Is Purgatory in the bible


Where exactly does Purgatory come from. I have heard that it is not mentioned in the bible, but that it suggest a place where we are cleansed of our sins before we can get to Heaven is. Can somebody tell me where in the bible it can be found? Thank you.


It is not directly referenced by name, but there are multiple verses which teach about Purgatory. Let’s start with the basics. First, nothing unclean shall enter Heaven.

Rev 21:25 During the day its gates will never be shut, and there will be no night there. 26 The treasure and wealth of the nations will be brought there, 27 **but nothing unclean will enter it, **nor any[one] who does abominable things or tells lies. Only those will enter whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

And lets ask the question, is there a place, other than Heaven, earth, and hell? The Bible says yes.

Jesus teaches about the Bossom of Abraham (which is obviously not Heaven, not earth, and not hell)

Luke 16:22 When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and from the netherworld, where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.

In Revelation is notes that Death and Hades will be thrown into hell. Hades can’t be hell since it is being thrown into hell. It’s not Heaven obviously, and not earth.

Rev 20:13 The sea gave up its dead; then Death and Hades gave up their dead. All the dead were judged according to their deeds. 14** Then Death and Hades were thrown into the pool of fire. (This pool of fire is the second death.) **15 Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the pool of fire.

And St. Peter teaches that during Holy Saturday, Jesus went to preach to the souls of those who died before His time to offer them salvation. Obviously Jesus is neither on earth, hell or in Heaven.

1 Pet 3:18 For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spiritg 19 In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison,

There are more verses, but I think this is enough to establish conclusively that there is a place other than Heaven, earth and hell.

So now we have the idea of paying for sins that are forgiven. Are there passages that describe this? Indeed there are. Take the example of King David, who sinned greatly by committing adultery with Bathsheba, and then sending her husband into the front of battle to have him killed to hide his sin. The prophet Nathan confronts David with his sin, and David confesses to Nathan his sin. The sin is forgiven, and yet, there is punishment still due for the sin.

2 Sam 12:13 Then David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the LORD.” Nathan answered David: “For his part,** the LORD has removed your sin**. You shall not die, 14 but since you have utterly spurned the LORD by this deed, the child born to you will surely die.”

Likewise, Paul taught that if we build up works other than works of Christ, we will suffer great loss, but still be saved (if we confess the sins).

1 Cor 3:10 According to the grace of God given to me, like a wise master builder I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But each one must be careful how he builds upon it, 11 for no one can lay a foundation other than the one that is there, namely, Jesus Christ. 12 If anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, 13 the work of each will come to light, for the Day will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire [itself] will test the quality of each one’s work. 14 If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage. 15 But if someone’s work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire.

So the person will be saved, but they have to suffer loss. Now remembering our first point, that nothing unclean will enter Heaven, and that there can still be punishment due to sin, and attachment to sin can remain, how is this sin, attachment to sin, removed and how is the punishment completed? We don’t know the exact manner that it works, but the process of purification has been called by the Church Purgatory.

I hope that answers your question!


It’s implicitly in the Bible. Just like how the Trinity is implied in the Bible, but never directly stated.

I rather like Jimmy Akin’s explanation. link


I thought that all sins were absolved by the Sacrament of Reconciliation.
Does this mean that we are still to be punished after death for sins which have been forgiven on earth?


Absolved means the eternal punishment due for them has been remitted.

But that doesn’t mean there hasn’t been harm, and that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t fix what we have broken. If you stole $100 from a poor person, you need to go to Confession. Afterwards, you need to go return that $100 to him. If you do not return the $100, there will be some recompense due in Purgatory. You still have some attachment to sin that must be purified away.

Think about it this way, if you were to die right now, are you completely pure and ready to enter Heaven? I know I’m not. I need all the penance, fasting, almsgiving, and prayers I can get. I will need plenty of Masses said for me. I’ll need plenty of prayers from the Church Militant for me while I’m in Purgatory. I want to be cleaned of all sin before stepping before my God.


I was going to come on and ask about Purgatory as well. I worship at a Lutheran Church and understand that we’ve been redeemed by the blood of Jesus as well. He’s our propitiation and I know that when I die I will be in His presence.

I’m not trying to be argumentative at all…just trying to understand the dogmas that the Catholic Church teaches. I’ve learned a lot from the excellent teachers on EWTN but still have issues with various teachings.

Thanks for the info here, everyone.


You are redeemed by the blood of Jesus. Purgatory is not contradictory to that idea. Perhaps you have an idea of Purgatory to which Catholics do not hold? Pugatory is a cleansing, a sanctification. So when Scripture says something about how the saints in heaven “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” in Revelation, it suggests that cleansing is done by none other than the power of Christ’s blood. Purgatory is merely the final stage of sanctification in Christ.


[Perhaps you have an idea of Purgatory to which Catholics do not hold? Pugatory is a cleansing, a sanctification. So when Scripture says something about how the saints in heaven “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” in Revelation, it suggests that cleansing is done by none other than the power of Christ’s blood. Purgatory is merely the final stage of sanctification in Christ.

I guess my understanding of Purgatory is that someone else has to help the cleansing process…Mass is held for those who have passed on in order to help them get there sooner? I saw a cartoon show teaching kids about indulgences that I understood to mean that people earned the indulgences to help people in purgatory. Am I misunderstanding this?


Seems to negate the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Christ empowered Priests with the grace to forgive our sins in His name. We are told to “Go in peace…”.
Cannot believe that e.g someone given the Sacrament of The Sick before death is not immediately welcomed into Heaven. Apart from anything else, if someone does something to you, subsequently asks your forgiveness and you forgive them - you don’t then say “O.K but you’ll pay for it later…” :eek:


I wouldn’t rely on cartoons for Catholic theology - but the mass is likewise, in Catholic understanding, the re-presentation (e.g. CCC#1362) of Christ’s sacrifice. Again, the power is Christ’s sacrifice.

An indulgence is a work done by the grace of Christ - not something separate from Christ. Kind of like if we say a prayer, that’s not us doing something alien to Christ, but something we do by his grace. You can pray for a member of the body of Christ, whether that member be on earth or in a state of purgation (don’t get hung up on the amount of “time” someone could be “in” purgatory—the Church doesn’t have a position on how time works beyond this world).

And in Catholic theology, Christ is, once again, the source of all grace. For example:
*{I}t was by His blood shed on the Cross that God’s anger was averted and that all the heavenly gifts, especially the spiritual graces of the New and Eternal Testament, could then flow from the fountains of our Savior for the salvation of men… (Pope Paul VI, Mystici Corporis Christi, #30)*The branches can do nothing without the vine. And everything the branches do is because of the vine to which they are attached, and from which they receive life and spiritual power of grace.


‘Vengeance is mine’ sayeth the Lord. Not ‘Vengeance is no one’s’.

‘Revenge not yourselves, my dearly beloved; but give place unto wrath, for it is written: Revenge to me, I will repay, saith the Lord.’

Romans 12:19

‘For this reason it is that no one of us fights back when he is apprehended, nor do our people avenge themselves against your unjust violence though numerous and plentiful. Our certainty of the vengeance which is to come makes us patient. The harmless give way to the harmful; the innocent acquiesce in the punishments and tortures certain and confident that whatever we suffer will not remain unavenged, and that the greater is the injury of the persecution, the more just and serious will be the vengeance for the persecution.’

St. Cyprian of Carthage

‘And every one shall receive his own reward according to his own labor.’

1 Cor. 3:8


You may want to read this, which is quite extensive…

This part should answer your premise…" He’s our propitiation and I know that when I die I will be in His presence. "

Now are we paying for our sins? No, they are paid for. And the only way we can make restitution is because the life of Christ through the Holy Spirit has been poured out in us so that through our sufferings Christ’s glory can be reproduced in us. But there’s no short cut. Hebrews says that Christ, though a Son, learned obedience through suffering. Why did He suffer? That His human nature could learn obedience and impart that human nature to us through the flesh and blood in the Eucharist, the body and blood of Christ. When we receive that human nature of the eternal Son of God and historical Son of Man, we are enabled to learn obedience through suffering. There’s no other way to learn obedience.

Now what does this mean, that Christ has not paid for our sin? Of course not. It doesn’t mean that. Christ has paid once and for all for our sin. His death is the ultimate satisfaction and price for our redemption, but His life and His death must be lived out in us. That’s why we need to pick up our cross, and we need to imitate Christ. Did you catch that? We don’t suffer because Christ’s sufferings weren’t enough. We suffer because Christ’s life must be reproduced in us. It is finished. It is accomplished, but now it must be applied. The work of the third person of the Holy Spirit is New Testament history, is personal history.


I can appreciate what you are saying but if these cartoons are teaching children about indulgences and purgatory then the dogma has to be correct albeit very simplified for the children.

How does the teaching about purgatory work with the Scripture ,“To be absent with the body is to be present with the Lord?”

Thank you to all who have added to this conversation.

How do people who are dead hear our prayers if they are not alive? Wasn’t King Saul reprimanded for bringing someone back to get advice? Why would we pray to someone who is dead when we have the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In fact we are told that the Holy Spirit will intercede for us when we can’t express ourselves with the words that we want and need?


Just as the Jews were atoned with their animal sacrifices we are atoned for us by the shedding of Christ’s blood on Calvary, yes? This does not give us carte blanche to continue our sins but by confessing these sins to Jesus we have continual redemption. You’ll have to forgive me as I
contend with cognition issues that inhibit my former ability to understand and ecpress myself.


Without seeing the cartoons in question, I can’t speak to their accuracy. I was just saying as a rule of thumb, I would not advise making a cartoon your authority on the subject.

How does the teaching about purgatory work with the Scripture ,“To be absent with the body is to be present with the Lord?”

In at least one of a couple ways. First, to say there is a sequence of “absent from body—present with Lord” does not preclude any action between the two described events. If I say we graduate from college and then get a job, it does not mean no event ever occurred between graduation and the job. The text is stating two events that are sequential.

But even if we were to assume the text means “immediate”…

There is, secondly, in the theology of purgatory, the cleansing “event” (which makes a person fully without sin, i.e. a heavenly being) is seen as an encounter with Christ. *Encounter with the Lord is this [purgatorial] transformation. It is the fire that burns away our dross and re-forms us to be vessels of eternal joy. (Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI, Eschatology, p. 231)*So, again, purgatory is not something apart from Christ. So the phrase to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord is completely in harmony with the idea of purgatory whether we assume the scripture you cited refers to an immediate sequence or not.

How do people who are dead hear our prayers if they are not alive? Wasn’t King Saul reprimanded for bringing someone back to get advice?

Okay - that’s a different topic than purgatory now. But knowing or not knowing the mechanics of how prayer to saints “works” is not an impediment any more than how we would understand the mechanics or the “how” of the Incarnation or the Trinity or atonement, etc… Nevertheless, those who have died physically have shown in the face of a prayer that God permits them to still hear and respond to our petitions (story of Peter and Tabitha Acts 9:36-40); Jesus communicates with “dead” OT saints Moses and Elijah (Mt 17:3, Mk 9:4, Lk 9:30); Angels, to whom we also pray for intercession, are fully aware of what we say and do, they even rejoice when a sinner repents. (Lk 15:10, 1 Cor 4:9); And the Body of Christ in heaven and earth are united (Eph 3:14-15). Whether God empowers those in full heavenly union with Him to hear the prayers or whether the Spirit intercedes to deliver the prayers, or whether there is some other mechanic at work, there is precedent to ask any member of the body of Christ for intercessory prayers.

King Saul’s sin was for divination - to conjure a spirit for the sake of garnering information. Asking a member of the body of Christ in heaven for intercession is not divination. It is not seeking to draw a soul back to this world for some purpose. It is the same ask asking an earthly member of the body of Christ to pray for you. We ask another to go to God with us and we rely on God for answers to prayers. Paul set this as a worthy example numerous times. The Israelites similarly asked an angel for intercession and the angel delivered. (Zechariah 1:11-16) The Psalmist likewise implores the heavenly hosts to pray with him (Psalm 103:20-21; 148:1-2).

Why would we pray to someone who is dead when we have the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In fact we are told that the Holy Spirit will intercede for us when we can’t express ourselves with the words that we want and need?

For the same reason Paul asked other members of the Body of Christ to pray for him (e.g. Rm 15:30, Col 4:3, 1 Thess 5:25, 2 Thess 3:1, etc…). There is no dichotomy between asking a member of the body of Christ for intercession versus Christ explicitly. Christ encouraged us to love one another and be “one” and to suffer when another suffers and rejoice when another rejoices. The body of Christ is not amputated if one of those members goes to heaven where he/she is now closest to God. Just as Christ told us to love God and to love neighbor, it doesn’t mean we are “not” loving God if we are “busy” loving our neighbor. Theologically speaking, they are one in the same. Asking other members of the body for intercession similarly does not mean we are neglecting God, nor that we go to a saint “instead” of God. Paul’s petitions to other saints to whom he wrote were not materially different.


You can ponder what Saint Paul wrote. This is from another thread:

I would stress 1 Corinthians 3:10-14, as they may not pay much attention to anyone other than Saint Paul.

Ask them to explain just how:

  1. After death,
  2. On the day of judgment
  3. Before the seat of Christ,
  4. One’s work (NOT faith!) is tested.
  5. During that test, one’s work may burn up, not being of gold or even silver.
  6. Yet, even if it does burn up, that person is still saved!
  7. But saved only as though passing through fire.

Ask them to explain just what Paul was speaking of.

It is not the fires of hell, from which there is no escape. It is the refiner’s fire and the fuller’s soap (Malachi 3:2), the fire of purification (1 Peter 1:7). We are invited to the banquet in the Father’s house (Matthew 8:11, Luke 13:29). Yet, nothing impure will enter that house (2 Chronicles 23:19, Revelation 21:27). Purgatory is God’s mud room, where we are cleaned up and made spiritually perfect and presentable to Him.

I would also stress that purgatory is not a place, but a state of our soul on our way to heaven.



Death is the beginning of everlasting life. So how are we dead. Jesus died. Is Jesus dead now. No. The spirit is much alive when we die. If I were to ask a minister in any church to pray for me, they would right away say yes, or sure I will pray for you. Therefore, why not ask the saints in Heaven to pray for us, do you think that the saints in heaven are dead? Do you think Jesus is dead. No. They are very much alive. When we die our spirit leaves our body and either unites with Our Lord in heaven, goes to Hell with the devil, or to purgatory until cleaned enough to inter into God’s Kingdom. The body unites with the spirit on judgements day. Or this is what I was taught. Again, death is the beginning of life for infinity. I thought all or most denominations teach that. I’m sure you if you study your bible it will speak of all that I have mentioned above.


The Sacrament of Reconciliation has penance as part of it. A required part. Even if the person does not perform the penance, the sin is forgiven. So what is the reason for their being penance as part of Confession? And why is the sin forgiven if they don’t complete the penance?

Another question, if I steal $100, and confess the sin. Do I get to keep the $100?


The eternal penalty for our sins is gone. But the temporal effects are not eliminated. In my example above, if I steal $100, and confess my wrongdoing to Jesus, I am forgiven. Can I keep the $100?

No apology necessary. I am enjoying the conversation

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