Posts Tagged ‘Punishment’

But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’sbook of life. Rev 21:27

The word purgatory is not mentioned anywhere in the Bible in the same way that terms such as ‘Incarnation’, ‘Holy Trinity’ or even the word Bible, do not appear in the Scriptures. This, however, is no reason to deny the existence of a ‘purging place’, which is indeed mentioned in the Bible.

There are a few passages that indicate to us the existence of such a cleansing place, but let us take a look at 1 Cor 3:12-15, which unlike other biblical references to purgatory,  cannot be talked away by protestants. We will analyze  an excerpt from King James version, a popular protestant Bible translation.

12Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; 13Every 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. 14If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.15If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

If we look at this passage within the context of Chapter 3, we will notice that it addresses members of the Church of Christ, as  it deals with  Corinthians believers regarding their sinful actions, such as divisions and jealousy.  In chapter 3, Paul not only states that our works are rewarded, but he also deals with the quality of man’s works, for which each of us will be either rewarded or punished.

The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 1 Cor3:8

If we look at verse 15 in the same chapter, we have a man whose works have been judged and  burned, this man ‘suffers loss’ but is ultimately saved by fire. In order to clarify what this means we need to define what ‘suffer loss’ represents.  The expression ‘suffer loss’ is a form of the Greek word Zemio. Forms of this same Greek word also appear in the context of the Old Testament to mean PUNISHMENT [ Ex. 21:21, Proverbs 17:26, 19:19 , etc…].  This means that Zemio, translated in  1 Cor3:15 as ‘suffer loss’ can mean punishment. Therefore, 1Cor3:12-15 gives us a clear description of Purgatory because that is what Paul is referring to.  Even more so when we consider, as stated above, the context of the whole Chapter 3, where Paul rebukes the Corinthians believers for their bad works or sins.




Paul makes an analogy to the  quality of our works where gold, silver, precious stones represent a more perfect or better adherence to the Gospel of Christ and wood, straw and stubble which are burned and for which the man ‘suffers loss’ or ‘punishment’ but he is saved, yet so as by fire. Therefore, in 1 Corinthians 3:12, the wood, hay and stubble (which are burned) signify the works of a man who has died in the state of justification and has been forgiven of any mortal sins he might have committed. He is therefore eventually saved, but he hasn’t made satisfaction for sins committed after baptism.

Christians understand that once a soul is condemned into hell it cannot be saved anymore. In this context, the Old Testament demonstrates that indeed Purgatory, which is the place where those who did justified by not yet purfied go,exists:

Psalm 49:15 15 But God will redeem me from the realm of the dead;  he will surely take me to himself.


The passages above agree perfectly with the Catholic teaching on Purgatory. The Catholic Council of Lyons II defined Purgatory this way:

Pope Gregory X,

Council of Lyons II, 1274: “Because if they die truly repentant in charity before they have made satisfaction by worthy fruits of penance for sins committed and omitted, their souls are cleansed after death for purgatorial or purifying punishments….” (Denzinger 464)

A great example of a man who has been forgiven of his serious sin, but hasn’t made satisfaction for it, is found in the case of David. In 2nd Samuel 11 (2 Kings 11 in the Douay-Rheims Catholic Bible), we read that King David committed adultery with Bathsheba. David also had her husband killed. These are mortal sins. If David would have died in that state, he would have gone to Hell. 1 Cor. 6:9 shows us that no adulterers or murderers will enter Heaven. But David repented of his sin when convicted of it by Nathan in 2 Samuel 12.

2 Samuel 12:13- “And David said unto Nathan, I have sinned against the Lord. And Nathan said unto David, the Lord hath forgiven thy sin, thou shalt not die.

The Lord took away David’s sin, and Nathan said that he would not die. This means that he would not eternally die. The guilt of the sin was forgiven because David truly repented and turned from it, but was that the end of it? No, full satisfaction for this mortal sin had not been made. We read in 2 Samuel 12:14-15 that David had to suffer the loss of his child to make satisfaction for his sin; a sin that had already been forgiven.

2 Samuel 12:14-15- “… because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die. And Nathan departed unto his house. And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick.”

This provides undeniable proof that the guilt of a sin of a believer can be forgiven without the entire punishment being taken away. The Council of Trent put it this way:

Pope Julius III,

The Lord also hath put away thy sin; thou shalt not die.” David had to suffer the loss of his child to make satisfaction for his sin – a sin which had already been forgiven. because by this deed thou hast given great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme, the child also that is born unto thee shall surely die. And Nathan departed unto his house. And the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife bare unto David, and it was very sick.” Council of Trent, on the Sacrament of Penance, Sess. 14, Chap. 8, Nov. 25, 1551- “… it is absolutely false and contrary to the word of God that the guilt [of a sin] is never forgiven by the Lord without the entire punishment also being remitted. For clear and illustrious examples are found in the Sacred Writings [cf. Gen. 3:16 f; Num. 12:14; Num 20:11; II Kings 12:13 f.; etc.].” (Denzinger 904)

There are various references to the existence of purgatory in the Old Testament, which I intent to discuss here, as well as other references in the New Testament, but as seen in 1 Cor 3:12-15, Purgatory was taught in Scripture and was believed by the earliest Christians. Why did the ancient Christians believe in Purgatory and prayers for the dead? It’s obviously not because this was a man-made doctrine, but because they clearly saw that it was taught in the Bible and was part of the Tradition received from the Apostles.

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