To understand the parable of Lazarus and the rich man, one must first recognize that in this age of ours, not everyone is privileged to be called and drawn by God to Jesus to become Jesus’ disciples.
John 6:44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.
Those who has the attitude to continue to be taught by Jesus will be taught the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven (KOH or KOG).
One such mystery not known to the many is that, while all will die, there is a resurrection of the dead. Man will rise from the state of being dead. But not at the same time. There is an order.
1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 23 But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.
In the parable, Lazarus and the rich man must have been descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They were Israelites (verses 27-29). Lazarus was privileged to be called by God and he became a follower of Jesus. Then, he died. Abraham, the friend of God, had died a long time ago as were those who knew and followed God. But they are still dead and buried even now. They have not yet been resurrected to life yet as promised to them. They will be resurrected together with the “saints”, the Holy Spirit begotten people in this age.
Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.
The men of faith will be resurrected when Jesus returns described in 1 Corinthians 15 and in 1 Thessalonians 4. Among those resurrected were Abraham and Lazarus.
There is a long period of time between the resurrections of Lazarus, and the rich man. While they died in the same period, not necessarily at the same time, they were resurrected at different times. Lazarus was resurrected together with Abraham and the saints at Christ’s coming, while the rich man was resurrected long after the reign of Jesus Christ with the saints on the earth (Revelation 20:11-20).
While Abraham and Lazarus were changed to spirit, immortal, when resurrected, the rich man was resurrected back to physical state. With flesh and bones. Mortal. The rich man was resurrected, given his chance to know Jesus, the Creator, but chose to be not ruled by God. Hence, he was sentenced to perish in the lake of fire.
With this as the backgrounder, we pick up the account beginning with Luke 16:22, 1st part.
Luke 16:22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom.
When are those who make it to the KOG “carried by the angels”? This is when Jesus returns.
Matthew 24:30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
“Abraham’s bosom” is a phrase in reference to the place where the changed to spirit overcomers will be.
In verse 22 2nd part, it is clear that the “rich man also died and was buried”.
The moment between death and resurrection would seem just a split second to the person. While being dead, his thoughts perish, he knows nothing.
Ecclesiastes 9:5 For the living know that they will die; But the dead know nothing, And they have no more reward, For the memory of them is forgotten.
Then, when resurrected, he thinks that it was just moments ago when he lost consciousness.
The rich man’s being in torments in Hades is an event which takes place after he is raised back to physical life (Revelation 20:11) from the state of being dead to be punished (Luke 19:27). During his second physical lifetime, he did not choose to make God to reign over him. He did not believe in the Son of God in conducting his life. He was moments before being thrown to the lake of fire.
Luke 16:24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’
The “great gulf” is the state of Abraham and Lazarus being already changed to spirit (1 Corinthians 15:50-52) while the rich man was still physical (Revelation 12-13).
His being still in torment means that he was still not in the hellfire but merely near it. Otherwise, he would not have been able to talk if he was already in it.
He asked Abraham, being concerned with his relatives, to at least let them know about the truth of the KOG. He didn’t know that his relatives had long been dead also. There is no hint as to whether some of them became followers of Jesus or not.
Luke 16:27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 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.
The lesson of this parable is that God is drawing now persons to become Jesus’ disciples and later, if they choose, to be gifted with the Holy Spirit in order to follow Jesus. The person has to overcome trials of faith so that the Holy Spirit in him will be used as guide, power and finisher of the converted person’s job to make more manifest in him the “new man” relegating his “old man” behind.
As an overcomer and one who grows in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ by following Jesus commandment to love another as Jesus loved us, the person will be changed to spirit and be like God (Genesis 1:26, 1 John 3:2) and be in the kingdom of God as God intended man to be. Otherwise, he will perish as John 3:16 plainly states.