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Q&A

The Rich Man and Lazarus

Does Jesus’ parable about the rich man and Lazarus prove that we are immortal souls who go either to Paradise or eternal torment when we die?

Many people use the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 as biblical proof that souls go to either heaven or hell upon death. But numerous aspects of the parable show that Jesus didn’t intend it to be believed as a true picture of what happens in the afterlife—or even to make any point about the afterlife at all.

At the time when Jesus gave the parable, He had already been telling numerous other parables, recorded in Luke 15 and 16. Parables are stories with a particular lesson, and not all of their details should be taken literally. For example, Jesus told a parable of wheat and tares, in which the servants of a farmer were instructed not to pull up the tares in the field (Matt. 13); this doesn’t mean we should never weed our gardens! The parable of the wheat and tares was simply an illustration

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