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Ecclesiastes 12:13

 

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IS PURGATORY A DOGMA? PURGATORY VS HELL, HERE'S THE TRUTH

Updated: Aug 13, 2023



In most Christian circles purgatory is not religious. Dogma in most denominations seems to be forgotten about. Purgatory simply doesn’t exist or is something they believe was concocted by Catholicism. 


The most popular Dogma surrounding Purgatory and Hell is that you die and go to heaven or Hell. There doesn’t seem to be an in-between in most denominations outside of Catholicism.


We will be looking at what purgatory is, the 7 levels of purgatory and a description of what purgatory looks like (that’s if it exists, of course!). After reading you will understand where the doctrine of purgatory actually came from and also the idea of limbo which is a popular Dogma within Catholicism too.


To begin, let’s look at two important definitions: the first Dogma, second Purgatory vs Limbo:


What Is Dogma?


Dogma is literally any religious teaching which cannot be denied. The most popular teaching within all Christian denominations are the 10 Commandments. For the most part they are seen as undeniable in every Christian denomination.


What Is Purgatory vs Limbo?


Purgatory is most popular within Catholicism. It is said to be a place where sinners can go before they can go to heaven. Which means after you die you have a chance to make amends for your sins in purgatory and go to heaven.


Limbo is another state after death, it is said to be a place that patriarchs go. Men such as Enoch and Elijah who were friends with the Most High.


Who it is claimed stayed in limbo until The Messiah’s redemption made it possible for them to enter heaven.


Now we have some of the definitions out the way, let’s look at some more questions:


Is Purgatory A Dogma?


Whatever denomination you are from you owe a lot to Catholicism whether positive or negative. Most people know that purgatory is specifically a Catholic Dogma. It is a doctrine generally denied by the protestant faith.


The Catholics’ credence for this doctrine is drawn from their access to scriptures other denominations don’t seem to read, specifically the apocrypha books.


They claim that the Maccabees books within the Apocrypha supports prayer for the dead which helps those that go into purgatory get into heaven.


The scriptures in question are as follows:


2 Maccabees 12:43-46

43 And making a gathering, he sent twelve thousand drachms of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection,
44 (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead,)
45 And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them.
46 It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.

When we read these scriptures there is no indication that Judas Maccabees is praying to change the course of the dead, his sin offering is merely a customary sin offering for the sin that was discovered…


The scriptures tell us that during a specific battle some Israelites that died in battle were found with Idols of Jamnia on their clothing (2 Maccabees 12:40) which is against the laws of the Most High (Exodus 20:4-6).


Judas Maccabees gave a sin offering to atone for these sins that were committed…

In 2 Maccabees 12:45 we see that this offering was specifically for those who died in “godliness” and would be part of the resurrection to come.


This sin offering was not for Israelite’s that may have been in a type of purgatory, but for those already expected to rise again in the Kingdom to come (2 Maccabees 12:43-44).


That being said, purgatory is not a Dogma, if we interpret the scriptures correctly, as shown above. The book of Maccabees does not confirm that we should pray for those that go into purgatory.


Further to this, in the Book of Hebrews we’re told that after death is Judgement (Hebrews 9:27), this is also confirmed in the scripture about Lazarus and the rich man (Luke 16:19-31) below.


What Does The Bible Say About Purgatory?


When we read the scriptures we find a number of examples that appear to show that there is some activity after we die. Which shows evidence of a type of purgatory that exists.


The question is, is this a place where sinners can repent or atone for their sins before going to Heaven? Because this is what the catholic doctrine of purgatory implies…


The popular scripture used by established denominations is found in the book of Luke:


Luke 16:19-31

19 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.

Here the “Bosom of Abraham” is mentioned. It is this state that these organisations used to justify a purgatory.


The scriptures in question are about a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. Lazarus dies and is taken to Abraham’s bosom while the rich man dies and finds himself tormented in hell.


We see a conversation between Abraham and the rich man. In this instance the beggar Lazarus would be considered as being in limbo. But we get no indication that the rich man can atone for his sins…


The rich man begs Abraham to send Lazarus back to his house where he has five Brothers to warn them. But he is told by Abraham that they have Moses and the prophets (Luke 16:29).

This quickly dismisses the notion of purgatory as a place where atone is possible before going to heaven.


This point is further proved as Abraham tells the rich man there is no passing between where Lazarus is and the rich man who is in hell (Luke 16:26).


In the apocrypha we find a definitive answer about purgatory and whether it is possible to pray for those that have died:


2 Esdras 7:102-105

102 I answered and said, “If I have found favor in your sight, show further to me, your servant, whether on the day of judgment the righteous will be able to intercede for the ungodly or to entreat the Most High for them—
103 fathers for sons or sons for parents, brothers for brothers, relatives for their kindred, or friends for those who are most dear.”
104 He answered me and said, “Since you have found favor in my sight, I will show you this also. The day of judgment is decisive and displays to all the seal of truth. Just as now a father does not send his son, or a son his father, or a master his servant, or a friend his dearest friend, to be ill or sleep or eat or be healed in his place,105 so no one shall ever pray for another on that day, neither shall anyone lay a burden on another; for then all shall bear their own righteousness and unrighteousness.”

We are told that on the day of judgement nobody can pray for you. The scriptures tell us that we are appointed once to live and then “judgement” in Hebrews (Hebrews 9:27), so we know judgement begins the moment we die.


Where In The Bible Purgatory Is Mentioned


By now I hope you know that the basic premise of purgatory is unbiblical, but does the bible mention a type of purgatory?


To answer this question of course we must read the scriptures. In the scriptures with Lazarus and the rich man it is clear that there is a type of purgatory in place where Lazarus was being comforted (Luke 16:19-31).


If we couple this with other scriptures we know that there is a resurrection after death, this is confirmed in the book of Maccabees (2 Maccabees 12:43-46) and by the Messiah’s resurrection after death (1 Corinthians 15:22-24).


When we understand this we understand that there are places where souls wait before the judgement of resurrection and hell. These are the only types of purgatory that scriptures speak of.


We can conclude there are two places we wait after death with a predetermined destination being either the kingdom of heaven on earth (Revelation 21:10) or permanent death in hell (Revelation 21:8).


With further research we see that after death if you are predetermined to go to hell you immediately go into a stat of torment and reflection of your wrongdoings.


2 Esdras 7:78-80

78 Now concerning death, the teaching is: When the decisive decree has gone out from the Most High that a person shall die, as the spirit leaves the body to return again to him who gave it, first of all it adores the glory of the Most High.
79 If it is one of those who have shown scorn and have not kept the way of the Most High, who have despised his law and hated those who fear God—
80 such spirits shall not enter into habitations, but shall immediately wander about in torments, always grieving and sad, in seven ways.

On the opposite side if you are destined for the kingdom to come you go into to a blissful state waiting for your resurrection.


2 Esdras 7:88-89

88 “Now this is the order of those who have kept the ways of the Most High, when they shall be separated from their mortal body.
89 During the time that they lived in it, they laboriously served the Most High, and withstood danger every hour so that they might keep the law of the Lawgiver perfectly.

What we see here is evidence of two types of purgatory: one for the wicked and one for the righteous. Whichever one we find ourselves in is where we will be judged, no amount of praying from those that are alive can change your destination after death…


For this reason it’s our job to keep the commandments and read scriptures to avoid hell.


What Are The 7 Levels Of Purgatory?


You may or may not know but there are seven levels that we pass through when we die. These stages occur immediately after death and differ for both someone that dies in righteousness and somebody that dies in wickedness.


What we are told is that at the moment of death the spirit of the dead doesn’t immediately find a resting place.


2 Esdras 7:101

101 He said to me, “They shall have freedom for seven days, so that during these seven days they may see the things of which you have been told, and afterwards they shall be gathered in their habitations.”

The spirit first wanders outside it’s body for 7 days. Scriptures tell us that it is during these 7 days that the seven stages take place each day for 7 days. Then spirit settles in either hell or Paradise, which is referred to as “their habitation” to await final judgement.


I have mentioned purgatory briefly above but here I will go into more detail for each type i.e. hell and paradise…


7 Levels Of Purgatory For Those Destined For Hell


To find these 7 levels of purgatory we must read the apocrypha books. These particular scriptures are found in the book of Esdras:


2 Esdras 7:78-87

78 Now concerning death, the teaching is: When the decisive decree has gone out from the Most High that a person shall die, as the spirit leaves the body to return again to him who gave it, first of all it adores the glory of the Most High.
79 If it is one of those who have shown scorn and have not kept the way of the Most High, who have despised his law and hated those who fear God—
80 such spirits shall not enter into habitations, but shall immediately wander about in torments, always grieving and sad, in seven ways.
81 The first way, because they have scorned the law of the Most High.
82 The second way, because they cannot now make a good repentance so that they may live.
83 The third way, they shall see the reward laid up for those who have trusted the covenants of the Most High.
84 The fourth way, they shall consider the torment laid up for themselves in the last days.
85 The fifth way, they shall see how the habitations of the others are guarded by angels in profound quiet.
86 The sixth way, they shall see how some of them will cross over[a] into torments.
87 The seventh way, which is worse than all the ways that have been mentioned, because they shall utterly waste away in confusion and be consumed with shame, and shall wither with fear at seeing the glory of the Most High in whose presence they sinned while they were alive, and in whose presence they are to be judged in the last times.

Above are the seven levels or stages that a person passes through once they are dead and destined to go to hell are as follows.


All of these seven levels or stages occur while the spirit is wandering in “torments always grieving and sad” (2 Esdras 7:78).


  1. 1 The first regret is that they have not kept the Laws of the Most High.

  2. The second regret is that they cannot repent now they are dead.

  3. The third regret is that they see the rewards that the righteous will receive and they cannot.

  4. The fourth regret is that they see the punishment that they will receive in the end.

  5. Fifth thing they see is how the angels are protecting, in quietness (peace) those who await in their habitation in righteous

  6. On the 6th day they will see others as they cross over into to torments.

  7. Finally on the 7th day which is described as the worst day. Their spirit will be in a perpetual state of confusion, consumed with shame and dreading seeing Most High, who they know they disobeyed.

7 Levels Of Purgatory For Those Destined For The Kingdom Of Heaven


Now here’s a look at the stages we go through when we are destined to enter the Kingdom of Heaven on Earth.


2 Esdras 7:88-98

88 “Now this is the order of those who have kept the ways of the Most High, when they shall be separated from their mortal body.
jj89 During the time that they lived in it,[b] they laboriously served the Most High, and withstood danger every hour so that they might keep the law of the Lawgiver perfectly.
90 Therefore this is the teaching concerning them:
91 First of all, they shall see with great joy the glory of him who receives them, for they shall have rest in seven orders.
92 The first order, because they have striven with great effort to overcome the evil thought that was formed with them, so that it might not lead them astray from life into death.
93 The second order, because they see the perplexity in which the souls of the ungodly wander and the punishment that awaits them.
94 The third order, they see the witness that he who formed them bears concerning them, that throughout their life they kept the law with which they were entrusted.
95 The fourth order, they understand the rest that they now enjoy, being gathered into their chambers and guarded by angels in profound quiet, and the glory waiting for them in the last days.
96 The fifth order, they rejoice that they have now escaped what is corruptible and shall inherit what is to come; and besides they see the straits and toil from which they have been delivered, and the spacious liberty that they are to receive and enjoy in immortality.
97 The sixth order, when it is shown them how their face is to shine like the sun, and how they are to be made like the light of the stars, being incorruptible from then on.
98 The seventh order, which is greater than all that have been mentioned, because they shall rejoice with boldness, and shall be confident without confusion, and shall be glad without fear, for they press forward to see the face of him whom they served in life and from whom they are to receive their reward when glorified.

Above are the 7 levels or stages of the 7 days, for those that have lived according to the laws of the Most High. The first thing to note is that you will enter rest immediately (2 Esdras 7:88)…


Here is a summary:


  1. The first victory you will experience is overcoming the evil thoughts that are naturally formed in us trying to pull us from life into death (hell).

  2. On the second day you will see how the wicked wander in confusion and the punishment that awaits them.

  3. On the third day you see the records that are kept that show how you kept the laws of the Most High.

  4. The fourth day you receive understanding about the rest that you have been rewarded. You also see how you are being guarded by an angel in peace and quiet, while awaiting your reward on the last day.

  5. The fifth day you will see how you have escaped death in the world and that you are now to inherit immortality. You are also able to appreciate the struggle it has taken to receive your reward.

  6. On the sixth day you are shown how you will look when you become Immortal and how you will be made like the light of the stars.

  7. And finally the seventh day which is the best day you will rejoice boldly and have complete confidence without fear or confusion. You will then look forward to seeing the face of the Most High who you have served and the reward you’ll receive when you’re made immortal.

Now I have presented what happens when we died there can be no more confusion. I’m sure you can agree that there is a lot to live for especially if we live righteously.


Conclusion


The scriptures tell us that we can’t even imagine what the Most High has in store for us. Even though I have presented some information above nothing can prepare us for the actual transformation that will occur.


You should be able to see from the information above that the Catholic interpretation of purgatory has no biblical standing. When a person dies there is no way to pray for them to enter heaven, from a place called purgatory…


Anybody teaching this is just teaching false hope. The scriptures are clear: we have this lifetime to keep the laws of the Most High and then we will be judged in accordance with his law.


The only time we have to pray for our loved ones is when they are alive (2 Esdras 7:112)…

This is generally in the hope that they may find the truth and follow the truth. We can also pray for those that are sick and need healing (Matthew 10:8).


Hopefully your eyes are wide open about hell and the Kingdom of Heaven like mine are. It is our duty as Believers to spread the truth to those that are willing to accept it.


Makes sure to read the other posts about sin, baptism, the name of the Most High and many others


Shalom! share this with somebody that needs it.


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