by Mike Ratliff
27 εἶπεν δέ· ἐρωτῶ σε οὖν, πάτερ, ἵνα πέμψῃς αὐτὸν εἰς τὸν οἶκον τοῦ πατρός μου, 28 ἔχω γὰρ πέντε ἀδελφούς, ὅπως διαμαρτύρηται αὐτοῖς, ἵνα μὴ καὶ αὐτοὶ ἔλθωσιν εἰς τὸν τόπον τοῦτον τῆς βασάνου. 29 λέγει δὲ Ἀβραάμ· ἔχουσιν Μωϋσέα καὶ τοὺς προφήτας· ἀκουσάτωσαν αὐτῶν. 30 ὁ δὲ εἶπεν· οὐχί, πάτερ Ἀβραάμ, ἀλλʼ ἐάν τις ἀπὸ νεκρῶν πορευθῇ πρὸς αὐτοὺς μετανοήσουσιν. 31 εἶπεν δὲ αὐτῷ· εἰ Μωϋσέως καὶ τῶν προφητῶν οὐκ ἀκούουσιν, οὐδʼ ἐάν τις ἐκ νεκρῶν ἀναστῇ πεισθήσονται. Luke 16:27-31 (NA28)
27 And he said, “I ask you then, father, that you may send him to the house of my father. 28 For I have five brothers that he may warn them lest they also may come to this place of torment.” 29 But Abraham said, “They have Moses and the Prophets let them listen to them.” 30 But he said, “No, Father Abraham. But if someone from the dead should go to them they will repent.” 31 But he said to them, “If if they did not listen to Moses and the Prophets neither will they they be persuaded if someone should rise again from the dead.” Luke 16:27-31 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Probably most of us tend to think that to hear something simply means that sound registers in our ears and brain, but even Webster says that it goes further than that: “to perceive or apprehend with the ear; to gain knowledge by hearing; to listen with attention.” Every parent has experienced times when their child says he or she hears what the parent is saying but does not really listen with attention.
In the passage I placed at the top of this post in my translation of v31 the word ‘listen’ translates the Greek third person plural verb ἀκούουσιν (akouousin) the present tense, active mood, indicative voice form of ἀκούω (akouō) which means hear, receive news, pay attention, hear with understanding. It is this word, akouō, from which we get such words as acoustics. It not only means to hear in general, but also to obey.
In Luke 16:19-31 when the rich man asked Abraham to send Lazarus back from the dead to tell his five brothers about the torment of hell, Abraham answered, “They have Moses and the Prophets let them listen to them.” I admit when I was a young Christian this passage troubled me a bit. However I understand now that his point, while piercing, was Biblical. As Abraham goes on to explain, if they would not hear (obey) God’s Law as revealed, they would not be convinced by someone who rose from the dead. This is akin to those whose unbelief has blinded their eyes and stopped up their ears that we have looked at in our last few posts. Also, this truth is proven every day as people reject the resurrected Lord Jesus.
The challenges of this truth are apparent.
First it challenges us to truly hear God’s Word. In His messages to the seven churches in Revelation 2-3, our Lord says seven times, “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (2:7, 11, 17, 29; 3:6, 13, 22). Like our relationship with our children, God wants us not only to hear his Word audibly, but He also wants us to obey.
Second, it challenges us to proclaim God’s Word. It is not our carefully thought out arguments which will convince people of the Truth. Our Lord did countless miracles, even raising people from the dead, but most people still did not believe. We are simply to proclaim the Truth, which God will use to “give the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6-7), and will accomplish that which He pleases (Isaiah 55:11).
Soli Deo Gloria!