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As the rich man in Hades saw Abraham and Lazarus does that indicate that they were all in Hades, although the latter were a great distance from the former (Lk 16.19-31)?

Some regard Hades in Luke 16 as a locality with a lower region where the rich man went and an upper region called Paradise where the saints go. It is in their view situated in the heart of the earth. As to this I am not convinced from Scripture. Against this theory we may refer to Paul’s mention in 2 Corinthians 12.1-4 of the third heaven as being Paradise. It is the place of the immediate presence of God. Paul then identifies Paradise with heaven. Does this not settle the point as to where Paradise is? Certainly the rich man was not in heaven! I like the words of Norman Crawford in his commentary on Luke: "The great distance, ‘afar off’, between the place of bliss and the place of comfort is the distance between paradise and hades, but I would go further and plainly say that it is the distance between heaven and hell" (What The Bible Teaches: Luke).

It is argued from the solemn passage of Luke 16.19-31 that the dead were in two compartments within sight and speaking distance of each other! It is not said that Lazarus was in Hades, but that he was in Abraham’s bosom. Are we to say that this was in Hades? Scripture is plain on the distance in eternity between the lost and the saved, and there is no mingling of the two together. The language of v.26 seems to indicate two places between which there is a great gulf that cannot be crossed.

Yet it must be said that the word Hades does not only imply location, but rather condition. Abraham and the rich man are in two separate states, the one of bliss the other of misery. Hades is the unseen world of the lost. It would be a strange thing for saved and lost souls to be in the same place in two different states. Abraham’s bosom is a figure of repose and rest. It is a picture of heaven.

John J Stubbs

Which altar is referred to in Hebrews 13.10?

The verse in question states, "We have an altar, whereof they have no right to eat which serve the tabernacle". It is important to establish to whom the pronoun "we" refers in this context. There is no question as to the identity of the "we" in such statements in the Hebrew epistle as, "We have a great high priest" (Heb 4.14); "Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul" (Heb 6.19); and again, "We have such an high priest" (Heb 8.1). The reference is clearly to "we believers", "we Christians".

Albeit that some would suggest that the "we" of "We have an altar" are "we Jews", the context would suggest to the present writer that the reference is to "we Christians". Thus it is a mistake to say that Christians have no altar. But what altar do we have? - certainly not a material altar on earth, for that would contradict the whole teaching of this epistle.

The altar is not the cross itself; indeed no animal was slain on an altar in connection with the Tabernacle offerings. The word "altar" is used here, by the figure of speech known as metonymy, for what is (or was) placed upon it or in association with it, namely the sacrifice. This is the ground of our fellowship: the sacrificial death of Christ, indeed Christ Himself.

Our verse goes on to state, "…whereof they have no right (or authority) to eat which serve the tabernacle". The present tense is used for, although the Tabernacle had been replaced by the Temple, which was at that time still standing, the priesthood remained the same. What the material altar was to the children of Israel, Christ Himself is to believers. Those who serve the earthly, the material, Tabernacle can have no part in Christ. It is upon Him, the living Person, on the ground of His once-for-all sacrifice, that Christians feed.

David E West


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