We often ask ourselves because of certain characteristics or circumstances if someone we know, or maybe ourselves, will go to hell. Perhaps this question arises from the reading of Luke 16:19-31, the Parable of the rich man and Lazarus. A couple important points to understand are 1) that it is a parable and 2) the definition of hell. To the first point. We read in Matthew 13:34, "All these things spake Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spake he not unto them". . Parables are not to be taken literally but are meant to teach a lesson. They are highly symbolic as is this parable.
We also know that God does not discriminate. Acts 10:34 tells us, “Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism’” God's message of redemption through the precious blood of his son, Jesus, is open to all – rich or poor. Proverbs 22:2 reads, "The rich and poor meet together: the LORD is the maker of them all."
God looks on the inside, the things unseen, and does not judge on appearances. 1 Samuel 16:7 validates this point, “…for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”
Being rich is not a condemnation as we know there were many wealthy characters in the Bible. We have the examples of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, King David, King Solomon and others. God is very rich himself.
Having material riches may be a hinderance to our character growth should we become confident or self reliant to the point of not realizing our need for instruction, development and salvation which come from the scriptures.1 Timothy 6:9 reads, "But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition." This does not suggest having wealth is a favor or disfavor from God. We are asked to be good stewards of all that has been granted to us.
Item number two, the definition of hell, is an important aspect of this question. Acts 2:27 reads, "Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell (hades), neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption." Jesus never went to a place of torment; he was in the grave until resurrected. In the Greek language of the New Testament, hades means grave or state of oblivion – nothingness.