In discussing Luke 16:19-31, I heard a viewpoint that was compelling and though I would share from WotM.
Most people think the rich man is just a rich dude in hell for not feeding Lazerath. Is it a picture of the way to salvation? If so, it's totally inconsistent with every other Biblical reference to deliverance from death. The symbolism the author is making is very important.
First, why did the rich man end up in hell? What was his sin? Obviously, it was his failure to feed Lazarus. If that is the case, then he could have earned salvation. If a non-Christian wanted to earn his way into Heaven, should he then give food to the homeless? How much food would merit eternal life? No since salvation is "by grace through faith,... not of works"(Ephesians 2:8-9), the rich man's sin could could not have been a mere failure to give Lazarus free food.
On the other hand, what did Lazarus do to merit salvation? Did suffering in the life appease the wrath of God and gain him entrance? If so let us seek suffering instead of the Savior.
If this is a picture of the way of salvation, then Eternal Justice can be perverted, God can be bribed, and the sacrifice of the wicked is not an abomination to the Lord.
The story , therefore, MUST have another meaning .
So who is the rich man? Let's establish several principles of Biblical interpretation that will unlock the meaning of the story.
1. Purple is the Biblical color of royalty (Esther 8:15)
2. Fine linen represents the righteousness of the saints (Rev 19:8)
3. The Church is referred to as the "royal priesthood" (1 Peter 2:9)
4. The tabernacle was made of fine linen and purple (Exodus 26:1)
I believe the rich man is a type of professing Church, and the leper (Lazarus) is a type of 'the sinner'.
The rich man's thoughts are only for himself. He is filled with his own ways. We have built for ourselves big beautiful buildings with cool clear acoustics and colorful carpets, as cozy Christians we sit on padded pews, living in luxury while sinners sink into Hell. We say that we are rich, but we are poor, blind, wretched, miserable, and naked. We have lavish luxury on the lifeboat, while mass people drown around us.