What is Purgatory?



Whether you believe there is Purgatory or not - what have you learned or known from others the definition of Purgatory.

I heard my co-worker, who was a Catholic, now a non-Catholic, trying to explain to another Catholic who is turning into New Age. He said the Purgatory is almost like Hell. :smiley:

Again, this thread is not about there is or there isn’t a purgatory, what do you learn from others about the definition of Purgatory?



In the Second Book of Maccabees, we read of how Judas Maccabees offered sacrifices and prayers for soldiers who had died wearing amulets, which were forbidden by the law; “Turning to supplication, they prayed that the sinful deed might be fully blotted out,” (2 Mc 12:43) and “Thus, (Judas Maccabees) made atonement for the dead that they might be free from sin” (2 Mc 12:46).

This passage gives evidence of the Jewish practice of offering prayers and sacrifices to cleanse the soul of the departed. Rabbinic interpretation of Scripture also attests to the belief. In the Book of the prophet Zechariah, the Lord spoke, “I will bring the one third through fire, and I will refine them as silver is refined, and I will test them as gold is tested” (Zec 13:9). The school of Rabbi Shammai interpreted this passage as a purification of the soul through God’s mercy and goodness, preparing it for eternal life. In the Book of Sirach, “Withhold not your kindness from the dead” (Sir 7:33), was interpreted as imploring God to cleanse the soul. In sum, the Old Testament clearly attests to some kind of purification process of the soul of the faithful after death.

The New Testament has few references about purging of the soul or even about heaven for that matter. Rather, the focus is on preaching the gospel and awaiting the second coming of Christ, which only later did the writers of sacred Scripture realize could be after their own deaths. However, in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus’ statement that certain sins “will not be forgiven either in this world or in the world to come” (Mt 12:32), at least suggests a purging of the soul after death. Pope St. Gregory (d. 604) stated, “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.” The Council of Lyons (1274) likewise affirmed this interpretation of our Lord’s teaching.


Purification necessary for heaven Heb 12:14; Rev 21:27
An intermediate state of purification Mt 5:26; Lk 12:58-59
Degrees of expiation of sins Lk 12:47-48
Can be aided by prayer 2Mac 12:45
Salvation; but only as through fire 1Cor 3:15
Temporary agony 1 Cor 3:15; Mt 5:25-26
Christ preached to spiritual beings 1 Pet 3:19
Nothing unclean shall enter heaven Rev 21:27
Sacrifice for the dead 2 Mac 12:43-46
A reality beyond the two realms of Heaven and Earth a place between or near 2 Cor 5:10; Rev; 5: 2;3 Rev; 5:23; Phil 2:10; Matt 18: 23-25 Luke 23:42
No forgiveness in this age nor in the age to come. Mt 12:32
"Extra" suffering. Col 1:24; 2 Sam 12:14


I heard one Catholic explain it as the “basement of heaven”…a place where the consequences of our “temporal sins” are cleansed…explained as Paul stated in 1 Cor…“wood hay stubble…saved by fire…”

I have heard Catholics explain ‘hauntings’ as those consigned to purgatory…

If you go to purgatory…you will eventually go to heaven.


More like the anteroom, maybe?

Well, not based on any teaching of the Church, he didn’t.

That is correct.




That’s good to know that the church doesn’t embrace the idea of “hauntings” as those consigned to purgatory…I can understand the concept and why it accepted…as I understand the Orthodox make no official statement concerning purgatory.


Pretty much what Publisher said plus that you can pray someone out of there. Or pray so they have less time in there. :shrug:


Try this site


THE purging. It scares the dickens out of me. No really, I’m fearful of it. Tim


A) You are a sinner now and you are tempted by sin.

IB) In heaven you will be free of sin and will have no desire to sin.

Purgatory is simply the state in your souls existance that brings you from “A” to “B”. And its all due to Christ blood of mercy.

God is also a God of justice. It is true that an eternity in Hell could never make up for one mortal sin.(thats why we have confession)

But we can make up for venial sins. You rob a bank and your sorry for it. Though you are forgiven it does not mean you get to keep the money in the eyes of man or God.

And if you don’t pay back that which you destroyed in this life. You must due so through the fires of Purgation.


I guess I was taught it was the “in-between” place in the afterlife until the formal end of the world. Those of us who were not good enough to go straight to heaven but not bad enough to go straight to hell would go there for a long, long wait and eventually go to heaven at the end of the world/second coming.

Of course that was as long as it was taught as RCC dogma, which it has recently been changed, so I now I am not sure my current interpretation of what the afterlife is.


To me its the final second chance.

In effect the Mercy of the Lord on those who don’t deserve it.

Once there entering heaven is imminent. Its the hope for all of our departed loved ones who may not have been perfect.


It was explained to me once this way.

Imagine yourself in a pure white suit going to a prom dance. Before going to the prom, you take your date to dinner. During dinner you spill your food all over yourself. You go to the restroom to clean up as best you can, but there is a large stain. Though you are still invited to the prom, you get there and look in and see everyone in their pure white suits. The only thing keeping you from going in, is the embarrassment you would feel with such an obvious stain while everyone else is in a perfect white suit.

Christ may take away all of your sin, but the stain is our personal knowledge of our failures, no longer the failures themselves that keeps us from re-joining God. We want to re-join, we have been invited, but until the stain is completly removed from our being, it is we who keep ourselves from going in.

Any analogy will fall short of the mark, but I think it gets the point accross pretty well. I used to think this ment Christs sacrifice was not enough to make anyone pure or perfect, but just as someone said; a bank robber can be forgiven, but it doesn’t mean he can keep the money- or won’t sit in jail for a while.


I’d like to ask a couple of questions…

i) Does Sheol/Hades still exist?
ii) Is Sheol/Hades what we now refer to as Purgatory?

(P.S. I’m assuming Sheol/Hades is the same; Sheol is Hebrew, and Hades is Greek.)


The essential, perhaps the only suffering of Purgatory is the loss of God–it is like what we described in speaking of hell, except that in Purgatory there is no despair, rather, great consolation from assurance of salvation.

The Latin infernus (inferum, inferi), the Greek Hades, and the Hebrew sheol correspond to the word hell.


Treatise on Purgatory


“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23

“…by the righteousness of one (Jesus) the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” Romans 5:18

Would an honest, loving God offer you eternal life as a free gift - then make you suffer to earn it - then lie about it in His Word?

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:” Ephesians 2:8

If the Bible is to be believed, then there is no need for further purification for those who die in Christ. They have already been justified by Jesus:

“Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” Romans 5:9
"Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:" Romans 3:24

The Apostle Paul drives home this same point:

“And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus…” 1 Corinthians 6:11

Christians are already purified because Jesus put away all sin on the cross:

“…but now once in the end of the world hath he (Jesus) appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.” Hebrews 9:26

God’s children are not required to suffer for salvation because they have been bought and paid for:

“For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:20

The price was the blood of Jesus Christ:

“…feed the church of God, which he (Jesus) hath purchased with his own blood.” Acts 20:28


When Christ purged those who were possesed, how did they react? Was it soulfully painless? I don’t have a clue how long the purging takes. I guess as long as justice is served and as much as we can take. Seconds, millions of years, I know there is NO sin in Heaven. The presence of one in the Trinity drives it away. I believe in a purging, hopefully here as much as possible. Tim


Somehow I learned that that was where Catholics believed you went before you went to heaven. And that it was almost like hell, but not forever.

Of course we believe in the “Judgement seat of Christ”. I am curious as to what the differences between “Purgatory” and the “Judgement seat of Christ” is.

But whatever purgatory is, the name of it is lousy. Get a new name.


That was from my original post as well. Someone who used to be Catholic and now a non-Catholic was trying to explain to someone else that Purgatory is almost like Hell – This is no where close to being correct.

I’d like to hear more from folks here. :slight_smile:

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