Did Jesus Believe in Purgatory?

Purgatory has been an issue of controversy among the Catholics and Protestants. The Protestants think Purgatory is one of the made up dogmas that the Catholic Church binds it’s members to believe. Contrary to what many Protestants think, the Catholic Church didn’t make up the dogma of Purgatory. It is a revelation that came from Our Lord himself as found in the Holy Scriptures. Jesus talked about the reality of Purgatory in these two Bible passages from the Gospel of St. Matthew. He spoke of Forgiveness of sin in the age to come in Matt. 12:32 and prison in the afterlife where an offender pays off his debt in Matt. 5:25-26.

A simple way to approach the argument on Purgatory is to consider the question by Karlo Broussard, ” Is there any evidence that Jesus taught such a place exists? ” If so, then the Church’s usage of 1 Corinthians 3:11-15 for Purgatory would be more persuasive. Jesus used the word “Prison” also known as Phulake in Greek to describe a place where an offender had to pay for his sins in the afterlife in Matthew 5:25-26. In the same vein, St. Peter used the term “Prison” in 1 Peter 3: 19 to describe the place the Old Testament souls were kept before Jesus’ Ascension in which he visited after he was dead and buried. The prison Jesus talked about is a place of temporary existence where one makes satisfaction for his offences in the afterlife.

If Jesus was not referring to Purgatory in Matthew 5:25-26, he would have given clarification to his Jewish audience that he was referring to an earthly prison but Jesus did not give any sort of clarification because his audience understood he spoke of an afterlife Prison. So it is reasonable to conclude that the forgiveness in the age to come in Matthew 12:32 and the Prison of afterlife in Matthew 5:25-26 refer to Purgatory.

The early Christian writer Tertullian believed the same thing and wrote this: Inasmuch as we understand the prison pointed out in the gospel to be Hades and as we also interpret ” the uttermost farthing” to mean the very smallest offence which has to be recompensed there before the resurrection, no one will hesitate to believe that the soul undergoes in Hades some compensatory discipline without prejudice in the full process of the resurrection, when the recompense will be administered through the flesh besides (A Treatise on the Soul, ch.58).

Julius Maccabees showed us in his writing that the Jews believed in a state of existence after death that was neither Heaven nor Hell, a place in which souls could be forgiven of sins.

The Old Testament tradition ( Psalms 66: 10-12; Isaiah 6:6-7; 4:4) holds that there is a state of existence after death where a soul is being forgiven of sins and in the light of Paul’s writings (1 Corinthians 3:11-15) means the soul is being purged or purified. This state is considered Purgatory because it can’t be Heaven since there are no sins in Heaven and definitely not Hell because the souls there can’t have their sins forgiven.

Summarised by Chioma Betina Okwara

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