As a theologian, I have made it a routine to pick a story from the Bible and study it intensively. Lately, I have been intrigued by the story of the rich man and Lazarus. I got the chance to sit down with my college professor and a few of my friends in the ministry to analyze and share information on these two characters. A few days ago, when I brought up the topic to my theology students, one of them asked about the final fate of the rich man. Since I already had the relevant scriptures at my fingertips and had done thorough research on the topic, I was able to give him a comprehensive answer. So, did the rich man go to Heaven?
Luke 16:22-23 states that when the rich man died, he was buried. After that, the scripture describes that he was in Hades, which is a place where the dead are tormented. This is unlike Lazarus, whom the angels had carried to be by Abraham’s side. So, no, the rich man did not go to Heaven.
Join me as I look into what the Bible says about the rich man, what his sin was, and whether or not his story determines the fate of others like him in today’s society. Read on to find answers to these questions and more!
Does the Bible say that a rich man can’t go to Heaven?
No, wealth is not a determinant of whether one will go to Heaven; rather, salvation by grace is (Ephesians 2:8-9). There are people in the Bible who were rich but also faithful to God. Abraham, for example, had several servants and livestock, as stated in Genesis 12. The Bible specifies that the love of money is evil and not its possession (1 Timothy 6:10).
Jesus teaches in Matthew 6:24 that it is impossible to serve two masters at a time. So one cannot serve wealth and God. If he chooses to serve God, then he will not put his confidence in his riches. Even Abraham, with his herds and servants, never rested on his riches. Hebrews 11:9-10 states that he looked for the city whose architect and builder is God.
What happened to the rich man in the Bible?
The account of the Rich Man is recorded in Luke 16:19-31. He lived a luxurious life, and a beggar, Lazarus, lay at his gate, hoping to feed off what fell from his table. When Lazarus died, the angels carried him to Heaven. When he died, he was buried and ended up in torment in Hades. While there, he saw Abraham and Lazarus from afar and asked if Lazarus would dip his finger in water and bring it to his tongue.
When Abraham refused, saying it was Lazarus’ turn to be comforted and his to be agonized, he made another request. He asked that Lazarus be sent to his family to warn them so his brothers would not be tormented as he was. Abraham replied that no one could convince his family if they could not listen to Moses and the Prophets.
What was the rich man’s sin?
At the mention of sin, you would expect that the rich man abused Lazarus somehow. However, he did not. The Bible only says that Lazarus lay at his gate. The only sin this man committed was to be indifferent to Lazarus’ situation, which pushes further the teaching that there is no greater sin (Ephesians 2:8). He had no compassion or sympathy for the poor man at his gate. The least he could have done was invite him in for a meal.
Can a rich man go to Heaven?
Yes, a rich man can go to Heaven. This question disturbs many people because Jesus compared the possibility to that of a camel going through the eye of a needle (Matthew 19:24). Let’s, however, not forget all the rich people in the Bible whom we can arguably say have gone or will go to Heaven. Job, Abraham, Solomon, David, Joseph – and the list continues. What makes the difference is what the rich man gives priority to: God or his riches.
Does the Bible mention where the rich man went after he died?
Yes, it does. Luke 16:23 states that the rich man went to Hades, or, in other translations, hell. Bible readers have been conflicted about whether this story is a parable or literal. The fact that it comes in a list of parables has led many to believe that Hades is symbolic because it shouldn’t be possible for someone in hell to look at and physically talk to another in Heaven. True or not, the Bible mentions that the rich man went to Hades after his death.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.