is a kind of humor or light sarcasm in which the intended implication is the opposite of the literal sense of the words used. The distinguishing feature of irony is that the meaning intended is contrary to that seemingly expressed.]



For example, the Pharisees came to the Lord in Perea, Herod's country east of Jordan, and said: "Get thee out and depart from thence for Herod will kill you." (Luke 13: 31). They represented this information as coming straight from Herod, and their purpose was to frighten Him from Galilee into Judea where He would be more in the power of the Sanhedrin which they controlled. In reply He told them to go tell that fox that He had three days of bene­ficent works yet to do and would remain in Perea until His pur­pose had come to a full end. Then He added:

For it cannot be that a prophet should perish anywhere except in Jerusalem. Luke 13 :33.

This statement is ironical. Its humorous sarcasm should not be missed. Actually a prophet could perish anywhere if people turned against him. But so many prophets had been slain in Jerusalem, that our Lord infers that this city has a virtual monopoly on kill­ing prophets. Thus our Lord states that He feels safe as long as He is in Herod's country, since prophets have a place where they perish, namely Jerusalem. How it must have stung the self-right­eous Pharisees who controlled everything in Jerusalem for our Lord to say He felt secure in Herod's country since the only place a prophet could perish was in a city controlled by them [ Other examples of ironical statements from the lips of our Lord will be found in Matt. 23:32 and Mark 7:9. Of Matthew 23:32, A. T. Robertson says: "The keenest irony in this command has been softened in some MSS. to the future indicative (plerosete). Fill up the measure of your fathers; crown their misdeeds by kil1ing the prophet God has sent to you, Do at last what has long been in your hearts. The hour is come! (Bruce)." Concerning Mark 7:9, Robertson again says: "One can almost see the scribes withering under this terrible arraignment. It was biting sarcasm that cut to the bone, The evident irony should prevent literal interpretation as com­mendation of Pharaisaic pervasion of God's Word,"]


    False conceptions of Christ, based mostly upon the stylized char­acter depicted in stained-glass windows and religious pictures, have caused many to feel that He was a listless man who never showed real physical or mental energy. But He who lashed the money changers with a scourge or cords, lashed the Pharisees again and again with a scourge of words.

There were times when our Lord took the very words of men, even though false, and turned them back upon them. If men are to be held responsible for their words, then He who will hold them responsible has the right to use these words against them.[ He took false positions and principles as well as words and turned them back against them, He did this by putting their principles and positions into words, It is easy to find a hundred men holding false positions and acting on false principles which not one of them would dare to put into words.]

This is seen in one of His parables.



Parable of the Pounds - Luke 19 :11-27


As the Lord traveled toward Jerusalem, His disciples knew that His presence in that city would create a major crisis. Hopefully they supposed among themselves that the kingdom of God would immediately be manifested, solving all their problems. In view of this He spoke a parable about a certain nobleman who went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Upon his departure he called his ten slaves and delivered to them equal sums of money with the instruction that they should engage in some business enterprise until he returned.

There can be no doubt but that this nobleman represents the Lord Jesus. Passing over some of the details in this parable, let us consider the case of the slave who kept his pound wrapped in a handkerchief. His explanation of his failure to transact any business with the money trusted to him was:

For I feared thee, because thou are an austere (harsh) man: thou takest up that thou layest not down and reapest that thou didst not sow. (Luke 19:21)


The slave's estimate of his lord was that he was mean and grasping, also a thief; for he who picks up what he did not lay down or reaps what he did not sow ignores the simplest require­ments of honesty.

His lord did not deny the accusation or bother to refute it. He accepted the slave's declared estimate of his character and said:

Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, thou wicked slave. Thou knewest that I was a harsh man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping what I did not sow: Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required my own with usury? Luke 19 :22, 23.

It is evident that we can build no doctrine concerning the char­acter of Christ upon this statement. Even though the nobleman in this parable is a representation of our Lord, we repudiate any conception of Him that might be based upon these words. Did He not declare in another place that He was meek and lowly in heart? Did He not instruct His own disciples to "lend, hoping for nothing again" (Luke 6:35)? Did He not say that He came not to get but to give? It is from statements such as these that we form our conceptions of His character, not from Luke 19:22, 23.

These words were not spoken for teaching. They were spoken to reveal the utter falsity of the wicked slave's position. His master was not this kind of man, and the slave did not believe him to be. He claimed he acted out of fear, but the truth is that he was lazy. If he had really believed his lord to be grasping and dishonest, he would have felt assured that he would welcome the opportunity to get some exorbitant interest.


In this parable the nobleman is made to speak with sarcastic irony. From it we learn that we can expect Christ to take the words of others, even though they be false, and turn them back upon the one who uttered them. There is much of this very thing in the story of the rich man and Lazarus.


Prolonged study of this portion which has extended over a period of many years, during which I have read and considered most of the available material that has been written on this portion, has resulted in the following three convictions:

    1. This story is not a record of literal history, not even of literal history couched in figurative language.

    2. This story is not a parable. My reasons for this conviction have already been stated.

3. This is a suppositional story. The events set forth here never happened. The literary device used by our Lord here is pure satire. In fact we have in this story one of the finest pieces of satirical speaking to be found in all literature. Furthermore, it is a scrupul­ously fair satire -- something which can hardly be found, if at all, in secular writings.

As suggested before, a basic necessity for successful satire is that the reader or hearer be familiar with that which is being satirized. This satire of our Lord was instantly intelligible to His hearers in the days when these words were spoken. They were quite familiar with their own wicked principles and purposes even though these were hidden from others. They knew they were being scourged with their own rods. Yet any objection they might have raised or any answer they might have given would have served only to show openly that they understood what the Lord was rebuking and that the truth had reached its goal.

However, while this satire was instantly intelligible to those at whom it was directed, it is not at all intelligible to the average reader today. His complete unfamiliarity with and misunderstand­ings about the conditions that existed and the things taught by the Pharisees in that day will mislead him into thinking that this story is a historical narrative, or a parable. [ I remember as a boy reading and delighting in "Gulliver's Travels" because of its fantasy, never once knowing that it is a satire on man and his institutions. This was to be expected since I knew nothing about the things being satirized by Jonathan Swift. However, I did think he must have been poking fun at someone when he described the scientists on Lagado trying to extract sunbeams from cucumbers.]


Since appreciation of any satire depends upon some degree of familiarity with the thing being satirized, it is evident that the satirical story about the rich man and Lazarus cannot be understood by those who are ignorant of the situations and conditions that caused these words to be spoken. Steps must be taken to correct the ignorance that exists concerning these. Since many of these same conditions still exist today, this satire has not lost its message of exposure and rebuke.


The Hearers


It will be helpful if we fix in our minds certain well defined groups to whom the words of Christ were spoken. These can be listed on the basis of their nearness to (or, distance from) Christ.


1. THE THREE. This group was made up of Peter, James, and John. It was to them that the Lord granted the most intimate revelation and visions. See Luke 9: 28.

2. THE TWELVE. These were His disciples who became apost­les. They represent all who were learners in the school of Christ. To these he gave revelations that were simple and expedient. If He used a parable in teaching them, He gladly explained it at their request.

3. THE PEOPLE. As described by Luke, this group was made up of those who listened to His words and considered them dili­gently. They were taught by Him, and they heard Him gladly, but they were never given as much as were the disciples. Further light for them depended upon them taking their place as disciples.

4. THE MULTITUDE. This was the careless, confused mob. They were the sensation seekers of their day. They trailed after Christ to see His miracles, to be with the crowd, to get a meal, or just to see what might happen. They accepted no teaching, they rejected no teaching. They did not know what they desired. To them our Lord never spoke without a parable (Matt. 13:34).

This does not mean that every word spoken to them was a parable, but that in speaking to them He always included a parable in the message. It is as if we should say of a speaker: "He always

uses illustrations, and never fails to use an illustration when speaking."

5. THE PHARISEES. This party dominated and controlled a group in Israel which included the Sadducees, scribes, and priests. They formed the aristocracy in Israel. This group controlled all life and thought in Israel. The Pharisees and the Sadducees were doctrinally opposed to each other, but they were united in their enmity toward Christ. Since the story of the rich man and Lazarus was pointed at the Pharisees and their associates, it is essential that consideration be given to their beliefs, practices, and character if we expect to understand this satire.

The Pharisees


Of the three sects in Judaism at the time of Christ, the Pharisees were the most powerful. The actual group is believed to have numbered only about six thousand, but this was the inner circle. In the Gospels the scribes and Pharisees are constantly mentioned in the same connection, and in such manner as to imply that they formed the same party. The strength of their influence was such that they dominated everything in Israel. They controlled the San­hedrin, the priesthood, the civil courts, and all Jewish society. The Sadducees opposed them, but their opposition was so weak that the Pharisees tolerated it, knowing that the conservative Sad­ducees would not push it too far, and that they had sufficient power to crush it at any time.

The Pharisees had arrogated to their party all the right and authority that God had vested in the kings of Israel. They were a plutocratic oligarchy exercising all the kingly powers. This explains why the royal family was so insignificant when Christ was born in the household of Joseph. The Pharisees had taken to themselves the real work of the priests, that of teaching the people, leaving the priests to carry on the empty ritual, which without true instruction was devoid of any meaning.

The inspired record in the four Gospels tells us much about the Pharasaic character. They were described by John the Baptist as being a generation of vipers (Matt. 3:7); they made use of calumny in dealing with those whom they opposed (Matt. 9:34); they did not hesitate to murder to accomplish their ends and main­tain their power (Matt. 12:14); they rejected all signs given by the Lord then demanded a special sign be given to them (Matt. 12:38); they transgressed the commandments of God by their traditions (Matt. 15:2); they were hypocrites (Matt. 23:3); all their works were done to be seen of men (Matt. 23: 5); they devoured widow's houses, then made long prayers in pretence (Matt. 23:14); they were lovers of money (Luke 16:14); and they rejected the commandments of God in order that they might maintain their own traditions (Mark 7:9).

Having made void the Word of God, the Pharisees had adopted most of the platonic philosophy concerning the nature of man. From a mixture of Greek ideas and old Egyptian and Babylonian myths they had developed a doctrine of purgatory and of prayers for the dead. Josephus declares that the Pharisees taught that every soul is incorruptible, that only the souls of good men pass over into another body, while those of the wicked are punished with eternal suffering. They held that there is an immortal vigor in souls, and that under the earth there are rewards and punish­ments for those who have lived virtuously or viciously in this life.

Their shameful treatment of the poor in Israel shows that they loved only themselves and not the people or the country of Israel. Long before the time of Christ the wealthy and ruling classes were taken to task by the prophets for their cruel and unjust treatment of the poor. The Pharisees held that the distinc­tions between poor and rich were part of God's plan, and they made poverty to be a virtue that would' be rewarded with wealth in the life to come. The Sadducees on the other hand had worked into their beliefs the idea that poverty was a crime, and that to be poor was evidence of the displeasure of God.

One of the worst features of the Pharasaic system was the expulsion or excommunication from the life of Israel of those who had transgressed. At times their acts may have had some justification, but the Pharisees had carried it so far that once a man came under their strictures, there was no possible way for him to get back again into the life of Israel. These were the "sinners", so often mentioned in the gospel record's. As a rule they were guilty of nothing more than refusal to bow down to the despotic power exercised by the ruling clique of the Pharisees.

Once a man brought down upon himself the wrath of the Pharisees, there was no hope of pardon. They never forgave him. Once excluded and branded as a sinner, no one dared to help him, or to do business with him. The testimony of "sinners" was not valid in courts, and if anyone wronged them, they had no recourse to law. They stood, in their miserable condition, as examples of what happened to any who challenged the position or claims of the Pharisees.

In their distress many of them were forced to do business with or collaborate with the Roman occupation forces. This paid them well, especially if they became tax-collectors (publicans). This explains why publicans and sinners are often linked together in one group. They were shunned as traitors in Israel. Nevertheless, their real character is seen in the fact that many of them became the first disciples of John the Baptist and of. Jesus Christ.

When Christ came and started to teach the people, He, in so doing, challenged the Pharisees assumption that they alone were the teachers in Israel. When He presented His credentials, which were the gracious miracles He performed, they stepped into the arena to challenge Him. They could not match His wisdom so they plotted to destroy Him (Matt. 12:14). They refused to yield to anyone even one grain of the authority they had gathered to themselves. Their attitude toward Him was summed up in the words spoken by Christ:

But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. Mark 12 :7.


When the Pharisees appeared at the baptism of John, he wasted no time trying to change them, but branded them immediately as a "generation of vipers." Jesus Christ called them whitewashed graves, hypocrites, serpents, children of Gehenna, thieves and murderers.


One important principle that must be kept in mind in studying the story of the rich man and Lazarus is that these words were spoken to the implacable enemies of Christ, the Pharisees. They  were spoken to men whose doom was sealed when they charged that Christ performed His miracles by the power by Beelzebub the prince of devils. In doing this they blasphemed the Holy Spirit and committed the sin that had no forgiveness (Matt. 12: 22­32) . These words were spoken to men who were rigidly set against the will of God. Therefore, no revelation of truth was given to them (John 7:16, 17). And since this story is not a revelation of God's truth, it has to be an answer to, a rebuke, an expose of the Pharisees. In other words, it is not a revelation of truth about future life, of the state of the dead, of future punishment or future bliss; but it is an expose of the base and warped ideas, principles, and practices of the Pharisees. Since satire is a type of writing or speaking, the object of which is to hold up vices and follies for ridicule and reprobation, then this is satire pure and simple. With these facts in mind we are ready to resume consideration of the story spoken by our Lord in the presence of the Pharisees.


The Occasion of the Story

It has been said that this story has always erroneously been considered "as a sort of an island in the Lucan narrative, cut off from the mainland of the Gospel, and having no necessary con­nection with its surroundings." Those who regard it as such exclude all light that the context may throw upon the passage.

The key to the character of this story and to its meaning and purpose is found in the material that precedes it.

[  When a speaker announces that the story of the rich man and Lazarus is to be the text of his message, it would be well if someone would arise and say, "Now that we know your .text, will you tell us what your context will be," This story is as a rule placed  in  a  context of human  opinion and traditions about heaven, hell, death, life, and future punishment. It is seldom if ever left in the context that God has given to it.]

We must eliminate all man-made fences, such as chapter divi­sions and paragraph headings, from this portion of Scripture and begin our studies at the point where the Lord began to speak, then follow through to His last word on this occasion. The record begins at Luke 14:25 and continues without interruption to Luke 17: 10. Every word spoken has a bearing upon the meaning, char­acter and purpose of the story. It is evident that our Lord never moved out of His place while He spoke the words recorded between the two references just mentioned. It was the longest battle our Lord ever fought with the Pharisees.

As the scene opens in Luke 14.:25-35 our Lord is seen speaking to the multitude that followed Him. His words to them consisted of one dark saying I refer to this as a dark saying (or, enigma) because a message about hating father, mother, wife and children, also about bearing his cross is bound to be quite a puzzle to any who hear it unless their minds have been enlightened by the Spirit of God ,  and three parables.

The closing words of His last parable spoken to the multitude were, "men cast it out." While these words were spoken of the savorless salt, they seem to have caught the ear and made an im­pression upon the publicans and sinners, for this was what the despotic aristocracy in Israel had done to them. And since these words were followed by an invitation to those who had ears to make use of them, all the publicans and sinners drew near to Him in order to hear.

This scandalized and enraged the Pharisees since Jesus was receiving men whom they rejected and ostracized. They had as­sumed all the rights of kings and priests in Israel, but in no way did they accept the responsibilities toward others that were set forth in the shepherd and mediator character of kings and priests. The Pharisees never sought a sinner, and never brought one back to God. Between the aristocracy and the sinners there was a vast chasm that none of the people could cross and none of the Phar­isees would cross. They maintained this irrevocable separation by their teachings. They insisted God had given them their place and only God could take it away. Our Lord ignored this caste system and went to the aid of those they had branded as sinners. This brought out their deepest hatred. They could not tolerate anyone alleviating the harsh punishments they had imposed upon certain men. They justified their lack of mercy by claiming that God was harsh, therefore they had to be.

When the publicans and sinners drew near to hear the Lord, the Pharisees and scribes began to murmur and to hurl their ac­cusations (Luke 15:1, 2). And it seems that the publicans and sinners, long used to deferring to the Pharisees and desiring to spare the Lord any embarrassment that their nearness might cause, began to withdraw themselves from His presence. But His great love for the lost could not permit this, so our Lord spoke a parable to the Pharisees in the hearing of the publicans and sinners. This parable had two purposes - to rebuke and expose the Pharisees and to offer encouragement and hope to the publicans and sinners.

This parable is in three parts. There is a story about a lost sheep (Luke 15:3-7), a lost coin (Luke 15:8-10), and a lost son (Luke 15: 12- 32). Each part rebukes and exposes the Pharisees and offers encouragement and hope to the sinners in Israel.

While the story of the lost sheep is a parable, we should not miss the fact that the story is satirical. Many will never see this, since this parable is usually treated in a superficial manner. Hun­dreds of ideas have been preached into this passage, resulting in the most astounding importations. Every statement and every word has been loaded with extravagant fancies, many of which have their origin in Dr. Sankey's well-known hymn about the "ninety and nine that safely lay in the shelter of the fold." This line has no real foundation in this parable. The importation of such ideas blinds the minds to the satirical character of this story which so effectu­ally exposes the sordid miserliness of the Pharisees. To expose and rebuke their inordinate love for material possessions is the purpose of this parable. The word shepherd does not occur in it.

The question, "What man of you having an hundred sheep?" is directed at the Pharisees. When faced with the loss of one sheep their greed is so aroused that they leave the ninety-nine shepherdless in the wilderness and open to the attacks of wild beasts. Sheep were common in Israel. They were an article of commerce, and any man that risked ninety-nine to get back one that had strayed revealed a cupidity that cannot tolerate the thought of losing one bit of anything already possessed. Furthermore, the idea of a man calling together his friends and neighbors to rejoice with him over the recovery of a lost sheep is amusing, to say the least. Such actions would be quite proper if a child had been lost and found, but they are preposterous in the case of sheep, A covetous man would think that all should respond to his invitation to rejoice, but there must have been one who said, "If that is all the party is about, I'm not going,"

Our Lord used a parable somewhat like this in Matthew 18: 11-14, and it is to this that we should go for a great picture of the seek­ing Savior. In this parable all satirical elements are omitted, This was spoken to His disciples, not to the Pharisees.

However, in Luke 15 the statement about "ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance" is pure satire which bord­ers an sarcasm. There was no such thing in Israel as a just person who needed no repentance, but the Pharisees regarded themselves as such. The Lord Jesus took their assumed position, put it into words, then used these words in His satire against them.


The story of the last coin is a further rebuke to the Pharisees (Luke 15:8-10). It emphasizes what He has already said. Their attitude toward a lost animal or a lost coin was one thing, Their attitude toward a lost sinner was something quite different. The addition of the story about the lost coin demonstrates that their search for the lost sheep was not due to their love for dumb animals since they showed the same care toward a piece of money. It was preposterous far the woman in this story to invite her friends and neighbors to rejoice with her over the recovery of a lost coin. It is normal for anyone to seek a lost coin, even to seek for it diligently if the value warrants it, but to call for people to rejoice over it is absurd. But it is only by a preposterous story that preposterous acts and attitudes can be satirized.

There could be no joy among the Pharisees over a sinner that repented, but there was joy in the presence of the angels of God. The Pharisees made diligent search for lost animals or lost coins, but never for a man. They esteemed animals and coins to be of more value than men.

The story of the prodigal son portrayed the sinners in Israel. In it there is no condoning or excusing of their sins. All satire and sarcasm is left out, as it would be out of harmony with His expressed attitude toward them. His statement about the prodigal "joining himself to a citizen of that country" in order to avoid starving is probably a veiled reference to the fact that some in Israel were forced by want to take the demeaning labor of col­lecting the burdensome taxes imposed by the Romans. No greater or more positive words of encouragement could have been given to the publicans and sinners than those contained in the story of the prodigal son.

The record of the elder son (Luke 15:25-32) sets forth the attitude of the Pharisees. The younger son was lost in the far country but this one is lost in his own father's house. The re­ception given the younger son caused all the hardness of the self­righteous brother to boil to the surface. From boasting about himself he turns to blame for his father.

The parable ends abruptly, and rightly so. No application is made. It is left to the Pharisees to make their own application. One is prone to wish they had asked the Lord, "What did that brother do in answer to his father's appeal?"

All these words were spoken to the Pharisees in the hearing of the publicans and sinners. But our Lord is not yet through with the Pharisees. Without leaving His place He turned to His disciples and spoke to them in the presence of the Pharisees. [ This is characteristic of the satirical method. Satire is not as a rule addressed to those whose foibles it exposes. It is pointed at them ]The story He told them is one of the strangest to be found in the Bible, but it is the real key to the character of the story of the rich man and Lazarus which follows it. Therefore, it must be examined with care.