Article: The Raising of Tabitha from the dead in the Gospel as a Compelling Indicator of Purgatory




I always thought Tabitha went to Purgatory as there is no way out of Hell and it would be cruel to drag someone from Heaven back to Earth.



I think this is besides the point. This occurred before the death and resurrection of Jesus. It wasn’t until Our Lord died and went to Hades that He opened the doors to heaven… according to Catholic teaching no one went to heaven before this point.


Lazarus was before Jesus died, Tabitha was after Jesus died.


Some non Catholic Christians believe in the “Bosom of Abraham”. They could argue that God just pulled her from the Bosom of Abraham.


Purgatory certainly exists, the saints who died before Christ’s Resurrection had to have been some where. So Tabitha probably sojurned a few hours in purgatory before her soul was reunited to her body. But I’m sure that in that case, Our Lord confirmed her in sanctifying grace so that her soul would not have been placed in jeopardy a second time.



Do they believe that the Bosom of Abraham continued to exist following Jesus’ resurrection?

The only time I’ve heard of folks believing in the continuing existence of the Bosom of Abraham is in the context of an argument that asserts that ‘heaven’ doesn’t currently exist. In other words, the belief is that heaven will only exist in the eschaton (i.e., when there will be a ‘new heaven and new earth’), and therefore, the Bosom of Abraham is where all the elect are until the end of time. Even in that construct, I think, there’s still the notion of a lack of justice – after all, they are removed from their fellowship with the elect who are heaven-bound.


I don’t think that this assertion about injustice (unless there’s Purgatory) really works. After all, if Tabitha were taken from Purgatory and returned to earth, then we still have a problem: she’d have already experienced her particular judgment. Even with the notion of ‘Purgatory’, there’s still the problem that she would have had her assurance of eternal reward taken away and replaced with the uncertainty of human life. That would seem to have the same ‘injustice’ problem as “taken from heaven and returned to earth.”

With that in mind, it would seem that the most reasonable implication is that Tabitha didn’t experience the particular judgment, and therefore, wasn’t in heaven, hell, or purgatory when Peter brought her back to life.


If aNything at all happens to human beings in this situation, and they are not just in a post-life coma, then the human afterlife must have some kind of overrun-area for those who are called back. This would also apply modern to near-deathers, if there is anything there.

Ultimately there is no way to know.



I think this is a hint of the falseness of Once Saved Always Saved (OSAS).

Someone is in Heaven. They’re in the Father’s hand. All of a sudden, they’re RIPPED OUT of the Father’s hand and dragged back to earth. (wait, didn’t Scripture say that nobody would be ripped out of the Father’s hand?)

They were saved, now no longer saved.

OSAS is dead.


This makes sense to me. Perhaps there is some area of Hades (the abode of the dead) for such cases…a “holding pattern” for lack of a better phrase.




Actually, I think it’s precisely the opposite – and it’s precisely the reason why the Tabitha story doesn’t work in the way that the OP’s citation suggests it does.

If Tabitha is ‘ripped’ from her eternal reward, then the only way that this isn’t unjust is if she hasn’t lost anything. That is, the only way that there’s no loss of justice is if she had already had assurance of salvation and continues to possess that certainty, even though she was returned to earth.

In other words, the theological supposition that she had been the recipient of her eternal reward is precisely what makes this suggestion problematic, and what makes OSAS the only tenable position if the suggestion were true. Instead, since there is only one particular judgment, and since Tabitha subsequently does pass away, we need to recognize that she hadn’t already been in heaven, hell, or purgatory – and therefore, the notion that her story in Acts indicates the existence of Purgatory fails to hold up under scrutiny.


There is NO WAY she didn’t lose anything. Even with “assurance of salvation”

In heaven there is NO suffering. On earth there is suffering.

Going from NO suffering to MUCH suffering is a loss! Big time!


It’s a temporary setback, in which one’s assurance of heaven is not compromised.

On the other hand, going from ‘heaven’ or even ‘purgatory’ to ‘life on earth’ is truly a loss – it’s the loss of the judgment of eternal beatitude, and replacing it with the uncertainty inherent in human life on earth.

In this context, then, OSAS doesn’t entail ‘loss’, although going from a post-judgment state to a return to a pre-judgment state does entail loss.


Plenty of people have had an after death experience, entered heaven and then been told they had to go back. Family was praying for them, or God had a task for them to complete. They are usually reluctant to return but someone (Christ, or an angel) assures them they will return in the future. They usually return with great assurance, freedom from fear of death and trust in God. I have read of at least 4 or 5 such events, and met one woman myself whose story I believe. Not to mention Lazarus and Tabitha.
I think they were returned before their particular judgment, though I’m not sure. God is able to deal with each person individually, it’s not like there’s an assembly line that you are stuck on.


OSAS is irrelevant. Going from no suffering to suffering is a loss, even if “temporary”.



You wrote, “They were saved, now no longer saved.” I’m not arguing for the correctness of OSAS… just that your argument against it doesn’t work. Your own statement itself demonstrates that your argument doesn’t work! If OSAS were true, then Tabitha’s return to life doesn’t imply that she was “now no longer saved.” The OSAS adherent would reply to you that it’s not the case that she lost her salvation – just that her reward in heaven was deferred. In other words, there’s no loss of justice (which is, if you recall, the point of this whole discussion).



I see your point. OSAS is based on the teachings of the Mirror, not the teachings of Christ. Therefore, OSAS believing people think they are saved and it does not matter if they are here or in heaven, to them it is the same thing.


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