Parable From Hell

scot-mcknight1One of my favourite Bible teachers is Scot McKnight. I appreciate his historical study of Scripture, his respect for church history and also for his strong focus on helping the church be what God has called it to be in the 21st century.

He recently gave a short teaching at Fuller Theological Seminary in which he looked at Luke 16:19-31, which is Jesus’ well-known parabolic teaching on hell (or really hades).

In the short teaching, McKnight says that our focus on this parable is not really in line with Jesus’ main point. The text isn’t given so much to teach us whether God’s judgement entails eternal conscious punishment or that of annihilationism. Rather this parable teaches us something connected to the figure of Lazarus.

What is it? Watch the short teaching below. And just to say, as the teaching finished, tears began welling up in my eyes.

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6 thoughts on “Parable From Hell

  1. Sorry, but I don’t believe this parable was primarily about social justice. That was merely the “hook” that got people listening to the parable. But the POINT of the parable starts in vs. 27. That they didn’t know the truth (spirit) of the Law even though they claimed to know the Law (Moses) and the Prophets. He was using their own mythos against them to make the point that they had MISSED the point. The last part was disguised prophecy — if they didn’t “get it” already, they would still be blind if/when someone (Jesus) came back from the dead. The context tells us this is about the Law and them using it to their own ends (to make themselves look good) rather than really understanding its message – to have and show love for God and for each other – like the Kingdom of God should/will be..

    • Ken –

      I think we can get off-track with the concept of ‘social justice’. Let’s lay that aside and see that the rule of God calls us to care for Lazarus.

  2. Scott, there’s nothing wrong with making an application from the parable that Jesus wants us to care for “Lazarus”. He does teach us to care for the poor. But this parable also does not contradict Jesus’ teaching elsewhere that unrepentant sinners go to hell after they die; that it’s a place of torment and punishment; and that people don’t get a 2nd chance after death to repent. Jesus warned people to be afraid of the God who can send both body and soul to hell– death is not the end and is not the worst thing that can happen to us. He consistently taught that there will be some who are not saved and will go to hell because they do not repent. This parable is in line with His teaching that there are eternal consequences to our choices in this life. This parable may not be meant as an accurate and detailed depiction of the nature of hell (as stated, it may be more about the intermediate state in Hades). Mr. McKnight’s interpretation/application focuses on one thing the parable teaches, but certainly does not exhaust its meaning nor show that the parable contradicts the traditional view of hell.

    • “Jesus warned people to be afraid of the God who can send both body and soul to hell….”

      The verse you referenced does not say SEND to Hell, it says DESTROY in Hell. This echoes what the OT says in Ez 18:20 – Souls that sin will die (not live forever). WIthout the sustaining life provided by God, our bodies and ultimately our souls WILL DIE. Nothing lives without God holding it together and sustaining it. Why would God sustain life just to torture it for eternity? For OUR sense of “justice”? It just makes no sense, and doesn’t fit with the picture of God we see throughout the Bible. Nowhere in scripture do we see someone tortured for justice’s sake. Killed yes, but not tortured. God says He chastises those He loves to CORRECT them. It may hurt, but it has a greater purpose. Eternal punishment would serve no purpose but to make US feel satisfied that those who “deserve” it get what’s coming to them. How is that LOVE?

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