to the silence of the other Gospel accounts regarding this event. A consideration of the various Gospel accounts will show, however, that even the writers of the synoptic Gospels did not each recount every deed of Jesus. For example, only Luke reported the raising of the son of the widow of Nain. (Luke 7:11-15) John did not customarily repeat what others had recorded. The resurrection of Lazarus is a notable instance of this.
This miracle of Lazarus’ resurrection served well as part of Jesus’ ministry, both to illustrate the power of the Son of God and to increase faith in him and the resurrection. (John 11:4, 41, 42) These events occurred evidently near the beginning of the year 33 C.E. The Scriptures do not furnish information as to the circumstances, place or time of Lazarus’ death for a second time.
There is no Biblical statement nor any reason for linking the historical Lazarus with the beggar of Jesus’ illustration of the rich man and Lazarus.
2. The name given to the beggar in Jesus’ illustration commonly known as the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. (Luke 16:19-31) In the Vulgate the word “rich” has been rendered by the Latin adjective dives, which is often mistakenly used as the proper name of the rich man. However, the Jewish name Lazarus itself was common in ancient times, a fact borne out by ossuary inscriptions.
In the parable, the ulcerous beggar, Lazarus, was put at the gate of the rich man, desiring to be fed with the things that fell from the rich man’s sumptuous table. Lazarus subsequently died and was carried off by angels to the bosom position of Abraham (a place comparable to that occupied by a person in ancient times when he reclined in front of another on the same couch during a meal). Abraham had a conversation with the rich man, who had also died, was buried and was in Hades, existing in torments. A “great chasm” that could not be crossed separated the rich man from Abraham and Lazarus. The rich man’s request that Abraham send Lazarus to his five brothers to “give them a thorough witness,” in the hope of sparing them the same experience, met with rejection on the grounds that these had “Moses and the Prophets,” and, if unwilling to listen to them, “neither will they be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.”—See ILLUSTRATIONS.
Teachers and students of comparative religion have in some cases suggested that in giving this illustration Jesus Christ drew upon the ancient rabbinical concept and teaching regarding the underworld. Josephus furnishes the following information regarding the then-current view of the Pharisees in this regard: “They also believe that souls have an immortal vigour in them, and that under the earth there will be rewards or punishments, according as they have lived virtuously or viciously in this life; and the latter are to be detained in an everlasting prison, but that the former shall have power to revive and live again.” (Antiquities of the Jews, Book XVIII, chap. I, par. 3) However, Jesus flatly rejected false teachings, including those of the Pharisees. (Matt. chap. 23) Hence, it would have been inconsistent for him to frame his illustration of the rich man and Lazarus according to the outlines of the false rabbinical concept of the underworld. Consequently, it must be concluded that Jesus had in mind the fulfillment of the illustration and framed its details and movement in harmony with the facts of the fulfillment rather than according to any unscriptural teaching.
The context and the wording of the story show clearly that it is a parable and not an actual historical account. Poverty is not being extolled, nor are riches being condemned, but, rather, faith, conduct, final rewards and a reversal in the spiritual status or condition of those represented by Lazarus and the rich man are evidently indicated. The fact that the rich man’s brothers rejected Moses and the prophets also shows that the illustration had a deeper meaning and purpose than that of contrasting poverty and the possession of riches.
Disinclination or aversion to effort or work; idleness; indolence; slothfulness; sluggishness. The Hebrew root word ʽa·tsalʹ may mean “to lean, recline or repose.” The primary idea seems to be that of laxness, languor. Forms of this word are translated “lazy,” “laziness,” “sluggish.” The Greek word o·kne·rosʹ means “slow, tardy, hesitant, slothful or sluggish,” when referring to persons. Another term, no·throsʹ, means “slow, sluggish, dull.”
Jehovah and his Son, as the two greatest Workers, hate laziness. Jesus said: “My Father has kept working until now, and I keep working.” (John 5:17) Throughout God’s Word the lazy person is warned and laziness is condemned. The lazy person is not one such as the apostle Paul speaks of as having “self-sufficiency” or contentment with “sustenance and covering.” (1 Tim. 6:6-8) Rather, he has desires for things, usually for much more than food or clothing. “The lazy one is showing himself desirous, but his soul has nothing.” (Prov. 13:4) Also, he has no consideration or respect for his fellowman, but is willing to let someone else do his work, even to let another person provide him with the things he desires.—Prov. 20:4.
THE LAZY MAN’S THINKING
A description of the lazy man is given in the book of Proverbs. First of all, he throws up barriers in his own mind to justify himself in not starting on a project. “The way of the lazy one is like a brier hedge.” (Prov. 15:19) He views his task as a road ahead filled with briers, very difficult to traverse. Then he makes ridiculous excuses for his slothfulness, saying: “There is a lion outside! In the midst of the public squares I shall be murdered!” as if a danger that actually does not exist attended the job. (Prov. 22:13) Frequently laziness is accompanied by cowardice, a fearful holding back. (Matt. 25:26, NW, 1950 ed., ftn.; 2 Tim. 1:7) Even though counseled and prompted by others, he turns over on his bed ‘like a door on its pivot,’ as one who cannot get up. He is too lazy even to feed himself. He “has hidden his hand in the banquet bowl; he has become too weary to bring it back to his mouth.” (Prov. 26:14, 15; 19:24) But he has deceived himself so that he thinks in his own heart that he is right.
Such an individual indulges in specious and imaginary reasoning. He may think that work will injure his health, or that he is too tired. He may feel that ‘the world owes him a living.’ Or, he puts off a job until “tomorrow.” (Prov. 20:4) Any little thing he has done may make him feel he has done his part, as much as anyone else. Whereas all diligent men could give a sensible reply to any of such arguments, he is “wiser in his own eyes,” feeling that they are the foolish ones for exerting themselves and trying to encourage him to do the same.—Prov. 26:13-16.
THE REWARD OF LAZINESS
While the lazy individual may think he will get busy later, the reward of his laziness suddenly catches up with him and it is too late, for, he is told: “A little more sleep, a little more slumbering, a little more folding of the hands in lying down, and your poverty will certainly come just like some rover, and your want like an armed man.”—Prov. 6:9-11.
Whether taken literally or figuratively, the description of the lazy man’s situation is true: “I passed along by the field of the lazy individual and by the vineyard of the man in need of heart. And, look! all of it produced weeds. Nettles covered its very surface, and its stone wall itself had been torn down.” “Through great laziness the beamwork sinks in, and through the letting down of the hands the house leaks.”—Prov. 24:30, 31; Eccl. 10:18.
Whoever hires the lazy person, or whomever he represents, is bound to be disappointed and vexed and will suffer loss, for, “as vinegar to the teeth and