Abraham’s bosom represents the Abrahamic covenant first recorded in Genesis 11, 15 & 17. The reference to Abraham’s bosom or chest is found in Luke 16:22 as part of the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.
The parable starts with the Rich Man clothed in purple and linen living in luxury. The Rich Man represents the nation of Israel. Lazarus represents the gentiles – all who are not Jews. At the beginning of the parable, the Rich Man lived a life of luxury and was fully fed – just as the nation of Israel had God’s favor. The Jewish nation was His people, and had the law and prophets. Whereas Lazarus was waiting on the crumbs from the Rich Man’s table. This was the state of the gentiles, publicans, and sinners at the time of Jesus’ ministry who did not have God’s favor. The state of gentiles is seen in Jesus’s interaction with the Syro-Phoenician woman and her daughter (Matthew 15:21-31).
A transition occurs within the parable with the death of Lazarus and the Rich Man. The death of these two people represents a change between these two groups after Jesus’s ministry and death. The nation of Israel lost God’s favor – represented by the Rich Man’s suffering or torment and distance from Abraham. Lazarus – representing the gentiles and cast offs of Israel – received the favor of God by having the opportunity to become followers of Christ and joint heirs with him. Lazarus, being close to Abraham’s bosom in the parable, represents the gentiles receiving an opportunity to be part of the Abrahamic promise (Genesis 22:16-18).
Two scriptures support this new position of the gentiles. First, in Galatians 3:16, 29 Paul links believers in Christ to being part of the Abrahamic covenant: “The promises were spoken to Abraham and his seed. The Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’ meaning many people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person who is Christ. … If you belong to Christ you are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.” Second, Paul explains that gentiles will have this special favor until the full body of the heavenly church is complete. Paul says “Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of Gentiles has come in. And so Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:25-26).
Finally, a great gulf appears between the Rich Man and Abraham. This represents the great gap that has occurred between the nation of Israel/the Jewish people and God’s favor for Christians during this present Gospel age from Pentecost to the present.. Lazarus was not able to even comfort the Rich Man with water (truth) in the parable because the Jewish nation had not listened to Jesus or to the law and prophets, which pointed to the Messiah. Nor, would the raising to life of Lazarus be able to help the Rich Man’s five brothers (the Jews scattered throughout the Roman world) because they had been given the law and the prophets and would not listen to them either – just like their brother, the Rich Man, who lived and witnessed Jesus’s work in Judea.