I was studying Luke 16 this morning and focused specifically on the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus. I have heard that one interpretation of this parable is that the rich man represents those in the church who worship with words and not actions. Lazarus is a symbol of a sinner. Specifically related to evangelism, the interpretation is that this type of church (or churchgoer) neglects to reach out to the sinner in need of soul saving, and then finds himself in the situation described in Matthew 7:21. Do you think this is an accurate reading of the passage? -- Kyle (Chicago)

That is a possible reading of the story, but I am not so sure. We must ask, What is the main point of the story (parable)? In the story it looks like neither of them is going to church! The rich man is numbed by luxury, while Lazarus is too weak to walk. I am speculating, of course.

Luke's gospel frequently emphasizes the need to care for the poor. Luke 16:19-31 fits well within that framework. Luke also emphasizes the resurrection, esp. in Acts. Jesus' resurrection will not convince those who are indifferent to their fellow man (and thus, implicitly, to God).

The passage may be legitimately applied in several ways, but our first task is to ascertain what it meant originally in its setting in Luke's gospel. That is, we need to ask what the Spirit is trying to teach us. I would say that it is in the gospel mainly to encourage us to remember the poor -- those literally poor, the needy of the world.

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