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Biblical People
Lazarus (laza-rus). [Gr. Lazaros, from a late Jewish or colloquial abbreviation of the Heb. ÕElÔazar, “God has helped.”]

1.    The name of one of the characters in Christ's parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Lk 19:19-31), the only example of Christ's use of a proper name in His parables. Lazarus is pictured as a helpless, diseased beggar who was brought each day and laid at the gate of a certain rich man in hope of finding enough scraps of food from the wealthy man's table to sustain a miserable existence. As he lay there the half-wild scavenger dogs licked at his sores, but the rich man completely ignored him.

Eventually Lazarus died, and later the rich man died also. The parable then represents their respective conditions as being radically reversed. Lazarus was seen by the former rich man as reclining blissfully in *“Abraham's bosom” while he himself was being tormented in *hell. When the rich man appealed to Abraham to send Lazarus to relieve his agonies, Abraham reminded him that he had not aided Lazarus when he had the opportunity. The rich man then requested that Lazarus be sent to warn his still-living brothers, so that they might escape the torments he himself was suffering. Abraham retorted that they had the writings of Moses and the prophets to instruct them, and if they would not heed these, neither would they heed one from the dead.
Tradition names the rich man Dives on the meager grounds that in this parable the Vulgate renders the Gr. plousios (“rich”) by the corresponding Latin word dives.

2.    A resident of the village of *Bethany. He was the brother of *Mary and *Martha, and a beloved friend of Jesus (Jn 11:1-3). He appears in the Bible as the subject of one of Christ's greatest miracles.

According to the narrative, Lazarus was taken ill, and the fact was reported to Jesus, who then was laboring probably in Perea, some 20 mi. (c. 32 km.) or more from Bethany. Instead of hastening to the sick man, as Lazarus' sisters doubtless expected, Jesus lingered for two days, during which time Lazarus died (Jn 11:6, 7). This Jesus permitted “for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby” (v 4); for by the event that followed He was able to prove undeniably to His friends and enemies that He was the Lord of life (vs 25, 26). Jesus and His disciples finally arrived at Bethany, but not until Lazarus had been buried 4 days (v 17). Accompanied by Mary and Martha and many onlookers, Jesus went to Lazarus' tomb. At His command, after some remonstrance on the part of Martha, the stone covering the opening of the tomb was removed (vs 39-41). Then Jesus, after thanking His Father for hearing Him, called in a loud voice for His dead friend to come forth (vs 41-43). Thereupon the shrouded Lazarus awoke and emerged from the tomb (v 44). This great miracle caused many to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, but it confirmed His enemies in their conviction that they must get rid of Him (vs 45-53). Lazarus, too, was marked for death by Jesus' enemies, for he was a living demonstration of the power of Christ (ch 12:10, 11). Lazarus was later present at a supper given in Jesus' honor, at which his sister Mary anointed the feet of the Master with precious and costly ointment (Jn 12:1-3).

Horn, Siegfried H., Seventh-day Adventist Bible Dictionary, (Washington, D.C.: Review and Herald Publishing Association) 1979.

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