Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Biblical Foundations of Purgatory

The doctrine of the Church on purgatory is based on the Bible, when it is correctly interpreted:

The text of 2 Maccabees 12, 43-46, assumes that there is purification after death.

Judah Maccabee organized a collection among his soldiers… in order to offer a sacrifice for sin… They firmly believed in a valuable reward for those who died in the grace of God… He offered this sacrifice for the dead; so that they were forgiven for their sins.

Protestants do not recognize that this book is part of the Bible, because Luther removed it from his Bible precisely because he knew it referred to purgatory.

However, the New Testament makes a reference to 2 Maccabees. For example, in Hebrews 11, 35:

“Others were racked, not accepting deliverance, that they might find a better resurrection.”

The only ones in the Old Testament to whom this passage is applied are the martyrs of the Maccabees, who were tortured in order to attain resurrection (2 Maccabees 7:11, 14, 23, 29, 36).

Likewise the words of Our Lord:

“And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but he that shall speak against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him neither in this world, nor in the world to come.” (Mt. 12, 32).

“And when thou goest with thy adversary to the prince, whilst thou art in the way, endeavour to be delivered from him: lest perhaps he draw thee to he judge, and the judge deliver thee to the exacter, and the exacter cast thee into prison. I say to thee, thou shalt not go out thence until thou pay the very last mite.” (Lk. 12: 58-59).

In these passages, Jesus talks about a temporal punishment which cannot be Hell nor Heaven.

This conclusion follows from the letter of Saint Paul, 1 Corinthians 3, 12-13:

“For no one can lay a foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay or straw, his workmanship will be evident, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will prove the quality of each man’s work. And they, whose works cannot abide the fire, shall suffer loss; yet they themselves, having built upon the right foundation, shall be saved yet so as by fire; being liable to this punishment, by reason of the wood, hay, and stubble, which was mixed with their building.

Hence, there is a fire after death which, unlike that from Hell, is temporal. The soul that passes through it will be saved. We call this state of purgation “purgatory”.

1 Cor. 15, 29: “Otherwise, what shall they do that are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not again at all? Why are they then baptized for them?”

The word “baptism” is used here as a metaphor to express suffering or penance (Mk. 10, 38-39; Lk. 3, 16; 12, 50). Saint Paul writes about a practice among Christians, which consisted in being “baptized” for the dead. He does not condemn it, on the contrary, he praises it as valid because it shows faith in resurrection.

Compare 1 Cor. 15, 29 with Maccabees 12, 44 and you will see the similarity.