Purgatory and 1 Cor. 3

I told RCwitness I’d start this thread. It’s based on an offshoot topic from another thread. The question is whether 1 Cor. 3 really proves Purgatory. The intention is to go through the passage in its context, from beginning to end.

RC, here is the passage starting at v. 1 of 1 Cor. 3:

But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, as babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men? 4 For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apol′los,” are you not merely men?

5 What then is Apol′los? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. 6 I planted, Apol′los watered, but God gave the growth. 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. 8 He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labor. 9 For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

10 According to the commission of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and another man is building upon it. Let each man take care how he builds upon it. 11 For no other foundation can any one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble— 13 each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

16 Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If any one destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and that temple you are.

Will that do? The version is the RSVCE.

If you can still do it. Please edit the title of the thread. We are not allowed to use poster’s names in it. :thumbsup:

Not only are we not to use names in thread titles, it appears that this is a thread between just the two of you. Better to use PM or welcome others into the dialogue.

When you start a thread, it becomes a public forum where all members can join in. If you desire a private discussion, please pm the person concerned.

God bless.


As a Lutheran priest who believes in Purgatory, the one thing needed before a discussion is made concerning this passage is to actually define ‘Purgatory.’ What do you, Koineman, actually believe Purgatory to be?

Hopefully the moderators will edit my name out so we can pursue this topic with all who are interested. But you have my attention and participation now… :wink:

Right, but I hope it is not just between us, because I learn new things with most every lengthy thread.

This is a fine way to initiate things. Ive found many non Catholic Christians accept Purgatory with different beliefs regarding it. Thanks Rev.

My first response is that “proof” is kinda relative to one’s acceptance. I would find the description of judgment (the Day) to highlight Purgatory (purging) quite clearly. I think we know that its not as simple as proving interpretations particularly from one passage. But its obvious to me that some things can definitely be established from 1 Cor. 3

*First, that works unworthy of acceptance by God are destroyed.
- This seems to imply that these have not been fully turned from in repentance
*The process of this ‘destroying’ is likened to fire
- But we are not to understand it as necessarily elemental fire (hence “as through fire”)
*Paul clearly says the person will “suffer” loss
- I find it interesting that Paul elsewhere Teaches the necessity to suffer for Christ’s sake.
- Some sort of pain, but we are free to speculate on the nature of this pain.
*Yet, the person who needed this is then able to enter into heaven.
- Its hard to believe, by any stretch of the imagination, that Christians will not have some degree of wordly attatchment and faults which would not be ‘pleasant’ to face and be stripped of

I didn’t realize there was a rule against stating someone’s user name in the subject line. Unfortunately, I seem to be unable to edit it.

Better yet, I’ll quote from the Catholic Catechism:


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.606 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:607

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.608

And what do you take from this?

that if I am not perfectly purified of sinful tendencies or vices in this life, I must undergo purification. The key part of the CCC’s definition for me is where it says that the people themselves will undergo purification.

OK. Then apply this to 1Cor 3.

In due time. First I want to go through 1 Cor. 3 step by step, so we can get a firm handle on what St. Paul’s intention was, i.e., what he was trying to get across.

Starting with vv. 1-4:

But I, brethren, could not address you as spiritual men, but as men of the flesh, as babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready, 3 for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men? 4 For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apol′los,” are you not merely men?

Paul here describes the spiritual immaturity of the Corinthians, pointing to their continuing of carnal acts like jealousy and fighting. Their carnal behavior was exhibited in factious behavior: choosing an apostle to belong to, as if the apostles were divided and on separate teams, so to speak.

Is it your think that purification at the moment of death is opposed to a lutheran teaching?


I’m not sure. I don’t know of any Lutheran teaching that would go against that notion, assuming you mean an instantaneous purification and not the idea of being punished for your impurities over a period of time.

Agreed. I would encourage reading some of Cardinal Ratzinger/ Pope Benedict writings, as one hears less about time measured temporally, and more the language of “moment”.

“It is clear that we cannot calculate the ‘duration’ of this transforming burning in terms of the chronological measurements of this world. The transforming ‘moment’ of this encounter eludes earthly time-reckoning—it is the heart’s time, it is time of ‘passage’ to communion with God in the body of Christ.”

“Purgatory is not, as Tertullian thought, some kind of supra-worldly concentration camp where man is forced to undergo punishment in a more or less arbitrary fashion. Rather is it the inwardly necessary process of transformation in which a person becomes capable of Christ, capable of God and thus capable of unity with the whole communion of saints.”

Described this way, may Lutheran concerns are alleaved.


Thanks for the recommendation. Is there a specific book or article he wrote specifically about this topic?

The Catholic Faith does not Teach that purgatory has relation with time. Instantaneous and long, is relative to the hardness of our hearts.

Also, the notion of being punished can be misunderstood too. The punishment is more in the form of chastisement. It is painful in the sense that it hurts us to see, realize and then be torn apart from things which are not pleasing to the Lord. It will not be pleasant to undergo this revealing of ourselves! It is much easier to examine ourselves here and turn from damaging things to ourselves.

Start at about par 159. A Greta discussion on the topic.



Thanks for the clarification.

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