Catholic Claims About Purgatory vs. the Bible

Catholic Claims About Purgatory vs. the Bible

Purgatory is a Catholic doctrine which teaches there is an intermediate state after physical death in which some of those ultimately destined for heaven must first undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven, holding that certain offenses can be forgiven in this age, but certain others in the age to come. But what does the Bible teach? Let’s compare some Catholic claims about the doctrine of Purgatory to the Scriptures.

Is the doctrine of Purgatory a true teaching?

Catholics claim:

Those that build their foundations on wood, grass or straw will be burned when we are purified to go to purgatory. Yet they will saved though only as men are saved by passing through fire. All people who go to purgatory will be saved though suffering (fire).

Paul was using word pictures, such as metaphors in the account at 1 Corinthians 3:10-17. He uses simile in verse 15 saying “the person will be saved, but ONLY AS THROUGH FIRE.” (Catholic NAB)

The fire is figurative for spiritual cleansing and difficulty prior to death, not after! Notice the Catholic NAB footnote admits: “THE TEXT OF V 15 HAS SOMETIMES BEEN USED TO SUPPORT THE NOTION OF PURGATORY, THOUGH IT DOES NOT ENVISAGE THIS.”

Catholics claim:

1 John 5:16 gives us the idea that there are sins “unto death” and sins that “are not unto death.” Sins that are unto death are those sins committed that kill the soul. Those sins that are not unto death are those sins that injure the soul but do not kill it. These are the sins that are forgiven in purgatory. We see purgatory all over the Old Testament sometimes called the bosom of Abraham or Sheol.

When you actually look at the scripture, you’ll see that it says: “IF ANYONE SEES HIS BROTHER SINNING, if the sin is not deadly, he should pray to God.” (NAB) This is obviously talking about a brother that is sinning who is still alive, not dead in “purgatory.”

Purgatory is a “myth” that “does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Tim 1:4; 1 Tim 6:3 NAB) There are ZERO OCCURENCES OF PURGATORY IN THE OLD TESTAMENT. Sheol is the Hebrew word, meaning the symbolic common grave of mankind. It is not literal, so there is no literal fire there.

Catholics claim:

These are places where the Old Testament Fathers await Christ to come and preach to them to set them free.

Not according to the Bible. “For Sheol cannot praise you, nor Death celebrate you; those who go down to the pit can hope no longer in your constancy. The Living, the living are the ones who praise you as I do today.” (Isaiah 38:18 Catholic NJB)

Catholics claim:

What possible reason would Christ have to go to Hell to preach to the damned? The Damned will not get any consolation from it. It would be more likely that he went to the righteous to show them that He was the messiah and that it was time for them to follow Him to heaven.

The Bible says that Jesus “WENT TO PREACH TO THE SPIRITS IN PRISON, WHO HAD ONCE BEEN DISOBEDIENT WHILE GOD PATIENTLY WAITED IN THE DAYS OF NOAH.” (1 Peter 3:19-20 NAB) This, along with Genesis 6:4; 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 7 makes clear that these “spirits” Jesus preached to were demons.

Catholics claim:

You are saying that Jesus went to the underworld to preach to demons. Because of this, the Demons could be saved? Was Jesus just telling them, “Ha! Ha! You guys are going to fry here in hell for all time?”

No, he simply preached a message of judgment. As the demons asked Jesus at Luke 4:34 (NAB), “Have you come to destroy us?” Jesus confirmed that he would indeed eventually “destroy” or obliterate them – not “fry” them in a hot roasting hell for eternity.

Catholics claim:

Hades and Purgatory are the same thing. Hades is Greek and Purgatory is Latin.

Hades is in the New Testament 22 times. So-called “Purgatory” is in the New Testament zero times. The New Testament was written originally in Greek, not Latin. The meaning Catholics assert for their myth “Purgatory” is in stark contradiction to the meaning the Bible attaches to Hades.

Catholics claim:

There is a problem with the Greek because Hades means both a temporal place of punishment or a permanent place of torment, Hell.

It means neither.

The New Testament Greek uses Hades in place of the Old Testament Hebrew, Sheol. The Bible uses these words to mean one things only, that is, the symbolic common grave of mankind.

“For you will not abandon me to Sheol, you cannot allow your faithful servant to see the abyss.” (Ps 16:10 Catholic NJB)

“He spoke with foreknowledge about the resurrection of the Christ: he is the one who was not abandoned to Hades, and whose body did not see corruption.” (Acts 2:31 Catholic NJB)

You can see from the verses above that the terms Sheol and Hades are interchangeable – they mean the same thing in the Bible. People who will receive a resurrection are said to go there, even righteous people such as Jesus when he died.

Catholics claim:

Purgatory will be emptied in the final days. That means it exists now. Remember, you are saved if you are in Purgatory.

You’d better read it again. It says Hades will be emptied. It says nothing about Purgatory.

“And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.” (Rev 20:13 NASB)

As we can see from the Bible, the doctrine of Purgatory is a false teaching and does not hold up to what the Bible says about what happens to a person after they die.

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