What does Luke 16:30 mean?
ESV: And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’
NIV: 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'
NASB: But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’
CSB: " 'No, father Abraham,' he said. 'But if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.'
NLT: The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’
KJV: And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
NKJV: And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’
Verse Commentary:
The rich man makes one last argument. He has died and is in Hades, tormented by flames. A man named Lazarus, who once begged at the rich man's gate, is with Abraham in paradise. The rich man wants Abraham to send Lazarus to his five brothers to warn them that if they don't change their lives, they will join him (Luke 16:19–28). Abraham tells him, "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them" (Luke 16:29). The rich man insists that they need more. He may be thinking of his own fate, in which case he is subtly blaming God for not giving him enough information to make the right choice.

The wealthy man's complaint implies that God is withholding truth from those who sincerely desire it. The truth is that those who want to reject God can never have enough evidence, or experience, even miracles. No matter what happens, such unbelievers always claim to need a little more: one more miracle, one more sign, one more message. Abraham closes the argument by saying, "If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead" (Luke 16:31). This is as true of the modern God-denier as it ever was of the ancient Pharisees (Romans 1:18–20; Psalm 19:1).

Jesus is telling this story to a group of Pharisees whose love of money and cruelty toward people strongly indicate they do not worship God as they claim (Luke 16:14–15). Throughout His ministry, they have constantly asked for signs (Luke 11:16); when Jesus agrees, they reject the miracle and claim Satan is behind the event (Luke 11:14–15; John 9:16).

Pharisees say they follow the law of Moses, but they use their Oral Law to cut loopholes for their own benefit (Mark 7:1–13). They claim to value the Prophets of the Old Testament but are purposefully blind to how they point to Jesus as the Messiah. Abraham—and Jesus—know that "just one more" miracle isn't going to make a difference.

That truth foreshadows real events. This story seems to be a tale meant to make a point and not a description of real events. But not long before the crucifixion, Jesus' friend—coincidentally named Lazarus, of Bethany—will die, and Jesus will raise him from the dead. The Jewish religious leaders, including the Pharisees, don't respond with sudden insight that Jesus is from God. They respond in fear that more people will follow Jesus. So, they plan to kill both Jesus and Lazarus (John 11:1–53; 12:9–11).
Verse Context:
Luke 16:19–31 contains the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Lazarus, a poor beggar, dies and goes to "Abraham's bosom" while a rich man dies and goes to torment. The rich man begs Abraham first for some relief and then to warn his brothers; Abraham insists they have been warned enough. There are several applications: our feelings about money often reveal our devotion to God; once someone dies, their fate is sealed; and if the Pharisees cannot see Jesus in the Mosaic law and the Prophets, they'll never see the truth of who He is in miracles—even someone returning from the dead.
Chapter Summary:
Teaching His disciples and confronting the Pharisees, Jesus offers several lessons about wealth and devotion to God. The first is a parable about a dishonest manager. This illustrates the value of being careful and clever with earthly resources. Jesus then uses remarks about the Law and marriage to introduce the story of the rich man and Lazarus. This not only highlights the dangers of greed, but it also debunks the common claim that a non-believer would submit to God if only they saw "a little more evidence" or a miracle.
Chapter Context:
The prior chapter included Jesus' teachings centered on lost things: the lost sheep, the lost coin, and the prodigal son. Luke 16 includes several of Jesus' lessons about living in the kingdom of God compared to the world system, beginning and ending with parables (Luke 16:1—17:10). Chapter 16 includes the parable of the dishonest manager, Jesus' teaching on how money reveals faith, and the story of the rich man and Lazarus. Luke 17:1–10 teaches about whether Christ-followers bear responsibility for others' sin, lessons about faith, and the parable of the unworthy servants.
Book Summary:
Luke was a traveling companion of Paul (Acts 16:10) and a physician (Colossians 4:14). Unlike Matthew, Mark, and John, Luke writes his gospel as an historian, rather than as a first-hand eyewitness. His extensive writings also include the book of Acts (Acts 1:1–3). These are deliberately organized, carefully researched accounts of those events. The gospel of Luke focuses on the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ. Luke's Gentile perspective presents Christ as a Savior for all people, offering both forgiveness and direction to those who follow Him.
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