Luke 16:22

22 “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried,

Luke 16:22 Meaning and Commentary

Luke 16:22

And it came to pass that the beggar died
The death of Christ was not a casual thing, a fortuitous event; it was agreed unto, and settled in the covenant of grace; it was spoken of by the prophets of the Old Testament; it was typified by the sacrifices of the law, and other things; it was foretold by Christ himself, and was the end of his coming into this world, wherein the great love, both of him and of his Father, is expressed; and is the main article of the Christian faith; so that this came to pass according to the decrees of God, the counsel, and covenant of peace, the will of Christ, and his predictions, and as the accomplishment of the law, and prophets: it was not a natural, but violent death which Christ died; and yet it was both voluntary and necessary; it was but once, and is of an eternal efficacy, and is a sacrifice acceptable to God; it was not for himself, or any sin of his, who knew none, nor for the angels, and their redemption, whose nature he did not assume; but for men, and for their sins. Christ died not merely as an example to them, or only to confirm his doctrines; but as a substitute, in the room and stead of his people; to atone for their sins, and satisfy divine justice; to procure the pardon of them in a way of justice; to take them away, and utterly abolish them; to bring in an everlasting righteousness; to obtain eternal redemption, and bring such nigh to God who were afar off, and that men might live through him now, and have eternal life by him hereafter:

and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom:
by Abraham's bosom is meant heaven, a phrase well known to the Jews, by which they commonly expressed the happiness of the future state: of Abraham's happy state they had no doubt; and when they spake of the happiness of another's, they sometimes signified it by going to Abraham; as when the mother of the seven sons, slain by Caesar, saw her youngest going to be sacrificed F16

``she fell upon him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and said unto him, my son, (Mkyba Mhrba lua Kl) , "go to Abraham, your father", and tell him, thus saith my mother''

and sometimes, as here, by being in his bosom. So it is said F17, that Eliezer his servant (Abraham's, the same name with Lazarus) (wqyxb hnwm) , "is laid in his bosom": and which may refer to the account in the Talmud F18, that when R. Benaah, the painter of caves, came to the cave of Abraham, he found Eliezer, the servant of Abraham, (hymq yaqd) , "standing before him". And it is also said

F19 of Rabbi, when he died, (Mhrba lv wqyxb bvwy Mwyh) , "this day he sits in the bosom of Abraham"; for as it was usual with them to represent the joys of heaven by a feast, so the partaking of them, by sitting down at a table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; see ( Matthew 8:11 ) and as their manner at meals was by lying along on couches at eating; he that lay next another might be said to lie, or lean, in his bosom: hence Abraham's bosom came to signify the near and intimate enjoyment of happiness with him in the other world. The ascension of Christ is expressed by a being "carried up into heaven", ( Luke 24:51 ) and here he is entered, and has been received, and will be retained, until the time of the restitution of all things; here he is glorified in human nature, sits at the right hand of God, and appears in his presence, on the behalf of his people; and indeed, the ends of his going there, were to receive gifts for them, to be their advocate and intercessor, to take possession of heaven in their name, and prepare that for them, and them for that; and hither "he was carried by angels": these were the chariots in which he rode; and these the guard that attended him, when he was seen, looked upon, and gazed at by them with adoration, faith, and wonder; which shows the ministration of angels to him, and seems to set forth the glory and magnificence in which he ascended; and this agrees with the notions of the Jews, that when good men die, their souls are immediately received by angels, and taken under their care, and carried to heaven. So one of their paraphrasts F20 having mentioned the garden of Eden, which is but another name for heaven with them, adds,

``into which no man can enter but the righteous, whose souls are "carried" thither, (aykalm dyb) , "in the hand", or "by the means" of angels.''

And elsewhere they say F21,

``with the Shekinah come three ministering angels to receive the soul of a righteous man.''

Particularly it is said of Moses, at the time of his death F23, that

``the holy blessed God descended from the highest heavens, to take the soul of Moses, and three ministering angels with him.''

And sometimes they say F24, not only three angels, but three companies of angels attend at such a time: their words are these;

``when a righteous man departs out of the world, three companies of ministering angels meet him; one says to him, "come in peace"; and another says, "walking in his uprightness" and the other says, "he shall enter into peace"''

No mention is made in this parable of the burial of this man, nor any words used expressive of it, or that in the least hint it. The reason is, because Christ lay so short a time in the grave, and he was not left there, nor did he see corruption; but in a very little while was raised from the dead, and delivered from the power of the grave; when, after some stay on earth, he was attended by angels to the highest heavens: for this is to be understood, not of his soul being had to paradise immediately upon his separation from the body; but of his ascension to heaven after his resurrection, when he was escorted by angels thither.

The rich man also died.
This may be understood both of the natural death of the Scribes and Pharisees; who, though they were dignified persons, were as gods, yet were mortal, and died like men; see ( Psalms 82:6 Psalms 82:7 ) compared with ( John 10:34 John 10:35 ) and they died in their sins, in their unbelief of the Messiah, and so were damned; in their impenitence and hardness of heart, for as they thought they needed no repentance, they were not called unto it; and in the sin against the Holy Ghost, blaspheming the miracles of Christ done by him, and which was a sin unto death; and under the power and guilt of all their other sins, and so were lost and perished. And it may also be understood of the political and ecclesiastical death of the Jewish people; which lay in the destruction of the city of Jerusalem, and of the temple, and in the abolition of the temple worship, and of the whole ceremonial law; a "Lo-ammi" was written upon their church state, and the covenant between God and them was broken; the Gospel was removed from them, which was as death, as the return of it, and their call by it, will be as life from the dead; as well as their place and nation, their civil power and authority were taken away from them by the Romans: and a death of afflictions, by captivity and calamities, of every kind, have attended them ever since. And it is to be observed, that Lazarus died before the rich man, as Christ died before the destruction of the Jewish polity and church state: the city and sanctuary were not destroyed, nor the daily sacrifice made to cease, nor the consummation, and that determined, poured upon the desolate, until some time after the Messiah was cut off, according to the prophecy in ( Daniel 7:26 Daniel 7:27 ) . Moreover, no mention is made of the rich man being carried by angels, as Lazarus was; and if he was, he was carried, not by the good, but by the evil angels, and not into Abraham's bosom, but to hell. So the Jews F25 say,

``if a soul is worthy, how many holy troops, or companies, are ready to join it, and bring it up into paradise? but if not worthy, how many strange troops are ready to bring it in the way of hell? these are the troops of the destroying angels.''

However, this is said of him, as is not of Lazarus,

and was buried:
as wicked men are, when sometimes the saints are not; see ( Ecclesiastes 8:10 ) ( Psalms 79:2 Psalms 79:3 ) . The Scribes and Pharisees, who were so diligent to build and garnish the sepulchres of the prophets, among their other instances of pride and vanity, took care, no doubt, to provide and erect stately monuments for themselves: and who were buried in great pomp and splendour. Though this may respect their church state, service, and ceremonies, which received their death blow at the crucifixion of Christ, but remained for some time unburied, it being with difficulty that these things were got under the feet of the church; and may also refer to the political state of the Jews, who, as a nation, are represented as in their graves, where they are to this day, and will be until they shall be turned unto the Lord, when they shall be brought out of their graves, and shall live and return to their own land, ( Ezekiel 37:12-14 ) . The Vulgate Latin adds, "in hell"; but this belongs to the following verse.

F16 Echa Rabbati, fol. 49. 4.
F17 In Sepher Emanah, c. 1. p. 20.
F18 T. Bab. Bava Bathra, fol. 58. 1.
F19 T. Bab. Kiddushin, fol. 72. 2. Juchasin, fol. 75. 2.
F20 Targum in Cant. iv. 12.
F21 Midrash Haneelam in Zohar in Gen. fol. 65. 1.
F23 Debarim Rabba, sect. 11. fol. 245. 4.
F24 T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 104. 1.
F25 Zohar in Exod. fol. 39. 3.

Luke 16:22 In-Context

20 At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores.
21 As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores.
22 “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried,
23 and his soul went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side.
24 “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Greek into Abraham’s bosom.
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