Abraham and Lazarus (Lk 16:23-16:23)

“In Hades,

Where the rich man

Was being tormented,

He looked up.

He saw Abraham

Far away,

With Lazarus

By his side.”

 

καὶ ἐν τῷ Ἅιδῃ ἐπάρας τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ, ὑπάρχων ἐν βασάνοις, ὁρᾷ Ἀβραὰμ ἀπὸ μακρόθεν καὶ Λάζαρον ἐν τοῖς κόλποις αὐτοῦ.

 

This parable story about the poor man Lazarus and an unnamed rich man is only found in Luke, not in the other gospels.  Luke indicated that Jesus said that the rich man was living in torment (ὑπάρχων ἐν βασάνοις) in Hades (καὶ ἐν τῷ Ἅιδῃ), the Greek name for hell, a permanent place of damnation as opposed to the vague Hebrew afterlife Sheol, the place of the dead.  This rich man looked up or lifted up his eyes (ἐπάρας τοὺς ὀφθαλμοὺς αὐτοῦ).  He saw Abraham (ὁρᾷ Ἀβραὰμ), far away (ἀπὸ μακρόθεν), with Lazarus in his bosom (καὶ Λάζαρον ἐν τοῖς κόλποις αὐτοῦ).  Both Abraham and Lazarus were together, but far away since there was a clear difference between where the rich man and Lazarus with Abraham were.  Just as in life, there was a difference between the rich man and Lazarus, so too in death.  Do you believe that there will be options in the afterlife?

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The curse on Capernaum (Lk 10:15-10:15)

“You!

Capernaum!

Will you be exalted

To heaven?

No!

You will be

Brought down

To Hades.”

 

καὶ σύ, Καφαρναούμ, μὴ ἕως οὐρανοῦ ὑψωθήσῃ; ἕως τοῦ Ἅιδου καταβήσῃ.

 

Next Luke had Jesus take on Capernaum, his new home and headquarters in Galilee.  Capernaum (καὶ σύ, Καφαρναούμ) will not be exalted to heaven (μὴ ἕως οὐρανοῦ ὑψωθήσῃ).  Instead, it will be brought down to Hades or hell (ἕως τοῦ Ἅιδου καταβήσῃ).  Once again, Jesus used the second person plural.  Matthew, chapter 11:23, had a similar statement, indicating a possible common Q source.  Jesus questioned them.  Would they be exalted or raised up to heaven?  No!  In fact, they would be cast down to the unseen world of Hades, the traditional Greek word for hell.  Matthew then even compared Capernaum to Sodom.  If the mighty miracles that were done in Capernaum were done in Sodom, Sodom might have remained until the present day.  Then Jesus gave a solemn pronouncement that it would be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for the people of Capernaum.  Jesus warned these three towns, within 10 miles of each other.  They had not repented, despite his teaching and the many miracles there.  Something must have happened in Capernaum because it had been his base of operations in Galilee.  Have you ever turned on the town where you had lived?

Against Capernaum (Mt 11:23-11:24)

“You!

Capernaum!

Will you be exalted

To heaven?

No!

You will be brought down

To Hades.

If the deeds of power

Done in you

Had been done in Sodom,

It would have remained

Until this day.

But I tell you!

On the day of judgment

That it shall be more tolerable

For the land of Sodom

Than for you.”

 

καὶ σύ, Καφαρναούμ, μὴ ἕως οὐρανοῦ ὑψωθήσῃ; ἕως Ἅιδου καταβήσῃ· ὅτι εἰ ἐν Σοδόμοις ἐγενήθησαν αἱ δυνάμεις αἱ γενόμεναι ἐν σοί, ἔμεινεν ἂν μέχρι τῆς σήμερον.

πλὴν λέγω ὑμῖν ὅτι γῇ Σοδόμων ἀνεκτότερον ἔσται ἐν ἡμέρᾳ κρίσεως ἢ σοί.

 

Then Matthew has Jesus take on his own new home town of Capernaum.  Luke, chapter 10:15, has a similar statement, word for word, indicating a possible common Q source.  However, the second verse is unique to Matthew.  Jesus, turned to his home town of Capernaum (καὶ σύ, Καφαρναούμ), as mentioned in chapter 4:13.  He questioned them.  Would they be exalted or raised up to heaven (μὴ ἕως οὐρανοῦ ὑψωθήσῃ)?  No!  In fact, they would be cast down to the unseen world of Hades (ἕως Ἅιδου καταβήσῃ), the traditional Greek word for hell.  If the mighty miracles that were done in Capernaum were done in Sodom (ὅτι εἰ ἐν Σοδόμοις ἐγενήθησαν αἱ δυνάμεις αἱ γενόμεναι ἐν σοί), Sodom might have remained until the present day (ἔμεινεν ἂν μέχρι τῆς σήμερον).  This refers to the story in Genesis, chapter 19:1-29.  Then Jesus gave a solemn pronouncement “I say to you” (πλὴν λέγω ὑμῖν) that on the day of judgment (ἐν ἡμέρᾳ κρίσεως ἢ σοί) it would be more tolerable for the land of Sodom than for the people of Capernaum (ὅτι γῇ Σοδόμων ἀνεκτότερον ἔσται).  Thus, Jesus had warned these three towns within 10 miles of each other, because they had not repented despite his many miracles there.

The three men should bless God (Dan 3:66-3:66)

“Bless the Lord!

Hananiah!

Azariah!

Mishael!

Sing praise to him!

Highly exalt him forever!

He has rescued us

From Hades.

He has saved us

From the power

Of death.

He has delivered us

From the midst

Of the burning fiery furnace.

From the midst

Of the fire,

He has delivered us.”

Finally, the 3 young men, using their Judean names and not their Babylonian names, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael, would bless, praise, and exalt the Lord. However, they had a particular reason to bless God, because he had rescued them from hell or hades. He had saved them from the power of death itself. He had delivered them and kept them safe. Right in the middle of this fiery furnace, God had saved their lives.

The false pursuits (Bar 3:15-3:19)

“Who has found

Her place?

Who has entered

Her storehouses?

Where are the rulers

Of the nations?

Where are those

Who lorded it over

The animals on earth?

Where are those

Who have made sport

Of the birds of the air?

Where are those

Who hoarded up

Silver with gold

In which people trust ?

Where are those

With no end

To their getting?

Where are those

Who schemed

To get silver?

Where are those

Who are anxious?

There is no trace

Of their works.

They have vanished.

They have gone down

To Hades.

Others have arisen

In their place.”

Baruch talks about the vanity and uselessness of various life pursuits as in wisdom literature. What happens to people who store up treasures in a storehouse? Where are all the rulers of the various nations? Where are all the people who felt superior to animals. Where are the sportsmen who tried to shoot the birds in the air with their arrows? What happened to all those who hoarded up and put their trust in silver and gold? Where are all the people who never had enough? Where are those who schemed to get silver? Where are all the people who were so anxious? Baruch’s response is simple and clear. There is no trace of any of these people and their works. They have vanished and gone to hell, Hades, the Greek word for Sheol, the shadowy underworld that we often call hell. However, there are always others to take their place to do the same thing over and over again.

Introduction to this wisdom poem (Bar 3:9-3:14)

“Hear the commandments of life!

O Israel!

Give ear!

Learn wisdom!

Why is it?

O Israel!

Why is it

That you are

In the land

Of your enemies?

Why are you growing old

In a foreign country?

Why are you defiled

With the dead?

Why are you counted

Among those in Hades?

You have forsaken

The fountain of wisdom.

If you had walked

In the way of God,

You would be living

In peace forever.

Learn

Where there is wisdom!

Learn

Where there is strength!

Learn

Where there is understanding!

Thus you may

At the same time

Discern!

Where is there length of days?

Where is there life?

Where is there light for the eyes?

Where is there peace?”

Now we have an introduction to a poem about wisdom. Israel was to hear about the commandments of life. They were to listen to learn about wisdom. Why were they growing old in the land of their enemies? Why were they defiled like dead people in Hades. Why were they forgotten, when they could have had wisdom if they had walked in the ways of God. They could be living in everlasting peace. They had to learn where wisdom, strength, and understanding were. Thus they could have a peaceful long life, with light for their eyes.

Be aware of this situation (Bar 2:16-2:18)

“O Lord!

Look down

From your holy dwelling!

Consider us!

Incline your ear!

O Lord!

Hear!

Open your eyes!

O Lord!

See!

The dead

Who are in Hades,

Whose spirit

Has been taken

From their bodies,

Will not ascribe glory

To the Lord.

They will not ascribe justice

To the Lord.

But the person

Who is deeply grieved,

Who walks bent over

Who is feeble,

Who has failing eyes,

That person

Will declare

Your glory.

They will declare

Your righteousness.

O Lord!”

This prayer of Baruch continues by asking God to look down from his heavenly holy dwelling. He should consider their situation. God should incline his ear and listen. He should open his eyes and see. The dead in Hades or Sheol have no spirit. They cannot give glory or justice to the Lord. On the other hand, those who are still living, but grieving, bent over, and feeble with poor eye sight can still declare the glory and righteousness of the Lord. Thus it is better to be alive and weak than dead.