What does the Bible say

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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.).

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What is the FIRST resurrection of the dead?
What is the baptism by FIRE?

In order to arrive at the Biblical TRUTH regarding Hell we need to understand a few facts. In the Old Testament, the original language word translated as Hell is sheol. It's literal meaning (Strong's Concordance Number #H7585) is that it is a reference to a common grave. The word has no relationship whatsoever to our modern definition of a place of eternal punishing and punishment known as Hell. This definition of a place of eternal torment comes to us influenced greatly by a book named Inferno written by Dante.

Three Greek words are translated as HELL in the New Testament.

Gehenna was the name of a deep, narrow valley that existed on Jerusalem's southern end. In ancient times Israelites, and even some kings of Israel, used the valley to practice their idolatry to pagan gods such was Baal and Molech. One way these evil "gods" were worshipped and appeased was through the completely Satanic practice of burning CHILDREN, include little children and babies, alive by placing them in the red hot hands of these idols (for more information read 2Kings 16, 23, and 2Chronicles 28).

The valley eventually was held in such disgust that Jews returning from captivity would use it to get rid of their trash. Dead bodies and carcasses were also flung into the ravine. The valley of Hinnom was also a place were public executions were held. By the time of Jesus the area had become incredibly offensive. Fires were kept burning in the valley day and night (the UNQUENCHABLE FIRE Jesus referred to in Matthew 3:12 and Luke 3:17) in order to consume what was put in it. Jesus was referring to the Hinnom valley when he warned against the punishment of Hell to those who put down others (Matthew 5:22).

The Bible teaches that at the end of time those who are incorrigibly evil and who deliberately turn away from God (they commit the unpardonable sin) will be destroyed by fire in a punishment that will be eternal. This is a ONE TIME punishment which is eternal, meaning it cannot be undone.

In conclusion, the belief in a purgatory and an eternal hell of torture and torment cannot be supported in the Bible. These are the deceived teachings of men and not the inspired doctrines of God!

Additional Study Materials
Picture of the REAL Hell!
Is there really LIFE after death?
If God hates sin then why is the devil still alive?
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