Those who died before new covenant


Forgive me if I'm asking a stupid question, but...:confused:

Prior to the new covenant, did those who died go to either heaven or hell? Did purgatory exist then?


I don’t think that’s a stupid question.

Hopefully this commentary from Haydock on Matthew 27:51… is helpful.

“The veil of the temple was rent. As there were in the temple two parts of the sanctuary, so there were two veils, or partition walls. The first sanctuary, called the holy, was separated by a veil from that part of the temple called the court of the Israelites. Into this outward sanctuary, called the holy, entered every day the priests that were in office. The second interior sanctuary, called the holy of holies, was also separated from the outward sanctuary by another veil. And into this holy of holies, no one was to enter except the high priest, and he but once a-year. Both these veils seem to have been rent at Christ’s death: and by their being broken down, was signified first, that the ceremonies of the ancient law were to be abolished by the law of Christ; and also that heaven should be open to all. — The earth quaked. How far this earthquake was extended, is uncertain. — The rocks were rent, and the graves were opened: and many bodies of the saints … arose. St. Jerome takes notice, that these saints did not rise with their bodies till after Christ was risen; and so it follows, that going out of the graves, after the resurrection, they came into the holy city, (i.e. into Jerusalem) and appeared to many. (Witham) — This event was a prophecy of the fatal destruction that was shortly to fall upon the temple; and also, that it should henceforth give place to things more noble and sublime. It likewise shews that greatness of Christ’s power. (St. Chrysostom, hom. lxxxix.)”


[quote="JWtoCatholic, post:1, topic:325029"]
Forgive me if I'm asking a stupid question, but...:confused:

Prior to the new covenant, did those who died go to either heaven or hell? Did purgatory exist then?


According to the Jewish conceptions of that day, the souls of the dead were gathered into a general tarrying-place the Sheol of the Old Testament literature, and the Hades of the New Testament writings (cf. Luke 16:22; in the Greek 16:23). A local discrimination, however, existed among them, according to their deeds during their mortal life. In the unseen world of the dead the souls of the righteous occupied an abode or compartment of their own which was distinctly separated by a wall or a chasm from the abode or compartment to which the souls of the wicked were consigned. The latter was a place of torments usually spoken of as Gehenna (cf. Matthew 5:29, 30; 18:9; Mark 9:42 sqq. in the Latin Vulgate) — the other, a place of bliss and security known under the names of "Paradise" (cf. Luke 23:43) and "the Bosom of Abraham" (Luke 16:22-23). And it is in harmony with these Jewish conceptions that Our Lord pictured the terrible fate of the selfish Rich Man, and on the contrary, the glorious reward of the patient Lazarus. In the next life Dives found himself in Gehenna, condemned to the most excruciating torments, whereas Lazarus was carried by the angels into "the Bosom of Abraham", where the righteous dead shared in the repose and felicity of Abraham "the father of the faithful".


[quote="JWtoCatholic, post:1, topic:325029"]
Forgive me if I'm asking a stupid question, but...:confused:

Prior to the new covenant, did those who died go to either heaven or hell? Did purgatory exist then?


God knew what was in their heart.


My personal take is that prior to Jesus' crucifixion, death and resurrection the souls of the 'Righteous' who had died dwelled in a place referred to as 'Limbo', and that He visited this place after His death and resurrection and admitted them into Heaven.

It is also my belief that at this point Limbo became 'redundant'.


Not to say you are wrong, but I dont think Limbo is officially taught by the Church. I think you are using it as a term for a real situation, but perhaps, because of misunderstanding and a lack of real teaching regarding “Limbo”, its better to use Abraham’s Side, or Abrahams Bosom or Abraham’s Promise. They held fast to the faith of Abraham and the covenant God made with him. And were considered residing in him until the Messiah brought them home.

Pablope has explained this well.

Again, Mount Carmel, I dont think you are saying something different. And I think the term Limbo was used by the Church to some extent and in some way. But maybe because of a lack of teaching regarding the term, I think it doesnt have much use. And I only say, so it doesnt become a wild goose chase here.

I could be wrong, buts thats my impression
Btw, not a stupid question at all;)



A strong hint is found in 1 Peter 3:18-20 and 1 Peter 4:6. They were in the abode of the dead until Jesus descended to them and preached the Gospel to them. Remember the parable of Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31)? Lazarus was being comforted at the breast of Abraham, but they were not yet in heaven.


Thank you all for your responses! I am getting a clearer picture. :thumbsup:


Yes, was just about to post about this scripture quote. The Rich man is in hell and those who were (good? Holy?) on Earth such as Lazarus were in Abraham’s Bosum.


Here is Ott’s Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma.

“After His Death, Christ’s soul, which was separated from His Body, descended into the underworld. (De fide.)
The underworld is the place of detention for the souls of the just of the pre-Christian era, the so-called vestibule of hell (limbus Patrum).”

“Do not be afraid, I am with you. I have called you each by name. Come follow me, I will bring you home, I love you and you are mine.” (hymn)


According to the Catechism, published during the Catholic Counter Reformation. The “Catechism of the Council of Trent” or the “Roman Catechism”; which was published after the Council of Trent, by St. Pius V and edited by St. Charles Borromeo. The third abode of Hell, was a place where those who died before the coming of Christ, rested in the bosom of Abraham. It is viewed as coming under the phrase of the Apostles Creed, “He descended into hell.” It is not called limbo in the Catechism, but that was the common name for it in out time.


I thought Jesus went down to Sheol and took those who had passed before the new covenant that were not damned to hell.


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