What Does the Bible Say About Purgatory?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, October 30, 2017 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Before we look into this week’s topic of what the Bible says about purgatory, what exactly is purgatory? If you’re not familiar with the Roman Catholic church, you may not have heard the word before. The catechism of the Catholic church teaches this: “All who die in God’s grace, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven.” Purgatory is believed to be the place where souls go to undergo this purification, before they can enter God’s presence in heaven.

So what does the Bible say about this topic? The word “purgatory” doesn’t actually appear in the Bible, so we’ll need to look at passages that discuss the concepts.

The primary passage that Catholics use to point to purgatory is 1 Corinthians 3:15: “If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.” The context before this verse is Paul addressing how we are to have Jesus as our foundation, but it takes many teachers and encouragers in the body of Christ to build up one another. This section talks about a believer’s works being judged with an illustration of going through fire. If our works are of good quality, they will make it through; if they are poor quality, then they will be burned. It’s the believer’s work that will go through the fire, not the believer himself. Purgatory is believed to be the place where this happens - the believer’s work becomes good through a purification process.

But, do we really need to be purified? Hebrews 7:27 says, “Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” (The “he” being referred to here is Jesus.) Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Isaiah 53:5, prophesying about Jesus, says, “But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Those verses all indicate that Jesus’ sacrifice was enough. Once we have faith in Him as our Savior, we don’t need any further purification; Jesus covered all that for us through His death on the cross. Ephesians 2:8-9, 1 Corinthians 15:3, and 1 John 2:2 (among others) remind us that salvation is not anything we can accomplish by our good works, but only through the work of Jesus Christ.

According to Revelation 21:27, we know that nothing impure or unclean will enter heaven. We know that our sins make us impure and unclean. Every time we’re disobedient to God, we separate ourselves from Him and HIs perfection. But that’s where Jesus came in - He lived a perfect, sinless life, then died the death that we deserve. He was the perfect sacrifice, because we couldn’t be.

Salvation is not about what we do; it’s about what Jesus already did for us. While we all strive to live lives that give honor and glory to God, we all mess up. But when we have faith in Jesus, God sees us as He sees Jesus - completely purified, no longer in need of any further purification.

So what does the Bible say about purgatory? Nothing - it’s not needed! Jesus took care of everything for us.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.