The Bible and Purgatory


I have a Protestant housemate whom I have recently convinced of the immorality of contraception. I hoping to build on that success and have decided to tackle the issue of Purgatory.

I’m working on a document to send to him with a collection of biblical verses that provide evidence for the existence of Purgatory. Most of my information has come from these two sites: and

I’m also going to include a few references from the Church Fathers, which my housemate said he’d be interested in.

Anyways, there’s two major points I need assistance with. First, are there are more biblical verses like this that demonstrate the need for “retribution” (is there a better word?) even after God has granted forgiveness: “David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” Nathan said to David, “Now the Lord has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child that is born to you shall die.”” (2 Samuel 12:13-14)

Also, are there any good quotes from either the Bible or the Church Fathers for countering the inevitable objection that Christ’s sacrifice is infinite and perfect and ergo we have no need for further purification?


Maybe this isn’t helpful, but the practice of purification before entering the temple is well documented.
Note the use of holy water before we enter the church.
God bless your efforts.



If I may offer a thought or two based on my interactions on this subject…

I think that the problem in communicating - Catholic to non-Catholic - on the subject of purgatory has to do with how we think and express the concept.
The basic concept as I understand it is that, because most of us will die in a less than perfect state and only perfection can stand before God, we must have the last of our imperfections removed…That is “purged”.
Therefore we undergo a “purgation”.
Many protestants will not have a problem with this idea. They just have a different view of the mechanism. This is where it gets a bit tricky.

Because we are not consigned to hell - no can we yet enter heaven…Where does this occur? As humans, we need some image in order to understand. So the “place” (or state) where this occurs is the place of purgation - or purgatory.

Now perhaps the other aspect that can be confusing between the protestant and Catholic is the idea of the “time” one spends undergoing purgation. Yet this again is something of an “image” that the Holy Spirit uses for our edification. The purgation takes place outside of our time and space, and different people require different degrees of purgation. It can be difficult to equate so our minds can grasp the idea. Thus “time in purgatory” makes a convenient method of expression.

So I suggest as you discuss with with your friend you recognize that there might be fundamental agreements - but differences in expression.

Of course this depends somewhat on the tradition he comes from too.

Hope this helps some



To me, purgatory is much easier to support biblically than contraception being an evil.

I am not able to give direct Scripture references right now, but purgatory is likened to a fire (1Cor:3), a prison (Matt.18) and a beating (Luke 12) in the New Testament.

And if Im not mistaken, the only sure things about purgatory Taught by the Church are that all those who go through purgatory are going to heaven, prayers for them are efficacious, and there is some sort of pain involved.


In one Jewish commentary, I read that there are seven different words that are translated or otherwise understood to be “heaven.” Now, at the literal level, these might correspond to words like the clouds or such, but the spiritual meaning is understood.

Then, it is rationalized, that these different words must have significance. One interpretation of them collectively is that there are seven levels of heaven, where one enters the divine presence in the seventh or highest heaven, because God is transcendent (He is so high above us).

In human terms, it has been described, storytellers that Jewish thinkers seem to be, that each lower level of heaven is so vast, that it can be likened to a journey of 500 years duration. As it were, this gives an ordinary person the feeling or concept of God’s transcendence and ineffability.

(Now, you should know that there is no central magisterium in Judaism as in the Catholic Church. Judaism can be divided into rabbinic and non-rabbinic Judaism (because the Hebrew scriptures do not describe the establishment of rabbinic Judaism). There are Jews who are agnostic or atheistic, as well. Reformed Judaism does not accept the scriptures as inspired or normative. There are Jews who do not believe in the afterlife.)

So, at death, one begins the journey to God and, on a conceptual framework that I am not familiar with, but involves to preparation for entering into the divine presence.

It is thought that God’s judgment depends on an evaluation of our evil and good deeds. God’s judgment cannot be predicted, based on His weighting actions differently than humans would judge them.

The body of Jewish thought is large, and it is open-ended, as far as I can tell. As in the Catholic Church, there are always new issues that arise and need to be considered. Recall how Jesus becomes involved in a discussion which focuses on whether one can pull an animal out of a ditch (i.e. do work) on a sabbath.

So, there is a precedent in Judaism for belief in something like divine judgment and purgatory.


Good job in what the Holy Spirit has accomplished through you so far.

Perhaps the following explanation may be of some help.

****[size=4]Christ’s Suffering is all sufficient :
He paid the price

Protestants often object to the existence of Purgatory with the claim that
“Christ’s suffering is all sufficient therefore there is no Purgatory.” Christ suffering is all sufficient, however their claim actually makes too little of Christ’s suffering by failing to recognize all that His suffering accomplishes.

     God does wash away all our guilt through the          Sacraments, but He desires to accomplish even more that that. Purgatory          is a good doctrine and our world is much better with it than without it.           Christ’s suffering makes Purgatory          possible. A world without a Purgatory actually would make God and His          sufferings less effective than what they are.

     Protestants often fail to see this because the          World has confused them so that they often misunderstand what it means          to be in heaven and to be reconciled with God.  The World          misunderstands what true love means.  The worldly person may say          that they love  ___  (fill in the blank any one of the several          hedonistic desires that afflicts our culture.)

It can be helpful to contrast some Muslims view of heaven with the Catholic view. Some Muslims believe that if they kill off the infidels while committing suicide they will be rewarded with 72 virgins. Here, God’s holy plan is converted to our worldly hedonistic value system. Whereas, in the Christian understanding it is our hedonistic values that must be converted to God’s holy way.

     To be reconciled with God means for us to desire          the good, that which He desires for us.  We need to be cleansed of          any sinful desires in order to go heaven.

     Genesis 19:26
    “But Lot’s wife behind him looked back, and she became a pillar of          salt.”

     Because sometimes we die without being purified on          earth of all our desires that are contrary to God’s will we need          purgatory which was made possible by the grace that Jesus won for us on          the cross to be reconciled with God in heaven.

     Revelation 21:27

“But nothing unclean shall enter it, (the heavenly city of God –Rev 21:2) nor any one who practices abomination or falsehood, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

See more at

Purgatory - In The Bible



Scott Hahn has an extensive/comprehensive article on pugatory…and even discusses its jewish roots. The title is “purgatory holy fire”


James Akin - How to Explain Purgatory to Protestants

Scott Hahn - Purgatory: Holy Fire

Hope these help.:slight_smile:


Here is a good 20 or so pages from St. Francis de Sales, discussing the arguments in favour of Purgatory: (‘The Catholic Controversy’)

This is an excellent resource because it is likely to include many - if not all - of the arguments put forward by modern Catholic apologists.

Here is a sample:
“Now let us consider a little where this repayment of which Our Lord speaks — till thou pay the last farthing — is to be made. And (i.) we find from most ancient Fathers that it is in Purgatory : Tertullian (Lib. de Animd c. x.), Cyprian (Epist., lib. iv. 2), Origen (Hom. 35 on this place of Luke), with Emissenus (Hom. 3 de Epiph.), S. Ambrose (in Luc. xii.), S. Jerome (in Matt, v.), S. Bernard (serm. de ohitu Humberti).”

That’s good enough for me!


Thanks. Great idea.
Also see it here
St. Francis de Sales, (1567-1622), discusses the arguments in favor of
** Purgatory** in
The Catholic Controversy.



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