If Jesus brought everlasting life and Abraham died before the coming of Jesus (and in fact before Judaism), would we therefore expect to see Abraham in heaven? What passages in the bible direct us to an answer?


Jesus Himself said Abraham was in heaven, in the parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus:

Luke 16:19-31 NIV1984 (I have highlighted the six references to Abraham.)

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

“The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

“‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

  • 1
    Great answer, I didn't notice this before.
    – Pierre
    Feb 13 '13 at 16:30
  • Check out why deriving theological facts like this from parables is dubious.
    – fгedsbend
    Mar 30 '13 at 21:52

The answer is yes. As well as the Old Testament accounts of Abraham's life he is also mentioned a few times in the New Testament - namely in Romans 4, Galations 3 and Hebrews 11.

It's in the first two of those that we find our answer:

What does the Scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness. (Romans 4:3, NIV)

Consider Abraham: He believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness (Galations 3:6)

Abraham has received righteousness; in other words, he is made holy, or sin-free; he is saved by his faith.

  • @DanAndrews: Because that was their faith that he would come. Their sin was still atoned for by Jesus' blood. Dec 19 '11 at 21:58
  • 1
    Agreed that in Romans 4:3, Paul demonstrates that, before Jesus came, people were saved by faith alone, not by their works. So if people could still be saved that way, why did Jesus need to be put to death? However, being "saved" = going to heaven is modern. At the time of Abraham, it was not understood... Did he just hang out in the ground until the incarnation of the logos happened?
    – user1054
    Dec 19 '11 at 21:58
  • 2
    @DanAndrews: You are right to bring up this issue. The thing is, without Jesus, God could not have saved Abraham. Abraham's faith (whether he knew the details or not) was based on Christ's work to come. Without the propitiatory work of Christ covering both past and future believers, God would not have been able to save Abraham without becoming an unjust judge. God never had any other plan for saving men other apart from his Son the Christ.
    – Caleb
    Dec 19 '11 at 23:06
  • Perhaps the use of the past tense in my answer was confusing; I've amended it slightly now
    – Waggers
    Dec 19 '11 at 23:24

God chose Abraham and made him blameless. Gen 17-1 . Before Jesus came the People of the old testament were more intimate with God , Jesus was sacrificed as an atonement for the world's sins, not just for God's chosen people. Sins in the old testament were covered by the blood of bulls and goats. Jesus's blood covers today's sin. God saved Abraham by making him blameless.

  • Which Christian group does this answer represent? I'm not aware of any that teach that the old testament sacrifices ever actually dealt with sin, only that they were a stop-gap measure until the cross.
    – curiousdannii
    Oct 30 '14 at 2:54