"Wus a rich man: whar he now, O bredren? Was a po man: whar he now, O sistuhn?"
The Rich Man and Lazarus
Public DomainThe Rich Man and Lazarus - Credit: Gustave Doré

The repeated biblical references to the heavenly rewards of the poor and the damnation awaiting the wealthy also provided great comfort to African Americans. The Gospel of Luke tells of the rich man who denies the beggar Lazarus the crumbs from his table during life. When, after both die and Lazarus finds salvation, the rich man begs for a drop of water from Lazarus’ fingers to give him some small comfort against the scorching heat of hell’s flames. Abraham reprimands him for this, saying “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented” (Luke 16.25). Also pertinent is the well-known injunction of Matthew 19.24: “It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.”


The Bad Rich Man in Hell
Public DomainThe Bad Rich Man in Hell - Credit: James Jacques Joseph Tissot