Where Was Lazarus?

Notice that the rich man found himself in Hades , but he could see Lazarus in another place with Abraham. In fact, Lazarus is spoken of as being in “Abraham’s bosom,” not a name for the place but probably a reference to the comfort Lazarus was receiving from Abraham upon his arrival in that place.

How great of a distance was there between the rich man and Lazarus after they had died?

Scripture says the rich man saw Lazarus “far away,” and we are told there was a “great chasm fixed” between them. So the distance between them is a matter of speculation. It seems reasonable to conclude, however, that the distance between them was not so great as the distance between the heart of the earth and heaven. Otherwise, it would seem that it would have been quite impossible for the rich man to have been able to see Lazarus (apart from divine help), and there would hardly have been a need to mention or even have a “great chasm fixed” between the two locations specifically to prevent anyone from crossing from one to the other. Moreover, the rich man “cried out” to Abraham and Abraham spoke back to him. This would lead us to think they were fairly close to one another as they spoke across the “great chasm.”

All of this leads me to believe that Lazarus was not in what we call heaven, but rather in a separate compartment within the earth.[1] It must have been the place that Jesus referred to as Paradise to the repentant thief. It was to this Paradise in the heart of the earth that the Old Testament righteous went after their deaths. It was where Lazarus went and where Jesus and the repentant thief went.

It is also apparently where the prophet Samuel went after his death. We read in 1 Samuel 28 that when God permitted the spirit of the dead prophet Samuel to appear and speak prophetically to Saul, the medium of En-dor described Samuel as “a divine being coming up out of the earth” (1 Sam. 28:13, emphasis added). Samuel himself said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” (1 Sam. 28:15, emphasis added). Apparently, Samuel’s spirit/soul had been in Paradise in the earth.

Scripture seems to support the fact that at Christ’s resurrection, Paradise was emptied, and those righteous people who died during the time of the Old Testament were taken to heaven with Jesus. The Bible says that when Jesus ascended to heaven from the lower parts of the earth, “He led captive a host of captives” (Eph. 4:8-9; Ps. 68:18). Those captives I assume to be all those who were living in Paradise. Jesus certainly didn’t release people from Sheol/Hades![2]

[1] Notice also that both Lazarus and the rich man, although separated from their bodies, were very conscious and possessed all their faculties such as sight, touch and hearing. They could experience pain and comfort and remember past experiences. This disproves the theory of “soul sleep,” the idea that people go into an unconscious state when they die, awaiting to regain consciousness at the resurrection of their bodies.

[2] It is thought by some, and perhaps rightfully, that the captives spoken of in Ephesians 4:8-9 are all of us where were captive to sin, now made free through Christ’s resurrection.