Purgatory in The Bible

Purgatory is a place or a state after physical death for the purification of the soul before going to Heaven. In other words, it is the process, condition, or place for temporary punishment. According to Roman Catholics, the soul of those who dies in God’s grace, absolve or pardon their sins before going to Heaven. Entrance into Heaven demands their momentary suffering due to sins whose guilt has not been forgiven. Therefore, no one will stay there forever, not go to hell.

In the Bible, it says, “But nothing unclean shall enter [heaven]” (Rev. 21:27). The Bible does not use the direct word ‘Purgatory’; instead, it makes references for it. That’s why some do not agree with this thought. Purgatory means “a cleansing place”, where souls are purged from the small stains of sin. There is no specific place is mentioned for it. Just some glimpses of words are found in the Bible. So this is the reason for the difference in some schools of thought.

What does 2 Maccabees say about Purgatory

There is no mention of PurgatoryPurgatory in the Old Testament. However, in one of the books of Maccabees, you will find a couple of references. The first reference of Purgatory in the second book of Maccabees 12:46. “Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from sin.”

In Chapter 12 it read the scriptural proof of Purgatory and witnessed that the Jews had sacrifices offered for those of their brother who had lost their lives in battle. Jews believe in the place where they could be helped. This book clearly favored by Roman Catholic teaching, as the whole book was removed from the Protestant Bible. Hence, some people do not accept Maccabees as a book(s) of the Bible.

What does the New Testament say about Purgatory

In Mathew 5:26 and Luke 12:59 Christ is condemning sin and speaks of liberation

“Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny.”

It is interesting to know that this talks about greed and people who had stolen money in various ways. It could be stealing, robberies, money-laundering, banking frauds, and similar crimes. Once the person is dead, they have to return every last penny or amount they had taken. Hence, a few Christians believe that the reference must be applied to the PurgatoryPurgatory, third place between Heaven and hell.

The Bible clearly implies a place for an intermediate state of purification after we die. Out of mercy and love, God sends the man (humans) through Purgatory on his way to Heaven so that his soul can be purified to be able to join God in Heaven.

Is Purgatory a second chance for conversion?

Purgatory is not a second chance for conversion if the man is already justified. If there is no place of the intermediate state of purification, the man would be damned to hell. Many Christians also believe that when you trust in Jesus Christ, then you are already justified.

“By your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:37)

Jesus did not mention the location of Purgatory. He spoke more about the realities of hell than the doctrine of Purgatory.

“Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.’ Jesus answered him, ‘Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise,’” (Luke 23:42-43)

“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.” (Malachi 3:2)

‘It is not the dead who praise the LORD, those who go down to the place of silence’ (Psalm 115:17)

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

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (John 1:9)

Is Purgatory a place for recovery?

No. Purgatory is like the secondary art of recovery – the healing, cleaning, and bandaging. Often after committing sin, man becomes remorseful and regretful. So, Purgatory gives a chance to overcome this regret and pay for the sin before going to Heaven, so the soul is purified and righteous to pass the gates of Heaven. However, for people who deliberately indulge in sin, this rule does not apply.

‘Seven terraces of Purgatory. After passing through the gate of Purgatory proper, Virgil guides the pilgrim Dante through the mountain’s seven terraces. These correspond to the seven deadly sins or “seven roots of sinfulness”: Pride, Envy, Wrath, Sloth, Avarice (and Prodigality), Gluttony, and Lust’.

The above text was considered a proof of Purgatory by Origen and St. Ambrose, who posits the water of baptism and the fire of Purgatory.

“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”. (Isaiah 4:4)

A Spanish theologian from the late Middle Ages said that the average Christian spends about 1000 to 2000 years in Purgatory. There is no official statement or verse in the Bible. Its exact location varied from author to author and depended on which school of thought or theological group he or she belonged.

In the Catholic doctrine and considered a spiritual jail, not everyone visits the Purgatory; there must be some status for Purgatory. In other words, there are conditions to be met, whereas the church believes that many people are purified or purged during their lifetime and not after death. It is only then we will see the reward or what we have done in life. A few denominations also believe that many innocent people who face poverty, disease, or persecution are living their Purgatory in this life, and when they die,’ God will balance their sins accordingly.

Here are a few more references from the Bible that give a glimpse of people’s life after death, either in hell or Heaven.

Drought and heat consume the snow waters, So does Sheol those who have sinned.” (Job 24:19)

“So we are always confident, even though we know that as long as we live in these bodies, we are not at home with the Lord, for we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.” (Corinthians 5:6-8)

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)

In conclusion, in the Bible, there is no direct reference to Purgatory. God’s divine mercy refers to the fact that he forgives any sin as long as the sinner is truly repentant and sorry. God’s justice, however, is that good is rewarded and evil punished. Catholics believe that Purgatory evens the score and fulfills justice while accommodating mercy.