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Does The Bible Say Anything About Purgatory

Challenging Circumstances Refine And Purify Us

Is Purgatory in the Bible?

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything,James 1:2-4.

As the Holy Spirit prompts questions like these in your heart, think of them as refining trials, and consider it pure joy.

Could I have responded in a gentler manner?

Did I serve others without complaint?

Has bitterness caused me to harbor resentment towards others?

Am I judging the walk of a recent convert?

Do I show the love of Christ to others?

Fires will come to every believer because this life doesnt absolve us of difficulties. Challenging circumstances refine and purify us.

The Thief On The Cross

An excellent piece of Biblical proof that Purgatory does not exist is the thief on the cross. As Jesus was being crucified next to a thief, the thief said “Remember me when you come into power”, and Jesus replied “I promise that today you will be with me in paradise”. . Jesus said the thief would be in paradise today. Jesus didn’t say “Ok, well, maybe in a thousand years after you’ve suffered in Purgatory for the sins you’ve committed, then I’ll see you in paradise”. If even the thief on the cross will go immediately to paradise, why should Christians who have loved and served God have to go through Purgatory? Granted, the thief is probably one of those people referred to in 1 Corinthians 3:1-15 who will not have any reward and barely escaped from hell, but at least he makes it into heaven.

What Is Purgatory And Is It In The Bible

When most people hear the term purgatory they are thinking of it as a type of waiting place. Its not quite hell, but it surely isnt heaven. The more sin you commit on earth, the longer your time in purgatoryunless you can have a few dear people on earth pray for your departed soul or give money on your behalf. That, of course, is a rather crude representation of the doctrine of purgatory. This view of purgatory is not a faithful portrayal of the Catholic doctrine of purgatory.

I will be making the argument that the doctrine of purgatory, as stated within Roman Catholicism, is not a doctrine faithful to the Scriptures. But I aim to be fair and accurately represent this doctrine from a Roman Catholic perspective. It is only then that we will be in a position to ask whether or not such a doctrine is found in the Bible.

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Evidence In The New Testament

Similar passages regarding purgation, and thus pointing to a place or state in which the purgation must take place, can be found in the New Testament. Saint Peter and Saint Paul both speak of “trials” that are compared with a “cleansing fire.” In 1 Peter 1:6-7, Saint Peter refers to our necessary trials in this world:

Wherein you shall greatly rejoice, if now you must be for a little time made sorrowful in divers temptations: That the trial of your faith may be found unto praise and glory and honour at the appearing of Jesus Christ.

And in 1 Corinthians 3:13-15, Saint Paul extends this image into the life after this one:

Every man’s work shall be manifest for the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire and the fire shall try every man’s work, of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work burn, he shall suffer loss but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire.

Who Do The Catholic Worship

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Like other Christians, Catholics believe Jesus is a divine person, the Son of God. They believe that because of his love for all people, he died so that all people will live forever in heaven. The Catholic Church also recognizes the Trinity that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are together the only God.

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How Should I Respond To Catholics

Lets review the scripture which Catholics use to support purgatory:

If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved even though only as one escaping through the flames, 1 Corinthians 3:15.

It is critical to look at this scripture in context. Apostle Paul, using an analogy, wrote that believers are builders whose foundation is Christ:

Their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each persons work,1 Corinthians 3:13-14.

Upon death, one does not work. If purgatory does exist, what kind of work is done?

Why Don’t I Believe In Purgatory

I do not believe in purgatory because God mentions it nowhere in the Bible. And if God does not tell us about purgatory, who else has the authority to do so? Only God can tell us what is beyond death. If men, who have not seen what is beyond death, produce a theory of what will happen after death, their theory is not valid. And although they say it thousands of times over thousands of years, it is nothing more than a tradition of men. Paul warns: “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men… and not after Christ” .

Some Catholics admit that their doctrine is not based on the Bible. The New Catholic Encyclopedia says, “In the final analysis, the Catholic doctrine on purgatory is based on tradition, not Sacred Scriptures.”5

This is true, because the Bible nowhere mentions purgatory. I believe what the Bible says in Colossians 2:13, 14: “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.”

I believe that when the Bible says “all sins” it means all of them.

Concerning eternal things and the invisible world, I cannot believe anything more than what the Bible says. I cannot add to it.

-Mark Yoder

  • New Catholic Encyclopedia, Volumn 11, page 1037 Copyright 1967
  • Ibid, page 1035
  • Ibid, page 1034
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    How Painful Is Purgatory

    In the past, Catholic theologians taught that the cleansing fires of Purgatory were EXTREMELY painful . Saint Thomas Aquinas, a Doctor of the church, declared, It is the same fire that torments the reprobate in hell, and the just in purgatory . The least pain in purgatory , surpasses the greatest suffering in this life.

    Timothy Paul Jones On Purgatory:

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    Timothy Paul Jones, author and associate vice present at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, talks about purgatory in his Crosswalk.com video, Does the Bible Support the Idea That Purgatory Exists?

    “Really what we’re dealing with in the question of purgatory is: How does a Christian enter God’s presence Gods holy presence when there is still sin unconfessed in his or her life? Thats really what were asking.

    Jones discusses the theological idea from the perspective of Augustine in the 5th century, Martin Luther in the 16th century, and modern Roman Catholic thinking on the issue.

    The same problem remains with purgatory. Its requiring something other than more than the finished work of Jesus on the cross to make us right with God, he said.

    For more insight on purgatory and other common misconceptions of what happens after death, read, “Does the Bible Say What Happens After Death?

    Jessica Galán encourages her readers to embrace malleability in the midst of lifes difficult moments. She spends her day teaching amazing students from diverse backgrounds in Fairfield County, Connecticut. Shes wife to a super-creative man and the proud mother of three resilient young women. Shes served as a writing facilitator for Lysa TerKeurst through COMPEL Training. She enjoys daily cups of steaming hot café con Leche and breaks out in sporadic salsa dancing when no ones looking. Connect with her on .

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    Where Did The Belief In Purgatory Come From

    The foundational belief of purgatory comes from the books known as the apocrypha, primarily coming from 2 Maccabees. These books are included in most Catholic Bibles, however most orthodox and evangelical faiths do not see these books as being inspired and are not included as part of the Biblical canon. Because the teaching developed from these books we need to see if the teaching of purgatory is mentioned or even found within the traditional canon of scripture.

    Who Believes In Purgatory

    Most Catholics and a few scattered denominations believe in Purgatory as being real. Most evangelical or Protestant Christians do not. There is no record in the history of the early church that this doctrine was ever taught. I found none of the early church fathers wrote about it like Polycarp, a student of the Apostle John or Justin Martyr. You decide for yourself whether or not you believe it. Of these things we can be certain:

    • that there is salvation only in the name of Jesus Christ
    • and there is simply no other way that a person can be saved
    • and that salvation means that one believes that Jesus lived a sinless life, died in the place of sinners, was raised from the dead, and today sits at the Right Hand of God .

    I pray that you will place your trust in Jesus Christ today and be saved , otherwise you will stand condemned and judged as guilty by the Savior, the Lord, Judge, and Master Jesus Christ .

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    Does The Bible Say Anything About Purgatory

    Roman Catholic Christians who believe in purgatory interpret passages such as 2 Maccabees 12:4146, 2 Timothy 1:18, Matthew 12:32, Luke 16:1916:26, Luke 23:43, 1 Corinthians 3:113:15 and Hebrews 12:29 as support for prayer for purgatorial souls who are believed to be within an active interim state for the dead …

    Jesus Sacrifice Vs Purgatory

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    The doctrine of purgatory says that people suffer to pay for for their own sins. The Bible tells an entirely different story.

    The sacrifices of the Old Testament were temporary, and had to be repeated again and again to repeatedly cover sin. They did not accomplish the forgiveness of sins. Jesus was called the Lamb of God because His death on the cross was the last sacrifice that the world would ever need. His death accomplished the forgiveness of sins by paying the penalty for all sin.

    Heres the unbiblical implication: if sinners need to pay for their own sins in purgatory, then Jesus death is insufficient. According to this doctrine, to gain forgiveness and go to Heaven one must add their own suffering to Jesus suffering. This is entirely unbiblical.

    Catholics will usually respond that Jesus sacrifice is sufficient that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Thats 1 John 1:9, and its true. The problem with using this verse in that way is that its too limiting. In Catholicism, our sin debt is only applied to our account when we confess our sins .

    This is contradicted by a number of passages in the New Testament, including 2 Peter 2:1.

    But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them bringing swift destruction on themselves.

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    Origin Of The Doctrine Of Purgatory

    In Roman Catholic teaching, purgatory is the place where the souls of believers go to be further purified from sin until they are ready to be admitted into heaven. Thus, they have to go to a halfway place between earth and heaven, that is, purgatory.

    The Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church believe that not every Christian who dies goes immediately to heaven. The only people who enter heaven immediately are some martyrs and other highly favored individuals. Even if the person dies at peace with the church, if they are not perfect, they have to go through a time of purging.

    Most Christians who are not good enough to go straight to heaven have to go through a time of purging. Although these people have been forgiven of their sins, they are still liable to experience some temporary punishment before their admittance to heaven.

    They must be properly freed from the blemish of some defects they had received after baptism and they must work out their salvation in purgatory through suffering and a process of purification in this place. According to this view, the sufferings of purgatory are given to God in substitute for the punishment for sins that believers should have received in time but did not.

    Once their sins have been sufficiently purged, they can then enter the perfection of heaven.

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    Descriptive And Clear Bible Passages About Purgatory

    Origen, St. Irenaeus, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine and St. Jerome all saw descriptions of purgatory in the Bible.

    Psalm 66:12 Thou didst let men ride over our heads we went through fire and through water yet thou hast brought us forth to a spacious place.

    This verse was considered a proof of purgatory by Origen and St. Ambrose, who posits the water of baptism and the fire of purgatory.

    Isaiah 4:4 When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning.

    St. Augustine, in the 20th Book of his City of God, chapter 25, interprets this as purgatory. The preceding verse refers to the saved and verses 5 and 6 describe the repose of the blessed.

    Micah 7:9 I will bear the indignation of the Lord because I have sinned against him, until he pleads my cause and executes judgment for me. He will bring me forth to the light I shall behold his deliverance.

    St. Jerome considered this verse a clear proof of purgatory.

    Malachi 3:3 he will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver, till they present right offerings to the LORD.

    Origen, St. Irenaeus, St. Ambrose, St. Augustine and St. Jerome all thought this was a description of purgatory.

    Matthew 5:26 Truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.

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    What About People Who Never Heard About Jesus

    Purgatory is still unnecessary, even when we consider the idea of people who have never heard about God. These people will be fairly judged at the Great White Throne judgement . This judgement is for all people who ever lived who were not Christians, Tribulation Saints, or Old Testament Jewish believers in God. You would expect that all of these people would go to Hell by default. However, that is not the case. The Bible only says that “anyone whose name wasn’t written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire” . There would be no point of having this judgment if the only option was Hell for everyone. I believe some people will pass this judgement and will be allowed to live on the New Earth , although they will not have all the benefits and privileges of Christians. God knows our hearts, and can judge perfectly. I believe he may judge some by how they would have reacted if they had the chance to hear about God.

    So as we have seen above, there is already proof in the Bible for various forms of judgement for Christians, non-Christians, and people who never heard about Jesus. Therefore, Purgatory is still unnecessary. I do not believe there is any category of people who would need to go to Purgatory. Either a person’s sins are completely forgiven by accepting Jesus, or they are given God’s grace to enter Heaven since they did not ever learn about Jesus, or they are put into Hell.

    Life After Death Heaven Hell And Purgatory

    What Does the Bible Say About Hell?

    Traditionally, Christians believed that Heaven and Hell were physical places. Nowadays, some Christians believe that Heaven and Hell are not physical places but instead could be states of mind for example, Heaven might be a state of unending happiness.

    Differences in belief about Heaven and Hell are often due to different interpretations of the Bible. While some Christians understand the words of scripture literally, others interpret them as metaphors or as symbols or myths.

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    The Refiners Fire Occurs Here On Earth

    Malachi 3:3 states, He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and he will purify the sons of Levi and refine them like gold and silver and they will bring offerings in righteousness to the Lord.

    For contextual purposes, Bible readers must consider what is written in the prior verse, But who can endure the day of His coming? And who can stand when He appears? Malachi 3:2.

    Every waking day of a Christ-followers life is a day for Christ to spiritually refine us. Spiritual refinement is a lifelong process which occurs while we live and breathe on earth.

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