Is purgatory a Bible teaching?

BibleAsk Team


The word purgatory is not found in the Bible. It is a Catholic teaching referring to a place that a Christian’s soul goes to after death to be cleansed of the sins that had not been fully satisfied during life. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, Purgatory is “a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God’s grace, are not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.”

But the Bible declares that Jesus died to pay the penalty for all of our sins (Romans 5:8). Isaiah 53:5 declares, “But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” Jesus suffered for our sins so that we could be delivered from suffering. To say that we must also suffer in purgatory for our sins is to say that Jesus’ suffering was insufficient (1 John 2:2).

Purgatory, like many other Catholic dogmas, is based on a misunderstanding of the nature of Christ’s sacrifice. Jesus’ once-for-all sacrifice was absolutely and perfectly sufficient to atone for all sins (Hebrews 7:27). Sadly, Catholics view meritorious works as contributing to salvation due to their failure to recognize that Jesus’ sacrificial payment has no need of additional “contribution” (Ephesians 2:8-9). They do not understand that because of Jesus’ sacrifice, believers are already justified.

The teaching of purgatory, that priests can pray for the dead when their relatives make a donation to the church to help them speed out of hell, originated in the dark ages. This was a plan for the church to monopolize salvation and generate revenues.

There are no Bible references that teach that once a person dies that he can be saved after death by virtue of what people in this life are doing on his behalf. The salvation of the dead are not dependent on the actions of the living. People take their record with them to their grave that they’ll face again in the day of judgment (Hebrews 9:27).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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