Is There A Transient Place Where Souls Of The Dead Go For Purification Before Proceeding To Paradise? An Examination Of The Doctrine Of Purgatory In The Light Of The Bible

(All Bible quotations, except otherwise stated, are from the New King James Version)

The term “purgatory” refers to the condition, process, or place of purification or temporary punishment in which, according to medieval Christian and Roman Catholic belief, the souls of those who die in a state of grace are made ready for heaven. Purgatory (Latin: purgatorium; from purgare, “to purge”) has come to refer as well to a wide range of historical and modern conceptions of postmortem sufferings short of everlasting damnation (Carol Zaleski, Encyclopedia Britannica).

The concept of purgatory as a transient place of purifying torment and punishment, for souls of the dead who were not totally in right standing with God while alive, is deeply entrenched in Roman Catholic theology. This doctrine teaches that these souls, who were not perfect before God in their lifetime, need to pay for their sins, through fiery purging in purgatory, as well as through the prayers and penances of their living loved ones, in order to secure admission into paradise. How long the souls of those in purgatory are to undergo this sanctifying punishment is not stated, but it would appear to depend on each individual’s degree of sinfulness and the quality of penances carried out on the person’s behalf. Eventually, after making atonement for their sins and unrighteousness, souls in purgatory would be released to proceed to paradise, where they would now enjoy eternal bliss, after earning the right into the presence of God and of the saints. That’s the summary of the doctrine of purgatory as propagated by the Roman Catholic Church and allied groups.

How does the concept of purgatory fare in the light of the Bible? Is there an intermediary place between hell and paradise that serves as a sanctifying ground for those who didn’t make it completely right with God on earth here, and so couldn’t go straight to paradise? Is the concept of atoning for one’s sins by whatever means, outside of the blood of Christ, scriptural? We shall attempt to answer these questions through a careful examination of the Scriptures.

Let’s begin our examination of this doctrine by looking at its foundational plank- the assumption that those who die in a state of grace (who died in Christ, one would have to assume) need further purification before being allowed into the presence of Christ in paradise. Thus, this doctrine believes the atoning sacrifice of Christ on Calvary isn’t sufficient to completely save an individual who places faith in it, and therefore the person must still suffer for himself, by undergoing additional purification after death, to be worthy of paradise. What a demeaning and belittling of the perfect sacrifice and great exchange that took place at Calvary some 2000 years ago! What a trampling underfoot of that priceless, precious and efficacious blood of God’s only begotten son that was shed to loose us completely from our sins and make us righteous before God! The very contemplation of the idea that anything can be added by any man to what Christ did on Calvary, to make his salvation complete, is blasphemous in itself! How can anyone’s works, both here and in the hereafter, be imagined capable of facilitating one’s salvation? Christ took a human form in the incarnation for just one reason- to become a sin offering in order to make those who believe in him become the very righteousness of God! Whoever believes in Christ’s perfect atoning sacrifice is justified immediately and becomes accepted before God. Such a person becomes totally reconciled with God and is transformed into a new creature. Whoever has the son of God has life, and will not come into any form of judgement again, as long as he holds onto Christ to the end!

Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God —

Ephesians 2:9 not by works, so that no one can boast (NIV).

2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died;

2 Corinthians 5:15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

2 Corinthians 5:16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.

2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

2 Corinthians 5:18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation,

2 Corinthians 5:19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.

2 Corinthians 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

John 5:24 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.

John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up,

John 3:15 that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

John 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

John 3:18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

John 3:20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

John 3:21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

1 John 5:11 And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.

1 John 5:12 He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.

1 John 5:13 These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

John 3:35 The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand.

John 3:36 He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”

Revelation 1:4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be to you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;

Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,

Revelation 1:6 And has made us kings and priests to God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. (AKJV).

Ephesians 1:2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

Ephesians 1:4 just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,

Ephesians 1:5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,

Ephesians 1:6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

Ephesians 1:7 In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.

Let it be clearly stated here that Christ’s atoning sacrifice on Calvary was perfect! Nothing can be added to what he did by anyone, simply because you can’t make what is perfect better. Christ saves to the utmost and delivers completely those who trust in him. Whoever the son of man sets free is free indeed! He doesn’t save people partially and then expect them to complete their salvation through a secondary purging in purgatory! The blood of Christ purges completely and totally every sinner that’s sprinkled with it! How then can anyone say that someone who died in a state of grace (who died knowing and believing Christ as Lord and Saviour) would require additional judgement and purification in a purgatory to be qualified to be admitted into God’s presence? The blasphemy of this abominable error is horrifying! Let me repeat it again – whoever believes in Christ Jesus as Lord and Saviour till his last breath on earth received full judgement for sin vicariously at Calvary, and shall not come to any form of judgement for his sin again! Such a person has moved from death to life and cannot be condemned by God again! The believer in Christ has direct access to God’s presence at death, to be escorted there by holy angels! That’s what the Scriptures say! The dying thief on the cross met Christ in his last minutes on earth and ended in paradise same day (Luke 23:42-43)! Lazarus died and was escorted by angels into Abraham’s bosom in paradise same day (Luke 16:22)! Neither went through purgatory before making it to paradise!

Deuteronomy 32:3 For I proclaim the name of the Lord:
Ascribe greatness to our God.

Deuteronomy 32:4 He is the Rock, His work is perfect;
For all His ways are justice,
A God of truth and without injustice;
Righteous and upright is He.

Hebrews 7:22 by so much more Jesus has become a surety of a better covenant.

Hebrews 7:23 Also there were many priests, because they were prevented by death from continuing.

Hebrews 7:24 But He, because He continues forever, has an unchangeable priesthood.

Hebrews 7:25 Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.

Hebrews 7:26 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens;

Hebrews 7:27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

Hebrews 7:28 For the law appoints as high priests men who have weakness, but the word of the oath, which came after the law, appoints the Son who has been perfected forever.

John 8:36 Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.

Hebrews 9:13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh,

Hebrews 9:14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?

Hebrews 9:15 And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance.

So, since the Scriptures make it abundantly clear that the believer who dies in Christ (dies in a state of grace) doesn’t come into judgement, but has passed from death to life, who then goes to this fictitious man-made purgatory? The unbeliever who never placed faith in Christ, or the backsliders who had stopped believing Christ at the moment of death? The Bible is unequivocal about the fate of these groups of people. It’s appointed unto man to die once and thereafter face God’s judgement. There’s no second chance and no second opportunity to make things right with God after death, for judgement follows death. It’s all over for the soul’s destiny at death. The unbeliever who rejected God’s salvation and mercy in his lifetime goes straight to hell! There’s no purgatory anywhere in God’s Bible where the unsaved sinner goes to undergo cleansing and purification for his sins! God’s fire of judgement that burns the sinner is not to cleanse him, but to devour and consume him! No amount of prayer, penance or indulgence can move the sinner from hell to paradise. The final destination of all those in hell is the second death in the lake of fire, for they were already condemned on earth by virtue of their rejection of God’s son and his atoning sacrifice for their sins. Thus, praying for the dead is absolutely useless! Wishing that they would rest in peace does not affect their state one bit, because those resting in peace in paradise are already doing so (and don’t need our prayers for that), while those roasting in hell cannot move to paradise by whatever means, not just because of the wide, unbridgeable chasm/gulf between the two locations, but most importantly, because God’s judgement has so decreed! Whatever state a man falls down in death, so will he remain for the rest of eternity. If he dies a saint, he will arise a saint. If he dies a sinner, his soul will arise from hell a sinner and be cast into the lake of fire in the second death. There’s nothing done for any man after his death that will have any impact whatsoever on the state of his soul! Nothing can be given in exchange for a man’s soul after death!

Hebrews 9:27 People are destined to die once and then face judgment (CEB).

John 3:17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

John 3:18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

John 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

John 3:20 For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

John 3:21 But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

Luke 16:19 Now there was a certain man of great wealth, who was dressed in fair clothing of purple and delicate linen, and was shining and glad every day.

Luke 16:20 And a certain poor man, named Lazarus, was stretched out at his door, full of wounds,

Luke 16:21 Desiring the broken bits of food which came from the table of the man of wealth; and even the dogs came and put their tongues on his wounds.

Luke 16:22 And in time the poor man came to his end, and angels took him to Abraham’s breast. And the man of wealth came to his end, and was put in the earth.

Luke 16:23 And in hell, being in great pain, lifting up his eyes he saw Abraham, far away, and Lazarus on his breast.

Luke 16:24 And he gave a cry and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus, so that he may put the end of his finger in water and put it on my tongue, for I am cruelly burning in this flame.

Luke 16:25 But Abraham said, Keep in mind, my son, that when you were living, you had your good things, while Lazarus had evil things: but now, he is comforted and you are in pain.

Luke 16:26 And in addition, there is a deep division fixed between us and you, so that those who might go from here to you are not able to do so, and no one may come from you to us.

Luke 16:27 And he said, Father, it is my request that you will send him to my father’s house;

Luke 16:28 For I have five brothers; and let him give them an account of these things, so that they may not come to this place of pain.

Luke 16:29 But Abraham said, They have Moses and the prophets; let them give ear to what they say.

Luke 16:30 And he said, No, father Abraham, but if someone went to them from the dead, their hearts would be changed.

Luke 16:31 And he said to him, If they will not give attention to Moses and the prophets, they will not be moved even if someone comes back from the dead (BBE).

John 5:28 Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice

John 5:29 and come forth—those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.

Revelation 20:11 And I saw a great white seat, and him who was seated on it, before whose face the earth and the heaven went in flight; and there was no place for them.

Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, great and small, taking their places before the high seat; and the books were open, and another book was open, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged by the things which were in the books, even by their works.

Revelation 20:13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and Hell gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged every man by his works.

Revelation 20:14 And death and Hell were put into the sea of fire. This is the second death, even the sea of fire.

Revelation 20:15 And if anyone’s name was not in the book of life, he went down into the sea of fire (BBE).

Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,

Hebrews 10:27 but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries.

Hebrews 10:28 Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

Hebrews 10:29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?

Hebrews 10:30 For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The Lord will judge His people.”

Hebrews 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

St. Mark 8:36 What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?

St. Mark 8:37 Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? (NIV).

Is there any wonder then that there’s not a single verse in the entire Bible that talks of such a mythical place like purgatory? Yes, not a single verse in the entire Bible! Where then did this unbiblical contraption come from? Who conceived such a damnable heresy to deceive and beguile unstable souls into believing in a second chance at salvation after missing the opportunity here? The answer is simple- devils and and carnal men destitute of the Spirit of God conspired to conceive, hatch and birth this lie, right inside the pit of hell. These fiends from hell try to make the word of God ineffective by their traditions, teaching for doctrines the figment of men’s imagination, rather than the word of God. According to the Lord Jesus, such messengers of Satan cannot escape the damnation of hell! The hottest part of hell is reserved for such people who deliberately and maliciously pervert the right ways of the Lord for greedy gain. The scriptures warned us from the very beginning to be on the look out for these messengers of Satan masquerading as ministers of Christ. Their devilish mischief and horrible end were accurately prophesied in the Holy Scriptures long ago!

1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Holy Spirit tells us clearly that in the last times some will turn away from what we believe; they will follow lying spirits and teachings that come from demons.

1 Timothy 4:2 These teachers are hypocrites and liars. They pretend to be religious, but their consciences are dead (NLT).

2 Peter 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.

2 Peter 2:2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.

2 Peter 2:3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.

Matthew 15:8 ‘These people draw near to Me with their mouth,
And honor Me with their lips,
But their heart is far from Me.

Matthew 15:9 And in vain they worship Me,
Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’ ”

2 Corinthians 11:13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ.

2 Corinthians 11:14 And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.

2 Corinthians 11:15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

In conclusion, purgatory as a concept of postmortem suffering for self-redemption undermines the all-sufficiency of Christ’s atoning sacrifice at Calvary for man’s salvation. It also contradicts the biblical portrayal of the uselessness of human works for salvation. It is by grace that we are saved, and not by any works of righteousness which any man can do, both here and hereafter. Any soul that’s saved and gets to paradise does so through the merits of Christ alone. No penance, indulgence, prayers for the dead, or offerings of any kind, contributes anything to any man’s salvation. Also, because Christ took the complete judgement for our sins upon himself at Calvary, none of those who trust in him to the end will come to any form of judgement for their sins again, for that would amount to double jeopardy (punishing someone twice for the same offence). As for the sinner who never knew Christ as saviour, death only takes him to hell to await the formality of the final judgement that will catapult him into the lake of fire. The unrepentant sinner stands condemned already as he dies, because he rejected God’s mercy in Christ, and must face God’s full wrath in hell and the lake of fire. There is no second chance at salvation for the sinner after death, as his fate is sealed already. Thus, purgatory as a place of second chance for either saint or sinner is unscriptural. It’s a doctrine of demons designed to deceive and give false hope to people after death. For the soul’s destiny, it’s either hell or paradise, with no intermediary place available in God’s Bible. This mythical place called purgatory is therefore only a figment of the imagination of demon-inspired false teachers.

Thanks for visiting and for reading. We look forward to hearing from you and seeing you again. God bless you!

Published by Dr. Ndubuisi E. Ojo

Dr Ojo is a disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ, and a student of the Word of God, who believes firmly in the original apostolic faith as the only authentic version of Christianity, and the only legitimate basis for Christian conduct, order and doctrine.

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