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Bible Gem 1083 - Two men called Lazarus or One? (Luke 16:27-31)

July 3, 2019


"Then the rich man said, 'Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father's home.

For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don't end up in this place of torment.'

"But Abraham said, 'Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.'

"The rich man replied, 'No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.'

"But Abraham said, 'If they won't listen to Moses and the prophets, they won't listen even if someone rises from the dead.'" (Luke 16:27-31)



In Gem 1072 I wrote: One of the obvious questions is: what is the connection between this Lazarus and Lazarus of Bethany? Are they one and the same? Some have wondered whether this account comes from Lazarus who came back from the dead.   


The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia in E-Sword lists them as two distinct people as follows:


1. Lazarus of Bethany:


The home of the Lazarus mentioned in John 11 was Bethany. He was the brother of Martha and Mary. This Lazarus was the one who was resurrected from the dead by Jesus in Bethany. This is perhaps the most spectacular of the miracles Jesus performed throughout the Gospels. Many question why this miracle does not appear in the Synoptic Gospels, especially Luke who knowing what was written about Jesus set out to compile an ordered account.  


 2. Lazarus the Beggar:

The Lazarus of Luke 16 is pictured in abject poverty in this world, but highly rewarded and honored in the next. This the only instance of a proper name used in a parable by Jesus along with Abraham.  It seems this Lazarus' faith in God and his patient dependence upon Him is what is in focus.  Lazarus doesn't speak one word in the parable.  He does not murmur at his hard lot, nor rail at the rich man, nor after death triumph over him. 


There has been doubt cast on the resurrection of Lazarus from the viewpoint as to how such a dramatic miracle would not be mentioned by all Gospel writers. Especially Luke who was aware of what others wrote and set about making an ordered account. Would he not be expected to include the Lazarus of Bethany story? How is it such a momentous miracle is not mentioned in each gospel?  Some question its veracity in that no mention is made of this miracle by the enemies of Jesus when accusing Him before Pilate. Who would expect them to make such a self-convicting acknowledgment? The dismay of the priests at the miracle and their silence about it are perfectly natural.


A fellow Bible Translator wrote the following to me in response to this issue. "Another speculative theory, which you have probably heard about, is that John wrote about the miracle of Jesus raising Lazarus because when he wrote his Gospel Lazarus's life was no longer in danger (perhaps he had re-died). But Luke did not write about that miracle because when he wrote Lazarus's life was being threatened by the Jewish authorities. Instead, he used this parable of Jesus', into which he inserted the name Lazarus, saying, that the Jews would not believe even if one were to come back from the grave. And it is true. They didn't. But some did come around."


There are some who believe there is only one Lazarus who appears in both Luke 16 and John 11. They maintain this is why Lazarus makes an appearance in this parable and why in this case he is named. He appears in this parable precisely because he has experienced resurrection before. I don't hold with that view. The two Lazarus seem to come from very different backgrounds. How does the Lazarus of Bethany end up in such a destitute state with a close family as what is depicted in Scripture about the family in Bethany? Furthermore how is there not more comment connecting this Lazarus with Lazarus of Bethany, especially so when he had a close relationship with Jesus Himself. There is not a hint of that in this parable.   


But let us consider this second scenario for a moment. That the Lazarus of this parable is indeed Lazarus of Bethany. If that were the case then it would be an even more shocking story. Consider for a moment the implications. It would make the rich man's culpability even stronger. That the beggar at his gate is Lazarus of Bethany who has been resurrected from the dead once already. One would think that the story of Lazarus' resurrection would go with him wherever he went. Hence someone would tell "Dives" that the man at his gate is no less than The Lazarus people talk about from Bethany. It would be impossible for him to ignore the fact that this beggar is the one who Jesus raised from the dead. If that Lazarus were at his gate he would know. As we have gleaned from the parable already the rich man knew exactly who Lazarus was, being able to recognize him in the afterlife. 


If this man were asking Abraham to send him back to talk with his family precisely because he has experienced in this kind of thing (having been resurrected once already – as some believe) this adds a staggering dimension to the story. If Dives knew this was the resurrected Lazarus and was asking that he be sent by Abraham to tell his family he is guilty of indifference twice over. How could you spurn such a one as Lazarus of Bethany and treat him as he did? Then to refuse to ask for his forgiveness in the afterlife given the way he has treated him in life would have been reprehensible. Even more so when you knew all the time who it was you were dealing with. I don't think it is conceivable the rich man would do such a thing but if he did then one could argue he deserved his fate. 



If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month. Theodore Roosevelt


Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart. Eleanor Roosevelt


Don’t judge people on who they used to be. Allow them to be who they are now.  Tom Hiddleston


Praying for those who love you, that is sincerity. Praying for those who hurt you, that is maturity. Leticia Seviraneta



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