Purgatory in Scripture
Just like the word “Trinity”, the word Purgatory can nowhere be found in the bible. However, like “Trinity”, we can find the meaning and truth of “Purgatory” in the Bible.
First let’s look at 4 Biblical arguments to make the case for Purgatory. All Scripture verses are from the New American Bible available on-line at www.usccb.org . Any comments bolded in BLACK are my own.
#1 There is punishment for sin even after one has received forgiveness. 2 Sam 12:13-14 - Then David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." Nathan answered David: "The LORD on his part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die. 14 But since you have utterly spurned the LORD by this deed, the child born to you must surely die." David is punished for his sin by the death of his child. This also shows that our sins affect more than ourselves!
#2 - Nothing imperfect, nothing with the stain of sin, may enter heaven. Rev 21:27 - but nothing unclean will enter it, nor any (one) who does abominable things or tells lies. Only those will enter whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life.
#3: There is a way, a process, by which the spirits of "just" men are "made perfect." Heb 12:22-23 - No, you have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering,23 and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect,
#4: There is a purging process after death that perfects those not yet perfected, and makes reparation for sins already forgiven, and it must happen before we may enter heaven. 1Cor 3: 13-15 the work of each will come to light, for the Day will disclose it. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire (itself) will test the quality of each one's work.14 If the work stands that someone built upon the foundation, that person will receive a wage.15 But if someone's work is burned up, that one will suffer loss; the person will be saved, but only as through fire.
The passages below are often cited as supporting the teachings on Purgatory.
Mt 5:48 - So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. We are called to perfection.
Heb 12:14 – Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord. This seems pretty plain to me!
Jam 3:2 - for we all fall short in many respects. If anyone does not fall short in speech, he is a perfect man, able to bridle his whole body also. We must work hard to make ourselves perfect – every part of ourselves.
1Jn 5:16-17 - If anyone sees his brother sinning, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God and he will give him life. This is only for those whose sin is not deadly. There is such a thing as deadly sin, about which I do not say that you should pray. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that is not deadly. There are different types of sins – supports the teaching on venial and mortal sins.
Jam 1:14-15 - Rather, each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.15 Then desire conceives and brings forth sin, and when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death. Sin can lead to death of the soul.
Mt 5:26, Amen, I say to you, you will not be released until you have paid the last penny. We are held responsible for our sins.
Mt12:32, And whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come. There is an afterlife/Heaven of which we may lose!
Mt 12:36 I tell you, on the Day of Judgment people will render an account for every careless word they speak. We will be held accountable for all of our actions!
2Macc 12:44-46 - for if he were not expecting the fallen to rise again, it would have been useless and foolish to pray for them in death. 45 But if he did this with a view to the splendid reward that awaits those who had gone to rest in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. 46 Thus he made atonement for the dead that they might be freed from this sin. We may pray for the dead and it may have merit for them. For me, this is why I pray for those who have died in my family – that they may go to Heaven.
1Pet 3:18-20 -For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteous for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the spirit. 19 In it he also went to preach to the spirits in prison, 20 who had once been disobedient while God patiently waited in the days of Noah during the building of the ark, in which a few persons, eight in all, were saved through water. Christ visited those who had died and awaited Heaven.
2 Tim 1:16-18 May the Lord grant mercy to the family of Onesiphorus because he often gave me new heart and was not ashamed of my chains.17 But when he came to Rome, he promptly searched for me and found me.18 May the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day. And you know very well the services he rendered in Ephesus. Here, Paul is praying for a dead friend. He is asking Mercy. Why would he need Mercy if he was already in Heaven? Because there is Purgatory!
1 Cor 15:29-30 - Otherwise, what will people accomplish by having themselves baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, then why are they having themselves baptized for them?30 Moreover, why are we endangering ourselves all the time? Even Hebrews knew of an afterlife. The notion of Purgatory is not unique to Catholics at all but has it’s roots partially in Judaism.