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Ann Naffziger, M.A., M.Div.
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Our readers asked:

Is Purgatory Mentioned in the Bible?

Ann Naffziger Answers:

Purgatory is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible, and in fact the word did not come into common parlance until the twelfth century. However, the concept of a process whereby souls are purified before they enter heaven was evident in very early Christianity. Going back even further, there is a Jewish tradition that praying for the dead furthers the purification of a soul(s). Although sometimes Purgatory is imagined as a physical place, the Catholic teaching is that Purgatory is the “final purification of the elect.” The Catechism of the Church describes it this way;

“All who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assure of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so a to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.” (CCC 1030)

The Author : Ann Naffziger
Ann Naffziger is a scripture instructor and spiritual director in the San Francisco Bay area. She has has written articles on spirituality and theology for various national magazines and edited several books on the Hebrew Scriptures.
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Please note that the editorial staff reserves the right to not post comments it deems to be inappropriate and/or malicious in nature, as well as edit comments for length, clarity and fairness.
  • Lorraine Sioson

    Purgatory was not taught by Jesus Christ and even the prophets that’s why it cannot be found anywhere in the bible therefore it is wrong to make people believe about it and it is a sin to add or take out any word from the bible just to suit to ones religion interpretation and belief. Simply stick to what the bible says and you will not go wrong or to be more sure go back to the original translation of the bible don’t use the ones translated by the the religion itself.

  • gooder1

    The Bible might not directly mention Purgatory, but it certainly alludes the concept of it. In other words, if we all died and went directly to heaven, then heaven would be no different than earth. We all have our dispositions and problematic issues. Purgatory removes all of that, and establishes heaven as a place of perfection, and complete happiness. Additionally Purgatory forgives small sins. I for example have my own issues that I would not want to bring to heaven with me. See below:

    Matt: 18:34-35, “Then in anger his master handed him over to the torturers until he should pay back the whole debt. So will my heavenly Father do to you, unless each of you forgives his brother from his heart.”

    12:48: “but he who did not know [his master’s will], and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating”

    Matt. 5:25-26: “Make friends quickly with your accuser, while you are going with him to court, lest your accuser hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you be put in prison; truly, I say to you, you will never get out till you have paid the last penny.”

    1Cor. 3:13-15: “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. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire” (is this the cleansing fire of Purgatory?).

    1Pet. 3:19-20,

    For “Christ himself…was put to death…in the body…, in the spirit he was raised to life, and in the spirit, he went to preach to the spirits in prison…who formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah.“

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