Protestants, Explain this Verse

Protestants are at a complete loss in coherently explaining this verse—one of the most difficult in the New Testament for them to interpret. It simply does not comport with their theology, which utterly disallows any penitential or prayerful efforts on behalf of the deceased.

2Corinthians 5:10
"For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive good or evil, according to what he has done in the body."

OTCA, you are so full of it. I could pull 10 commentaries - Catholic and Protestant alike - that have no trouble with this verse (or, more importantly, the context around it) at all.

Where in the heck do you get these notions?

First and foremost, whether one has believed in God’s promise and in Jesus as Messiah, Lord and Saviour.



From the United States Conference on Catholic Bishops Commentary:

[10] We must all appear: the verb is ambiguous: we are scheduled to “appear” for judgment, at which we will be “revealed” as we are (cf 2 Cor 11; 2:14; 4:10-11).

From John Wesley’s Notes on the New Testament:

5:10 For we all - Apostles as well as other men, whether now present in the body, or absent from it. Must appear - Openly, without covering, where all hidden things will be revealed; probably the sins, even of the faithful, which were forgiven long before. For many of their good works, as their repentance, their revenge against sin, cannot other wise appear. But this will be done at their own desire, without grief, and without shame. According to what he hath done in the body, whether good or evil - In the body he did either good or evil; in the body he is recompensed accordingly.

From the Geneva Study Bible:

{4} For we must all {h} appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

(4) That no man might think that what he spoke of that heavenly glory pertains to all, he adds that every one will first render an account of his pilgrimage, after he has departed from here.

(h) We must all appear personally, and enquiry will be made of us, that all may see how we have lived.

Just to name a few…

Really, OTCA - you need to quit stereotyping Protestants. It does you no credit.


OK, I am Catholic, but was once an (evangelical) Protestant, so here is my take.

The verse says that we will be judged before Christ on what we did in our [natural] bodies. Where does it say that the prayers of others will ameliorate that judgement?

None of the Protestant leaders or preachers that I knew during those years or since, have expressed any difficulty with the explicit meaning of this verse.

                                                                            ICXC NIKA,


This is from the Douay Rheims.

For we must all be manifested before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive the proper things of the body, according as he hath done, either good or evil. [2Cor. 5, 10]

**(The objection against prayers for the dead answered by St. Augustine.) **
10. The proper things of his body. ] St. Augustine (Enchirid. 6. 11c.) objecteth this speech of the Apostle, as in the person of such as deny the prayers, alms, and sacrifices of the living to be available for the dead, and he answereth as followeth. This practice (saith he) of God’s Church in the commendation of the dead, is nothing repugnant to the sentence of the Apostle, where he saith, that we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ, that every one may receive according to his deserts in the body, either good or evil. For, in his life and before death he deserved this, that these works after his death might be profitable unto him, for indeed they be not profitable for all men, and why so? but because of the difference and diversity of men’s lives whiles they were in flesh. The like he hath in diverse other places. August. li. de Praed. Sanct. c. 12 & ad Dulcit. q. 2. And so hath St. Denys c. 7. Ec. Hierarch.

  1. Either good or evil. ] Heaven is as well the reward of good works, as Hell is the stipend of ill works. Neither is faith alone sufficient to procure salvation , nor lack of faith the only cause of damnation: by good deeds men merit the one, and by ill deeds they deserve the other. This is the Apostle’s doctrine here and in other places, howsoever the Adversaries of good life and works teach otherwise.

But thou, why judgest thou thy brother? or thou, why doest thou despise thy brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. [Rom. 14, 10]

I think the point the the OP is wanting to make is that this verse appears to say that we are judged according to what we have done, and thus refutes sola fide.

Well I can see the point the original poster was trying to make, despite the somewhat harsh tact he took. The verse clearly doesn’t line up with what I’ve understood Sola Fide to be. The verse (plus others) clearly shows the final judgment being made based on our actions (this plus when I was hungry, you gave me food, etc…). The person that I quote above may be missing a crucial point that may not have been made abundently clear by our orignal poster. The assent to faith is a work in and of itself (as in it’s an act of the will), though in order to perform such an act (or any act that is pleasing to God) requires His grace - hence our mutual acceptance of Sola Gratia - and thus we can take no credit for salvation. All the commentary that I’ve seen thus far, including the initial response from the Methodist gentleman doesn’t actually deal with this aspect. In short, Sola Fide seems to be a self-defeating doctrine. I’m sure there’ll be some good responses from both sides of the aisle. I eagerly await them :thumbsup:

I am trying to show others how Purgatory exists because Protestants do not believe in Purgatory. Right O.S. Luke? For example, what about this verse:

**Luke 16:9
"And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous mannon, so that when it FAILS they may receive you into the eternal habitations". (Read Luke 16:1-13 for the context).

**To FAIL–what is it but to die?—and the friends—who are they but the Saints? the interpreters all understand it so; when two things follow—that the Saints can help men departed, and that the departed can be helped by the Saints…Thus is the passage expounded by St. Ambrose and by St. Augustine.
But the parable our Lord is using is too clear to allow us any doubt of this interpretation; for the similitude is taken from a steward who, being dismissed from his office and reduced to poverty (16:2) begged help from his friends, and our Lord likens the dismissal unto death, and the help begged from friends unto the help one receives after death from those to whom one has given alms. This help cannot be received by those who are in Paradise or in Hell; it is then by those who are in Purgatory.

So why didn’t you say so?

I’ve never seen the verse you cited from 2 Cor 5 ever used from a Catholic source in support of Purgatory. I remember reading Augustine’s City of God when he cited 1 Cor. 3. And at Scripture Catholic, found this.

I think you posted the wrong verse. I haven’t found a Protestant biblical scholar yet that was at a loss to explain the verse in question - certainly didn’t have any difficulty in interpreting it. :shrug:

The WHOLE text of the 5th chapter of 2 Corinthians is below, NAB translation:

1 For we know that if our earthly dwelling, a tent, should be destroyed, we have a building from God, a dwelling not made with hands, eternal in heaven.

2 For in this tent we groan, longing to be further clothed with our heavenly habitation if indeed, when we have taken it off,

3 we shall not be found naked.

4 For while we are in this tent we groan and are weighed down, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.

5 Now the one who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a first installment.

6 So we are always courageous, although we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord,

7 for we walk by faith, not by sight.

8 Yet we are courageous, and we would rather leave the body and go home to the Lord.

9 Therefore, we aspire to please him, whether we are at home or away.

10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive recompense, according to what he did in the body, whether good or evil.

11 Therefore, since we know the fear of the Lord, we try to persuade others; but we are clearly apparent to God, and I hope we are also apparent to your consciousness.

12 We are not commending ourselves to you again but giving you an opportunity to boast of us, so that you may have something to say to those who boast of external appearance rather than of the heart.

13 For if we are out of our minds, it is for God; if we are rational, it is for you.

14 For the love of Christ impels us, once we have come to the conviction that one died for all; therefore, all have died.

15 He indeed died for all, so that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

16 Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh; even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him so no longer.

17 So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come.

18 And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation,

19 namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.

20 So we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.

21 For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

One Catholic commentary (Haydock’s Catholic Commentary), which followed the Douay-Rheims translation, DIDN’T EVEN COMMENT on 2 Cor 5:10 (click here). So I think your notion of 2 Cor 5:10 as a support for purgatory is pretty thin.

Try again. :slight_smile:

I don’t think so. In this Scriptural evidence of 2Cor about Purgatory is simply this. Our sins are judged here rather than forgiven, and this takes place in the next life. The standard Protestant theology of the judgment seat of Christ is not dissimilar to the notion of the chastising purifications of Purgatory. There is a direct relation between judging and the purging of sin. We are punished, in some fashion–or so St. Paul tells us in this verse–for evil deeds done.
The pains of Purgatory are roughly identical, to this punishment, since they are the taking away of those sinful habits, tendencies, and affinities to which we have come attached. We are rewarded for good deeds.
Nice try…:slight_smile:

No, our sins are forgiven in the sacrament of Reconciliation.

I’ll put more stock in trusted biblical commentators - including Catholic ones - rather than you on this one. You’re acting like a Protestant doing your own biblical interpretation and commentary. Hmmm.

And as Spirithound noted, sins are forgiven in Confession/Reonciliation, which I believe is a sacrament in Catholicism.

I think you better try again. Perhaps with haste.


That speaks for me too. Maybe the OP has had an experience of Protestantism - taking “experience” in a very broad sense, to include book-knowledge and the absence of it - that gives the impression that Protestants (I assume the OP means Protestants, & not “non-Catholic Christians” in general) - are at sea over that.

Pre-mill Dispensationalists do have a doctrine of several judgements, & of several resurrections: the Scofield Bible (especially in its 1917 edition - the 1967 edition may differ :shrug:) ? is the classic source for these ideas. And many US Evangelicals (but not those who adhere to the Lutheran & Calvinist confessions; though Baptists may be a bit different) are Pre-mill Dispies (why do Christian words have to be so long :frowning: ?).

The Scofieldian approach to the text reifies the terms in it - for example, it treats the different phrases “kingdom of heaven” & “kingdom of God” as denoting different entities. I’m guessing the OP, being a RC, has lumped together Dispies with other Protestants (including their critics), on the same principle as a stranger to China might lump all Chinese together.

That interpretation is, with all possible respect to them both, silly. It ignores what the text actually says - which is a sure-fire way to make a complete dog’s breakfast of a text. It reads into the text something important to them, for which not a word in the passage gives the slightest support. Of course they find Purgatory in the passage - they read Purgatory into it. This is no argument for Purgatory - it’s an argument against it, because if the doctrine depends on bad exegesis (which it does not) then there is no reason to think the Bible supports it (even if it does so elsewhere, without the “benefit” of bad exegesis). The Church needs something better for its mission in the world than fourth-century fantasies about first-century texts. Even a legion of Saints, no matter how learned, authoritative, or brilliant, cannot make a wrong interpretation of a text into a right one; what things are, is more important than what they are considered to mean.

The text is not telling an allegory - it’s telling a parable. Parable & allegory are both extended metaphors, but they are no more the same thing than beef & ham are the same thing - belonging to the same class, is not the same as being identical. Allegory, if not controlled by some consistent intrinsic principle, can make any text mean anything whatever: a little ingenuity could easily make the text into an allegory about Superman (not the Uebermensch, but the Kryptonian in red tights) If belief in Superman were ever to become important to Christians, like as not he would be read into the Biblical text. Which is a back-to-front way to proceed. On Fundamentalist principles, nothing would be simpler: we would be told that Jesus, being all-knowing because He is God, knew about Superman, & wished to tell the disciples about Him. The protests of Biblical scholars would be brushed aside, as “unbelief”, “calling Jesus untrustworthy”, “lack of faith”, “disbelief in the supernatural”, “liberalism”. How is that any more distant from the meaning of that passage than the mistakes of those two Fathers ?

There may be an analogy between the intercession of the Saints and the actions of friends of the unjust steward - it does not follow that the passage is about the intercession of the Saints. The meaning seen in the passage by those Fathers is applied to the Christians of their times & places - but Jesus was not talking about the Christians, or the beliefs, of the times in which those Fathers lived: He was talking to Jews who lived in His time & place. Jewish belief in the intercession of the righteous was in any case of rather dubious status - even the doctrine of a resurrection was less questionable.

But the parable our Lord is using is too clear to allow us any doubt of this interpretation; for the similitude is taken from a steward who, being dismissed from his office and reduced to poverty (16:2) begged help from his friends, and our Lord likens the dismissal unto death, and the help begged from friends unto the help one receives after death from those to whom one has given alms. This help cannot be received by those who are in Paradise or in Hell; it is then by those who are in Purgatory.

This help can’t be received by Lex Luthor either, but does that mean the passage is about Superman or his enemies & exploits? It is simply wrong to see in the passage any position whatever about Catholic eschatology, if only because Jesus, a Jew speaking to Jews, was not a RC, & did not have a RC eschatology. RC eschatology can perfectly well be seen as a legitimate & God-assisted development of certain Jewish ideas - but that is a very different matter from the position that they were held, in developed RC form, by Jesus & or by the very first Christians. To think that, would be like supposing that because the USA today has 50 states, it has always had 50 states, & did not start with 13.

Sorry to be so critical :frowning:

I think it somewhat odd the way you think…strange…

Perhaps if you spent more time educating yourself than trying to constantly discredit me, we’d get along better. Others are seeing you TRYING to do this, but it won’t happen… I am talking about this particular Scripture passage, not Reconciliation…try again Luke to see what I am saying.

Yeah, it’s a pretty feeble attempt at starting a useless quarrel isn’t it?

From Protestant convert to Catholicism. :slight_smile:

Does this verse help against the teaching of OSAS

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