Purgatory

Where is Purgatory Taught in the Bible?

- Matt 12:32 = 'whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will be forgiven neither in this age nor the age to come.' So, according to Jesus Himself, there are other sins that can be pardoned after death. Jesus presumed his hearers knew of forgiveness after death.

- Matt 12:36 = 'men will render account of every careless word uttered.' Jesus warns of a penalty for careless words immediately after the passage above (Matt 12:32) that speaks of words that will not be forgiven at all. Clearly, 'careless words' in this context don't merit Hell. So, temporary punishment for minor faults exists after death

- Matt 5:21-26 = Jesus warns about the severity of the coming judgement in the language of a parable, that it is like a court case, where we are advised to be reconciled and repentant here on Earth lest we suffer the full force of the Law: 'you will be put in prison … and will not get out until you have paid the last penny.' The detention is temporary, because at the end there is a release, so Jesus cannot be talking about Heaven or Hell because they're permanent. He's describing Purgatory.

- Matt 18:23-35 = is a parable about an unforgiving debtor (a sinner) whom the King (God) 'handed over to the torturers until he paid all his debt.' God expects the forgiven to forgive, but He'll make us pay our debts in full here, or in the hereafter (Purgatory) if we are unforgiving to others. The analogies of torture, prison, and debts, however unpleasant, fit the description of Purgatory perfectly.

- Matt 21:31 = 'Even the tax collectors and sinners will get to Heaven before you.' Obviously Christ's message here is not focussing on who dies first, but on so-called good people who'll find themselves detained in Purgatory longer than known sinners.

- Lk 12:42-48 = 'And that servant … shall receive a severe beating (ie a severe temporal punishment of Purgatory for the repentant but guilty, after which one is restored to the Kingdom)', 'But he who did not know … shall receive a light beating (ie a less severe purgation because of ignorance)'.

- 1 Cor 3:13-15 = St Paul tells us that at the Day of judgement each man's work will be tried. This trial happens after death. But what happens if a man's work fails the test? '… the builder will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.' The 'loss' cannot mean Hell, since no-one is saved there; and Heaven cannot be meant, since there is no suffering 'fire' there. Purgatory alone explains this passage.

- 1 Pet 1:7 = St Peter also talks not of a fire of eternal punishment, but of a 'testing' cleansing fire, like that which purifies gold. See also 1 Pet 3: 18-20 & 1 Pet 4: 6.

- Rev 21:27 = 'But nothing unclean will enter Heaven,' hence the need of Purgatory.

- 2 Macc 12: 43-46 = 'It is a holy and pious thought to pray and sacrifice for the dead.' The Book of Maccabees that contains this explicit reference to Purgatory was removed from the Bible by the Protestant Reformers.

- 2Sam 12:13-14 = Even after David was forgiven by God, he was still punished for sin

- Heb 12:23 = In this passage, the Bible distinguishes between those who enter Heaven straightaway, 'the church of the firstborn,' and those who enter after having undergone Purgatory, calling them 'the spirits of the just made perfect.'

- 2 Tim 1: 16 " 18 = St Paul prayed for the dead Onesiphorus.

- The word 'Purgatory' is not in Scripture, neither are the words: Incarnation, Trinity or Bible. What matters is whether or not the concept is in the Bible; the above evidence shows that the concept of Purgatory is in the Bible (see also early Church history).

References:
Ref. Sheehan p. 631; Whitcomb p. 32; CCC: 1030 - 1032; Keating, p.139

* Please note that this text should be read in the context of the whole work and in recognition of the appropriate paragraphs of the Catechism of the Catholic Church highlighted in the index.