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CHAPTER TWO

ABRAHAM’S BOSOM

 

In the New Testament we find in Luke 16 Jesus in the parable describes the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Both died. Lazarus was taken to Abraham's bosom the place of rest for the righteous and faithful. The Rich man was taken nearby but in another compartment which was so near that they could see each other.

 

Luke 16:19-31 The Rich Man and Lazarus

19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side.6 The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.‘ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house— 28 for I have five brothers7—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.‘ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.‘ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.‘ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’ ”

 

The following is the picture being painted.

 

 

Abraham's bosom is found frequently in the rabbinical writings. The Greek word has its Hebrew counterpart meaning a royal park or garden. This is where all the righteous from the time of Adam went and this is where they waited until they were redeemed.

 

Abraham's bosom contrasts with the destination of a rich man who ends up in Hades. The account corresponds closely with documented 1st century A.D. Jewish beliefs (see above), that the dead were gathered into a general tarrying-place, made equivalent with the Sheol of the Old Testament. In Christ's account, the righteous occupied an abode of their own which was distinctly separated by a chasm. This chasm in the Jewish version is a river. (illumination from the Codex Aureus of Echternach).

 

top: Richman in plenty and Lazarus at the door

middle: Lazarus dead and taken to Abraham‘s bosom where he is comforted

Bottom: Richman died and taken to fiery Hades(Sheol).

 

The Septuagint (the ancient translation of the Old Testament into Greek), the Greek term  (Hades) is used to translate the Hebrew term  (Sheol) in, for example, Isaiah 38:18. This use refer the term hades to the abode of the dead in general, rather than the abode of the wicked.

According to the Jewish conceptions of that day, the souls of the dead were gathered into a general tarrying-place called Sheol , which is called Hades in the New Testament writings (cf. Luke 16:22; in the Greek16:23). Even though God has notjudged them yet, both the righteous and the unrighteous will reap the fruits of their work by natural consequences. A local discrimination, however, existed among them, according to their deeds during their mortal life.

 

In the unseen world of the dead the souls of the righteous occupied an abode or compartment of their own which was distinctly separated by a wall or a chasm from the abode or compartment to which the souls of the wicked were consigned. The latter was a place of torments usually spoken of as Gehenna (cf. Matthew 5:29, 30; 18:9; Mark 9:42 . in the Latin Vulgate) — the other, a place of bliss and security known under the names of "Paradise" (cf.Luke 23:43) and "the Bosom of Abraham" (Luke 16:22-23). God's law of sowing and reaping already exists in the nature. In effect each person judges himself/herself as one live.

 

Since the righteous dead are rewarded in the bosom of Abraham before Judgment Day, this belief represents a form of particular judgment.

 

 

The Bosom of Abraham the former Priory of AIspach,AIsace. (Unterlinden Museum, Colmar)

9

 

 

Abraham holding little figures of souls in a cloth, representing the "bosom", as angels bring additional figures. Reims Cathedral

 

The word found in the Greek text for "bosom" is kolpos, meaning "lap" "bay". This relates to the Second Temple period practice of reclining and eating meals in proximity to other guests, the closest of whom physically was said to lie on the bosom (chest) of the host. (See John 13:23 )

 

This explanation is in consonance with the explanations of later Christian fathers. The understanding of both Eastern Orthodoxy and Oriental Orthodoxy preserves the Bosom of Abraham as distinct from heaven ( Life After Death by Metropolitan Hierotheos)

 

ln the 3rd century, Hippolytus of Rome referred to Abraham's bosom as the place in hades where the righteous await judgment day in delight

.

Augustine of Hippo likewise referred to the righteous dead as disembodied spirits blissfully awaiting Judgment Day in secret receptacles. (Augustine of Hippo, City of God, Book XII)

Up to the time of Maldonatus (A.D. 1583), its origin was traced back the universal custom of parents to take up into their arms, or place upon their knees, their children when they are fatigued, or return home, and to make them rest by their side during the night (cf. 2 Samuel 12:3; 1 Kings 3:20; 17:19; Luke 11:7 sqq.), thus causing them to enjoy rest and security in the bosom of a loving parent.

After the same manner was Abraham supposed to act towards his children after the fatigues and troubles of the present life, hence the metaphorical expression

"to be in Abraham's Bosom" as meaning to be in repose and happiness with him.

 

 

According to Maldonatus (1583), whose theory has since been accepted by many scholars, the metaphor "to be in Abraham's Bosom" is derived from the custom of reclining on couches at table which prevailed among the Jews during and before the time of Jesus. As at a feast each guest leaned on his left elbow so as to leave his right arm at liberty, and as two or more lay on the same couch, the head of one man was near the breast of the man who lay behind, and he was therefore said "to lie in the bosom" of the other.

 

It was also considered by the Jews of old a mark of special honour and favour for one to be allowed to lie in the bosom of the master of the feast (cf. John 13:23), and it is by this illustration that they pictured the next world. They conceived of the reward of the righteous dead as a sharing in a banquet given by Abraham, "the father of the faithful" (cf. Matthew 8:11 -), and of the highest form of that reward as lying in "Abraham's Bosom".

 

During the Second Temple period (roughly 500 BCE-70 CE) the concept of a Bosom of Abraham first occurs in Jewish papyri which refer to the "Bosom of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob". This reflects the belief of Jewish martyrs who died expecting that: "after our death in this fashion Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob will receive us and all our forefathers will praise us" (4 Maccabees 13:17).

 

ABRAHAM‘S BOSOM

 

"Baker's Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology

Unique phrase found in a parable of Jesus describing the place where Lazarus went after death (Luke 16:19-31). It is a figurative phrase that appears to have been drawn from a popular belief that the righteous would rest by Abraham's side in the world to come, an opinion described in Jewish literature at the time of Christ. The word kolpos [kovlpo"] literally refers to the side or lap of a person. Figuratively, as in this case, it refers to a place of honor reserved for a special guest, similar to its usage in John 13:23. In the case of Lazarus, the reserved

place is special because it is beside Abraham, the father of all the righteous. The phrase may be synonymous to the paradise promised to the thief on the cross (Luke 23:43). Together these passages support the conviction that a believer enjoys immediate bliss at the moment of physical death.

Sam Hamstra, Jr "

 

 

"lnternational Standard Bible Encyclopedia

booz'-um (kolpos Abraam; kolpoi Abraam):

 

Figurative. The expression occurs in Luke 16:22,23, in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, to denote the place of repose to which Lazarus was carried after his death. The figure is suggested by the practice of the guest at a feast reclining on the breast of his neighbor.

 

Thus, John leaned on the breast of Jesus at supper (John 21:20). The rabbis divided the state after death (Sheol) into a place for the righteous and a place for the wicked  but it is doubtful whether the figure of Jesus quite corresponds with this idea. "Abraham's bosom" is not spoken of as in "Hades," but rather as distinguished from it (Luke 16:23)--a place of blessedness by itself. There Abraham receives, as at a feast, the truly faithful, and admits them to closest intimacy. It may be regarded as equivalent to the "Paradise" of Luke 23:43. 

James Orr"

 

 

"CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPEDIA

In the Holy Bible, the expression "the Bosom of Abraham" is found only in two verses of St. Luke's Gospel (16:22-23). It occurs in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus the imagery of which is plainly drawn from the popular representations of the unseen world of the dead which were current in Our Lord's time. According to the Jewish conceptions of that day, the souls of the dead were gathered into a general tarrying-place the Sheol of the Old Testament literature,

and the Hades of the New Testament writings (cf. Luke 16:22; in the Greek 16:23). A local discrimination, however, existed among them, according to their deeds during their mortal life.

 

In the unseen world of the dead the souls of the righteous occupied an abode or compartment of their own which was distinctly separated by a wall or a chasm from the abode or compartment to which the souls of the wicked were consigned. The latter was a place of torments usually spoken of as Gehenna (cf. Matthew 5:29, 30; 18:9; Mark 9:42 sqq. in the Latin Vulgate) — the other, a place of bliss and security known under the names of "Paradise" (cf. Luke 23:43) and "the Bosom of Abraham" (Luke 16:22-23). And it is in harmony with these Jewish conceptions that Our Lord pictured the terrible fate of the selfish Rich Man, and on the contrary, the glorious reward of the patient Lazarus. In the next life Dives found himself in Gehenna, condemned to the most excruciating torments, whereas Lazarus was carried by the angels into "the Bosom of Abraham", where the righteous dead shared in the repose and felicity of Abraham "the father of the faithful". But while commentators generally agree upon the meaning of the figurative expression "the Bosom of Abraham", as designating the blissful

abode of the righteous souls after death, they are at variance with regard to the manner in which the phrase itself originated. Up to the time of Maldonatus (A.D. 1583), its origin was traced back to the universal custom of parents to take up into their arms, or place upon their knees, their children when they are fatigued, or return home, and to make them rest by their side during the night (cf. 2 Samuel 12:2; 1 Kings 3:20; 17:19; Luke 11:7 sqq.), thus causing them to enjoy rest and security in the bosom of a loving parent. After the same manner was

Abraham supposed to act towards his children after the fatigues and troubles of the present life, hence the metaphorical expression "to be in Abraham's Bosom" as meaning to be in repose and happiness with him. But according to Maldonatus (In Lucam, xvi, 22), whose theory has since been accepted by many scholars, the metaphor "to be in Abraham's Bosom" is derived from the custom of reclining on couches at table which prevailed among the Jews during and before the time of Christ. As at a feast each guest leaned on his left elbow so as to leave his right arm at liberty, and as two or more lay on the same couch, the head of one man was near the breast of the man who lay behind, and he was therefore said "to lie in the bosom" of the other. It was also considered by the Jews of old a mark of special honour and favour for one to be allowed to lie in the bosom of the master of the feast (cf. John 13:23). And it is by this illustration that they pictured the next world. They conceived of the reward of the righteous

dead as a sharing in a banquet given by Abraham, "the father of the faithful" (cf. Matthew 8:11sqq.), and of the highest form of that reward as lying in "Abraham's Bosom". Since the coming of Our Lord, "the Bosom of Abraham" gradually ceased to designate a place of imperfect happiness, and it has become synonymous with Heaven itself. In their writings the Fathers of the Church mean by that expression sometimes the abode of the righteous dead before they

were admitted to the Beatific Vision after the death of the Saviour, sometimes Heaven, into which the just of the New Law are immediately introduced upon their demise. When in her liturgy the Church solemnly prays that the angels may carry the soul of one of her departed children to "Abraham's Bosom", she employs the expression to designate Heaven and its endless bliss in company with the faithful of both Testaments, and in particular with Abraham, the father of them all. This passage of the expression "the Bosom of Abraham" from an

imperfect and limited sense to one higher and fuller is a most natural one, and is in full harmony with the general character of the New Testament dispensation as a complement and fulfilment of the Old Testament revelation.