John Chrysostom on Purgatory?

Recently, I was reading the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Specifically, I was reading Canon 1032 which states:

**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.” 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. 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.(611 St. John Chrysostom, Hom. in 1 Cor. 41,5:PG 61,361; cf. Job 1:5.)**

I went to Job 1, but Job’s children are alive until Job 1:19. Are the first couple verses of the Book of Job a general overview of Job and not sequential with the rest of the story or are these different children that have already passed?

Any and all help is much appreciated.

I don’t think St. John Chrysostom is saying, “Look, Job offered sacrifice for his deceased sons…”; rather, I think he’s saying, “Look, Job offered sacrifice for the sins of his sons, so we can do likewise, even for the dead.” The Maccabees passage refers specifically to sacrifice for the dead; the other to sacrifice for sins in general. They are connected, but it’s not a one-to-one correspondence. That’s my take.

I went to Job 1, but Job’s children are alive until Job 1:19. Are the first couple verses of the Book of Job a general overview of Job and not sequential with the rest of the story or are these different children that have already passed?

Any and all help is much appreciated.And when each feast had run its course, Job would send for them and sanctify them, rising early and offering holocausts for every one of them. For Job said, “It may be that my sons have sinned and blasphemed God in their hearts.” This Job did habitually. These are children that are still alive. Job is offering sacrifice for sins they may have committed in their feasting. St. John Chrysostom is saying that if Job’s live sons could be purified by their father’s sacrifice, then we should not doubt that the dead can also be aided by our offerings if they are still in purgatory.

St Chrysostom, living in New Testament time, recognizes the Communion of Saints - that our connection to our fellow man does not end with their death. In the Mystical Body of Christ, we are united with all those in heaven and those in purgatory, and we continue to do what we can to help each other.

St John Chrysostom is making an analogy, not an identity. Nothing complex about it. :slight_smile:

The quote in the *Catechism *from St John Chrysostom’s Homily 41 on 1 Corinthians can be found here in context, in the paragraph marked as 8.

In an earlier paragraph of the same homily, in the paragraph marked as 7, St John wrote something equally ambiguous concerning Job:
“And Job grieved indeed, but so much as was proper for a father who loved his children and was very solicitous for the departed…”

Does St John simply mean that Job was very solicitous for the departed before their death or does he mean that Job was also very solicitous for the departed after their death? The only verse I can think of that suggests Job did anything for the departed after their death besides moderately grieve for them is Job 1:5, which says indefinitely concerning the burnt offerings he offered for the sins of his children, “Thus Job did continually.”

St John Chrysostom says nothing about any ‘purgatory’ in that homily.

Scroll down to the section headed “1 Corinthians 15:46” and go to the paragraphs under “8.” In the third paragraph under that number, you’ll find the passage quoted in the opening post: … 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. St. Chrysostom’s words there most certainly are referring to those in purgatory even though he doesn’t use the actual word “purgatory”.

His words perfectly describe perfectly the belief of the Orthodox Church, and we do not believe in any ‘purgatory’, so it would appear that Catholics are reading their own beliefs back into St John Chrysostom’s words.

What do Orthodox call the place/state of departed souls who still need “help” and can benefit from prayers we offer for them?

You should know, besides rejecting Purgatory, the Eastern Orthodox don’t have any uniform view of the Afterlife.

Thank you. I did some googling after reading your post and see what you mean about there not being any uniform view.

And no universally approved canon. They have their own internal schisms to deal with. That’s why im not terribly optimistic on uniting with them as they need to first agree with each other.

And i dont think they reject purgatory. They believe in it they just dont like Rome defining it

The Catholic definition of Purgatory is as follows:
Catechism of the Catholic Church

  1. 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.

  2. The Church gives the name* Purgatory* to this final purification of the elect, …

According to what I read on this website - - it seems to me that most of the Orthodox also believe in a stage of purification after death, but they just haven’t assigned a name for it. I realize there are differing views on what/how/etc. is involved in this purification process (what we call “purgatory”) – not just between Orthodox and Catholics, but within Catholicism also, where some areas are still open for discussion.

They do not have a single view of Heaven or Hell either, look at the latter responses here:,69823.0.html

EO don’t completely reject Purgatory. There are differing views on that as well, allowing for some type of process for detaching the person from sin before attaining Heaven, even through punishment/discipline.

Here are a some lines from a brief, interesting and informative EWTN Q & A. Fr. Anthony’s response to the submitted question includes information received from a Greek Orthodox archpriest, who gave Father permission to quote him.
(Bolding is mine.)…*Eastern Christians generally shy away from the word “purgatory” because it is a Latin theological term. But the essential belief is the same.

If asked if they believe in purgatory, they will answer “no” because in their minds the term refers to a terrible place of suffering where people sit around and burn. But if you ask them if they believe in a transitional state between death and union with God, they will answer yes. … Really, this is primarily a case of a language problem. * also points out that the name “purgatory” was not used for this “transitional state” until midieval times - well after the 1054 AD schism.

Father’s final paragraph is also well for us Catholics to remember.

There is intercession for the dead, however, since the Resurrection of our Lord, there is now an immediate judgement per Catholic theology, which is not a dogma of the Orthodox.

Old Testament refers to Sheol and Gehenna. Sheol is the place of the souls after death, as we understand from it’s first use in the Old Testament (NABRE):

Gen 27:35 Though his sons and daughters tried to console him, he refused all consolation, saying, “No, I will go down mourning to my son in Sheol.”* Thus did his father weep for him.

Luke 12:5
I shall show you whom to fear. Be afraid of the one who after killing has the power to cast into Gehenna;* yes, I tell you, be afraid of that one.

  • Gehenna: in Hebrew gê-hinnōm, “Valley of Hinnom,” or gê ben-hinnōm, “Valley of the son of Hinnom,” southwest of Jerusalem, the center of an idolatrous cult during the monarchy in which children were offered in sacrifice (see 2 Kgs 23:10; Jer 7:31). In Jos 18:16 (Septuagint, Codex Vaticanus) the Hebrew is transliterated into Greek as gaienna, which appears in the New Testament as geenna. The concept of punishment of sinners by fire either after death or after the final judgment is found in Jewish apocalyptic literature (e.g., Enoch 90:26) but the name geenna is first given to the place of punishment in the New Testament.

Apparently, the name “purgatory” was officially assigned at the First Council of Lyons in 1274 AD. The Council document seems to indicate the name had been used for quite some time previously. But perhaps I’m wrong on that.
Denzinger, paragraph 456:

we indeed, calling it purgatory according to the traditions and authority of the Holy Fathers, wish that in the future it be called by that name in their area.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit