>What Is Purgatory?
>The term purgatory refers to the purification of the elected souls
>before entering Heaven. According to the Roman Catholic and medieval
>Christian beliefs, this state of existence is considered a punishment
>to prepare the souls for Heaven. The people who do not fall in the
>category of sinners or saints can seek a path to the eternal abode
>It is a purification fire that rids people of their remaining
So far, so good......
Let me further clarify this.
As I have a dozen times before for matty, the troll.
Is Purgatory in the Bible?
We'll begin by making clear just what we mean by "Purgatory." The
Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:
All who die in God's grace, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed
assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo
purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy
of heaven (1030).
This seems so simple. Its common sense. Scripture is very clear when
it says, "But nothing unclean shall enter [heaven]" (Rev. 21:27). Hab.
1:13 says, "You [God]... are of purer eyes than to behold evil and
cannot look on wrong..." How many of us will be perfectly sanctified
at the time of our deaths? I dare say most of us will be in need of
further purification in order to enter the gates of heaven after we
die, if, please God, we die in a state of grace.
Perhaps the best place to start is with the most overt reference to a
"Purgatory" of sorts in the Old Testament. I say a "Purgatory of
sorts" because Purgatory is a teaching fully revealed in the New
Testament and defined by the Catholic Church. The Old Testament people
of God would not have called it "Purgatory," but they did clearly
believe that the sins of the dead could be atoned for by the living as
I will now prove. This is a constitutive element of what Catholics
In II Maccabees 12:39-46, we discover Judas Maccabeus and members of
his Jewish military forces collecting the bodies of some fallen
comrades who had been killed in battle. When they discovered these men
were carrying "sacred tokens of the idols of Jamnia, which the law
forbids the Jews to wear" (vs. 40), Judas and his companions discerned
they had died as a punishment for sin. Therefore, Judas and his men
"turned to prayer beseeching that the sin which had been committed
might be wholly blotted out… He also took up a collection... and sent
it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted
very well and honorably… Therefore he made atonement for the dead,
that they might be delivered from their sin."
There are usually two immediate objections to the use of this text
when talking with Protestants. First, they will dismiss any evidence
presented therein because they do not accept the inspiration of
Rejecting the inspiration and canonicity of II Maccabees does not
negate its historical value. Maccabees aids us in knowing, purely from
an historical perspective at the very least, the Jews believed in
praying and making atonement for the dead shortly before the advent of
Christ. This is the faith in which Jesus and the apostles were raised.
And it is in this context Jesus declares in the New Testament:
And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but
whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in
this age or in the age to come (Matthew 12:32, emphasis added).
This declaration of our Lord implies there are at least some sins that
can be forgiven in the next life to a people who already believed it.
In Matthew 5:24-25, Jesus is even more explicit about Purgatory.
Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him
to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge
to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly I say to you, you will
never get out till you have paid the last penny (Matthew 5:25-26).
I Corinthians 3:11-15 may well be the most straightforward text in all
of Sacred Scripture when it comes to Purgatory:
For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which
is Jesus Christ. Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold,
silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble-each man's work will
become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be
revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one
has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation
survives, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he
will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through
No Christian sect I know of even attempts to deny this text speaks of
the judgment of God where the works of the faithful will be tested
after death. It says our works will go through "fire," figuratively
speaking. In Scripture, "fire" is used metaphorically in two ways: as
a purifying agent (Mal. 3:2-3; Matt. 3:11; Mark 9:49); and as that
which consumes (Matt. 3:12; 2 Thess. 1:7-8). So it is a fitting symbol
here for God's judgment. Some of the "works" represented are being
burned up and some are being purified. These works survive or burn
according to their essential "quality" (Gr. hopoiov - of what sort).
What is being referred to cannot be heaven because there are
imperfections that need to be "burned up" (see again, Rev. 21:27, Hab.
1:13). It cannot be hell because souls are being saved. So what is it?
The Protestant calls it "the Judgment" and we Catholics agree. We
Catholics simply specify the part of the judgment of the saved where
imperfections are purged as "Purgatory."
The first mention of Purgatory in the Bible is in 2 Maccabees 12:46:
"Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from
In Matthew 5:26 and Luke 12:59 Christ is condemning sin and speaks of
liberation only after expiation. "Amen, I say to you, you will not be
released until you have paid the last penny." Now we know that no last
penny needs to be paid in Heaven and from Hell there is no liberation
at all; hence the reference must apply to a third place.
Matthew 12:32 says, "And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man
will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the holy Spirit will not
be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come." Here Jesus
speaks of sin against the Holy Spirit. The implication is that some
sins can be forgiven in the world to come. We know that in Hell there
is no liberation and in Heaven nothing imperfect can enter it as we
see in the next part. Sin is not forgiven when a soul reaches its
final destination because in heaven there is no need for forgiveness
of sin and in hell the choice to go there is already made.
Revelation 21:27: "…but nothing unclean will enter it, nor anyone who
does abominable things or tells lies." The place that is to be entered
(the place to which this passage refers) is heaven (read the text
around it for context).
The Bible clearly implies a place for an intermediate state of
purification after we die in the many passages which tell that God
will reward or punish according to a person's life.