Definition: “According to the teaching of the [Roman Catholic] Church, the state, place, or condition in the next world . . . where the souls of those who die in the state of grace, but not yet free from all imperfection, make expiation for unforgiven venial sins or for the temporal punishment due to venial and mortal sins that have already been forgiven and, by so doing, are purified before they enter heaven.” (New Catholic Encyclopedia, 1967, Vol. XI, p. 1034) Not a Bible teaching.
On what is the teaching of purgatory based?
After reviewing what Catholic writers have said regarding such texts as 2 Maccabees 12:39-45, Matthew 12:32, and 1 Corinthians 3:10-15, the New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967, Vol. XI, p. 1034) acknowledges: “In the final analysis, the Catholic doctrine on purgatory is based on tradition, not Sacred Scripture.”
“The church has relied on tradition to support a middle ground between heaven and hell.”—U.S. Catholic, March 1981, p. 7.
Regarding the nature of purgatory, what do Catholic spokesmen say?
“Many think that the total suffering of purgatory is identified with the awareness of the temporary postponement of the beatific vision, although the more common view holds that, in addition to this, there is some positive punishment . . . In the Latin Church it has been generally maintained that this pain is imposed through real fire. This is not, however, essential to belief in purgatory. It is not even certain. . . . Even if one chooses, with the theologians of the East, to reject the idea of suffering induced by fire, one should be careful not to exclude all positive suffering from purgatory. There are still real affliction, sorrow, chagrin, shame of conscience, and other spiritual sorrows capable of inflicting true pain on the soul. . . . One should remember, at any rate, that in the midst of their sufferings these souls also experience great joy over the certainty of salvation.”—New Catholic Encyclopedia (1967), Vol. XI, p. 1036, 1037.
“What goes on in purgatory is anyone’s guess.”—U.S. Catholic, March 1981, p. 9.
Does the soul survive the death of the body?
Ezek. 18:4, Dy: “The soul [Hebrew, neʹphesh; “man,” JB; “one,” NAB; “soul,” Kx] that sinneth, the same shall die.”
Jas. 5:20, JB: “Anyone who can bring back a sinner from the wrong way that he has taken will be saving a soul from death and covering up a great number of sins.” (Italics added.) (Notice that this speaks of the death of the soul.)
Is further punishment for sin exacted after one’s death?
Rom. 6:7, NAB: “A man who is dead has been freed from sin.” (Kx: “Guilt makes no more claim on a man who is dead.”)
Are the dead able to experience joy because of confidence in the prospect of salvation?
Eccl. 9:5, JB: “The living know at least that they will die, the dead know nothing.”
Isa. 38:18, JB: “Sheol does not praise you [Yahweh], death does not extol you; those who go down to the pit do not go on trusting in your faithfulness.” (So how can any of them “experience great joy over the certainty of salvation”?)
According to the Bible, by what means is purification from sins accomplished?
1 John 1:7, 9, JB: “If we live our lives in the light, as he [God] is in the light, we are in union with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin. . . . If we acknowledge our sins, then God who is faithful and just will forgive our sins and purify us from everything that is wrong [“all our wrong-doing is purged away,” Kx].”
Rev. 1:5, JB: “Jesus Christ . . . loves us and has washed away our sins with his blood.”