The Rich Man and Lazarus: Warning or Parable?

Published on 20 June 2023 at 17:50

Title: The Rich Man and Lazarus: Warning or Parable?


The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus is a powerful story shared by Jesus to convey a message to His audience, primarily the Jewish leaders. While there are various interpretations of this parable, it serves as a warning and a reminder about the importance of one's actions in determining their destiny and how they treat others, particularly the marginalized and needy. In this interactive blog post, we will explore the different aspects of this parable and its underlying messages.

Audience and Context:

The primary audience for this parable was the Jewish leaders, who held positions of authority and influence during Jesus' time. Jesus used this parable to challenge their beliefs and behaviors, specifically their prideful attitudes and neglect of those in need. By illustrating the stark contrast between the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus aimed to make them reflect on their actions and the consequences they might face in the afterlife.

Warning or Parable:

The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus serves both as a parable and a warning. Jesus masterfully crafted this story to convey deeper spiritual truths while also addressing the immediate concerns of His audience. The main focus of the parable is not to provide a detailed description of hell but to highlight the importance of compassion, humility, and the eternal consequences of one's choices.

Use of the Parable:

Today, many people use this parable to depict the horrors of hell. However, it is essential to consider the original context and intended message. The parable primarily emphasizes the earthly actions and attitudes that shape one's eternal destiny. It serves as a cautionary tale, urging individuals to prioritize kindness, generosity, and the care of others rather than pursuing worldly wealth and status.

Understanding the Symbolism:

Throughout the parable, symbolism plays a significant role in conveying the message effectively. The rich man symbolizes those who possess worldly riches and privileges, while Lazarus represents the marginalized, impoverished, and overlooked individuals. The reversal of their fortunes in the afterlife emphasizes the importance of how we treat others during our time on earth.

Lessons and Final Message:

At the conclusion of the parable, the rich man asks Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers about the consequences of their actions. This final message highlights the significance of acknowledging the teachings of Moses' law and the importance of heeding the call to care for those in need. By refusing to learn from the parable, the Jewish leaders demonstrate their unwillingness to listen and change, as later evidenced in their rejection of Jesus and His resurrection.


The parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus carries profound lessons about compassion, humility, and the eternal consequences of our actions. While it is often used to portray the horrors of hell, it primarily emphasizes the importance of treating others with love and care during our earthly lives. As we reflect on this parable, let us strive to emulate the compassion of Lazarus and recognize the eternal significance of our choices, ensuring that we prioritize what truly matters in the eyes of God.


-Ronald A Fahrenholz II

Add comment


There are no comments yet.