Subtitle: We shall examine the Biblical basis given by Roman Catholic theologians for the teaching on Purgatory. Then, we shall examine the REAL origin of this teaching.
In "What Is Purgatory?", Part 1, RC111, we quoted the Catechism basis for teaching Purgatory, but we shall again here give it so we can smoothly move into our current discussion.
" "All who die in God's grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified, are indeed assured of their eternal salvation; but after death they undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven. The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification..." (Catechism p.268, para #1030, 1031).
This is the main basis behind the Roman Catholic teaching of Purgatory. But, this Catechism is still the work of man; is there any Biblical basis for Purgatory? Catholic theologians point to Matthew 5:25-26 as the basis for Purgatory. Let us review that Scripture:
"Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, until thou hast paid the uttermost farthing." [Matthew 5:25-26. This "prison" thus implied in this Scripture is supposed to be Purgatory. The implication in this Scripture is also that, eventually, the prisoner will pay his final bill and be set free. This implication is held to be consistent with the teaching of Purgatory, that it is not eternal, and eventually, everyone will get out of it, and go on to Heaven, perfectly purified.
Catholic theologians also point to Jesus' enunciation of the Unpardonable Sin as proof for Purgatory. Let us quickly review this Scripture.
"And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come." [Matthew 12:32] This reference to two worlds is held to be proof of Purgatory.
This is the supposed Biblical basis for Purgatory. The remainder of the argument for Purgatory is based upon the Machabees, which are not recognized as Holy Scripture by any church in the world save the Roman Catholic Church, and upon Church Tradition, which is also unreliable because it was written by men, not God, and was written after the Apostles passed from the scene, thus closing the Canon. [See "Sola Scriptura", RC101a for full details]
Now, let us examine these two Scriptural texts, given above, to see if they really prove a Purgatory, or whether they are referring to another meaning. Matthew 5:25 does not refer to a Roman Catholic Purgatory, but tells us that a sinner is a debtor to God, His Creditor. The sinner is cast into prison until he pays the last penny, which is forever because he does not have the resources to pay the final bill. The word, "until" does not necessarily imply a definite or temporary period of time. In many passages of the Bible, the word, "until" clearly denotes that which is done, without any regard to the future. For instance, God says: "The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." Shall His Divine Son sit no longer after His enemies are subdued? Obviously not. Therefore, the word, "until" cannot be interpreted in Matthew 5:25 as denoting a limited period of time, i.e. Purgatory.
Even Matthew 12:32 does not prove purgatory; in fact, the expression "either in this world or in the world to come" does not imply that some sins are forgiven after death; however, it is a strong way of stating the truth that the unrepentant sinner will never be forgiven, as we see from the parallel passages of this Scripture (Luke 12:10, especially Mark 3:29). Even according to Roman Catholic teaching, this Scripture could not refer to Purgatory, because Jesus speaks here of forgiveness, of which there is none in Purgatory, where the debt must be paid to the last "penny", either by the pains of torment or by the payment of living relatives, or a combination of the two.
Very significantly. Catholic theologians have had to rest their main argument for Purgatory upon a book which is acknowledged by all the best scholars to be apocryphal and without Biblical value for the majority of Christian believers. In fact, this passage about offering money to pray for the dead is sufficient to prove the lack of Divine inspiration in this book of the Machabees. No other book of Holy Scripture contains this doctrine, which is fundamentally opposed to Christian teaching. In fact, ask yourself why God would ask living believers to pay money to relieve people in Purgatory. What good is money to God, Who is outside of the Earthly realm where money can do anyone any good? In fact, to whom will the money go? Obviously, it could only go to the Church officials living in the here and now. This whole idea of teaching that the paying of money can relieve the suffering of loved ones in Purgatory just smacks of a money scheme.
The doctrine of Purgatory is not only without Biblical proof, but it is against the clear and consistent teaching of Scripture. the Bible nowhere speaks of a temporary place of punishment after death for believers; however, it does clearly state that when the believer dies, he enters into rest, and returns to God, a state of existence that no living loved one can effect in any way.
"Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours ..." [Revelation 14:13]
"Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it." [Ecclesiastes 12:7]
Now read the text of the picture the Lord paints of the rich man and Lazarus, both of whom died and went immediately to their respective places. The unredeemed rich man went to Hell while Lazarus went to Heaven, also known as Abraham's Bosom. Even though the rich man pleaded with Abraham for some relief, Abraham refused to help him in any way, stating that a great gulf had been fixed between the two places, which prevented anyone from going to and forth, in either direction. Jesus gave no hint that the rich man would someday get out of Hell. Certainly, if Purgatory really existed, this story would have given Jesus the perfect opportunity to tell us about it. Do you realize that Jesus Christ preached more on Hell and punishment than all the other writers in the Bible added together? Yet, He nowhere gives us any indication of a place of punishment of limited time, after which the person goes to Heaven.
NO ONE CAN REDEEM HIS SOUL, NOR THAT OF HIS BROTHER
Of all the verses in the Bible that reveal the falsity of Purgatory, this verse, given below, reveals it completely. Listen carefully: "One cannot redeem oneself, to pay God a ransom. Too high the price to redeem a life; one would never have enough to stay alive forever and never see the pit." [Psalm 49:10, The New American Bible, Catholic Bible Press].
The traditional King James Version is a little more clear: "None of them can by any means redeem his brother, nor give to God a ransom for him:" Yet, this is exactly what poor Roman Catholics are attempting to do as they pay good money to get their loved ones out of this supposed place called Purgatory!!
According to this Scripture, and other verses, no one can satisfy for the punishment due to our sins, since Jesus Christ our Savior has satisfied for us freely and completely, by His sacrifice on the cross. No works that we could possibly do on earth, even if we were a Mother Teresa, and certainly not Purgatory, can ever redeem our souls from foul sin. Our faith in Jesus Christ alone obtains forgiveness for us, not anything we can do. "For by grace are you saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the [free] gift of God. it is not from works, so no one may boast." [Ephesians 2:8-9, The New American Bible, Catholic Bible Press]
"All have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God. They are justified freely by his grace through the redemption in Jesus Christ." [Romans 3:23-24, The New American Bible, Catholic Bible Press].
"For by one offering he has made perfect those who are being consecrated." [Hebrews 10:14, The New American Bible, Catholic Bible Press]
"Hence, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus." [Romans 8:1, The New American Bible, Catholic Bible Press]. Please think carefully about this verse. Purgatory IS a condemnation, albeit supposedly temporary. But, the Bible says that there is NO condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus! Jesus Himself told us this wonderful truth. "Whoever believes in Him [Jesus Christ, speaking of Himself] will not be condemned." [John 3:18, The New American Bible, Catholic Bible Press]. Since Purgatory is a condemnation, it does not, indeed cannot, exist!
The invention of Purgatory is not based on the Bible, but it is based upon other inventions of the Roman Catholic Church, i.e., venial sin and temporary punishment of sin after death. According to Roman Catholic theologians, a person can commit two kinds of sins against God: mortal and venial. Mortal sin is a grave offense against the law of God or of the Church. It is called, "Mortal" because it kills the soul by depriving it entirely of sanctifying grace. Venial sin is a small and pardonable offense against God and the laws of the Church.
Then, this confusing and unscriptural doctrine continues: Two kinds of punishment are due to mortal sin: eternal (in Hell forever), and temporary (in Purgatory). Eternal punishment is canceled by the "sacraments" of Baptism and Extreme Unction, or by an act of perfect contrition with promise of confession.
Temporary punishment is not canceled by these sacraments, but by works of penance, by almsgiving, by paying a priest to say Mass, by indulgences, etc., which reduce the temporal punishment for mortal sins that would have to be suffered in Purgatory. Thus, even if all the mortal sins of a Roman Catholic are "forgiven" in confession by a priest, but the parishioner does not perform enough of these "good works", he will go to Purgatory and remain there in torture until his soul is completely purified.
Roman Catholic theologians attempt to prove the doctrine of venial sin and temporal punishment of venial and mortal sins after death, by quoting the following Scripture:
Jeremiah said of the Jews: "They did worse than their fathers." [Jeremiah 7:26, The New American Bible, Catholic Bible Press]
Jesus said to Pilate: "For this reason, he who handed me over to you has the greater sin." [John 19:11, The New American Bible, Catholic Bible Press]
In many other passages of the Bible, we also read that it is possible to sin and still remain just, but since no one can commit a mortal sin and be just at the same time, there must be some distinction between sins that kill the soul and change a man from being just to unjust, and other sins that a just man can commit and yet remain just. In Proverbs 24:16, we read, "For the just man falls seven times and rises again ..." [Proverbs 24:16, The New American Bible, Catholic Bible Press]. And, in James 3:2, we read, "for we all fall short in many respects" [The New American Bible, Catholic Bible Press].
Then, Jesus warned, "I tell you, on the day of judgment, people will render an account of every careless word they speak." [Matthew 12:36, The New American Bible, Catholic Bible Press]
Thus, Catholic theologians have concluded that every careless or idle word surely cannot be a mortal sin, deserving of death.
BIBLE DRAWS NO DISTINCTION BETWEEN SINS
According to the Bible, there is no distinction drawn between mortal and venial sins. It is true that not all sins are equally heinous in character; at the same time, it is equally true that all sins bring death to the soul. The Jews did worse than their forefather; those who betrayed Jesus Christ committed a greater sin than did Pilate. But who would dare say that because of this, the early Hebrews and Pilate committed only easily pardonable or mere "venial" sins?
Certainly, the Apostle Paul makes no distinction between sins when he says, "The wages of sin is death." [Romans 6:23] Again, in Galatians 3:10, he says, "For all who depend upon works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, 'Cursed be everyone who does not persevere in doing all the things written in the book of the law.' " [The New American Bible, Catholic Bible Press] Then, in James 2:10, we read, "For whosoever keeps the whole law, but falls short in one particular, has become guilty in respect to it all." [The New American Bible, Catholic Bible Press]
The disobedience of Adam and Eve in eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden appears to be a very small sin. Yet, just as God warned, they ultimately died because of that sin, and death and sin were permanently introduced into the world by every person born. The consequences of their sin were absolutely ENORMOUS, MONSTROUS!! Therefore, the supposed distinction between mortal and venial sins is arbitrary and absurd. This distinction is totally without merit in either logic or Scripture.
But, when we look at the financial result of this teaching, we can see why the Roman Catholic Church is so interested in continuing to teach that there is a distinction between mortal and venial sins. The apostasy of the Church of Rome in this matter is rooted in its desire for money and power over people. The invention of venial sin made the teaching of Purgatory possible -- the fire of which does not consume the poor souls of departed loved ones, but rather keeps the coffers full of cash.
You see, it is absolutely impossible to make money out of the true Biblical teaching that there is no distinction between sins; that Hell for all eternity is for unbelievers and Heaven for all believers in the saving power of Jesus Christ. Souls safely in Heaven do not need the masses of priests on earth, and souls in Hell cannot be released by the ministrations of priests nor the burning of candles before the shrines of the Virgin Mary and the saints. But, if there are sins that make a man not good enough for Heaven, and yet not bad enough for Hell, then it is necessary to invent a place where those who die with venial sins unforgiven must go to be purged.
Then, the gold really accumulates in the Church coffers. It is easy to say that these souls in Purgatory cannot help themselves , nor can God help them; but, they can be helped by a priest on earth saying Mass for them. The offering for a Requiem Mass may be anything from $5 on up, depending on "how much the traffic will bear".
Purgatory is a gold mine for the Roman Catholic Church. But Purgatory would be of little value were it not for the magical distinction between mortal and venial sins, the teaching of the Bible notwithstanding. This false teaching casts great dishonor on the redeeming work of Jesus Christ. Purgatory subtracts from the fullness, and the perfect nature, of Jesus' love for His church, plus it is a denial of the complete and sufficient nature of His sacrifice and His work as Intercessor. [See RC111a "Is There A Purgatory, Part 2", for thorough study on the wonderful fact that Jesus paid the FULL penalty of sin!]
The Roman Catholic Church cannot even take credit for being the first to invent this money making doctrine of Purgatory. Rather, we find that this teaching existed first in Ancient Paganism, from Babylon, to Greece, to Egypt and to Roman mythology. Pagan Rome had a feast of purification called "Sacrum Purgatorium". Reverend Alexander Hislop notes, in his book, "The Two Babylons": "Go wherever we may, in ancient or modern times, we shall find that paganism leaves hope after death for sinners who, at the time of their departure, were consciously unfit for the abodes of the blest. For this purpose, a middle state has been feigned, in which, by means of purgatorial pains, guilt unremoved in time may, in a future world, be purged away, and the soul be meet for final beatitude."
"In Greece ... Plato, speaking of the future judgment of the dead, holds out the hope of final deliverance for all, but maintains that, 'of those who are judged', some must first 'proceed to a subterranean place of judgment, where they shall sustain the punishment they have deserved'; while others, in consequence of a favorable judgment, being elevated at once into a certain celestial place, shall pass their time in a manner becoming the life they lived in a human shape.' "
"In pagan Rome, Purgatory was equally held up before the minds of men; but, there seems to have been no hope held out to any of exemption from its pains." [Alexander Hislop, "The Two Babylons", page 167].
"In Egypt, substantially the same doctrine of Purgatory was inculcated. But when once this doctrine of Purgatory was admitted into the popular mind, then the door was opened for all manner of priestly extortions. Egyptian prayers for the dead ever go hand in hand with Purgatory; but no prayers can be completely efficacious without the interposition of the priests; and no priestly functions can be rendered unless there be special pay for them. Therefore, in every land we find the pagan priesthood 'devouring widows' houses' and making merchandise of the tender feelings of sorrowing relatives, sensitively alive to the immortal happiness of the beloved dead." [Ibid, pages 167-168]
When I looked in the encyclopedia under "Purgatory", I discovered a link to Hinduism and Buddhism that I did not realize existed. "Hindus and Buddhists, who believe in the transmigration of souls, also believe in heavens and hells where those souls who are not immediately reborn, spend time, according to their deserts [works] before their next incarnation. These are, in effect, the equivalent of purgatory because they are temporal states in the soul's long progress toward eventual salvation." [The Encyclopedia Americana, International Version, Volume 23, "Purgatory" article, page 19, 1997]. Did you notice the words, "not immediately reborn" in this definition of the Pagan Purgatory of Hinduism and Buddhism? This term is exactly the teaching as to why a Catholic needs Purgatory, I.e., their souls are not yet purified enough to go right to heaven. Thus, you can add the false religions of Hinduism and Buddhism to the list of Pagan religions, above, that taught Purgatory. Purgatory IS PAGAN.
Thus, my dear Catholic friends, you can see two things as a result of reading these articles on Purgatory. First, you can see that Purgatory has no Biblical basis. Second, you can see that Ancient Mystery religions invented Purgatory several thousand years before the Roman Catholic Church began to espouse it. Purgatory is only one of many Roman Catholic teachings that originated in Ancient Paganism. But, this is certainly one major teaching that is Pagan, not Christian. All the Catholic Church did was resurrect this Pagan teaching with Christian names and with certain verses twisted to make them say what they never said.
The reality, as taught in Scripture, is far more blessed for the Born Again Christian, and far more serious for the unredeemed. The Redeemed, Born Again Christian, has had his sins completely forgiven and forgotten by Jesus Christ, and he most assuredly does not pass by any Judgment Bar, nor does he receive any Judgment whatsoever. Because Jesus' blood sacrifice also paid the sin debt fully, he passes immediately to Paradise, just as Jesus told the repentant thief on the cross! However, the unredeemed soul passes immediately into Hell, where he is tormented continually until the Great White Throne Judgment, where he will be judged according to his own works, deeds, thoughts, and motives. Then, he will be thrown alive into the fire of brimstone, for eternity, where his torment will never cease!
The Truth is the Best of all News on the one hand, and the Worst of all News on the other. The dividing point is the moment of physical death. Dear friend, we beg of you to understand the Biblical Truth we have just shared with you, and accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior, trusting in Him and His sacrifice ALONE for your salvation, not on any works the Catholic Church tells you that you must do, but upon His sacrifice ALONE.
Jesus paid the sin debt in full!
"Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." [John 8:32]
If you have never accepted Jesus Christ as Savior, but have come to realize His reality and want to accept His FREE Gift of Eternal Life, you can also do so now, in the privacy of your home. Once you accept Him as Savior, you are spiritually Born Again, and are as assured of Heaven as if you were already there. Then, you can rest assured that nothing will not hurt you spiritually. You will also know the greatest heart peace that the greatest God can give to one of His own children.
If you would like to become Born Again, and come to know this wonderful heart peace, turn to our Salvation Page now.
Return to What Saith Rome