Purgatory explained and proved.  This is a long posts and will divide it into 2 parts.  This is part one, definition and explanation.

PURGATORY – Explained and Proved.

For you to understand the doctrine of Purgatory, I feel you must understand two preliminary distinctions:

  1. Guilt and Punishment; and
  2. Mortal and Venial sin

God does forgive the GUILT of sin and still requires PUNISHMENT (reparation, atonement, expiation).

Ask King David.  In 2 Sam 12:13-14 we read: “David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ Nathan answered David, ‘The Lord on His part has forgiven your sin: you shall not die.  But since you have utterly spurned the Lord by this deed, the child born to you must surely die.‘ ” God forgave the guilt of David’s sin, but He still required reparation in the form of suffering.  A man might forgive a teenager for breaking his window, but still insist that he repair the damages.

Scripture distinguishes between MORTAL and VENIAL sin.

1 Jn 5:16-17 proves degrees of sin, distinguishing between deadly sin and sin that is not deadly.  James 1:14-15 reads: “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire conceives and brings forth sin, and when sin reaches maturity it gives  birth to death.”  St. James distinguishes desire from sin, and beginning sin from mature sin which brings death.  Sin which brings death to the soul is mortal.  Sin which only wounds and disfigures the soul is venial.

A person dies with only venial sins.

The souls of those who die in the perfect state of grace, without the least sin or reparation due to sin, go directly to heaven.  The souls of those who die in the state of unrepented mortal (deadly) sin go directly to hell.  What about the middle sort of people:  those who die in the state of grace, but with venial sin or with unpaid reparation due to forgiven sin?   They do not merit hell: they are still in the state of grace; yet they are not pure enough for heaven, where “nothing unclean will enter” (Rev. 21:27).

The Bible speaks about this.

God is perfect holiness.

Is 6:3 ‘” Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts!’  they [Seraphim] cried one to the other.”


We are called to that same holiness.

Mt 5:48 “So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

1 Pet 1:15-16 “…as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, ‘Be holy because I am holy.'”


Without perfect holiness, we cannot see God in heaven.

Heb 12:14 “Strive for peace with everyone, and for that holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”


What happens to the faithful who die without perfect holiness or with sin that is not deadly?

The biblical, logical, and historical answer is Purgatory.  Purgatory comes from the verb “purge” meaning “to purify or cleanse.”

Catholics believe that purgatory is a temporary state of purification for the imperfect saints.  The souls of the just who have died in the state of grace but with venial sins or with reparation due for forgiven mortal and venial sins are fully cleansed in Purgatory so that they may enter heaven.  In Purgatory all remaining reparation for sin is made; all remaining self-love is purged and purified until only love of God remains.

  • Only imperfect saints in the state of grace inter Purgatory.  It is not a “second chance” for those who die in unrepented mortal sin.
  • Purgatory exists for purification and reparation.  The effects of sin are purged.  The punishments due to sin are paid.
  • Purgatory is only temporary.  Once the imperfect saints are purified they enter heaven.  Everyone in Purgatory will go to heaven.  Purgatory will then cease to exist.  Only heaven and hell will remain eternally.





15 thoughts on “Purgatory explained and proved – 1 of 2

  1. Very educational article. I don’t know much about th Catholic faith, but this helped me understand purgatory.

    I’ve heard that James is a tricky book to understand so I’m not exactly sure what to think of the different categories of sin. It is indeed interesting though.

    My main question is about the end of the article. It’s the only section without any reference to scripture. Is there any scripture that mentions purgatory?

    1. Thanks for the comment Joe, I love good comments like yours.
      Sometimes James can be really tricky and confusing to read but often times the whole Bible is hard to understand and takes lots of contemplating to understand.
      You have a great question and the short answer is yes. It is mentioned 15 times that I know of and perhaps more. I have another part to the Purgatory post at https://howcatholicslive.com/how-catholics-live-purgatory-biblical-and-true-2-of-2
      First, we should note that the word “purgatory” is not found in Sacred Scripture.  This is not the point.  The words “Trinity” and “Incarnation” are not found in Scripture, yet these doctrines are clearly taught there.  Likewise, the Bible teaches that an intermediate state of purification exists.  We call it Purgatory.  What is important here is the doctrine, not the name.
      So, yes, Joe it is in the Bible but not by a name, call it what you want, it still exists. Like you said, kind of tricky, it is there, just got to know how to understand the readings.

  2. I read your answer to the question about whether there were any bible references to the existence of purgatory. You said yes, there are at least 15 references. Could you tell me where they are please? I would like to read them.

    1. Thanks for the comment on this matter, Jim.
      I split this issue up into two post due to the shear size. I believe that people seem to get bored and not read a large post as well as they do if it was two smaller ones. Please check out my other part to this at:

      Besides that Jim, regarding Purgatory, the word is nowhere in the Bible. But, the word “Trinity” is nowhere in the Bible, either, yet you believe in the Trinity don’t you? Sorry, but there is evidence of Purgatory in the Bible, even if it is not mentioned by name. Here’s a quick biblical question about Purgatory that you will not be able to answer: In 1 Cor 3:10-15, it talks about how every man’s work will be made manifest on “the day” – their judgment day – and that every man’s work will be tested by fire. And that there will be some who have works that will be burned up, and they will suffer loss, as through fire, yet still be saved. So, Jim, where is it that, after a man dies, and his works are judged, that he can suffer loss as through fire, yet still be saved? Hell? Not there. One suffers loss as through fire in Hell, but we both know that no one gets out of Hell. Heaven? No. Someone who is in Heaven is indeed saved, but we both know no one suffers loss in Heaven. So, where is it that after one dies, one could suffer loss as through fire, yet still be saved?

      Jim, when I heard the following statement, I fell in love with it immediately and it makes the most sense, “The Catholic Faith is like a lion in a cage, you don’t need to defend it, you simply need to open the cage door.” I have spent years trying to learn how to open that cage. (I may write a post about how to open the cage and let the lion out) When I come to the table to discuss the Bible, I bring with me the one true Catholic and Apostolic Church, over 2,000 years of experience, all I have to do is “open the cage door.”

      With that said, allow me to let the lion out of the cage and show you a little teaching of the Catholic Church concerning the issue of Purgatory. I always hear the non-Catholic statement: “Nowhere is Purgatory mentioned in the Bible.” True. The word, “Purgatory,” nowhere appears in the Bible. But let’s look yet another verse, 2 Sam 12:13-18, “David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’ And Nathan said to David, ‘the Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child that is born to you shall die.’ And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bore to David, and it became sick…On the seventh day the child died.”
      Now, Jim, let’s let the lion loose by explaining some Catholic Principles. Catholic Principle #1 – there is the possibility of punishment for sin even after one has received forgiveness of that same sin.
      Rev 21:27 “But nothing unclean shall enter it…” This is referring to the New Jerusalem – Heaven. Catholic Principle #2 – nothing unclean, nothing with the stain of sin, will enter Heaven.
      Heb 12:22-23, “But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living god, the heavenly Jerusalem…and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect…” The spirits of just men – all those who have died in a state of grace – made perfect. Catholic Principle #3 – there is a way, a process, through which the spirits of the “just” are “made perfect”.
      1 Cor 3:13-15, “…each man’s work will become manifest; for the Day [the day each person is judged] will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.” Where is this place that a man, after he dies, suffers loss, as through fire, but is still saved. Hell? Once you’re in Hell, you don’t get out. Heaven? You don’t suffer loss in Heaven. Hmmm…must be somewhere else. Catholic Principle #4 – there is a place (or state of being) other than Heaven or Hell.
      Reviewing the Catholic principles we just established from Scripture: 1) There is the possibility of punishment for sin even after receiving forgiveness; 2) nothing unclean, nothing with the stain of sin, will enter Heaven; 3) there is a way, a process, through which the spirits of the just are made perfect; and 4) there is a place other than Heaven or Hell. All principles backed up by Scripture which, when put together, make a very good case for Purgatory. Don’t you agree?

      Jim, please read my other (part 2 of 2) and the above to get a better understanding of Purgatory. If you believe in the Trinity, which you should, your objection cannot be because it is not mentioned in the Bible.
      Th lion has been released. What are your thoughts?

      1. Thanks for your reply. I’d like to focus on 1 Cor 3, if I may. I actually DO have an answer for you concerning that passage. Or, I should say, the bible has the answer.
        This passage does not address the idea of a place called purgatory at all. The passage is speaking about our labors, and our “works” aimed at teaching the gospel and converting souls. When Paul says in verse 6; “I planted, Apollos watered, but God was causing the growth”, he was speaking about teaching the gospel to others. In V-11, Paul speaks about the only foundation that can be laid, (or planted) “which is Jesus Christ”. The “foundation”, is the foundation of our faith. V-8 says; “Now he who plants, and he who waters are one (they are “one” in purpose), but each will receive his own reward, according to his own labor.” In other words, you will personally be rewarded for work that you do, in trying to convert people, and in trying to build up their faith, so they can be saved. That’s the goal! The salvation of others. We need to “work out our own salvation” as it says in Phil 2:12, but added reward comes from helping to save others. And of course, that’s what we’re doing by teaching them the gospel, and the way of Christian living.

        Now, back to 1 Cor 3. Paul says in V-10; “..I laid a foundation, and another is building upon it. But let each man be careful how he builds upon it.” Everyone might not do the same quality of work, thus the analogy in V-12.. “Now if any man build upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw (you see how the quality has gone down), each man’s work will become evident, for the day will show it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.” The word of God is the “fire” that will test everyone’s faith. Some people’s faith won’t stand up to the test, because their faith isn’t conformed to God’s word. But some people’s faith WILL stand the test. Thus V-14 says; “If any man’s work which he has built upon it (the foundation of Christ) remains (if that person is saved) he (the one doing the building) shall receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up (if someone else’s faith is NOT enough to save them) he shall suffer loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.” If your faith is the kind of faith that can save you, then you will be saved, “but yet as through fire”. In other words, all people’s faith will undergo the same “testing”. But if you’ve worked, and tried to build up the faith of someone else, so they could be saved, but their faith turns out to not be sufficient, you will suffer the loss, of additional reward, even though you yourself will still be saved.

        That’s what this passage is clearly speaking of. The very text itself fully explains it as such. Thank you so much for listening.

        1. Thanks again Jim, for this comment.
          I must give it to you though, I have never heard your version or interpretation of this verse before. I have heard other interpretations that make no sense to me at all.
          I showed you many verses that show evidence of Purgatory in the Bible, but you choose to concentrate on this one verse and none of the others. I realize that they do not say the name Purgatory anywhere in the Bible but they also don’t say anything about the Trinity. Do you believe in the Trinity?

          I really don’t know what else to say. I really believe that your founding fathers back in 1957 got it wrong and have been teaching something that Jesus did not intend to have taught but it has happened almost 40,000 times since Luther began that process.

          The evidence of Purgatory is laid out before you and all to make up their own minds.
          Thanks Jim.

    2. Jim, I don’t think I answered you question completely by giving you all 15 verses that the Catholic Church uses to help prove the existence of Purgatory. See below:
      Mt 5:48 – be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect
      Heb 12:14 – strive for that holiness w/o which cannot see God
      Jam 3:2 – we all fall short in many respects
      Rev 21:27 – nothing unclean shall enter heaven
      1 Jn 5:16-17 – degrees of sins distinguished
      2 Sam 12:13-14 – David, though forgiven, still punished for sin
      Mt 5:26 – you will not be released until paid last penny
      Mt 12:32 – sin against Holy Spirit unforgiven in this age or next
      Mt 12:36 – account for ever idle word on judgment day
      2 Macc 12:44-46 – atoned for dead to free them from sin
      1 Cor 3:15 – suffer loss, but saved as through fire
      1 Pet 3:18-20; 4:6 – Jesus preached to the spirits in prison
      2 Tim 1:16-18 – Paul prays for dead friend Onesiphorus
      1 Cor 15:29-30 – Paul mentions people baptizing for the dead

      There is the 15 you asked for, please check them out to see why the oldest Christian religion in the world uses them to prove the existence of Purgatory.
      Let me know what you think. Thanks and God Bless

  3. I just wanted to focus on one passage at a time, and that was the first one that you mentioned. I really think the passage speaks for itself. Paul is talking about preaching the gospel. I’m going to take a look at your next example now, the one from 2 Samuel. I do have a question though. What founding fathers were you referring to in your reply, and what happened in 1957? Talk to you again soon.

    1. Thanks again Jim,
      1957 is when your church began. It says it on your site. My point is one of many that I would wrestle with if I were in your shoes, your church is set up and established in 1957 by some men in your area. And that every verse we will ever discuss is open for your infallable interpretation of that verse.
      Let me ask you. If a person in your congregation came to you and ask you to read a verse from Samuel with him and explain it as you see it, but he sees it differently than you, is he wrong? Are you wrong?

      1. Hello Bob. Let me try to clarify something. There was never a new church established in 1957 in the town that I live in. There were simply Christians who joined together with other Christians for worship and for bible studies. Those people were members of the body of Christ, and they were fulfilling God’s command to assemble for worship and to live Christian lives. As you know, the body of Christ was first “established” on the day of Pentecost, aprox, 33 AD. As Christians, it is our obligation to study God’s word, together, so that we can reason together concerning the meanings of any verses that we may view differently. Because as you know, God want unity of all believers.

        What took place here in Buffalo, in 1957, wasn’t any different from what might happen in any town, where people of like faith begin to assemble as a congregation. If there were several Catholics living in a particular town, I would think that they would want to assemble for worship, and to study the bible. And when they did so, they certainly wouldn’t be starting a new church, they would simply be starting a new local congregation of believers.

        Just like all local congregations of Catholic believers are a part of the one Catholic church, in the same way, all local congregations of believers that identify with the name “church of Christ”, are a part of the one church that Jesus died for. 1 Cor 12:27 says; “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.”

        If there is a difference in the understanding of any verse of scripture, it is our responsibility to God, to study that verse, until unity is reached. And that, I’m afraid, is a lifelong challenge. Thank you my friend, for the opportunity to speak.

        1. Thanks for the information about your church. I think I must have read it late one night and probably didn’t understand all I read. Thanks.
          I have a love for church history and spend much time in that study and my beliefs are very staunch Catholic.
          Although, I may not see all the truth in your teachings, it is always nice to spend additional time in study of the word. I always learn. Thanks
          God Bless

  4. I’m back again. I’m sorry, but I don’t see the connection between the story in 2 Samuel 12, and the idea of purgatory. The only thing mentioned concerning the afterlife at all, is when Davis said; “I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” David knew that if he made it to heaven, then he would once again see his son. Obviously David believed that his son was sinless, and therefore was destined for heaven. I can’t see David saying what he said, in reference to some intermediary realm like purgatory. Surely his son wasn’t destined for an in-between realm, he was destined for heaven!

    Concerning God’s punishment toward David for having the adulterous relationship, obviously, that was punishment during this life, not in some spiritual realm. David’s true repentance for his sin was enough for God to forgive the sin, but David was still going to have to live with the consequences of his sin, in this life. Nathan the prophet, revealed to David WHY God was going to take the child away from him. The reason is given in verse 14; “..because you have given occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child that is born to you shall surely die.” God was not going to allow a child born out of an adulterous relationship, to remain in the king’s household. That would have been a constant reminder to everyone, of David’s sin. The child was done a favor by the Lord, by taking him home, but David suffered the consequences of his sin.

    1. Thanks Jim
      I think your interpretation is different than that of the Catholic Church. That is why you belong to your church and I belong to mine. It is my goal to lay out the Catholic Church teachings on many issues, Purgatory is just one of many that I am sure we will not see eye to eye on. What has happened here is that you have put up your best interpretation of the verses we have mentioned and I have done the same on the teachings of the Catholic Church.
      It is now up to all those people to make up their own minds about this issue.
      Thanks again Jim
      God Bless

  5. Amen Bob! If we both do our very best, and study with the true desire to learn the truth, and pray diligently for God to grant us understanding, what more can we do to please God? It is my belief that I do not know everything there is to know about God’s word. And it is also my belief that neither do you. But it is my belief that we both can always learn more, IF we don’t fall into satan’s trap of convincing us that we already know it all. I truly value our talks and your views. Thank you Bob.

    1. Unity is very important. Please read and comment on my post about unity. Thanks for the great comments and I think our growth in study should continue.
      I know I don’t know it all and I have so much to learn and I always do learn from all those around me, even you, my friend. I don’t know it all but I do know that I have my Church to fall back upon to find the answers that I need.
      Thanks Jim, let’s continue to study and learn from each other.

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