Question on Purgatory


My husband and I are planning on joining the Catholic Church. We are going to start our RCIA classes in a few weeks. We have been discussing purgatory and I am a little confused on something and wanted to ask a question. Does purgatory mean that everyone will eventually go to Heaven? Or will some people go to hell? If I’m understanding purgatory right, it’s a place where we go if there is still sin in our lives when we die so that we can be cleansed before entering Heaven. Right??


You’ve got the right idea. :slight_smile:

Here is a passage from 1 Peter 3… line 19 is the relevant line:

18 Because Christ also died once for our sins, the just for the unjust: that he might offer us to God, being put to death indeed in the flesh, but enlivened in the spirit, 19 In which also coming he preached to those spirits that were in prison: 20 Which had been some time incredulous, when they waited for the patience of God in the days of Noe, when the ark was a building: wherein a few, that is, eight souls, were saved by water.

This is the explanation of that line:

19 “Spirits that were in prison”… See here a proof of a third place, or middle state of souls: for these spirits in prison, to whom Christ went to preach, after his death, were not in heaven; nor yet in the hell of the damned: because heaven is no prison: and Christ did not go to preach to the damned. **

The verses above are from this site:

Its the Douay-Rheims Bible in its entirety and you can search it with word searches as well as choose the book, and chapter you want to read.


Hi Tracie 001,

Congratulations on your and your husband’s decision to start RCIA classes. You have it basically right on purgatory but I wouldn’t call it a “place,” per se. I think it is more accurate to call it a state. As in “a state of being.” The book of revelations states that “nothing unclean shall enter heaven.” Not everyone dies in a perfect state of grace and so must suffer this purification. My understanding is that the “suffering” is not the pains of hell but the suffering of being seperated from God.

I have never heard that anyone in the state of purgatory would then go to hell. Purgatory is to prepare us, finally, for heaven.

If you go to the home page and put purgatory into the search bar on the upper left side you’ll have more information then you probably care to read in one sitting.

May God Bless you on your journey and may I be the first to welcome you home.


Thanks Rob,
If you don’t mind let me pick your brain a little concerning the verse you gave me in 1 Peter 3, 19 “In which also coming he preached to those spirits that were in prison” Ok, this is what I’ve always been taught on about that verse. That it was talking about the people that had died “before” Christ came. They were in a kind of limbo state, i guess no Heaven or hell, and until Christ that’s where they stayed. I hope that makes some kind of sense.:shrug: That would help me out a lot if I could get some clarification on that, for me and because I can tell you I WILL be confronted with that!!
Thanks again,


Tracie…glad to be of help, and I’ll be content to be the second person to welcome you and your husband “home”!!

Go to this link…I think you will find the answer to your questions, it is directly from the “Catechism”:

Its not a long read…but it answers the questions. :smiley:


That is exactly what purgatory is. However, no one in purgatory will go to hell. All people in purgatory are eventually going to heaven. Anyone going to hell goes directly to hell. They do not make a pit-stop in purgatory. :slight_smile:

Purgatory is where our souls choose to go to make a final purging of past sins for which we have not yet made reparation. This is done in order to ready our souls to be in the presence of Almight God for all eternity. It is a temporary place (hence the term “temporal punishment”) where we maintain the feeling of hope - which is what distinguishes purgatory from hell. In hell, there is no hope - only despair.

FYI: By doing certain penances now, you can reduce your time in purgatory. They are called “indulgences”. It is the remission of the temporal punishment due to sin. You can also offer up your indulgences for a loved one who has died. Visit this web site for more information -

A “plenary indulgence” is the total and complete remission of temporal punishment due to sin. For those who are properly disposed and who take advantage of this wonderful grace, it is a priceless gift from God!


The righteous that came before Christ were in Abraham’s bosom… Jesus referenced this In Luke 16:
21 Desiring to be filled with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table, and no one did give him; moreover the dogs came, and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. And the rich man also died: and he was buried in hell. 23 And lifting up his eyes when he was in torments, he saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom: 24 And he cried, and said: Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, to cool my tongue: for I am tormented in this flame. 25 And Abraham said to him: Son, remember that thou didst receive good things in thy lifetime, and likewise Lazareth evil things, but now he is comforted; and thou art tormented.
22 “Abraham’s bosom”… The place of rest, where the souls of the saints resided, till Christ had opened heaven by his death.
Notice Abraham’s bosom is for saints (i.e. sinless after death)

And yes you were correct in that we will all be faced with a choice to reject or accept Christ when we die… if we reject, we go to hell… but if we accept and our souls need cleansing before we can enter heaven, we go to the purifying fires of purgatory until cleansed…then to heaven, but if we are in a state of grace… we go to heaven.


Hi Tracie,

I’ll add a bit more clarification on a a few concepts.

Temporal Punishment refers not only to the suffering and punishment of purgatory, although that punishment IS temporal (i.e. temporary), but also to our suffering and punishment here on earth (since that is also temporary).
Accepting and embracing temporal punishment either here or in purgatory is an act of penance. “Performing penance” here on earth can be either accepting the punishments and/or trials that God sends you or by offering voluntary sacrifices.Both these types of penance remit the temporal punishment that is due to us for our various sins. These penances are necessary to fulfill justice, but also have the added effect of healing the “internal” damage that sin does to our mind and heart.

Therefore if you were to do penance (remember that can be accepting trials, or offering worthy sacrifice to God. . . such as giving up meat for all of Lent, or praying a rosary, or reading Scripture) you are expiating your temporal punishment due to you.

Indulgences are grants from the church that give grace ABOVE and BEYOND the the grace that the acts of penance provide in themselves. For instance, reading scripture is an indulgenced act, an act which the Church in her wisdom has attached an indulgence to. The very act itself of reading scripture is meritorious and penitential – and so lessens temporal punishment on its own. The grant of the indulgence amplifies and goes beyond and gives it even more a penitential character, giving it more of an ability to lessen temporal punishment.

These indulgences draw upon the “treasury of merit” or the “storehouse of grace” that the Church is custodian of: the grace won by Christ and His saints. The Church applies those graces to the person who performs the indulgenced act.

That grace, that indulgence, in turn can be applied to oneself (to alleviate temporal punishment that you owe) or to others who have died (to alleviate temporal punishment they owe and may be paying in Purgatory).

Purgatory is the somewhat like an extension on a bill payment: if you haven’t paid all your temporal punishment due before you die, you can pay it in Purgatory.

Hope that helps a bit too,


Mt 5:48 - be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect
Heb 12:14 - strive for that holiness without which cannot see God
Jam 3:2 - we all fall short in many respects
Rev 21:27 - nothing unclean shall enter heaven
Jam 1:14-15 - when sin reaches maturity gives birth to death
2Sam 12:13-14 - David, though forgiven, still punished for his sin
Mt 5:26 - you will not be released until paid last penny
Mt 12:32 - sin against Holy Spirit unforgiven in this age or next
Mt 12:36 - account for every idle word on judgment day
2Macc 12:44-46 - atoned for dead to free them from sin
1Cor 3:15 - suffer loss, but saved as through fire
1Pet 3:18-20; 4:6 - Jesus preached to spirits in prison
2Tim 1:16-18 - Paul prays for dead friend Onesiphorus
1Cor 15:29-30 - Paul mentions people baptizing for the dead



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