Jesus: Okay to Request Abraham’s Intercession

Jesus: Okay to Request Abraham’s Intercession September 25, 2023

This exchange was with a Protestant named Dennis White. I have edited it down for a more compact presentation, from the full exchange on my blog. I also correct several of his grammatical and spelling errors. His words will be in blue.


You believe in and pray to Mary. I pray to the only intercessor, Jesus Christ, and no other. If another believer prays for me to be healed, through and in the name of Jesus, that believer isn’t interceding for me, Jesus is. It’s all about what the Bible says, not the church.

Jesus didn’t teach that He was the only intercessor. He taught that intercessory requests could be made to Abraham (Luke 16). As you say, “It’s all about what the Bible says.” I totally agree! But I don’t agree that the Church has no authority. The Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 shows its authority. A decree was made, and St. Paul announced it far and wide: “As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered to them for observance the decisions which had been reached by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem” (Acts 16:4, RSV). The Church is also infallible, according to the Bible:

1 Timothy 3:15 = Church Infallibility (vs. Steve Hays)

Abraham could not intercede for the rich man. The rich man was in hell and there was a great chasm between them. Abraham may have heard, but could not intercede to have Lazarus dip his finger in water and let it drip on the rich man’s tongue. Nor could Abraham have anyone go and tell the rich man’s brother’s of impending doom.

The decree you are speaking of was concerning Gentiles having to be circumcised to be saved which is false doctrine. Kinda like baby baptism.

Yes it was about circumcision and the Gentile’s relationship to Mosaic Law . But you have not interacted with my argument about infallible Church authority there.

I won’t change your mind and you won’t change mine. You believe in man-made religion and I believe in and by faith in Jesus as the only Savior. 

That’s the standard reply but it doesn’t fly. The story is about someone praying or making an intercessory request of someone other than God: right from the lips of Jesus. It clearly goes through Abraham:

Luke 16:24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy upon me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 

Abraham says no (16:25-26), just as God will say no to a prayer not according to His will. He asks him again, begging (16:27-28). Abraham refuses again, saying (16:29): “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’” He asks a third time (16:30), and Abraham refuses again, reiterating the reason why (16:31).

How this supposedly does not support the principle of saints interceding and being able to intercede is a mystery to me. If we were not supposed to ask saints to pray for us, I think this story would be almost the very last way to make that supposed point. Abraham would simply have said, “you shouldn’t be asking me for anything; ask God!” In the same way, analogously, angels refuse worship when it is offered, because only God can be worshiped:

Revelation 19:9-10 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.” [10] Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” . . .

Revelation 22:8-9 I John am he who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw them, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed them to me; [9] but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brethren the prophets, and with those who keep the words of this book. Worship God.”

St. Peter did the same thing:

Acts 10:25-26 When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. [26] But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I too am a man.”

So did St Paul and Barnabas:

Acts 14:11-15 And when the crowds saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in Lycao’nian, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” [12] Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, because he was the chief speaker, they called Hermes. [13] And the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of the city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates and wanted to offer sacrifice with the people. [14] But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard of it, they tore their garments and rushed out among the multitude, crying, [15] “Men, why are you doing this? We also are men, of like nature with you, and bring you good news, that you should turn from these vain things to a living God who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them.

If the true theology is that Abraham cannot be asked an intercessory request, then Abraham would have noted this and refused to even hear it. But instead he heard the request and said no. Jesus couldn’t possibly have taught a false principle.

Game, set, match, right in the Bible, from Jesus Himself. But those who place man-made traditions about Holy Scripture will always think they can find a way to weasel their way out of plain biblical teaching. It’s sad.

I won’t change your mind, not because I don’t have a good biblical argument, but rather, because you place unbiblical traditions above the Bible itself. You haven’t changed my mind because you are not grappling with my biblical arguments.

No game, no set no match. Although Abraham could hear and communicate, he still could not intercede for the rich man. So, you can pray to whom ever you want, but they can’t intercede for you. Fact. Jesus is the only intercessor between God and man. No one else.

I agree with all of the scriptures you mentioned above. We don’t worship angels, Mary, Joseph, or graven images of apostles, but God only. Amen.

You’re still not grasping what is going on there. It’s not that Abraham couldn’t intercede (if that were true, he would have said so and Jesus would have made it clear), but that he wouldn’t intercede in this instance (i.e., he refused to answer the request). Refusing a request is not the same thing as not being able to grant the request. Otherwise, we would have to say that God is unable to answer a prayer request when He refuses one.

I grasp all that is being said. The rich man could communicate with Abraham. Abraham could communicate eth the rich man. Abraham could not help the rich man and the rich man suffered in hell.

It was Hades, not hell (Luke 16:23: “Hades” in RSV).

You can [try to] pray to whomever for intercessory prayer, St. Ignatius, St. Gregory, St. Anthony and so on, but it won’t happen. Only Jesus can intercede. Apparently you ain’t grasping the situation. Jesus is telling the Pharisees that He is the only one who can help them; no one else. But the Pharisees have their man made religion and rules for the people. They knew better how to interpret God’s word and would not listen to Jesus and what the scriptures were saying. That why Jesus was able to refute their beliefs and interpretations of the law.

Kinda like the catechism is based on Catholic beliefs and traditions, not scripture. You were once an evangelical protestant, but went into the Catholic Church. I don’t know how that happened, unless your faith in Jesus waned somehow and you [started to] believe in worshiping idols. Can’t see it, sorry.

Now you’re simply evading or repeating the same boilerplate talking points. So we’re done. You have conceded the argument based on a lack of rational and relevant counter-arguments. And it’s obvious that anti-Catholicism is driving your stubbornness and refusal to accept clear biblical teaching from Our Lord Jesus.

If you’re wondering why I became a Catholic, there is no mystery there. I explain why in great detail in many articles here:

Conversion and Converts (Catholic)

Sorry; let’s look at the situation with the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man is in hell, so he is dead. Lazarus is in the bosom of Abraham in heaven so, Lazarus is also dead.

“Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22, is not heaven, but also Hades (Sheol in Hebrew). This was before Jesus’ redemptive death on the cross, so the Old Testament saints were not yet in heaven.

Okay, now we see the situation they are both in. It is the dead speaking to the dead, not a living on earth person praying to a dead person for intercession. Your theory is non-existent.

The passage has to do with two major prior premises in the larger debate of intercession of the saints:

1) Is it proper to “pray” to anyone but God?,


2) is it proper to ask anyone but God to not only pray for, but fulfill (i.e., have the power and ability to bring about) an intercessory request?

These are the sorts of questions concerning which the Luke 16 passage is relevant. Protestantism utterly rejects #1 and #2 above; yet Luke 16 (from Jesus) clearly teaches them. Hence lies the dilemma. It matters not if both men are dead; the rich man still can’t do what he did, according to Protestant categories of thought and theology.

Whether Dives [the “rich man”] was dead or not is irrelevant, since standard Protestant theology holds that no one can make such a request to anyone but God. He’s asking Abraham to send Lazarus to him, and then to his brothers, to prevent them from going to hell. That is very much prayer: asking for supernatural aid from those who have left the earthly life and attained sainthood and perfection, with God. . . .

Jesus told this story, and in the story is a guy praying to a dead man, to request things that the dead man appears to be able to fulfill by his own powers. That is quite sufficient to prove the point. . . .

It remains true that Protestant theology, generally speaking, forbids asking a dead man to intercede (thus, a dead man asking this is part of the larger category that remains forbidden in that theology), and makes prayer altogether a matter only between man and God . . .

In fact, God is never mentioned in the entire story (!!!) . . .

So why did Jesus teach in this fashion? Why did He teach that Dives was asking Abraham to do things that Protestant theology would hold that only God can do? And why is the whole story about him asking Abraham for requests, rather than going directly to God and asking Him: which would seem to be required by [Protestant] theology? . . .

This just isn’t how it’s supposed to be, from a Protestant perspective. All the emphases are wrong, and there are serous theological errors, committed by Jesus Himself (i.e., from the erroneous Protestant perspective).

Moreover, there is a sense in the Bible in which it is irrelevant whether a human being is dead or not. They are still conscious and alive (Mt 22:32) and bound to God’s laws. So, for example:

Philippians 2:10-11 . . . at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, [11] and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Revelation 5:3 And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it,

Revelation 5:13 And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all therein, saying, “To him who sits upon the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might for ever and ever!”

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Photo credit: The Bad Rich Man in Hell, by James Tissot (1836-1902) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]
Summary: Exchange with a Protestant on the “controversial” passage in Luke 16, where Jesus teaches that dead Abraham (i.e., someone besides only God) is able to intercede.
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