What does the Bible say
about HELL and PURGATORY?
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Question: What does the Bible say about HELL and PURGATORY? Where does it teach these doctrines?
Answer: My short answer is that the Bible has nothing to say about Purgatory because this doctrine did not come from its pages. This teaching, instead, originated with the Roman Catholic Church and is built upon assumptions and traditions that are ultimately void of any sound Scriptural support. The teaching of an ever-burning Hell of torment, which both Catholics and almost all Protestants believe in, comes primarily from a total misunderstanding of what the Bible teaches.
Purgatory is partly based on the Catholic belief that humans have immortal souls (read our eye-opening article on souls called Do we have an IMMORTAL Soul?). These souls, according to the teaching, are freed from a person's body upon death. Catholics also believe that all sins committed in this life must be punished in this life as well. Some who sin, repent, and are even fully forgiven by God may still, at death, not have received ALL the earthy punishments due for their transgressions. The "souls" of these individuals, according to the church, while not worthy of eternal torment, are not yet "clean" enough to enter heaven and present themselves before God. The solution to this problem (which was defined into existence based on false doctrines) is that such a person must enter an intermediary state of existence, known as purgatory, in order to be purged from all sin and made spiritually clean. It is only after this purging, according to the Catholics, that a person is worthy enough to enter heaven.
Catholics defend their teaching by arguing that since prayer for the dead is an ancient practice of Christianity (actually, it is an ancient FALSE practice promulgated by those considered 'authorities' by the church), its practice assumes some of those who have died are in a state of suffering that prayer by the living can somehow lessen.
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). Additionally, the teaching of a purgatory makes a mockery of Jesus' sacrifice! His sinless sacrifice as the Lamb of God makes possible the COMPLETE and TOTAL cleansing of ALL sins for those who repent (1John 1:7, 9, etc.).