What does Luke 16:31 mean?
ESV: 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.’”
NIV: He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.''
NASB: But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’?'
CSB: "But he told him, 'If they don't listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded if someone rises from the dead.' "
NLT: But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’'
KJV: And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
NKJV: But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ ”
Verse Commentary:
Abraham finishes his argument with an eternally condemned man. This man had been rich in life, living in a mansion, eating sumptuous food, and wearing expensive clothing. Outside his gate sat Lazarus, a beggar, starving and covered in sores. They both died; Abraham met Lazarus in paradise while the rich man went to torment in Hades (Luke 16:19–23). The rich man is convinced that if Abraham sends Lazarus to his brothers, they will escape his fate. They will change their ways, be more charitable, and go to paradise. Abraham points out that the Mosaic law and the Prophets have more and stronger messages than a single person returned from the dead. The rich man insists they will respond. Abraham knows they won't (Luke 16:27–30).

Jesus is telling this story to the Pharisees. Hopefully, they recognize themselves in the rich man. They value money over God and neglect the needs of others (Luke 16:14–17). They continually look for miraculous signs to corroborate Jesus' teaching but ignore them when Jesus complies (John 9). Ironically, they are getting the rich man's message: the story is the message. But Abraham's right; if they reject the Law and Prophets, no sign is going to change their minds. Jesus will literally raise a man named Lazarus from the dead, and they will react by trying to kill him (Luke 11:1–53; 12:9–11)! And far too many will continue to reject Jesus, whom the Prophets describe in detail, after His resurrection.

Like the Pharisees, people today tend to think that faith is an involuntary reaction that happens when the right evidence is offered in the right way. Many people lament that they can't "just believe," or that they are expected to make themselves express faith. That is a passive way to look at belief. Faith isn't blind. It doesn't come out of nowhere and zap our brains. Coming to faith is much more like a staircase. We see something that gives evidence that God is real and we take that step. Then we have faith for the next step, perhaps believing the Bible that it is God who provides what we see around us in creation (Romans 1:18–20). Then we see something else, like one person forgiving another, and take one more step. Then we read in the Bible that God wants to forgive us, and we believe.

The problem with us is that, like the Pharisees, we all have personal agendas that push against the idea that God is at work in our lives. We build a staircase of belief that leads us away from God. Or we push the goal out further and further, so it's always out of reach. Then, we blame Him that He didn't give us enough evidence. We need to understand that the journey of faith also requires choice. The rich man's brothers needed to choose to believe what their Scriptures said about God's expectations. The Pharisees needed to choose to believe what their Scriptures said about the Messiah. We need to do the same.

If we don't believe God's Word, it's very unlikely we'll believe more signs (Matthew 12:38–39). Without His Word, we can interpret His signs in a way that denies He exists and justify living however we want. Unless we choose to accept the truth, we'll be with the rich man in torment, knowing exactly how we got there.
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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