Abraham's bosom – What is it?

The reference to Abraham's bosom is found only in Luke 16:22. The passage in Luke 16:19-31 is one in which Jesus discussed a rich man and poor man, named Lazarus. Both men died; the rich man entered eternal torment and Lazarus "was carried by the angels to Abraham's side" (Luke 16:22). What is Abraham's side or Abraham's bosom (KJV)?

One clear observation is that Abraham's side is where Abraham now lives. When Jesus referred to Abraham, He was giving His audience the highest example of a person they would know was in heaven. In Matthew 22:31-32 Jesus taught, "And as for the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was said to you by God: 'I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not God of the dead, but of the living." Jesus was clear Abraham was in heaven with God. Being with Abraham was a clear indication that a person was in heaven.

Lazarus was carried by angels. Angels are generally mentioned in Scripture as being in God's presence. Since Lazarus was carried by angels to Abraham's side or bosom, it is again clear Abraham's bosom is a reference to going to heaven.

Abraham in the story clearly notes that Abraham's side was part of the afterlife: "Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things" (Luke 16:25a). On earth, the situation had been reversed from what was experienced in the afterlife. Abraham's side was a place of comfort. He said, "Now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish" (v. 25b). The rich man was now in torment apart from God. Where else could a person be in the afterlife if not in hell? Only heaven and hell are offered as destinations for the afterlife in the Bible, leaving heaven as the only other option for Abraham's bosom.

These observations make it clear that Abraham's side or Abraham's bosom is a reference to being in heaven. This would have been clearly understood by the original audience of Jesus, the Jewish readers of the gospel accounts, and is the intended understanding for readers today.

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