What Is Purgatory?
By Jack Kelley
Q. I thank the Lord for you, your staff and for this website.
In regards to your articles on Jesus preaching to the spirits in prison, is this the same place what the Roman Catholics believe as PURGATORY? If not, where did they get the concept from?
A. Before the cross, no one from Earth could enter into heaven upon dying. (John 3:13) Both the saved and unsaved went to a place called Sheol in Hebrew and Hades in Greek. For those who had died in faith of a coming redeemer who would die for their sins it was a place of comfort, but for non believers it was a place of torment. The story of Lazarus and the Rich Man describes this. (Luke 16:19-31) It also explains that there was no way of crossing from one to the other. In other words, once a person has died their eternal destiny is fixed. So there is no such place as purgatory.
The practice of praying for the dead originated in ancient pagan religions and may be the source of the Catholic belief in purgatory. The idea was first introduced into the Catholic Church in the 2nd Century AD. as a place between heaven and hell where the dead who have not sinned greatly enough to warrant hell, but have not yet purified themselves enough in goodness to enter into heaven, go to prepare and purify themselves of sin.
As you can see belief in purgatory requires that one first assumes the Lord’s death was not sufficient to pay for all our sins, and that it’s up to us to finish the work He only began. This is a non Biblical doctrine that is specifically and repeatedly denied in Scripture.