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Do People Go To Purgatory After Death?

What Is Purgatory?

Have you ever heard of purgatory? Perhaps, yes, but you do not know what it is and have never gotten the opportunity to know it. Is it biblical or not? Well, read on to know what it means.

In the doctrine of some denominations, purgatory is a place or state of suffering where the souls of dead elect sinners stay to expiate their sins or undergo purification before going to heaven. Hence, it is regarded as an intermediate state after physical death for expiatory purification. There is a strong disagreement among Christians whether such a place or state, that is purgatory, exists or not.

How Long Do People Stay In Purgatory?

There is no specific duration or time frame for staying in purgatory. But according to the doctrine, people’s stay in purgatory subjects them to the final purification process that enables them to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven which is experienced by those who die in God’s grace and friendship while still imperfectly purified.

Do Condemned Sinners Also Go To Purgatory?

With respect to condemned sinners going to purgatory, the doctrine affirms that this final purification is for the elect  sinners alone and is completely different from the punishment of the condemned sinners.

Additionally, purgatory doctrine emphasizes that this purification of elect sinners is necessary since Scripture, in Revelation 21:27, teaches that nothing unclean will access the presence of God in heaven.

Do People Need To Go To Purgatory After Death?

According to the doctrine, people need to to go there because, though, they may die with their mortal sins forgiven, there can still be many impurities in them, venial sins, to be specific, and that there is transient punishment, in purgatory, for sins already forgiven.

Why Do People Pray For The Dead They Believe Are In Purgatory?

The denominations that teach purgatory base their practice of praying for the dead on this doctrine ever since they began. They believe that their prayers will facilitate their purification and shorten their stay in purgatory.

Is There Purgatory?

We have been dealing with the doctrine of purgatory. But now, we want to know if such a place or state exists at all. The concept of purgatory originated from people’s failure to understand where people, in general, go immediately after death. There’s no need for further disagreement over this issue. Moreover, our God is not the originator of confusion but of peace. The Bible does not keep us in the dark concerning whether people go to purgatory or somewhere else after death. Read on!

Is The Home Of The Dead Purgatory Or Sheol/ Hades?

Purgatory is not the home of the dead. Sheol, a Hebrew word, and Hades, its Greek equivalent, are the technical names of the home of the dead. This home of the dead is divided into two namely: hell, a place of torment, and Abraham’s side, a place of comfort.(LUKE 16:19-31) None of these divisions was located in heaven prior to the first coming of Jesus Christ since no one was permitted to enter Heaven ahead of Jesus Christ.(JOHN 3:13)

Nevertheless, after the finished work of Jesus Christ, the way to Heaven was opened to the saved. To this end, Abraham’s side of Sheol or Hades was relocated to a place which Jesus referred to as “Paradise” when he told the penitent thief that he would be with him there.

This Paradise was later identified in the book of 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 as the “third heaven.” This third heaven is the location of God’s throne. Paradise was, physically, on earth but, following the Fall of Adam and Eve, it ceased to be on earth.

But why “third heaven?” Because there are other heavens, the first and the second heavens, which are the earth’s atmosphere and the sky, respectively.

This is where Elijah, the prophet, was taken but not the third heaven. (JOHN 3:13) Although, the book of 2 Corinthians 12 calls Paradise “the third heaven”, in the rest of the Bible, it is simply referred to as “Heaven” or simply”heaven” without the word “third”.

Where The Saved And The Condemned Go After Death Instead Of Purgatory

  1. The saved. At death, the souls of the saved go straight to Paradise, that is heaven, to be with the lord while awaiting their unification with their resurrection bodies. (LUKE 16:22, 2CORINTHIANS 5:8, PHILIPPIANS 1:23) There’s no such thing as further purification in purgatory. Further purification in purgatory is the doctrine of men. On the cross, Jesus, plainly, told the penitent thief that he would be with him in Paradise. (LUKE 23:43) If there were further purification for the saved, after death, Jesus who understands the situation better than we do wouldn’t have made such a promise. Instead, he would have clearly informed the thief that he would go for further purification and, later, enter Paradise.
  2. The condemned. At death, the souls of the condemned go straight to hell where they suffer torment while awaiting their resurrection to shame and everlasting contempt which will be followed by the final white throne judgement that will send them to the lake of fire. (MARK 9:43-48, LUKE 16:22-23, 2PETER 2:9, DANIEL 12:2 and REVELATION 20:11-15)

Question For You: Does Purgatory Exist?

  1. Your correct answer should be no. Purgatory does not not exist. There nothing like it. If there were, Jesus would have told the penitent thief, on the cross, that he would go to purgatory and, later, to Paradise. Instead, he simply told him that he would be with him in Paradise.
  2. If you belong to Jesus Christ you have died to every sin. You are living a new life. The power of sin over you is broken. You do not need any further purification in the nonexistent or imaginary purgatory.


In spite of the overwhelming evidence that purgatory does not exist, the proponents of this fallacy always manage to distort some Bible portions in a feeble attempt to validate the doctrine. Below are some of the Bible portions they twist or misinterpret in an effort to support the doctrine. The list is inexhaustible. But take the time to go through the few I am going to show you, below, even if it means reading this article in two sessions.

A List Some Bible Portions Being Twisted Or Misinterpreted To Support The Supposed Existence Of Purgatory

1. 2MACCABEES 12:44-45. 

FALLACY! No atonement can be made for the dead. Hebrews 9:27 says that men are destined once to die and after this comes the judgment. Moreover, the book of Maccabees is an element of the Apocrypha but not part of the canon of Scripture. Therefore, quoting from it to support a doctrine is always met with divine disapproval.

The Apocrypha may contain a piece of information of historical value. However, quoting from them to support a doctrine is null and void because they contradict the real Scripture, the canon.

2. MATTHEW 5:25-26.

This Scripture is not talking about being put in purgatory until you have paid for all your sins. It is just a secular story that Jesus used to illustrate a spiritual truth. Moreover, under the new covenant, no one pays or can even pay for their own sins. This is the responsibility of Jesus Christ and he has done that once and for all.

Jesus used this worldly story to teach us the necessity of making a reconciliation before the opportunity to do it is terminated.

3. MATTHEW 12:32.

This verse is not teaching that forgiveness can be granted to qualified people in purgatory or in the age to come. It simply means that if you blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, you are guilty of eternal sin. So, don’t be misled. If you have not repented, repent before you die or else you will no longer be given the chance to do so.

4. 1CORINTHIANS 3:11-15.

Here, the builder who will escape through the flames does not refer to someone who will pass through any form of suffering in purgatory before being saved or admitted into heaven. This passage is talking about the divine  assessment or evaluation of people and their works, both good and bad.

It is saying that if you are a believer in Jesus Christ, you will successfully and positively be  evaluated thereby retaining your salvation because you believed in Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, the fact that a believer has passed this evaluation and has done good works does not mean that they will be automatically or summarily rewarded for their good works. No, their good works also must be assessed before the appropriate reward is given.

Someone may ask “why” since the works are already good. Yes, the pre-reward evaluation is necessary because even though the works are already good, all or a part of them  could have been done under a wrong motive. Yes, something good can be done for a wrong reason, for a wrong person, at a wrong time, a wrong place or even in a wrong way.

A believer whose works are linked to these preceding factors will definitely suffer a loss of reward for those good works though he himself will be saved  after passing the divine evaluation as a result of meeting the criteria for salvation. This is all what the passage is saying but not any experience in purgatory.

5. 1CORINTHIANS 15:29.

Here the Bible is not saying that the living should get baptized on behalf of the dead to obtain salvation for them through this sacrament. Everyone  must believe in Jesus Christ before they die, to obtain salvation.

After death, there’s no more hope of salvation. Saint Paul was inspired by God to write this because of a prevailing practice among the Corinthians which coexisted with their flagrant refusal to believe in the resurrection of the dead.

This prevalent practice was that of people getting baptized on behalf of the dead.  The Corinthians hold that this practice will benefit the dead, yet, doubted the reality of the resurrection which was being preached by Paul.

This was considered by God as ironical or  contradictory. So, he moved Saint Paul to write to them challenging them to believe in the resurrection or stop their practice since it is ridiculously illogical for them get baptized for the dead who, according to them, will never rise again.

Yes, Paul’s message to them meant that if they desired to continue their self-made or self-imposed practice, they should also believe in the resurrection of the dead. Otherwise, their practice is of no essence. This is what it means. The Bible is not saying that we can get baptized for the dead and obtain salvation on their behalf. That is a total impossibility.

6. 2TIMOTHY 1:18.

This verse is not saying that people will obtain mercy, in purgatory, after death or that God withholds mercy from people until the judgment day. Rather, Paul was praying for the person in question so that God will sustain the mercy he has already granted the person until the judgment day when that mercy is needed most.

7. HEBREWS 9:27-28.

Here, verse 27 is not saying that after death people go to purgatory or  that judgment follows instantly. It is simply saying that it is impossible for repentance and forgiveness to follow death. These things must always precede death. The only thing that follows death is judgment though not instantly but certainly when Jesus Christ returns.

Also, verse 28 says that Christ will appear a second time to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. This does not mean that those who are waiting for him, that is, Christians, have not been saved at all before then. No salvation comes in three phases, namely:

  1. JUSTIFICATION. The act of God declaring one righteous not because of any other good thing one has done but just for exercising faith in Jesus Christ.
  2. SANCTIFICATION. This is the ongoing process of being made holy. It is a lifelong process.
  3. GLORIFICATION. The final action that God takes to perfect the believers but not in purgatory.

8. 1PETER 3:19. “After being made alive, d he went and preached  to the imprisoned spirits”

If you read the preceding verses, you will see that the person that preached to the imprisoned spirits is Jesus Christ. However, there are two things you should know here. First, the Greek word translated as “preached” is “ekeryxen” and doesn’t only mean the sharing of the gospel with someone so that, if they believe it, they will get saved.

It also means to announce or proclaim something. The Greek word for sharing the gospel that leads to salvation is “euangelizo“. Two, the expression “the imprisoned spirits” or  “spirits” are never used for humans at all. They always refer to angels.

For people, the Bible always use the following  expressions instead: human beings, people, man, men, women, human spirits, the spirits of a human being,  humans, and other related terms but never just “spirits.”

Therefore, the imprisoned spirits are fallen angels who violated divine injunction, materialized and married daughters of men which led to the reproduction of sinful giants during time of Noah.

For this reason, the preaching Jesus made to those spirits was not evangelism because the gospel of salvation is not meant for the spirits, that is, angels but exclusively for humanity. In this case, the preaching is an announcement or a proclamation of the outcome of his glorious ministry as the world’s messiah.

  9. 1PETER 4:6.

The statement “The gospel was preached to those who are now dead” does not mean that the gospel was preached to them after they had died. Rather, it means that the gospel was preached to them before they died. It has nothing to do with purgatory.

God gives everyone the opportunity to hear and understand the gospel before they face judgment. Even the Old Testament people heard the gospel. (HEBREWS 4:2, GALATIANS 3:8)So, there is no need to preach the gospel anymore to the dead.


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