50 Bible Passages on Purgatory & Analogous Processes

50 Bible Passages on Purgatory & Analogous Processes November 10, 2015

 

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The following is drawn from my book, Bible Proofs for Catholic Truths (2009): excepting this new introduction and one added verse (1 Peter 4:12).

All passages are from the KJV.

When defending the doctrine of purgatory (which most Protestants reject, and Orthodox conceptualize in quite different terms), it’s relevant to include recurring motifs in Scripture that describe the same thing as what happens in purgatory: a cleansing or purging of sins, in preparation for entering a sinless heaven with a perfectly holy God. Surely, this is relevant, on the principle of analogy; i.e., God often and does this sort of thing to men on earth, in His mercy (necessary for our sanctification); therefore, He can and will do the same thing after death, as most of us die with sins still “on” or in our hearts and souls and minds, and since (as God has revealed in His Word) no uncleanness or sin shall enter heaven (Rev 21:27).

The Bible refers, over and over, to such cleansing, purifying, refining processes, using words and phrases (direct quotes from the verses below) such as the following 70 examples:  1) go through the fire, 2) be clean, 3) purify, 4) the midst of the fire, 5) chasten, 6) tried, 7) come forth as gold, 8) wash me thoroughly, 9) cleanse, 10) purge, 11) tried as silver, 12) went through fire, 13) correct[ion], 14) trieth the hearts, 15) bring every work into judgment, 16) purge away thy dross, 17) take away all thy tin, 18) washed away the filth, 19) the spirit of judgment, 20) the spirit of burning, 21) refined, 22) in the furnace of affliction, 23) I will melt them, 24) try, 25) punish, 26) As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted, 27) wrath, 28) fury, 29) sprinkle clean water upon you, 30) indignation of the LORD, 31) judgment, 32) bring me forth to the light, 33) cleanse from sin and uncleanness, 34) into the fire, 35) refine them as one refines silver, 36) test them as gold is tested, 37) like a refiner’s fire, 38) like fullers’ soap, 39) refiner and purifer of silver, 40) offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness, 41) received them as a burnt offering, 42) chastised, 43) proved, 44) admonish as a father, 45) acceptable men in the furnace of adversity, 46) delivered from sin,  47) prison, 48) Every man’s work shall be revealed by fire, 49) the fire shall try every man’s work, 50) If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire, 51) affliction, 52) judgment seat of Christ, 53) tests our hearts, 54) stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, 55) hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, 56) bodies washed with pure water, 57) rebuke, 58) scourge, 59) in subjection unto the Father of spirits 60) that we might be partakers of his holiness, 61) it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness, 62) holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord, 63) spirits of just men made perfect, 64) the trial of your faith, 65) tried with fire, 66) the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin, 67) cleanse us from all unrighteousness, 68) there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, 69) fiery trial, 70) purged from his old sins.

What is repeatedly described and “sanctioned” in Holy Scripture is certainly not implausible as a continuing process after death. Anything that we find in fifty biblical passages is obviously of great import. Of particular note is the relationship between the biblical teaching of suffering in general and purgatory, which is the final instance of God’s preparation of the souls of redeemed or saved persons for heaven.

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Numbers 31:23 Every thing that may abide the fire, ye shall make it go through the fire, and it shall be clean: nevertheless it shall be purified with the water of separation: and all that abideth not the fire ye shall make go through the water.

Deuteronomy 4:33-38 Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live? [34] Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? [35] Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him. [36] Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire. [37] And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt; [38] To drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou art, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance, as it is this day.

Deuteronomy 8:5 Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee. (cf. 11:2)

Job 23:10 But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold. (cf. 4:17; 25:4)

Psalm 51:2, 7 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. . . . Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

Psalm 66:10-12 For thou, O God, hast proved us: thou hast tried us, as silver is tried. [11] Thou broughtest us into the net; thou laidst affliction upon our loins. [12] Thou hast caused men to ride over our heads; we went through fire and through water: but thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place. (cf. 12:6)

Proverbs 3:11 My son, despise not the chastening of the LORD; neither be weary of his correction:

Proverbs 17:3 The fining pot is for silver, and the furnace for gold: but the LORD trieth the hearts.

Proverbs 20:30 The blueness of a wound cleanseth away evil: so do stripes the inward parts of the belly. (cf. 30:12)

Ecclesiastes 12:14 For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.

Isaiah 1:25-26 And I will turn my hand upon thee, and purely purge away thy dross, and take away all thy tin: [26] And I will restore thy judges as at the first, and thy counsellers as at the beginning: afterward thou shalt be called, The city of righteousness, the faithful city.

Isaiah 4:4 When the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion, and shall have purged the blood of Jerusalem from the midst thereof by the spirit of judgment, and by the spirit of burning.

Isaiah 48:10 Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.

Jeremiah 9:7 Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, Behold, I will melt them, and try them; for how shall I do for the daughter of my people?

Jeremiah 30:11 For I am with thee, saith the LORD, to save thee: though I make a full end of all nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure, and will not leave thee altogether unpunished.

Jeremiah 33:8 And I will cleanse them from all their iniquity, whereby they have sinned against me; and I will pardon all their iniquities, whereby they have sinned, and whereby they have transgressed against me.

Ezekiel 22:18-22 Son of man, the house of Israel is to me become dross: all they are brass, and tin, and iron, and lead, in the midst of the furnace; they are even the dross of silver. [19] Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Because ye are all become dross, behold, therefore I will gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. [20] As they gather silver, and brass, and iron, and lead, and tin, into the midst of the furnace, to blow the fire upon it, to melt it; so will I gather you in mine anger and in my fury, and I will leave you there, and melt you. [21] Yea, I will gather you, and blow upon you in the fire of my wrath, and ye shall be melted in the midst thereof. [22] As silver is melted in the midst of the furnace, so shall ye be melted in the midst thereof; and ye shall know that I the LORD have poured out my fury upon you.

Ezekiel 36:25, 33 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. . . . Thus saith the Lord GOD; In the day that I shall have cleansed you from all your iniquities I will also cause you to dwell in the cities, and the wastes shall be builded. (cf. 37:23; Lam 3:39; Dan 11:35; 12:10)

Micah 7:8-9 Rejoice not against me, O mine enemy: when I fall, I shall arise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD shall be a light unto me. [9] I will bear the indignation of the LORD, because I have sinned against him, until he plead my cause, and execute judgment for me: he will bring me forth to the light, and I shall behold his righteousness.

Zechariah 9:11 As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.

Zechariah 13:1, 9 On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness. . . . [9] And I will put this third into the fire, and refine them as one refines silver, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, “They are my people”; and they will say, “The LORD is my God.”

Malachi 3:2-4 But who may abide the day of his coming? and who shall stand when he appeareth? for he is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: [3] And he shall sit as a refiner and purifer of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. [4] Then shall the offering of Judah and Jerusalem be pleasant unto the LORD, as in the days of old, and as in former years.

Wisdom 3:1-7 But the souls of the righteous are in the hand of God, and there shall no torment touch them. [2] In the sight of the unwise they seemed to die: and their departure is taken for misery, [3] And their going from us to be utter destruction: but they are in peace. [4] For though they be punished in the sight of men, yet is their hope full of immortality. [5] And having been a little chastised, they shall be greatly rewarded: for God proved them, and found them worthy for himself. [6] As gold in the furnace hath he tried them, and received them as a burnt offering. [7] And in the time of their visitation they shall shine, and run to and fro like sparks among the stubble.

Wisdom 11:9-10 For when they were tried albeit but in mercy chastised, they knew how the ungodly were judged in wrath and tormented, thirsting in another manner than the just. [10] For these thou didst admonish and try, as a father: but the other, as a severe king, thou didst condemn and punish.

Sirach 2:5 For gold is tried in the fire, and acceptable men in the furnace of adversity.

2 Maccabees 12:39-45 And upon the day following, as the use had been, Judas and his company came to take up the bodies of them that were slain, and to bury them with their kinsmen in their fathers’ graves. [40] Now under the coats of every one that was slain they found things consecrated to the idols of the Jamnites, which is forbidden the Jews by the law. Then every man saw that this was the cause wherefore they were slain. [41] All men therefore praising the Lord, the righteous Judge, who had opened the things that were hid, [42] Betook themselves unto prayer, and besought him that the sin committed might wholly be put out of remembrance. Besides, that noble Judas exhorted the people to keep themselves from sin, forsomuch as they saw before their eyes the things that came to pass for the sins of those that were slain. [43] And when he had made a gathering throughout the company to the sum of two thousand drachms of silver, he sent it to Jerusalem to offer a sin offering, doing therein very well and honestly, in that he was mindful of the resurrection: [44] For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should have risen again, it had been superfluous and vain to pray for the dead. [45] And also in that he perceived that there was great favour laid up for those that died godly, it was an holy and good thought. Whereupon he made a reconciliation for the dead, that they might be delivered from sin.

Matthew 5:22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire. (RSV: “whoever insults his brother shall be liable to the council”)

Matthew 5:25-26 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. [26] Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing. (cf. Luke 12:58-59)

Matthew 12:32 And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.

Luke 16:19-31 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: [20] And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, [21] And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. [22] And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; [23] And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. [24] And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. [25] But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. [26] And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. [27] Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: [28] For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. [29] Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. [30] And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. [31] And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.

1 Corinthians 3:11-15 For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. [12] Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; [13] Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. [14] If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. [15] If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. (cf. Acts 15:9; 2 Cor 7:1)

1 Corinthians 15:29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

Note: In Holy Scripture baptism is often used in the sense of afflictions and penances (“baptism of fire”); as in Matthew 3:11, Mark 10:38-39, Luke 3:16, 12:50. If this is what Paul had in mind, the passage makes perfect sense: he is talking about penances on behalf of the dead. Compare 2 Maccabees 12:44 (RSV): “if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead.”

2 Corinthians 4:17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;

2 Corinthians 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

Ephesians 4:8-10 Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. [9] (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? [10] He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)

Ephesians 5:5 For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Philippians 2:10-11 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; [11] And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

1 Thessalonians 2:4 . . . God, which trieth our hearts. (RSV: “God who tests our hearts”)

1 Thessalonians 3:13 To the end he may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints. (cf. 4:7)

Hebrews 10:22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 12:5-14 And ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him: [6] For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. [7] If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? [8] But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons. [9] Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? [10] For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness. [11] Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. [12] Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees; [13] And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed. [14] Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:

Hebrews 12:22-23 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, [23] To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,

1 Peter 1:6-7 Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: [7] That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

1 Peter 3:19-20 By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; [20] Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

1 Peter 4:6, 12 For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit. . . . [12] Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

2 Peter 1:9 . . . he was purged from his old sins. (RSV: “cleansed from his old sins”)

1 John 1:7-9 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. [8] If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. [9] If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 3:2-3 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. [3] And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.

Revelation 5:3, 13 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. . . . And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

Revelation 21:27 And there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination, or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

 

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