Motives of the Damned

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DJ JapaScot
This is a direct quote from my blog at The Realm of my Imagination on another exegetical topic that I have been working through, and since the last one I posted seems to have gone over so well, I'd like to start another.

An interesting question was raised amidst the elders of my church after the sermon yesterday, that greatly aroused my interests. The passage in question was Luke 16:19-31 which reads:

"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. 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 brothers—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."

Now, if you look carefully at the passage (verse 28) you might notice that the rich man seems to be suggesting that a messenger be sent to warn his five brothers out of sheer selflessness...but consider that notion from a Calvinistic perspective for a moment. If the man is in Hell, that means that he is completely given over to God's wrath, while all of God's grace is removed from him. In short, he is totally depraved and given over to his own sinfulness for an eternity of punishment.

If this is the case, then how can he be appearing to act so selflessly? Wouldn't he only be concerned for his own well-being? Otherwise, he would only be mostly-depraved (MULIP doesn't have the quite the same ring as

Several possibilities were offered as potential solutions to this dilemma, which I will share below, but the authors of these theories shall remain anonymous. I will not further one above the other and are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Rather I will share them with you in order that you may form your own opinions on the matter, which I encourage you to share below.

The first theory was that being a parable, the details themselves couldn't be pushed too far. Thus trying to assign motives to his request was not the point of the message.

The next theory was that though the rich man was in Hell, he was still an image-bearer of God, as all men are (Gen 1:26) and that as such, no matter how completely given over to sin he would be, the image of his Creator would still be evident within him...even if it would like trying to view objects through a wall made up of cinder blocks. The image would still be there...just incredibly twisted and marred.

Finally it was suggested that perhaps the rich man was suggesting that his brothers be spared from the coming wrath that they might offer him (perhaps the oldest brother of the five?) some refreshment since Abraham and Lazarus would not. His thinking may have run along the lines of "surely they would not deny me".

At any rate, it is an interesting matter to consider, and I would be greatly interested to learn your own interpretations of this passage, if you would be willing to share them.

NOTE: A final theory offered in a comment was as follows:
"What if the man was asking merely to get Lazarus out of Heaven?"


Puritan Board Junior
I am struggling with the possibility that all sin is removed in Hell but only by intense pain. The motives are purified by fire, if that is the case.

This half-baked idea (I kill me) is from 1. this parable/story and the apparent humble and contrite spirit the man has including love for his brothers and 2. that John the Baptist heralded Christ as the Lamb who "takes away" the sin of the world.

If he takes it away, then all the cosmos would be pure.

Again, this is half-baked I admit.


Unshaven and anonymous
Staff member
Bryan, that sounds rather like universalism, a la Origen (or The Brothers Karamazov). Half-baked is not the term that's been applied to it historically.


Puritan Board Junior
Also, if the man was able to save his brothers indirectly, he could have been "pleased" to an extent for all eternity for having done something good. More despair. He can't do good ever, either before death or after.


Puritan Board Junior
Bryan, that sounds rather like universalism, a la Origen (or The Brothers Karamazov). Half-baked is not the term that's been applied to it historically

Thanks Ruben.

But, the man would still be in hell and separated from God. So, he is not saved from his punishment.

Also, what is burning in Hell? flesh? souls? sin?
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