Thu. Oct 22nd, 2020

Last time we started a discussion about Purgatory, and we tried to show how it makes sense and how it is a place of God’s mercy. This time, as promised, I would like to show what the Bible has to say about Purgatory.
I have had Protestant friends tell me that the word purgatory does not appear in the Bible. They are right, but I quickly point out that the word trinity does not appear in the Bible either. We all believe in the Trinity because Scripture makes clear that there is one God, but it is also clear that there is a Father, a Son and Holy Spirit. Likewise, the word purgatory is not in Sacred Scripture, but the concept is clearly there.
We will start with 1 Corinthians 3:10-15. Here Paul is talking to Christians about how they build on the foundation of Jesus Christ. He warns us that the “work of each will come to light for the (Judgment) Day will disclose it.” If the work is good then the person receives a wage. Some people will see their work burned up. Paul tells us that these will suffer loss. At first blush Paul seems to be describing Hell, but he adds, “ … the person will be saved, but only as through fire.”
Clearly, Paul is not saying that the person who suffers loss refers to them being consigned to hell, because he tells us that they are saved. But, he does not seem to describe heaven because there is loss and fire in order to be saved. Pretty clearly Paul is describing Purgatory as we understand it. Everyone is building on the foundation of Jesus, but some of us don’t do that very well and our work is found lacking, but since that work is on the foundation of Jesus we can be saved.
We will finish this topic next time.
— Pat Arensberg is the Director of the Office for Evangelization and Family Life. Email him at
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