I am looking for an answer to a question I have about the story of Lazarus and the Rich Man. I have read commentaries that the Rich Man was not in hell since he asked to have someone go and warn his brothers to repent so they don't have to go where he is. Also that Lazarus was not in heaven since Jesus hadn't resurrected yet.
I was wondering is there were some nuances in the greek which gave some clues to this problem. Or if it is clear just from the english that this idea is true. I myself at the time agree that the Rich Man was not in hell. I hope you can give a clear exegesis of this for me.Answer:
Before Jesus rose, all people who died, good and bad, were sent to SHEOL or HADES, except for some minor exceptions, e.g., Enoch, Elijah, and perhaps Moses, who went directly to heaven. In SHEOL or HADES there were two compartments, a place for the good people and a place for the bad. The place for the good people was called "Abraham's bosom" for Abraham was the first Jew to arrive there, and he was the "father of all believers." But Abraham's bosom was not heaven, since no one would be allowed into heaven until Jesus rose. The place for the bad people in HADES remained identified as HADES (and later as TARTARUS or GEHENNA). The places for the good and bad people in HADES were separated from one another. That is why verse 26 speaks of the "great chasm" between the two places, and no one can cross over from one place or the other, but apparently the compartments were able to communicate with each other.
The fate of the people in each place was sealed. The good people would go to heaven when Jesus rose, the bad people would remain in HADES. As for some of the specific words, verses 23 and 28 speak of "torment." This is a word that means "torture" (Greek: Basanos) and is used in conspicuous places (Mt 8:29; 18:34; Mk 5:7; Lk 8:28; Rev 14:10-11; 18:7, 10, 15; 20:10) referring to Hell.
Also, in verse 30 the Rich man is inquiring if his five brothers will REPENT, and the answer comes back "NO." Since we know that people who do not repent go to Hell (not Purgatory), then obviously the five brothers were headed for Hell, which means the Rich man was consigned to Hell, but it was known as the bad section of HADES, as I explained above.
Catholic Apologetics International
October 18, 2001