Who are “they” that will not be convinced if someone should rise from the dead in Luke 16:30-31?
This is one of the most interesting parables Jesus taught, only found here in Luke. It’s about the time in the afterlife when a poor man named Lazarus finally gets his reward and the rich man who treated him terribly ends up in Hell.
The rich man begs Abraham to send someone back to rise from the dead to tell his five brothers about the afterlife. But Abraham refuses to do this because they have the witness of the Scriptures.
The rich man is talking in the context about his five brothers believing and repenting if someone rises from the dead to tell them about the afterlife and the truth. But Abraham remains unconvinced that they (the five brothers) will listen to the person even if he raises from the dead.
However, Jesus does not tell this parable about the five brothers. He is talking about everyone who has not listened to God’s Word. Parables are always told for a larger reason than their immediate context. And every person or player in the parable is a reference to an actual person or group of people.
For instance, many of the parables are about Israel, Israel’s religious leaders, unbelievers, believers, and others. So the “they” may refer to the five unbelieving brothers in the parable’s immediate context, but it’s wider and larger context is anyone who does not believe in Jesus’ teachings and in the Word of God.
Those who are unconvinced of the message of God’s Word are represented by the five brothers of the rich man. Abraham’s message to the rich man and to us is that if the testimony and witness of the Scriptures does not convince them of the truth of God and everything he has said in the Scriptures, even someone being raised from the dead, a truly miraculous and wonderful sign, will not change their mind.
Those who do not believe are dead set in their ways. Even the witness of Scripture does not change their minds. It takes the miracle of the Holy Spirit regenerating their spirits for them to hear the gospel and respond to it in faith.
Everything that a person needs to believe in Jesus Christ is already provided in the Scriptures. They are witness enough. They are what God has given us to believe in him.