What IS Purgatory?
Q. What does the Bible say about HELL and PURGATORY? Where does it teach these doctrines?
(Submitted by: Anthony)
A. This doctrine originated with the Roman Catholic Church. This teaching is based on the belief that the souls of the dead, who died repentant with some punishment remaining for their sins, must be purified through suffering before going to heaven and meeting God. Purgatory is believed to be the temporary state or location, after death, where a person's purification from the guilt and stain of sin occurs.
Catholics defend their teaching by arguing that since prayer for the dead is an ancient practice of Christianity (note: this is a FALSE teaching NOT taught in the Bible!), its practice assumes some of those who have died are in a state of suffering that those who are living can improve through prayer.
The Bible, however, does not even mention the existence of this place or that even the prayers of the living can somehow BENEFIT those who have died (who are, as the Bible teaches, NOT in heaven but still in their graves awaiting a resurrection).
In regard to Hell, the Hebrew word sheol (Strong's Concordance Number #H7585) is translated as Hell in the Old Testament. It's meaning is "the common grave of mankind" and has nothing to do with the modern definition of Hell, i.e., a place of fire and brimstone where the evil are punished throughout eternity. This definition of Hell comes to us mostly from the writings of the poet Dante and his book, Inferno.
Three Greek words are translated as HELL in the New Testament,:
TARTAROO: (Strong's Concordance #G5020) is used only once in the New Testament, in 2Peter 2:4, meaning "the deepest part of HADES" (see next definition).
HADES: (Strong's Concordance #G86) which is the exact equivalent of the Hebrew word sheol
with the same meaning. See Acts 2:27, Revelation 1:18, 20:13, and other verses.
GHENNA (Gehenna): Strong's Concordance #G1067) which refers to the Valley of Hinnom located outside the gates of Jerusalem. Jesus referred to this place in Matthew 5:22, 18:9 and other verses.