(chasma, "a chasm," "vent," "a gaping opening"--a great interval; from chaino, "to gape" or "yawn"):
Occurs only in Luke 16:26, "Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed" (compare "afar off" in 16:23). This is very different from, though it probably reflects, the rabbinical conception of the separation between the two compartments of Hades (Sheol) by "a hand's breadth," "a wall," or even, later, "a chasm," as the parable can be given here only a figurative significance, and is of purely ethical import. The fundamental difference between the Rich Man and Lazarus lies not in their conditions but in their characters. For "besides all this" (16:26) the Revised Version, margin gives "in all these things," thus implying that the moral distinctions which exist in this life (16:25) become more pronounced ("fixed") in the next world, and the "gulf" is impassable in the sense that a change of condition will not necessarily produce a change of soul.
See also ABRAHAM'S BOSOM; HADES.
M. O. Evans
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