Biblical Proofs for Purgatory

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Today is the perfect day to speak on the reality of Purgatory. This dogmatic, thus infallible teaching of the Church is doctrine that finds its roots in the Judaism as evidenced in the Old Testament and carried on through to the book of Revelation.

The Church, in her wisdom and authority, defined the doctrine of purgatory based on what was left to her in the Deposit of Faith: Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition. In light of the prevalence of the printed Word of God in the world today, let us being with an examination of purgatory as found therein:

The State of Purgatory

  • Gen. 50:10; Num. 20:29; Deut. 34:8 – ritual prayer and penitent mourning for the dead
  • Baruch 3:4 – Baruch asks the Lord to hear the prayers of the dead of Israel
  • Zech. 9:11 – God, through the blood of His covenant, will set those free from the waterless pit
  • 2 Macc. 12:43-46 – the prayers for the dead help free them from sin and help them to the reward of heaven
  • Matt. 5:26,18:34; Luke 12:58-59 – you will not be released until paid last penny
  • Matt. 5:48 – be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect
  • Matt 12:32 – sin against Holy Spirit is not forgiven in this age or next
  • Mt 12:36 – account for every idle word of judgment day
  • Luke 12:47-48 – when the Master returns, some will receive light or heavy beatings but will live
  • Luke 16:19-31 – Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man, the latter is in a state of suffering but remains with Abraham
  • *Luke 23:43 – Good thief to enter paradise or Sheol, Abraham’s Bosom. Even if he enters heaven, those who are sanctified on earth go straight to heaven.
  • 1 Cor 15:29-30 – Paul mentions people baptizing for the dead
  • Heb 12:14 – strive for that holiness without which cannot see God
  • Heb 12:23 – the spirits of just men who died in godliness are “made” perfect after death, yet received salvation
  • 2 Tim 1:16-18 – Paul prays for dead friend Onesiphorus
  • Phil. 2:10 – every knee bends to Jesus, in heaven, on earth, and “under the earth”
  • 1 Pet 3:18-20; 4:6 – Jesus preached to spirits in prison
  • Jam 1:14-15 – when sin reaches maturity gives birth to death
  • Jam 3:2 – we all fall short in many respects
  • Rev. 21:4 – God shall wipe away their tears;  no mourning or pain…but only after the former things have passed away
  • Rev 21:27 – nothing unclean shall enter heaven
  • The Purpose of Purgatory

  • 2 Sam 12:13-14 – David, though forgiven, still punished for his sin
  • Wisdom 3:5-6 – dead are disciplined and tested by fire to receive their heavenly reward
  • Sirach 2:5 – for gold is tested in the fire
  • Dan 12:10 – make themselves white and refined
  • Zech. 13:8-9 – God says 2/3 shall perish, and 1/3 shall be left alive, put into the fire, and refined like silver and tested like gold
  • Mal. 3:2-3 – Messiah is described as a “refiner’s fire” doing as much until the “sons of Levi” offer rightly
  • 2 Macc. 12:43-46 – the prayers for the dead help free them from sin and help them to the reward of heaven
  • 1 Cor 3:13, 15, 17 – suffer loss, but saved as through fire
  • Heb. 12:29 – God is a consuming fire
  • 1 Peter 1:6-7 – Peter refers to this purgatorial fire to test the fruits of our faith
  • Jude 1:23 – people being saved are those snatched out of the fire
  • Rev. 3:18-19 – Jesus refers to fire as what refines the gold or those He loves, if they repent of their sins (Cf. Sirach 2:5)
  • Now, contrast these verses to the explanation of purgatory found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    1030 All who die in God’s grace and friendship, 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.

    1031 The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect, which is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.[604] The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent. The tradition of the Church, by reference to certain texts of Scripture, speaks of a cleansing fire:[605]

    As for certain lesser faults, we must believe that, before the Final Judgment, there is a purifying fire. He who is truth says that whoever utters blasphemy against the Holy Spirit will be pardoned neither in this age nor in the age to come. From this sentence we understand that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come.[606]

    1032 This teaching is also based on the practice of prayer for the dead, already mentioned in Sacred Scripture:

    “Therefore Judas Maccabeus) made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.”[607] From the beginning the Church has honored the memory of the dead and offered prayers in suffrage for them, above all the Eucharistic sacrifice, so that, thus purified, they may attain the beatific vision of God.[608] The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance undertaken on behalf of the dead: Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice, why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them.[609]


    [604] Cf. Council of Florence (1439): DS 1304 Council of Trent (1563): DS 1820; (1547): 1580; see also Benedict XII, Benedictus Deus (1336): DS 1000.

    [605] 1 Corinthians 3,15; 1 Peter 1,7.

    [606] St. Gregory the Great, Dial. 4, 39: PL 77, 396; Mt 12,31

    [607] 2 Maccabees 12,46

    [608] Cf. Council of Lyons II (1274): DS 856

    [609] St. John Chrysostom, Homily in 1 Corinthians 41,5, PG 61, 361; cf. Job 1,5

    The doctrine of purgatory is something that we know is true and infallible because it corresponds to the Deposit of Faith of this ancients Church. Furthermore, it is in keeping with God Who is all-merciful and just. Consider how it is written in Revelation 21:27 that, “nothing unclean shall enter it (heaven), nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

    Here we come to this understanding that one must be pure and completely free from sin in order to enter into the New Jerusalem. We are also given certainty in the second part of the passages that those who practice or continue to practice abominations in the eyes of God will not gain entry in any way. This is the justice of Our Blessed Lord because He gives every person what they desire in their heart and minds, even if it hurts Him to do so. This is the amount of love that He has for us. He allows you to choose hell if you so desire it.

    As for the Faithful Departed, these souls are those that maintain an attachment to sin yet die in a state of grace, in other words, friendship with God. My grandmother is an excellent example of this. I am fairly certain that she passed away in a state of grace having received the Anointing of the Sick prior to meeting the Just Judge for her particular judgment (Hebrews 9:27). Despite all of the suffering that she endured during her final days only God knows for certain whether that was enough to sanctify her and purge her soul from the lingering stain of sin or whether she would be allowed to enter the vestibule of heave, as I call it, and know that she must endure the last of her suffering in justice and certainty of hope – for she must, “suffer loss, though [she herself] will be saved, but only as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15).

    Thus, the souls in purgatory have need of our intercession and that of the saints in heaven. Yet their prayers and concern for us (Luke 16:19-31, Cf. Revelation 5:6) also carry great merit as, “The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects” (James 5:16) and any person this close to Heaven and Our God therein is certainly righteous in my book, at the very least far more than I.

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