Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory?

By COGwriter

Roman Catholics teach a doctrine about a place they call Purgatory, yet neither the Continuing Church of God nor the Eastern Orthodox do.

One of the reasons there is difference on this matter is that the term "purgatory" itself is not listed in the Bible nor is the Roman Catholic doctrine of it shown in sacred scripture.

Was the teaching about Purgatory something that the apostles and earlier professors of Christ taught or was it something that developed over time?

Does God have have a plan to help those that did not become saints in this life? Is that plan more like purgatory or apococatastasis?

Did Jesus condemn a practice related to Purgatory?

This article will address those questions.

Here are links to two related sermons: Did Early Christians Believe in Purgatory or ? and Purgatory or Apocatastasis?

Purgatory From the Orthodox and the Roman Catholics

Here is some information about its alleged purpose from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

Purgatory (Lat., "purgare", to make clean, to purify) in accordance with Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God's grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions. (Hanna, Edward J. Purgatory. Transcribed by William G. Bilton, Ph.D. Purgatory. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XII. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

But the Bible tells of no such place. Nor is the word 'purgatory' in the Holy Scriptures. Nor is the expression "venial sins" found in the Bible (the word "venial" is not even in the Douay Rheims Bible or 22 others this writer checked). Furthermore, one cannot remove their own sins--that takes the blood of Jesus:

11 ... Christ: 12 Buried with him in baptism, in whom also you are risen again by the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him up from the dead. Douay-Rheims 13 And you, when you were dead in your sins, and the uncircumcision of your flesh; he hath quickened together with him, forgiving you all offences: 14 Blotting out the handwriting of the decree that was against us, which was contrary to us. And he hath taken the same out of the way, fastening it to the cross: (Colossians 2:11d-14, Douay-Rheims)

So, no, you cannot pay the full penalty for your sins. Notice the Jesus forgives you all offenses--not spending time in a place like purgatory.

Now, here are statements from two Eastern Orthodox bishops regarding Purgatory:

Today most if not all Orthodox theologians reject the idea of Purgatory (Ware T. The Orthodox Church. Penguin Books, London, 1997, p.255).

A partial judgment is instituted immediately after our physical death, which places us in an intermediate condition of partial blessedness (for the righteous), or partial suffering (for the unrighteous).

Disavowing a belief in the Western "Purgatory," our Church believes that a change is possible during this intermediate state and stage. The Church, militant and triumphant, is still one, which means that we can still influence one another with our prayers and our saintly (or ungodly) life. This is the reason why we pray for our dead. (Aghiorgoussis, Maximos. The Dogmatic Tradition of the Orthodox Church. Copyright:  © 1990-1996. https://www.goarch.org/-/the-dogmatic-tradition-of-the-orthodox-church?inheritRedirect=true viewed 11/10/20).

The Catholic Encyclopedia states:

Epiphanius (Haer., lxxv, P.G., XLII, col. 513) complains that Aërius (fourth century) taught that prayers for the dead were of no avail. In the Middle Ages, the doctrine of purgatory was rejected by the Albigenses, Waldenses, and Hussites. St. Bernard (Serm. lxvi in Cantic., P.L. CLXXXIII, col. 1098) states that the so-called "Apostolici" denied purgatory and the utility of prayers for the departed. ...

The modern Orthodox Church denies purgatory … (Hanna, Edward J. Purgatory. Transcribed by William G. Bilton, Ph.D. Purgatory. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XII. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, June 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Some who were called Albigenses and Waldenses held to the original faith, and Purgatory was not part of it--the same can be said of the Cathari and the Paulicians (they are all mentioned in the article: The Thyatira Church Era).

Yet, some modern Roman Catholics seem to want to blur the distinction between what was actually believed as the following Roman Catholic bishop-approved writing titled The Roots of Purgatory quoted below demonstrates:

Jews, Catholics, and the Eastern Orthodox have always historically proclaimed the reality of the final purification. It was not until the Protestant Reformation in the sixteenth century that anyone denied this doctrine. As the quotes below from the early Church Fathers show, purgatory has been part of the Christian faith from the very beginning ...

"And after the exhibition, Tryphaena again received her [Thecla]. For her daughter Falconilla had died, and said to her in a dream: ‘Mother, you shall have this stranger Thecla in my place, in order that she may pray concerning me, and that I may be transferred to the place of the righteous’" (Acts of Paul and Thecla [A.D. 160])…

"[T]hat very night, this was shown to me in a vision: I [Perpetua] saw Dinocrates going out from a gloomy place, where also there were several others, and he was parched and very thirsty, with a filthy countenance and pallid color, and the wound on his face which he had when he died. This Dinocrates had been my brother after the flesh, seven years of age, who died miserably with disease. . . . For him I had made my prayer, and between him and me there was a large interval, so that neither of us could approach to the other . . . and [I] knew that my brother was in suffering. But I trusted that my prayer would bring help to his suffering; and I prayed for him every day until we passed over into the prison of the camp, for we were to fight in the camp-show. Then . . . I made my prayer for my brother day and night, groaning and weeping that he might be granted to me. Then, on the day on which we remained in fetters, this was shown to me: I saw that the place which I had formerly observed to be in gloom was now bright; and Dinocrates, with a clean body well clad, was finding refreshment. . . . [And] he went away from the water to play joyously, after the manner of children, and I awoke. Then I understood that he was translated from the place of punishment" (The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity 2:3–4 [A.D. 202]) ... (Catholic Answers. The Roots of Purgatory. NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors. Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004 . IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827 permission to publish this work is hereby granted. +Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004. http://www.catholic.com/library/Roots_of_Purgatory.asp viewed 12/25/05).

While the late second century stories about Perpetua and Thecula allude to something like Purgatory, it should be pointed out that the Orthodox nor the Jews teach the Roman Catholic version of Purgatory.

Furthermore, neither the Acts of Paul and Thecla nor The Martyrdom of Perpetua and Felicity are truly accepted as writings of “early Church Fathers,” but instead the passages above offered as proof for purgatory suggest demonic visions to this writer. Perpetua claimed several visions of the dead in that book--this is contrary to the Christian view that the dead remain in their graves until the resurrection (see What Did Early Christians Understand About the Resurrection?) and immortality (see Did Early Christians Believe that Humans Possessed Immortality?).

No serious scholar that I am aware of believes that the Apostle Paul had involvement with Thecla. And even Roman Catholic scholars have wondered if the Perpetua story was a development of the Montanists, a group that the Church of Rome condemned in the early third century (see Chapman J. Montanists. The Catholic Encyclopedia). Thus, to suggest that “Purgatory” itself was believed even by Roman Catholics from the beginning does not seem to have legitimate support.

Also The Catholic Encyclopediastates:

Thecula ... reputed pupil of the Apostle Paul, who is the heroine of the apocryphal "Acta Pauli et Theclae" (cf. APOCRYPHA). Our knowledge of her is derived exclusively from these Acts, which appeared about 180. ... Notwithstanding the purely legendary character of the entire story, it is not impossible that it is connected with an historical person. (Thecula. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

Doctrine should not be based on a false document (note that it came out over 100 years after the Apostle Paul's death) related to someone who seemingly may not have even existed.

It should also be understood that early Christians did not pray to the dead either (see Did Early Christians Pray for the Dead?).

A nun, Anne Catherine Emmerich, who was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2004, allegedly stated the following on September 27, 1820:

“Last night I prayed a lot for the poor souls and I saw many wonderful things and the unfathomable mercy of God. I saw again the sorrowful English king and I prayed also for him. It was made clear to me how good and evil can be passed on from ancestors to children and how their action, and their will, can be the cause of salvation or damnation. I saw assistance to the souls coming from the richness of the Church and from her members. Many priests were suffering; they were the ones who in life had always aspired to a little place in Paradise only because they distributed Communion and celebrated Masses. Now I saw them in indescribable repentance for their missed works of love and assistance towards the poor souls. At this time they were aspiring, silently, with an unquenchable desire to be able to help and labor. All their indolence is turned into pain of the soul, their calmness into impatience, their inaction into a barrier; all these punishments are the consequence of evil. In Purgatory I saw also and especially the condition of children who had been killed before and right after birth, however it is something that I would not know how to represent, even if I could reveal it, and therefore I leave it out.”

Her vision was not from God. Furthermore, it should be pointed out that Anne Catherine Emmerich allegedly also saw Limbo, a place the Church of Rome has indicated this century does not exist (see also What is Limbo? Is There Such a Place as Limbo? What Happens to Babies When They Die?).

Note: The Church of Rome claimed NOT to rely on any of her "visions" when it looked into her possible Roman Catholic sainthood.

The Purgatorian Gospel?

The following Roman Catholic article claims that ‘Purgatory’ is part of the Gospel!:

The great good news of Purgatory

May 3, 2017

Far from a “cheap grace,” Purgatory is the sensible and just means of becoming fit for the mercy we receive.

By "cheap grace" the above author seems to be pointing to a view held by many Protestants that to be saved one simply does a one time acceptance of Jesus, but without changing one's life. The Continuing Church of God, which is not Protestant, does not accept the inaccurate Protestant views about grace (see also the free online book Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs from Protestantism).

Now back to that Roman Catholic article which continues as follows:

When Jesus walked out of the Tomb, he opened the door to Purgatory. We don’t think about this when belting out “Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia,” at least I don’t, but we should. It’s Gospel, as my Evangelical friends say.

I tried to write a new verse for the hymn. I got as far as “Jesus Christ is risen today, Purgatory is here to stay,” and gave up.

Besides being Gospel, Purgatory attracts people to the Church, too. It supplies a need we all feel, at least when we’re at our best. The Protestant C. S. Lewis saw this at the very end of his life. In his last book, Letters to Malcolm, he says that “Our souls demand Purgatory.”

We want it. We feel the need of it. …

Not cheap grace

Purgatory’s not cheap-grace Christianity. We have our versions of that just as the Evangelicals do, with their get-out-of-jail-free conversions and wipe-the-slate-clean view of grace. The Evangelicals themselves accuse us of using the sacraments mechanically, and that can be fair hit. For that matter, we can think of Purgatory as the place we’ll pay the bill for the indulgences we enjoy now. …

The Purgatorian Gospel

I said that Purgatory was “Gospel” and that it attracts people to the Church. It’s one of the great distinctive Catholic doctrines. You want the Purgatorial cleaning Lewis wrote about, come to the Catholic Church. http://aleteia.org/2017/05/03/the-great-good-news-of-purgatory/

The Roman Catholics are right to challenge the "cheap grace" position of Protestants.

In Acts 5:32, the Bible clearly teaches that God gives His "Holy Spirit ... to those who obey Him," which eliminate the "cheap grace Protestants attaining salvation in this age without true repentance. (For more on the type of lawless grace Protestants sometimes push, check out the article Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of Differs from Protestantism.)

That being said, any Roman Catholic claim that Purgatory is the gospel is not correct. It is not great good news that people will be enduring unbearable suffering for extremely long periods of time to be "purged" of sins--the great good news is the Jesus paid the penalty for our sins (cf. Romans 3:23-24; Hebrews 9:13-14; 10:4).

Jesus spoke of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. Notice the following from a Roman Catholic translation from the first chapter of Mark's Gospel:

14 Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the gospel from God saying, 15 ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the gospel.’

Purgatory, as the Church of Rome teaches it, was not part of the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. The true gospel message includes repentance, hence is NOT cheap grace.

That being said, one of the reasons that Aletia (an online Catholic news and information website) claims Purgatory is “one of the great distinctive Catholic doctrines” is precisely because what the Church of Rome teaches about Purgatory does not come from the Bible--and this doctrine has been fairly unique to them among groups that profess Christ.

Furthermore it should be noted, the Church of Rome still does offer indulgences related to Purgatory (see Vatican offering ‘indulgences’ to reduce time in ‘purgatory’ for following Pope Francis on Twitter, etc.). My wife and I were actually offered an indulgence for each of us if we attended Pope Francis’ Wednesday message in Vatican City several years ago.

The 'Purgatorian Gospel' essentially seems to be that it is fine to sin and not truly repent as God will have you suffer enough in Purgatory to earn your salvation. Although promoters of it deny this, that is the end result of their doctrine and that is a false gospel. The 'Purgatorian Gospel' promotes iniquity as it does not result in proper repentance for sin in this life--which is something Christians must do (cf. Acts 2:38; Hebrews 12:14-17).

The Apostle Paul warned that "the mystery of lawlessness is already at work" in his time (2 Thessalonians 2:7), but that it would worsen (2 Thessalonians 2:6-12). The 'Purgatorian Gospel' is part of that 'mystery of lawlessness' (see also Mystery of Iniquity).

The Bible on the State of the Dead

What does the Bible teach about the state of the dead?

Notice how the New Jerusalem Bible (a Catholic translation) translates the following:

5 The living are at least aware that they are going to die, but the dead know nothing whatever. (Ecclesiastes 9:5, NJB)

If the dead do not know anything, how could they be in Purgatory being purged of sins?

Notice some other scriptures:

5 For in death there is no remembrance of You; In the grave who will give You thanks? (Psalm 6:5, NKJV)

6 For there is no one in death, that is mindful of thee: and who shall confess to thee in hell? (Psalm 6:6, Douay-Rheims)

3 Do not put your trust in princes,
Nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help.
4 His spirit departs, he returns to his earth;
In that very day his plans perish. (Psalm 146:3-4, NKJV)

2 ... Put not your trust in princes:

3 in the children of men, in whom there is no salvation.

4 His spirit shall go forth, and he shall return into his earth: in that day all their thoughts shall perish. (Psalm 145:2-4, Douay-Rheims)

The dead are not thinking or doing things.

Jesus taught that death was like sleep:

11 These things He said, and after that He said to them, "Our friend Lazarus sleeps, but I go that I may wake him up."

12 Then His disciples said, "Lord, if he sleeps he will get well." 13 However, Jesus spoke of his death, but they thought that He was speaking about taking rest in sleep.

14 Then Jesus said to them plainly, "Lazarus is dead" (John 11:11-14).

Notice also that Jesus taught that eternal life was given at a later time, in the age to come:

29 Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come everlasting life (Luke 18:29-30).

(For more on the age to come, check out the article Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation.)

Notice what the Apostle Paul was inspired to write:

16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. (1 Corinthians 15:16-18)

Jesus and the Apostle Paul taught that death was like sleep. Death was not a time that one was being purged of sins.

The Judgment

But also notice the following:

6 And all flesh shall see the salvation of God. (Luke 3:6)

10 And all the ends of the earth shall see The salvation of our God. (Isaiah 52:10)

8 And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins." (1 Peter 4:8)

27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, 28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation. (Hebrews 9:27-28)

13 Mercy triumphs over judgment. (James 2:13)

And one question, is when does this happen? Well, as James and Hebrews indicated, this happens after the judgment.

When is this judgment?

Notice what The Catholic Encyclopedia teaches:

Signs that are to precede the general judgment...

General preaching of the Christian religion ... (Matthew 24:14) ...

The reign of Antichrist ... the Antichrist, who, says St. John (1 John 2:18), is to come in the last days. ...

The Trumpet of Resurrection Several texts in the New Testament make mention of a voice or trumpet which will awaken the dead to resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:15; John 5:28). According to St. Thomas (Supplement 86:2) there is reference in these passages either to the voice or to the apparition of Christ, which will cause the resurrection of the dead.

"The sign of the Son of Man appearing in the heavens" In Matthew 24:30, this is indicated as the sign immediately preceding the appearance of Christ to judge the world. ...

Circumstances accompanying the general judgment ...

Those to be judged

All men, both good and bad, according to the Athanasian Creed, will appear in the judgment to give an account of their deeds.

Object of the judgment

The judgment will embrace all works, good or bad, forgiven as well as unforgiven sins, every idle word (Matthew 12:36), every secret thought (1 Corinthians 4:5). ... The procedure of the judgment is described in Matthew 25:31-46, and in the Apocalypse 20:12. (McHugh, John. "General Judgment." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 8. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910. 20 Nov. 2014 <http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08552a.htm>.)

The judgment of Revelation 20:12 (called Apocalypse 20:12 above), as Roman Catholic sources realize, has not happened yet and does not happen when one dies in this age.

The Great White Throne judgment (Revelation 20:11-12) happens well after the return of Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 4:6, 1 Peter 3:19, 1 Corinthians 3:15

There are some scriptures in the New Testament that some have pointed to as alleged 'proof' of the Purgatory doctrine.

Notice the following question and answer from the old Radio Church of God:

Some churches say I Peter 4:6 proves there is a purgatory. Will you please explain this verse?

If we understand who "the dead" are and when they heard the Gospel preached it is immediately apparent there is no support for the false doctrine of purgatory in this verse.

At the time I Peter was written Christians had been living according to the Gospel they had heard preached (I Pet. 4:1-4). Some had lived out their lives, died and were buried in their graves where they awaited the promised resurrection. Many of these had been martyred — killed — and were dead — because of their religion. Prejudiced pagans had judged and sentenced them according to "the flesh." Nonetheless, the faithful were assured that they would be resurrected to "live according to God in the spirit" (I Cor. 15:16-54).

When did these dead people have the Gospel preached to them? Why, when they were alive, of course!

Notice! The word "preached" is in the past tense. These dead people had the Gospel preached to them while they were yet alive. This verse is NOT saying that dead people hear preaching. The Bible positively tells us that "the dead know not anything..." and "... there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave... If (Eccl. 9:5, 10). Nothing could be plainer! The dead simply can receive no communication whatsoever. The Gospel cannot be preached to a dead man.

"The dead" of I Peter 4:6 may also refer to the spiritually dead. Jesus mentions such people in Luke 9:60. Paul explains further in Ephesians 2:1 where he says that such people are "dead in trespasses and sins." Some people are alive physically but dead spiritually because they reject the Gospel of the Kingdom. The Church has always been commissioned to preach the Gospel as a witness to the world (Matt. 24:14). The spiritually dead do not heed the Word of God and its judgment. They remain in their sin. They prefer to be judged according to the ways men devise in spite of the fact that God wants them to "live according to the spirit."

With this understanding it is clear that this verse simply cannot be made to mean that men remain alive in hell, heaven, or purgatory after death as some try to teach.

I Peter 3:19 is another scripture which some churches twist in an attempt to support the deceptive theory of purgatory. (The Bible Answers Your Questions. Good News magazine, September 1964)

So, now let's look at 1 Peter 3:19 in part of an article by the old Worldwide Church of God:

Jesus Christ was the same God who walked and talked with Moses in the wilderness — the same “I AM” (see Ex. 3:14) who brought the children of Israel out of Egypt. Paul makes this plain. “I want you to know, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the [Red] sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. ... For they drank from the same supernatural Rock which followed them, and the [‘that,’ KJV] Rock was Christ” (I Cor. 10:1-4).

This same Personage in the Godhead presided over the Flood in Noah’s day. Peter gives us the facts: “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: by which also he [Christ] went and preached unto the spirits [demons] in prison; 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” (I Peter 3:18-20, KJV). (Schroeder JR. Who Was Jesus? Good News magazine, November 1975)

The time frame of the preaching was the time of Noah and that flood. Thus, it was not related to purgatory.

One Roman Catholic source I saw referred to 1 Corinthians 3:15 as supporting Purgatory. So, let's look at something the old Worldwide Church of God wrote about it which shows it in context:

We looked in the New Testament. Through Paul, God used the analogy of comparing His Church -- the PEOPLE -- to a building. He wrote:

"For we are laborers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise master builder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire, for the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire" (I Cor. 3:9-15).

This analogy illustrates how we are saved by GRACE, but the degree of REWARD, when saved, will be according to our WORKS. The analogy shows that if a man builds, spiritually with materials compared to gold, silver, precious stones, he is building wisely. Even the best woods are hard woods, that might survive the fire if put out in time. But hay and stubble — the CHEAPER, POOR QUALITY materials would NOT survive, but be burned up. This analogy shows that God's will is that we build with the BEST, FINEST, MOST ENDURING materials. (Armstrong HW. Coworker Letter, August 28, 1972)

Now, here is this from a Roman Catholic translation of the Bible:

9 After all, we do share in God's work; you are God's farm, God's building. 10 By the grace of God which was given to me, I laid the foundations like a trained master-builder, and someone else is building on them. Now each one must be careful how he does the building. 11 For nobody can lay down any other foundation than the one which is there already, namely Jesus Christ. 12 On this foundation, different people may build in gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay or straw 13 but each person's handiwork will be shown for what it is. The Day which dawns in fire will make it clear and the fire itself will test the quality of each person's work.

14 The one whose work stands up to it will be given his wages; 15 the one whose work is burnt down will suffer the loss of it, though he himself will be saved; he will be saved as someone might expect to be saved from a fire. (1 Corinthians 3:9-15, NJB)

The context of 1 Corinthians 3:15 shows it not a discussion about punishment in purgatory. Nor does the Church of Rome teach that anyone is "burnt down" in Purgatory as it teaches that they will ultimately emerge from it.

Did Early Christians or Greco-Roman Church Leaders Teach Purgatory as Commonly Understood?

Purgatory is allegedly a horrible place. Notice something from the National Catholic Register:

November 2, 2018

As we approach this topic, it’s worth remembering the words in Saint Catherine of Genoa’s Treatise on Purgatory, in which the mystic offers a glimmer of hope about how to consider the state of poor souls: “There is no peace to be compared with that of the souls in purgatory, save that of the saints in paradise, and this peace is ever augmented by the inflowing of God into these souls, which increases in proportion as the impediments to it are removed.”

In Saint Catherine’s view, as souls’ attachment to sin is purged, their love for God burns ever stronger. Moreover, every single soul in Purgatory is joyful to some degree because they are certain Heaven awaits.

We pity the poor souls in Purgatory not for their absence of joy and peace, but for their presence of physical pain beyond anything most of us can imagine. As Saint Catherine of Genoa continues, “On the other hand, it is true that they suffer torments which no tongue can describe nor any intelligence comprehend, unless it be revealed by such a special grace as that which God has vouchsafed to me, but which I am unable to explain.” http://www.ncregister.com/blog/johnclark/lets-empty-purgatory

Catherine of Genoa was a 15/16th century mystic--her views were not held by early Christians. Nor was the view that God has dead people having "physical pain beyond anything most of us can imagine."

It is really easy to show that early Christians did not believe in a place called Purgatory.

First of all there is nothing remotely close to it in the Bible.

From a historical perspective, in what has been called "the oldest complete Christian sermon that has survived" (Holmes MW. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, 2nd ed. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 2004, p. 102; note it is also called 2 Clement, but scholars, including Roman Catholic ones, do not believe that Clement wrote it), there is a passage that seems to eliminate the idea of Purgatory:

8:2 For in like manner as the potter, if he be making a vessel, and it get twisted or crushed in his hands, reshapeth it again; but if he have once put it into the fiery oven, he will no longer mend it: yso also let us, while we are in this world, repent with our whole heart of the evil things which we have done in the flesh, that we may be saved by the Lord, while we have yet time for repentance.

8:3 For after that we have departed out of the world, we can no more make confession there, or repent any more.

8:4 Wherefore, brethren, if we will have done the will of the Father and kept the flesh pure and guarded the commandments of the Lord, we will receive life eternal.

19:3 Let us therefore practice righteousness that we may be saved unto the end. Blessed are they that obey these ordinances. Though they may endure affliction for a short time in the world, they will gather the immortal fruit of the resurrection. (2 Clement. Lightfoot J.B. Edited and completed by J.R. Hammer. The Apostolic Fathers: Revised Texts with Short Introductions and English Translations. Macmillan, London, 1891. With any Greek retranslated was based the Greek text as shown in Holmes M.W. The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, 2nd ed. Baker Books, Grand Rapids, 2004, pp. 113,115,127)

While vs. 3 of chapter 8 in the above sermon is not scripture, it does provide evidence that the idea of something like Purgatory was not universally accepted by early professors of Jesus. Christians felt people were dead in their graves until they were resurrected and could not change between death and the resurrection (see What Did Early Christians Understand About the Resurrection?).

Early Christians believed that God had a plan that would offer salvation to everyone not called in the Church age to be given that opportunity after the white throne judgment--this was based upon sacred scripture (see Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation). They believed in a doctrine that I and some others labeled as true apocatastasis. They believed that due to the judgment in Revelation 20:11-12, people would be offered salvation who had not rejected it. And as numerous previous quotes in this article will demonstrate, many objected to purgatory prior to the Protestant Reformation.

The Catholic Encyclopedia itself admits that early Christians did not teach its current concept of its purgatory doctrine, but claims it is needed to pay for unrepentant sins:

The Catholic doctrine of purgatory supposes the fact that some die with smaller faults for which there was no true repentance, and also the fact that the temporal penalty due to sin is at times not wholly paid in this life. ...

Some stress too has been laid upon the objection that the ancient Christians had no clear conception of purgatory, and that they thought that the souls departed remained in uncertainty of salvation to the last day ... There are several passages in the New Testament that point to a process of purification after death. Thus, Jesus Christ declares (Matthew 12:32): "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" ... (Hanna, Purgatory. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

Well, yes, the truth is that early Christians did not teach the painful doctrine of Purgatory, but instead believed that the unsaved could have an opportunity for salvation at the Last Day, and yes, in that way salvation after physical death could be granted (see also the free online book: Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation). Essentially, many of the Eastern Orthodox also believe that--which is part of why they do not accept the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory.

Jesus paid the penalty for our sins (e.g. 1 Corinthians 15:3) and His blood cleanses us from sin (Revelation 1:5)--the Bible does not teach that a place like purgatory does.

And even though he was not part of the true Church of God, notice what the Greco-Roman-Protestant saint Justin wrote:

Justin also stated, "For I choose to follow not men or men's doctrines, but God and the doctrines [delivered] by Him. For if you have fallen in with some who are called Christians, but who do not admit this [truth], and venture to blaspheme the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; who say there is no resurrection of the dead, and that their souls, when they die, are taken to heaven; do not imagine that they are Christians" (Dialogue. Chapter 80).

While those of us in the Continuing Church of God would agree that souls die (Ezekiel 18:4) and are not taken to heaven upon death (Job:14:14; John 3:13), those in the Roman Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant churches would seem to disagree with Justin here. His comments are also opposed to the idea of purgatory.

So what was taught in the second century?

Essentially after resurrection to the White Throne judgment, it was believed that unsaved humans (those who did not become saints in this life) who did not knowingly reject God’s way of life would have 100 hundred years to live (in accordance with Isaiah 65:20) and that nearly all would then accept God’s offer of salvation. There was also nothing resembling All Saint's Day nor All Souls' Day taught by second century Christians, though some apostates may have kept something like them to related pagan practices (see also All Saints' Day, the Day of the Dead, and All Souls' Day).

Irenaeus, most likely learned of this 100 year doctrine from Bishop Polycarp. And although he may not have understood it correctly, Irenaeus (circa 180 A.D.) mentioned that the Gentiles will be called during this hundred year time:

Daniel also says this very thing: "And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of those under the heaven, is given to the saints of the Most High God, whose kingdom is everlasting, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him." And lest the promise named should be understood as referring to this time, it was declared to the prophet: "And come thou, and stand in thy lot at the consummation of the days."

Now, that the promises were not announced to the prophets and the fathers alone, but to the Churches united to these from the nations, whom also the Spirit terms "the islands" (both because they are established in the midst of turbulence, suffer the storm of blasphemies, exist as a harbour of safety to those in peril, and are the refuge of those who love the height [of heaven], and strive to avoid Bythus, that is, the depth of error), Jeremiah thus declares: "Hear the word of the LORD, ye nations, and declare it to the isles afar off; say ye, that the LORD will scatter Israel, He will gather him, and keep him, as one feeding his flock of sheep...

And yet again does he say the same thing: "Behold, I make Jerusalem a rejoicing, and my people [a joy]; for the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. Also there shall not be there any immature [one], nor an old man who does not fulfil his time: for the youth shall be of a hundred years; and the sinner shall die a hundred years old, yet shall be accursed. And they shall build houses, and inhabit them themselves; and shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them themselves, and shall drink wine. And they shall not build, and others inhabit; neither shall they prepare the vineyard, and others eat. For as the days of the tree of life shall be the days of the people in thee; for the works of their hands shall endure." If, however, any shall endeavour to allegorize [prophecies] of this kind, they shall not be found consistent with themselves in all points, and shall be confuted by the teaching of the very expressions (Irenaeus. Adversus haereses, Book V, Chapter 34, Verses 2-3,4; Chapter 35, Verse 1).

Hence Irenaeus clearly taugh a 100 year period.

Even though he did not understand it fully, in the early third century, Origen of Alexandria (who emeritus Pope Benedict XVI praised) also seemed to understand that the Bible taught that salvation would be offered to all.

Here are some quotes from Origen:

... the good Father has not entirely deserted those who have fallen away from Him (Origen. Commentary on the Gospel of John (Book I). Excerpted from Ante-Nicene Fathers, Volume 9. Edited by Allan Menzies, D.D. American Edition, 1896 and 1897. Online Edition Copyright © 2004 by K. Knight).

It is to be borne in mind, however, that certain beings who fell away from that one beginning of which we have spoken, have sunk to such a depth of unworthiness and wickedness as to be deemed altogether undeserving of that training and instruction by which the human race, while in the flesh, are trained and instructed with the assistance of the heavenly powers; and continue, on the contrary, in a state of enmity and opposition to those who are receiving this instruction and teaching. And hence it is that the whole of this mortal life is full of struggles and trials, caused by the opposition and enmity of those who fell from a better condition without at all looking back, and who are called the devil and his angels, and the other orders of evil, which the apostle classed among the opposing powers. But whether any of these orders who act under the government of the devil, and obey his wicked commands, will in a future world be converted to righteousness because of their possessing the faculty of freedom of will, or whether persistent and inveterate wickedness may be changed by the power of habit into nature, is a result which you yourself, reader, may approve of, if neither in these present worlds which are seen and temporal, nor in those which are unseen and are eternal, that portion is to differ wholly from the final unity and fitness of things (Origen. De Principiis, Book I, Chapter 6, verse 3).

... and thus, through the numerous and uncounted orders of progressive beings who are being reconciled to God from a state of enmity, the last enemy is finally reached, who is called death, so that he also may be destroyed, and no longer be an enemy. When, therefore, all rational souls shall have been restored to a condition of this kind, then the nature of this body of ours will undergo a change into the glory of a spiritual body. For as we see it not to be the case with rational natures, that some of them have lived in a condition of degradation owing to their sins, while others have been called to a state of happiness on account of their merits; but as we see those same souls who had formerly been sinful, assisted, after their conversion and reconciliation to God, to a state of happiness (Origen. De Principiis, Book III, Chapter 6, verse 6).

While we in the real Church of God would not word it quite that way, these quotes do show that the idea that God has a plan that will give the unrepentant an opportunity after this present age is not a new concept.

Jerome said that Origen taught a view:

... that which asserts that in the restitution of the world each thing will become what it was originally created; ... that the souls of men will become such as they were originally formed; that is, by the reforming process will become not angels but that which God originally made them, so that the just and the sinners will be on an equality (Jerome. Apology Against Rufinus: Addressed to Pammachius and Marcella from Bethlehem, A.D. 402., Book I, Chapter 27. Online edition Copyright © 2008 by Kevin Knight).

And that is what the term apocatastasis basically means--it means a time of restoration. A time is coming when the earth will be restored so that just like in the Garden of Eden, humans will have an opportunity to accept or reject God’s way of life.

Besides Origen, there were others who wrote that salvation would not be limited to only a few.  Here is some of what bishop Ambrose of Milan wrote in the late fourth century:

Isaiah also, proclaiming the resurrection to the people, says that he is the announcer of the Lord’s message, for we read thus: “For the mouth of the Lord hath spoken, and they shall say in that day.” And what the mouth of the Lord declared that the people should say is set forth later on, where it is written: “Because of Thy fear, O Lord, we have been with child and have brought forth the Spirit of Thy Salvation, which Thou hast poured forth upon the earth. They that inhabit the earth shall fall, they shall rise that are in the graves. For the dew which is from Thee is health for them but the land of the wicked shall perish. Go, O my people, and enter into thy chambers; hide thyself for a little until the Lord’s wrath pass by.” How well did he by the chambers point out the tombs of the dead, in which for a brief space we are hidden, that we may be better able to pass to the judgment of God, which shall try us with the indignation due for our wickednesses. He, then, is alive who is hidden and at rest, as though withdrawing himself from our midst and retiring, lest the misery of this world should entangle him with closer snares, for whom the heavenly oracles affirm by the voices of the prophets that the joy of the resurrection is reserved, and the soundness of their freed bodies procured by the divine deed. And dew is well used as a sign, since by it all vital seeds of the earth are raised to growth. What wonder is it, then, if the dust and ashes also of our failing body grow vigorous by the richness of the heavenly dew, and by the reception of this vital moistening the shapes of our limbs are refashioned and connected again with each other? And the holy prophet Ezekiel teaches and describes with a full exposition how vigour is restored to the dry bones, the senses return, motion is added, and the sinews coming back, the joints of the human body grow strong; how the bones which were very dry are clothed with restored flesh, and the course of the veins and the flow of the blood is covered by the veil of the skin drawn over them. As we read, the reviving multitude of human bodies seems to spring up under the very words of the prophet, and one can see on the widespread plain the new seed shoot forth ...

... this is the privilege not only of a few: “For many shall come from the east and from the west, and the north and the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God,”giving expression to the enjoyment of perpetual rest since the motions of their souls are stilled. We have seen, then, how grave an offence it is not to believe the resurrection; for if we rise not again, then Christ died in vain, then Christ rose not again. For if He rose not for us, He certainly rose not at all, for He had no need to rise for Himself. The universe rose again in Him, the heaven rose again in Him, the earth rose again in Him, for there shall be a new heaven and a new earth (Ambrose of Milan. Book II. On the Belief in the Resurrection, verses 67-69,101-102).

Even though it is not entirely clearly to them how, most of the Orthodox still teach that most may be saved according to some of its current leaders:

What exactly is the condition of souls in the period between death and the Resurrection of the Body at the Last Day? Here Orthodox teaching is not entirely clear ... The majority would be inclined to say that the faithful departed do not suffer at all. Another school holds that perhaps they suffer, but if so, their suffering is of a purificatory but not an expiratory character. Yet a third group would prefer to leave the whole question entirely open: let us avoid detailed formulation about the life after death ... There is no terrorism in the Orthodox doctrine of God ... several of the Fathers have none the less believed that in the end all will be reconciled to God. It is heretical to say that all must be saved, for this is to deny free will; but it is a legitimate hope that all may be saved. Until the Last Day come, we must not despair of anyone's salvation, but must long and pray for the reconciliation of all without exception (Ware, pp. 255,262).

The theory of apokatastasis has unofficially cost Gregory of Nyssa for many centuries recognition as a theologian of the rank of Basil, Gregory of Nazianzos and John Chrysostom, and was one of the reasons Origen was anathematized. Yet in some ways it can also be found in the theology of Maximos the Confessor, a Father of the Church who has often been considered the measure of orthodoxy in doctrinal matters and the summit of Orthodox theology. The ideas of Maximos can be connected to the concept of apokatastasis in three different ways. First, he has written some passages that pertain explicitly on the apokatastasis. Second, some issues examined in his writings can be connected with the apokatastasis, and this association has been drawn by certain scholars, but Maximos refuses to discuss them in detail, in the apophatic expression he borrowed from pseudo-Dionysios, "honoring the truth by silence". Third, Maximos' entire theological system of cosmic salvation and his views on what exactly is restored in the kind of apokatastasis recognized by the Church, can give us a good insight to his views on the possibility of a final restoration of all ...

This kind of restoration presents an interesting point for us: to what extent did Maximos share Gregory's (and Origen's) view of final restoration of all as an eschatological certainty?

First, Maximos seems to compare the restoration of the soul to the resurrection of the body: that would mean that this kind of restoration applies to all and not only to the ones who have progressed sufficiently in the course of virtue. It is an ontological restoration then, something like a consequence of the resurrection of the body. Second, restoration of the souls seems to suggest the annihilation of evil, because the effects of sin are healed. This will be achieved by the expulsion of evil from the souls in the continuation of the ages. Finally, all restored souls will come to know God and see that he is anaitios tês hamartias, not responsible for the existence of sin, which is the same as saying they will know the true nature of good and evil. The "perverted" powers of the soul will then cast off the memories and the effect of evil, and in a way similar to the thought of Gregory of Nyssa, this involves punishment and purification. Maximos leaves the issue there: His restoration account goes as far as to state that every soul will have knowledge of "good things" (agatha – probably the energies of God), but not necessarily participation in them (Andreopoulos A. Eschatology and final restoration (apokatastasis) in Origen, Gregory of Nyssa and Maximos the Confessor. Theandros, An Online Journal of Orthodox Christian Theology and Philosophy. Volume 1, 3, 2004).

The Orthodox leader Maximos died in 662. Thus, though they lack clarity about it, it appears that leaders within the Orthodox Church have held positions close to the genuine Church of God on the idea that salvation will be eventually offered to all, but not accepted by all. And even today, the Orthodox Church seems to believe in some version of restoration, which has sometimes been termed apocatastasis (see also Acts 3:21, which uses the Greek word apokatastasis). 

Now the idea that those who are in in Hades (which while meaning the place of the dead is believed by modern Roman Catholics to include purgatory) could repent was specifically condemned by the Roman Catholic and Orthodox saint Cyprian of Carthage (who spoke Latin) in the third century:

In hades, there is no repentance ... there is no confession in hades.

(Cited in Cleenewerck L. His Broken Body: Understanding and Healing the Schism Between the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches (An Orthodox Perspective). Euclid University Consortium Press, Washington (DC), 2007, p. 352).

Thus, the idea of "purgatory" where sinners could be purged of their sins was not taught even by Greco-Roman church leaders long ago.

Pagans Taught a Type of Purgatory

Alexander Hislop wrote the following:

Chapter IV
Section V
Purgatory and Prayers for the Dead

In every system, therefore, except that of the Bible, the doctrine of a purgatory after death, and prayers for the dead, has always been found to occupy a place. Go wherever we may, in ancient or modern times, we shall find that Paganism leaves hope after death for sinners, who, at the time of their departure, were consciously unfit for the abodes of the blest. For this purpose a middle state has been feigned, in which, by means of purgatorial pains, guilt unremoved in time may in a future world be purged away, and the soul be made meet for final beatitude. In Greece the doctrine of a purgatory was inculcated by the very chief of the philosophers. Thus Plato, speaking of the future judgment of the dead, holds out the hope of final deliverance for all, but maintains that, of "those who are judged," "some" must first "proceed to a subterranean place of judgment, where they shall sustain the punishment they have deserved"; while others, in consequence of a favourable judgment, being elevated at once into a certain celestial place, "shall pass their time in a manner becoming the life they have lived in a human shape." In Pagan Rome, purgatory was equally held up before the minds of men; but there, there seems to have been no hope held out to any of exemption from its pains. Therefore, Virgil, describing its different tortures, thus speaks:

"Nor can the grovelling mind,
In the dark dungeon of the limbs confined,
Assert the native skies, or own its heavenly kind.
Nor death itself can wholly wash their stains;
But long-contracted filth, even in the soul, remains
The relics of inveterate vice they wear,
And spots of sin obscene in every face appear.
For this are various penances enjoined;
And some are hung to bleach upon the wind,
Some plunged in water, others purged in fires,
Till all the dregs are drained, and all the rust expires.
All have their Manes, and those Manes bear.
The few so cleansed to these abodes repair,
And breathe in ample fields the soft Elysian air,
Then are they happy, when by length of time
The scurf is worn away of each committed crime.
No speck is left of their habitual stains,
But the pure ether of the soul remains."

(Hislop A. Two Babylons. 1858. Loizeaux Brothers, Second American edition 1959)

Pagans, like the ancient Greeks and Romans seemed to have had a system eerily like what the Church of Rome ended up with.

Purgatory, for the Church of Rome, Started to Emerge in the Late 4th Century

However, from the late 4th century, controversies developed and parts of Origen’s teachings were questioned. 

Specifically near then, Augustine started to come up with ideas that sound like modern purgatory.  Eventually he and others challenged apocatastasis. Notice that The Catholic Encyclopedia admits that various early leaders taught apocatastasis, that Augustine and others challenged it, and that purification was associated with apocatastasis:

St. Gregory recurs to the same thought of the final annihilation of evil, in his "Oratio catechetica", ch. xxvi; the same comparison of fire which purges gold of its impurities is to be found there; so also shall the power of God purge nature of that which is preternatural, namely, of evil. Such purification will be painful, as is a surgical operation, but the restoration will ultimately be complete. And, when this restoration shall have been accomplished (he eis to archaion apokatastasis ton nyn en kakia keimenon), all creation shall give thanks to God, both the souls which have had no need of purification, and those that shall have needed it ...

The doctrine of the apokatastasis is not, indeed, peculiar to St. Gregory of Nyssa, but is taken from Origen ...

 It was through Origen that the Platonist doctrine of the apokatastasis passed to St. Gregory of Nyssa, and simultaneously to St. Jerome, at least during the time that St. Jerome was an Origenist.

From the moment, however, that anti-Origenism prevailed, the doctrine of the apokatastasis was definitely abandoned. St. Augustine protests more strongly than any other writer against an error so contrary to the doctrine of the necessity of grace ...

We note, further, that the doctrine of the apokatastasis was held in the East, not only by St. Gregory of Nyssa, but also by St. Gregory of Nazianzus as well; "De seipso", 566 (P.G., XXXVII, col. 1010) grace ...

In any case, the doctrine was formally condemned in the first of the famous anathemas pronounced at the Council of Constantinople in 543: Ei tis ten teratode apokatastasis presbeuei anathema esto (Batiffel, Pierre. Transcribed by Elizabeth T. Knuth. Apocatastasis. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Thus it appears that the protests of Augustine eventually led to the condemnation of the doctrine of apocatastasis but the retention of purging/purification within Roman circles.  The Greek churches, however never abandoned apocatastasis nor did they ever adopt the Roman Purgatory.

Yet, concerning Purgatory, a Roman Catholic bishop-approved article claimed:

Fundamentalists may be fond of saying the Catholic Church "invented" the doctrine of purgatory to make money, but they have difficulty saying just when. Most professional anti-Catholics—the ones who make their living attacking "Romanism"--seem to place the blame on Pope Gregory the Great, who reigned from A.D. 590–604 ...

Whenever a date is set for the "invention" of purgatory, you can point to historical evidence to show the doctrine was in existence before that date. Besides, if at some point the doctrine was pulled out of a clerical hat, why does ecclesiastical history record no protest against it?

... where are the records of protests?

They don’t exist. There is no hint at all ...

It is no wonder, then, that those who deny the existence of purgatory tend to touch upon only briefly the history of the belief ... (Catholic Answers. Purgatory. NIHIL OBSTAT: I have concluded that the materials presented in this work are free of doctrinal or moral errors. Bernadeane Carr, STL, Censor Librorum, August 10, 2004. IMPRIMATUR: In accord with 1983 CIC 827 permission to publish this work is hereby granted. +Robert H. Brom, Bishop of San Diego, August 10, 2004, http://www.catholic.com/library/Purgatory.asp  viewed 12/23/07).

History indicates that the above assertions are not quite accurate.

First of all, there seems to be no records of any major protest about the millennial teaching being abandoned by both Jerome and Augustine (probably because by this time most who believed it were not in communion with the Greco-Roman churches), hence having limited records of protest does not prove something did not change (see Did The Early Church Teach Millenarianism?).

Secondly, history records that the Paulicians, Cathari, Albigenses, and Waldenses objected to purgatory. (e.g. Waldensian Treatise on Antichrist ... Purgatory).

Thirdly, history records that there was a Greco-Roman condemnation of at least aspects associated with apocatastasis. Yet at that time, many Roman leaders realized that scripture did indicate that the opportunity for salvation did not clearly end at the first death. 

Fourthly, the Eastern Orthodox claim that the adoption of the purgatory doctrine by the Church of Rome was one of the factors that later led to the “great schism” of 1054 (Mastrantonis G, et al. The Basic Sources of the Teachings of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Greek Orthodox Diocese of America. Accessed 02/20/19).

So, there were objections to the purgatory doctrine.

Notice the following from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

Certain Scriptural texts, e.g., I Cor. xv, 25-28, seem to extend to all rational beings the benefit of the Redemption, and Origen allows himself to be led also by the philosophical principle which he enunciates several times, without ever proving it, that the end is always like the beginning. ... The universal restoration (apokatastasis) follows necessarily from these principles (Prat F. Transcribed by Anthony A. Killeen. Origen and Origenism. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume XI. Published 1911. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, February 1, 1911. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

There are several passages in the New Testament that point to a process of purification after death. Thus, Jesus Christ declares (Matthew 12:32): "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." According to St. Isidore of Seville (Deord. creatur., c. xiv, n. 6) these words prove that in the next life "some sins will be forgiven and purged away by a certain purifying fire." St. Augustine also argues "that some sinners are not forgiven either in this world or in the next would not be truly said unless there were other [sinners] who, though not forgiven in this world, are forgiven in the world to come" (De Civ. Dei, XXI, xxiv). The same interpretation is given by Gregory the Great (Dial., IV, xxxix); St. Bede (commentary on this text); St. Bernard (Sermo lxvi in Cantic., n. 11) and other eminent theological writers (Hanna, Purgatory. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

And if what Irenaeus and Origen taught earlier was not going to be doctrine, then the Romans figured that something needed to fill in. Hence came more discussion of purgatory and of its emergence within Roman pontifical circles.

Anglican priest, Dr. Herbert Luckock wrote:

Purgatorial fire ... The first real authority for the Roman view is Gregory the Great at the close of the 6th century. (Luckock HM. The Intermediate State between Death and Judgment being a Sequel to After Death. Longmans, Green, & Co., London, 1896, pp. 78,79)

Notice more about what Gregory taught:

Gregory the Great speaks of those who after this life "will expiate their faults by purgatorial flames," and he adds "that the pain be more intolerable than any one can suffer in this life" (Ps. 3 poenit., n. 1) (Hanna, Purgatory. The Catholic Encyclopedia). 

Gregory the Great ... says ... "He destroys the salt of the Roman fire, who imagines that all who go to Purgatory will be saved." ...

It is in reference to certain men who had lived "an indifferent pious life," of whom he said, "it was certain that being purged before the judgment day by temporal pains which their spirits suffered, when they had received their bodies they should not be delivered to the punishment of eternal fire." (Luckock, pp. 78,79)

This is quite different than what Origen taught, as Origen taught that somehow people would be purified on earth (which is consistent with the 100 year period referred to in Isaiah 65:20, though Origen seems to refer to Zechariah 5) (Origen. Contra Celsus, Book VI, Chapter 26).

While it is clear that by the seventh century, purgatorial ideas were being taught, the idea was not taught so clearly to alienate the Greeks as they did not separate from the Romans until 1054 A.D. But those associated with the Churches of God quickly saw problems with it.

Not surprisingly, the book Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma states that the Cathari and Waldenses (who preceded the Protestants by centuries) were amongst the earliest who were against the Roman teaching on purgatory:

The reality of purgatory was denied by the Cathari, the Waldenses (Ott L.  Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma. Nihil Obstat: Jeremiah j. O’Sullivan.  Imprimatur: +Cornelius Ep. Corgagiensis ei Ap. Amd. Rossensis, 7 October 1954.  Reprint TAN Books, Rockford (IL), 1974, p. 482).

Since purgatory is not a biblical reality, it would make sense that those with true Church of God would oppose such concepts. Actually, the Waldensians considered purgatory to be a doctrine of Antichrist, and the following appears to be from the 12th century:

"Antichrist is a falsehood, or deceit varnished over with the semblance of truth, and of the righteousness of Christ and his spouse, yet in opposition to the way of truth, righteousness, faith, hope, charity, as well as to moral life. It is not any particular person ordained to any degree, or office, or ministry, but it is a system of falsehood, opposing itself to the truth, covering and adorning itself with a show of beauty and piety, yet very unsuitable to the church of Christ, as by the names, and offices, the Scriptures, and the sacraments, and various other things, may appear. The system of iniquity thus completed with its ministers, great and small, supported by those who are induced to follow it with an evil heart and blind-fold—this is the congregation, which, taken together, comprises what is called Antichrist or Babylon, the fourth beast, the whore, the man of sin, the son of perdition. His ministers are called false prophets, lying teachers, the ministers of darkness, the spirit of error, the apocalyptic whore, the mother of harlots, clouds without water, trees without leaves, twice dead, plucked up by the roots, wandering stars, Balaamites and Egyptians.

"He is termed Antichrist because being disguised under the names of Christ and of his church and faithful members, he oppugns the salvation which Christ wrought out, and which is truly administered in his church—and of which salvation believers participate by faith, hope, and charity. Thus he opposes the truth by the wisdom of this world, by false religion, by counterfeit holiness, by ecclesiastical power, by secular tyranny, and by the riches, honours, dignities, with the pleasures and delicacies of this world. It should therefore be carefully observed, that Antichrist could not come, without a concurrence of all these things, making up a system of hypocrisy and falsehood—these must be, the wise of this world, the religious orders, the pharisees, ministers, and doctors; the secular power, with the people of the world, all mingled together. For although Antichrist was conceived in the times of the apostles, he was then in his infancy, imperfect and unformed, rude, unshapen, and wanting utterance. He then wanted those hypocritical ministers and human ordinances, and the outward show of religious orders which he afterwards obtained. As he was destitute of riches and other endowments necessary to allure to himself ministers for his service, and to enable him to multiply, defend, and protect his adherents, so he also wanted the secular power to force others to forsake the truth and embrace falsehood. But growing up in his members, that is, in his blind and dissembling ministers, and in worldly subjects, he at length arrived at full maturity, when men, whose hearts were set upon this world, blind in the faith, multiplied in the church, and by the union of church and state, got the power of both into their hands.

"Christ never had an enemy like this; so able to pervert the way of truth into falsehood, insomuch that the true church, with her children, is trodden under foot. The worship that belongs alone to God he transfers to Antichrist himself—to the creature, male and female, deceased—to images, carcasses, and relics. The sacrament of the eucharist is converted into an object of adoration, and the worshipping of God alone is prohibited. He robs the Saviour of his merits, and the sufficiency of his grace in justification, regeneration, remission of sins, sanctification, establishment in the faith, and spiritual nourishment; ascribing all these things to his own authority, to a form of words, to his own *works, to the intercession of saints, and to the fire of purgatory. He seduces the people from Christ, drawing off their minds from seeking those blessings in him, by a lively faith in God, in Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Spirit, and teaching his followers to expect them by the *will and pleasure and works of Antichrist. (A Treatise concerning Antichrist, Purgatory, the Invocation of Saints, and the Sacraments" as shown in Jones, William. The history of the Christian church from the birth of Christ to the xviii. century, Volumes 1-2, 3rd edition. R.W. Pomeroy, 1832. Original from Harvard University, Digitized, Feb 6, 2009, pp. 337-340) 

In the thirteenth century, the famed Roman Catholic theologian Thomas Aquinas wrote the following:

Nothing is clearly stated in Scripture about the situation of Purgatory, nor is it possible to offer convincing arguments on this question. It is probable, however, and more in keeping with the statements of holy men and the revelations made to many, that there is a twofold place of Purgatory. One, according to the common law; and thus the place of Purgatory is situated below ... Another place of Purgatory is according to dispensation: and thus sometimes, as we read, some are punished in various places, either that the living may learn, or that the dead may be succored, seeing that their punishment being made known to the living may be mitigated through the prayers of the Church.

Some say, however, that according to the common law the place of Purgatory is where man sins. This does not seem probable, since a man may be punished at the same time for sins committed in various places. And others say that according to the common law they are punished above us, because they are between us and God, as regards their state. But this is of no account, for they are not punished for being above us, but for that which is lowest in them, namely sin (Aquinas T. The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, Appendix II, Article 1. Second and Revised Edition, 1920. Nihil Obstat. F. Innocentius Apap, O.P., S.T.M., Censor. Theol. Imprimatur. Edus. Canonicus Surmont, Vicarius eneralis. Westmonasterii. APPROBATIO ORDINIS Nihil Obstat. F. Raphael Moss, O.P., S.T.L. and F. Leo Moore, O.P., S.T.L. Imprimatur. F. Beda Jarrett, O.P., S.T.L., A.M., Prior Provincialis Angliæ).

Even though it taught purgatory, clearly the Roman Church did not have an absolutely clear position on purgatory in the 13th century. But Aquinas taught that purgatory would be quite painful:

I answer that, In Purgatory there will be a twofold pain; one will be the pain of loss, namely the delay of the divine vision, and the pain of sense, namely punishment by corporeal fire. With regard to both the least pain of Purgatory surpasses the greatest pain of this life ...

Therefore it follows that the pain of Purgatory, both of loss and of sense, surpasses all the pains of this life (Aquinas T. The Summa Theologica of St. Thomas Aquinas, Appendix I, Article 1.).

Consider the following:

10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)

Those works happen when one is living. Suffering, in a claimed place like Purgatory, is not the kind of good works God created humans for.

One Roman Catholic scholar, E. Duffy, felt that in 1300 Pope Boniface VIII enriched the Church of Rome through the granting of a particular indulgence to the masses:

Boniface is a mysterious man, proud, ambitious fierce ... It was Boniface who declared the first Jubilee or Holy Year in 1300, when tens of thousands of pilgrims converged on Rome to gain indulgences, adding enormously to the prestige of the papacy ... (and in the process enriching the Roman basilicas, where the sacristans were said to have had to scoop in pilgrim offerings with rakes). This promise of ‘full and copious pardon’ to all who visited Peter and the Lateran after confessing their sins was the most spectacular exercise of power of the keys since Urban II issued the first Crusade Indulgence ... Boniface ... displayed some of the worst traits of clerical careerism, enriching his relatives at the expense of the Church, and waging a relentless war against family’s traditional rivals (Duffy, Eamon. Saints & Sinners: A History of the Popes. Yale University Press, New Haven (CT), 2002, p. 160).

Indulgences are granted to allegedly reduce time in purgatory. Vatican coffers have received a lot of money from people who give donations to have priests pray for themselves or loved ones to hopefully have less time in Purgatory.

Interestingly, when the Roman Catholic Inquisitor Bishop Bernard Guidonis was disposing of those the Roman Catholics refer to as heretics in the 14th century, he noted that some believed the following:

Again, they say that after Antichrist's death these spiritual individuals will convert the entire world to the faith of Christ; and the whole world will be so good and benign that there will be no malice or sin in people of that period, except perhaps for venial sins in a few of them; and all things will be common as far as use is concerned; and there will be no one who offends anyone else or encourages another to sin. For there will be the greatest love among them, and there will be one flock and one pastor. According to some of them this period and condition will last for one hundred years. Then, as love fails, malice will creep back in and slowly increase until Christ is, as it were, compelled to come in universal judgment because of it (Gui B. From the Inquisitor's Manual of Bernard Gui [d.1331], Chapter 5. Early 14th century, translated in J. H. Robinson, Readings in European History, (Boston: Ginn, 1905).

Thus, the idea that the Church of God long has taught that God would offer salvation to all, as well as the 100 year period (cf. Isaiah 65:20) is apparently documented, not only in the pages of the Bible, but through some of the writings of its enemies.

Also notice the following from The Catholic Encyclopedia:

The doctrine of apokatastasis viewed as a belief in a universal salvation is found among the Anabaptists ... (Batiffel, Pierre. Transcribed by Elizabeth T. Knuth. Apocatastasis. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume I. Published 1907. New York: Robert Appleton Company. Nihil Obstat, March 1, 1907. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York).

Universal salvation, it should be pointed out in this context, is not that God will save everyone, but that God will truly offer salvation to everyone who ever lived (see Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost in an age to come? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God’s plan of salvation). 

Partially because of objections from the Protestant reformers, the Roman Catholics called together the Council of Trent in the mid-16th century, to define certain doctrines. Here is how it defined the Purgatory doctrine:

“Whereas the Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Ghost, has from the Sacred Scriptures and the ancient tradition of the Fathers taught in Councils and very recently in this Ecumenical synod (Sess. VI, cap. XXX; Sess. XXII cap.ii, iii) that there is a purgatory, and that the souls therein are helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but principally by the acceptable Sacrifice of the Altar; the Holy Synod enjoins on the Bishops that they diligently endeavor to have the sound doctrine of the Fathers in Councils regarding purgatory everywhere taught and preached, held and believed by the faithful” (Denzinger, "Enchiridon", 983) (Hanna. Purgatory. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

The more modern Catechism of the Catholic Church, while claiming it had roots in tradition, admits that purgatory was not clearly defined until to councils in the Middle Ages. Notice what it teaches:

The Church gives the name Purgatory to this final purification of the elect ... The Church formulated her doctrine of faith on Purgatory especially at the Councils of Florence and Trent ... This teaching is also based on ... Sacred Scripture ... Maccabeus ...

The Church also commends almsgiving, indulgences, and works of penance on behalf of the dead: Let us help and commemorate them ... Let us not hesitate to help those that have died ... (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1031,1032, p. 291).

It should be noted that the Church of Rome ties Purgatory in with a holiday they have called All Soul's Day (see also All Saints Day, the Day of the Dead, and All Soul's Day).


Neither the terms "purgatory" nor "indulgences" are found in the Bible. But they are doctrines that the Church of Rome has often tied together.

Notice the following:

Why Catholic Indulgences Are Making a Comeback
TIME - Feb 22, 2009

It sounds too good to be true. Now, for a limited time — the year of St. Paul, to be specific, which ends in June — say a prayer, pop by a designated church and qualify for an indulgence that deducts time from your scorching sojourn in the cleansing fires of purgatory.

Indulgences (no relation here to bubble baths or truffles) have been part of Catholic doctrine since the Crusades. When the Church offered them for sale in the 1500’s -- call it mercy for money -- religious reformer Martin Luther protested ...

The pardons have fallen by the wayside in the past few decades, but they’re being revived in conjunction with a new emphasis on the importance of charity in Christian life. Catholicism, with 67 million followers in the U.S., is big on formulaic repetition of the Hail Mary and Our Father variety. But the Vatican is starting to move away from that and toward, according to the church’s Manual of Indulgences, a “greater zeal for the exercise of charity.”

... At the core of indulgences is sin, which can lead to either eternal punishment ... or time spent in purgatory, a place of suffering where imperfections are scrubbed away in preparation for entering heaven. Confession erases eternal punishment, but temporal punishment remains. Plenary, or full, indulgences are the equivalent of a get-out-of-purgatory-free card. Partial indulgences simply shorten your stay ...

Indulgences are a handy marketing tool for the Church, a way of encouraging people to amp up their spiritual life. But figuring out exactly what they are and how they work can be confusing. “It brings people who aren’t Catholic up short,” said David Steinmetz, a professor of the history of Christianity at Duke Divinity School.

The rules can confound even believers. William Damkoehler, an actor from Rhode Island, learned about indulgences as a kid in Catholic school. As an adult, he’s bewildered by them. “It seems like the Church is trying to get business back by offering rebates,” he says.

The essence of plenary, or complete, indulgences is tricky to nail down. They’re granted if you meet specific criteria: go to confession, receive communion, pray for the Pope, visit a particular shrine. How do you know you actually got an indulgence? Faith. http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1881152,00.html

However, precisely when the doctrine of indulgences came about is not clear. It seems to have started to come about in the 7th or later centuries:

In a later period (eighth century to twelfth) it became customary to permit the substitution of some lighter penance for that which the canons prescribed. Thus the Penitential of Egbert, Archbishop of York, declares (XIII, 11):

"For him who can comply with what the penitential prescribes, well and good; for him who cannot, we give counsel of God's mercy. Instead of one day on bread and water let him sing fifty psalms on his knees or seventy psalms without genuflecing ..." ...

The practice of substituting the recitation of psalms or the giving of alms for a portion of the fast is also sanctioned in the Irish Synod of 807, which says (c. xxiv) that the fast of the second day of the week may be "redeemed" by singing one psalter or by giving one denarius to a poor person. Here we have the beginning of the so-called "redemptions" which soon passed into general usage. Among other forms of commutation were pilgrimages to well-known shrines such as that at St. Albans in England or at Compostela in Spain. But the most important place of pilgrimage was Rome. According to Bede (674-735) the "visitatio liminum", or visit to the tomb of the Apostles, was even then regarded as a good work of great efficacy (Hist. Eccl., IV, 23). At first the pilgrims came simply to venerate the relics of the Apostles and martyrs; but in course of time their chief purpose was to gain the indulgences granted by the pope and attached especially to the Stations. Jerusalem, too, had long been the goal of these pious journeys, and the reports which the pilgrims gave of their treatment by the infidels finally brought about the Crusades. At the Council of Clermont (1095) the First Crusade was organized, and it was decreed (can. ii):

"Whoever, out of pure devotion and not for the purpose of gaining honor or money, shall go to Jerusalem to liberate the Church of God, let that journey be counted in lieu of all penance".

Similar indulgences were granted throughout the five centuries following (Amort, op. cit., 46 sq.), the object being to encourage these expeditions which involved so much hardship and yet were of such great importance for Christendom and civilization...

On the one hand there was the danger that the payment might be regarded as the price of the indulgence, and that those who sought to gain it might lose sight of the more important conditions. On the other hand, those who granted indulgences might be tempted to make them a means of raising money: and, even where the rulers of the Church were free from blame in this matter, there was room for corruption in their officials and agents, or among the popular preachers of indulgences. This class has happily disappeared, but the type has been preserved in Chaucer's "Pardoner", with his bogus relics and indulgences. While it cannot be denied that these abuses were widespread, it should also be noted that, even when corruption was at its worst, these spiritual grants were being properly used by sincere Christians, who sought them in the right spirit, and by priests and preachers, who took care to insist on the need of true repentance. It is therefore not difficult to understand why the Church, instead of abolishing the practice of indulgences, aimed rather at strengthening it by eliminating the evil elements ...

One of the worst abuses was that of inventing or falsifying grants of indulgence. Previous to the Reformation, such practices abounded and called out severe pronouncements by ecclesiastical authority, especially by the Fourth Council of the Lateran (1215) and that of Vienne (1311). After the Council of Trent the most important measure taken to prevent such frauds was the establishment of the Congregation of Indulgences. A special commission of cardinals served under Clement VIII and Paul V, regulating all matters pertaining to indulgences. The Congregation of Indulgences was definitively established by Clement IX in 1669 and reorganized by Clement XI in 1710. (Kent, William. "Indulgences." The Catholic Encyclopedia. Vol. 7. Nihil Obstat. June 1, 1910. Remy Lafort, S.T.D., Censor. Imprimatur. +John Cardinal Farley, Archbishop of New York. New York: Robert Appleton Company, 1910)

But while the crusades are given credit for the need for indulgences, it needs to be understood that original Christians would not participate in carnal warfare (Military Service and the Churches of God: Do Real Christians Participate in Carnal Warfare?), hence it was only those that changed from the original Christian teachings who would be interested in other changes, like indulgences.

Let me add here that in October 2016, during two tours of Amsterdam, my wife and I saw the 'Oude Kerk' (Old Church). It was expensive to build (it began in 1213) and we were told that it was funded by sailors who bought 'indulgences' from Roman Catholic priests in order to excuse drunkenness and prostitution that the sailors intended to engage in. God never sold permission to sin, but the Church of Rome has claimed to--consider that the Apostle Peter stated to Simon Magus, "Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money!' (Acts 8:20). But that is actually part of what Purgatory has sometimes been about.

The following, which has to do with buying indulgences and paying to get sins remitted out of purgatory, was put forth by is the early 16th century Roman Catholic Cardinal Albert of Mainz:

The first grace is the complete remission of all sins, and nothing greater than this can be named, since sinful man, deprived of the grace of God, obtains complete remisson by these means and once more enjoys God's grace, moreover, through this remission of sins the punshment which one is obliged to undergo in purgatory on account of the affront to the Divine Magesty is all remitted, and the pains of purgatory completely blotted out. And although nothing is precious enough to be given in exchange for such a grace--since it is a free gift of God and grace is beyond price--yet in order that Christian believers may be the more easily induced to procure the same, we establish the following rules, to wit:

In the first place, every one who is contrite in heart, and has made oral confession, shall visit at least the seven churches indicated for this purpose, to wit, those in which the papal arms are displayed, and in each church shall say five Paternosters and five Ave Marias in honour of the five wounds of our Lord Jesus Christ, whereby our salvation is won, or one Miserere, which psalm is particularly well adapted for obtaining forgiveness of sins ...

The method of contributing to the chest, for the construction of the said fabric of the Chief of the Apostles.

Firstly the penitentiaries and confessors, after they have explained to those making confession the greatness of this kind of plenary remission and of these privileges, shall ask them for how large a contribution, in money or in other temporal goods, they would wish, in good conscience, to be spared this method of full remission and privileges; and this is to be done that they may be more easily induced to contribute. And because the conditions of men, and their occupations, are so various and manifold, and we cannot consider and assess them individually, we have therefore decided that the rates can be determined thus, according to recognized classifications. ...

The fourth important grace is for those souls which are in purgatory, and is the complete remission of all sins, which remission the pope brings to pass through this intercession, to the advantage of said souls, in this wise: that the same contribution shall be placed in the chest by a living person as one would make for himself. It is our wish, however, that our subcommissioners should modify the regulations regarding contributions of this kind which are given for the dead, and that they should use their judgement in all other cases where, in their opinion, modifications are desirable.

It is, furthermore, not necessary that the persons who place their contributions in the chest for the dead should be contrite in heart and have orally confessed, since this grace is based simply on the state of grace in which the dead departed, and on the contribution of the living, as is evidence from the text of the bull. Moreover preachers shall exert themselves to make this grace more widely known, since through the same, help will surely come to departed souls, and the construction of the church of St. Peter will be abundantly promoted at the same time. (Albert of Mainz, Cardinal. Evangelii saeculo XVI renovati I. Cited in Bettenson H, Maunder C. Documents of the Christian Church, 3rd edition. Oxford Press, 1999, pp. 203-205)

Notice that monetary inducements were expected, despite the admission that God's grace is supposed to be a free gift.

Furthermore, consider three translations of somethings Peter was inspired to write:

18 With their high-sounding but empty talk they tempt back people who have scarcely escaped from those who live in error, by playing on the disordered desires of their human nature and by debaucheries. 19 They may promise freedom but are themselves slaves to corruption; because if anyone lets himself be dominated by anything, then he is a slave to it; (2 Peter 2:18-19, NJB)

18. For they speak bombastic words of vanity, enticing others through the lusts of the flesh by granting indulgences to sin, and ensnaring those who had indeed escaped from those who live in deception. 19. While promising them freedom, they themselves are actually slaves of corruption because by whatever anyone is overcome, he is also held in bondage. (2 Peter 2:18-19, AFV)

18 For, speaking proud words of vanity, they allure by the desires of fleshly riotousness, those who for a little while escape, such as converse in error: 19 Promising them liberty, whereas they themselves are the slaves of corruption. For by whom a man is overcome, of the same also he is the slave. (2 Peter 2:18-19, DRB)

Indulgences are wrong and encourage sin--churches should never encourage sin.

Perhaps it should be mentioned that although Protestant reformers like Martin Luther objected to both purgatory and indulgences, they failed to look at early Christianity as they condemned original practices such as the age to come doctrine associated with apocatastasis (see Hope of Salvation: How the Continuing Church of God Differs from Protestantism).

And that is a dilemna for many in Western societies. They realize that the Church of Rome has added many non-biblical practices to its faith, while also realizing that what the Protestant reformers put forth was also not original Christianity. But, those who are willing to look into their Bibles and history will realize that the true Church of God has existed from the time of Christ, did not add additional doctrines such as indulgences, and did not take away original doctrines such as the Greco-Romans have.

Now, it may be of interest to note that many consider that a certain appeal to the 'trinity' of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph is so important that it will result in the granting of indulgences. Notice:

In a Card, or Fly-leaf, issued by the Popish priests of Sunderland, now lying before me, with the heading "Paschal Duty, St. Mary's Church, Bishopwearmouth, 1859," the following is the 4th admonition given to the "Dear Christians" to whom it is addressed:

"4. And never forget the acts of a good Christian, recommended to you so often during the renewal of the Mission. Blessed be Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I give you my heart, my life, and my soul. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, assist me always; and in my last agony, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, receive my last breath. Amen."

To induce the adherents of Rome to perform this "act of a good Christian," a considerable bribe is held out. In p. 30 of Furniss' Manual above referred to, under the head "Rule of Life," the following passage occurs: "In the morning, before you get up, make the sign of the cross, and say, Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, I give you my heart and my soul. (Each time you say this prayer, you get an indulgence of 100 days, which you can give to the souls in Purgatory)!" I must add that the title of Furniss' book, as given above, is the title of Mr. Smyth's copy. The title of the copy in my possession is "What every Christian must Know." London: Richardson & Son, 147 Strand. Both copies alike have the blasphemous words given in the text, and both have the "Imprimatur" of "Paulus Cullen." (Hislop A. Two Babylons. 1858. Loizeaux Brothers, 2nd American edition 1959, p. 89)

Christians are not to consider that Joseph or Mary are any type of mediator. The Bible is clear that there is just one Mediator--and that is Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5).

Specifically in the 21st century, the Church of Rome offers indulgences to eliminate time in purgatory to people see the pope or even who will follow him on social media if they will also go to confession and mass once (see Vatican offering ‘indulgences’ to reduce time in ‘purgatory’ for following Pope Francis on Twitter, etc.).

However, it has been claimed that Pope Francis does not believe in purgatory:

Christians asking is the pope still Catholic?

Is the pope Catholic?

It’s not a punch line.

It’s a question being asked about the current head of the Roman Catholic Church, Francis, who critics believe is showing signs of abandoning fundamental Catholic doctrines - including the existence of hell.

In a recent address, Pope Francis declared “everything will be saved” upon Christ’s return.

“The thought that at the end of our history there will be merciful Jesus suffices in order to have faith and not to curse life,” the pope said. “Everything will be saved. Everything.”

That would suggest the church is opening up to “universalism,” the doctrine that everyone will ultimately be given salvation, according to Eugenio Scalfari, founder of the Italian newspaper la Repubblica.

Scalfari, a major Italian journalistic and cultural influence, believes Francis has “abolished the places where souls were supposed to go after death: hell, purgatory, heaven.”

Instead, the souls dominated by evil will “cease to exist.” The pope has also been accused of even warping the words of Scripture to make God appear less judgmental. ...

Pastor Carl Gallups … agrees with Catholic dissidents that the pope has thrown the Catholic Church into confusion.

“Thus far, Pope Francis appears to have thrown the Catholic Church into further confusion since his reign. We are undoubtedly living in profoundly prophetic times. How people can miss this truth, right before our eyes every day, is beyond comprehension.” http://www.wnd.com/2017/11/christians-asking-is-the-pope-still-catholic/

I suspect that the pontiff's position is that while people will be purged that the purging ends when Jesus returns as Pope Francis likely would not totally teach against purgatory's existence.

(As far as NOT going to heaven upon death, that was the position of early Christians as well as others that professed Christ like Justin Martyr, see Did Early Christians Teach They Were Going to Heaven?)

Notice also the following from Catholic forums. First from Monica1234 on March 22, 2010 under the heading Pay for someone to get out of Purgatory?:

I'm a returning Catholic discussing my choice with my evangelical pastor. One of his arguments against Catholicism is his experience at his mother-in-law's funeral. According to him, people there were asked to give money to help her get out of Purgatory sooner. I don't know the context in which this was asked, but I'm hoping he misunderstood it. Is it actually true that Catholics believe you can pay money to get someone out of Purgatory? (http://forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=439523 viewed 08/26/16)

Here is the posted response from Napoli426:

No. You cannot pay money to help someone get out of purgatory.

You are reffering to an indulgence.

Read this:

What is an indulgence?

"An indulgence is a remission before God of the temporal punishment due to sins whose guilt has already been forgiven, which the faithful Christian who is duly disposed gains under certain prescribed conditions through the action of the Church which, as the minister of redemption, dispenses and applies with authority the treasury of the satisfactions of Christ and the saints."81

"An indulgence is partial or plenary according as it removes either part or all of the temporal punishment due to sin."82 The faithful can gain indulgences for themselves or apply them to the dead.83

If you have a Mass offered for someone. ... it is custom to give a stipend (5 or 10 dollars). ... if you cannot pay. ... you are not refused.

Hope that helps.


By removing the plenary penalty for money, that is essentially paying to get someone out of purgatory quicker. Furthermore, yes, the Church of Rome will do a free mass. However, for those with assets, it will also promise to have more prayers, etc. to 'speed the process of purgatory' up.

Here is something from another Roman Catholic source:


All of us would like very much to go straight to Heaven when we die. But let’s face it; the chances are slim that our souls will be in a perfect state of grace at the moment of our death. It is very likely that we will need to be purified before we can enter into the Heavenly Kingdom. We will probably have some Venial Sins on our soul or possibly some unpaid debt (Temporal Punishment) at the moment of our death. ...


Definition of Indulgences:

An indulgence is the lessening, in the eyes of God, of the Temporal Punishment due to sins that have already been forgiven.

An Explanation of Indulgences:

There are two consequences for every sin we commit. One is Guilt and the other is Temporal Punishment. When we confess a sin and are sorry for it, God forgives the guilt of that sin. We are no longer guilty. However, we still owe a debt for that sin. We are still required to repair the damage that sin caused in the world. We are therefore required to make reparation for that sin. This debt that we owe is called Temporal Punishment.

Indulgences are gifts or pardons that the Church gives to us in order to lessen the Temporal Punishment that we owe in order to make up for the sins we have committed. ...

Indulgences Granted to Those in Purgatory:

Indulgences can be obtained for yourself or you can obtain them for someone who is in Purgatory. Any Indulgence can be given to those in Purgatory, but there is a Plenary and Partial Indulgence that can only be applied to those in Purgatory:

Plenary Indulgence only for those in Purgatory: On any or each day from November 1st to the 8th devoutly visit a cemetery and pray for the departed. Partial Indulgence: Visit a cemetery and pray for the deceased any day of the year. (Purgatory and Indulgences. Holy Spirit Catholic Church, Huntsville, Alabama. http://holyspirithsv.com/?page_id=276 accessed 09/03/16)

So, yes, essentially the Church of Rome endorses the view that giving money reduces time in 'purpagtory.' This has long been its practice.

Something Like Indulgences and Praying Out of Purgatory Was Condemned by Plato, Isaiah, and Jesus

In the fourth century B.C., it appears that Plato condemned as frauds leaders that seemed to teach that money could be used to by favor from the gods. Notice what he wrote in his famous work Republic:

And there are quacks and soothsayers who flock to the rich man's doors, and try to persuade him that they have a power at command, which they procure from heaven ... that men may be absolved and purified from crimes, both while they are still alive and even after their decease, by means of certain sacrifices and pleasurable amusements which they call mysteries: which deliver us from the torments of the other world, while the neglect of them is punished by an awful doom (Plato. Republic. Classics of World Literature Wordsworth Classics of World Literature Series. pp. 44,45).

In the Church of Rome, long-robed priests come to the families of the departed and often ask for money to attempt to pray the souls of the deceased out of purgatory. Some widows give a lot for this. Yet, notice that Jesus even denounced religious leaders of His day for doing something like this:

38 In his teaching he said, 'Beware of the scribes who like to walk about in long robes, to be greeted respectfully in the market squares, 39 to take the front seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets; 40 these are the men who devour the property of widows and for show offer long prayers. The more severe will be the sentence they receive.' (Mark 12:38-39, NJB)

46 'Beware of the scribes who like to walk about in long robes and love to be greeted respectfully in the market squares, to take the front seats in the synagogues and the places of honour at banquets, 47 who devour the property of widows, and for show offer long prayers. The more severe will be the sentence they receive.' (Luke 20:46-47, NJB)

So, twice in Roman Catholic approved translations of the Bible, having religious leaders in distinctive long-robes go to get money from widows is condemned. Thus, it appears that the practice of priests trying to get money from widows related to 'purgatory' would also seem to be being specifically condemned by Jesus.

Furthermore, God inspired Isaiah to write the following about a false church involved with mysticism:

5 "Sit in silence, and go into darkness, O daughter of the Chaldeans; For you shall no longer be called The Lady of Kingdoms. 6 I was angry with My people; I have profaned My inheritance, And given them into your hand. You showed them no mercy; On the elderly you laid your yoke very heavily. (Isaiah 47:5-6)

Roman Catholic practices related to pressuring the elderly to 'donate' for 'indulgences' related to 'purgatory' are such an improper heavy yoke.

New Testament Scriptures

The Catholic Encyclopedia has the following in its article on purgatory:

New Testament

There are several passages in the New Testament that point to a process of purification after death. Thus, Jesus Christ declares (Matthew 12:32): "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." ...

St. Augustine also argues "that some sinners are not forgiven either in this world or in the next would not be truly said unless there were other [sinners] who, though not forgiven in this world, are forgiven in the world to come" (City of God XXI.24). The same interpretation is given by Gregory the Great (Dial., IV, xxxix); St. Bede (commentary on this text); St. Bernard (Sermo lxvi in Cantic., n. 11) and other eminent theological writers.

A further argument is supplied by St. Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15:

"For other foundation no man can lay, but that which is laid; which is Christ Jesus. Now if any man build upon this foundation, gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay stubble: Every man's work shall be manifest; for the day of the Lord shall declare it, because it shall be revealed in fire; and the fire shall try every man's work, of what sort it is. If any man's work abide, which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man's work burn, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved, yet so as by fire."

While this passage presents considerable difficulty, it is regarded by many of the Fathers and theologians as evidence for the existence of an intermediate state in which the dross of lighter transgressions will be burnt away, and the soul thus purified will be saved. (Purgatory, Catholic Encyclopedia)

Yet, nothing in the above proves the existence of Purgatory. However, it is consistent with the view that God can save people after death who have not committed the unpardonable sin (see also What is the Unpardonable Sin?).

The Bible teaches that for those not in the first resurrection, that they will be raised and judged after the second resurrection:

4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. 5 But the rest of the dead did not live again until the thousand years were finished. This is the first resurrection. (Revelation 20:4-6)

11 Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. 12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. (Revelation 20:11-12)

This period of judgment looks to last 100 years per Isaiah 65:20. Commentary in the Douay-Rheims Bible ties Isaiah 65:17 in with the "General Resurrection" which implies that the Church of Rome may see a post resurrection aspect to Isaiah 65:20--and that verse . Perhaps it should be noted that an SDA writer teaches that the new heavens and new earth in Isaiah 65:17 is not to be tied to a similar statement in Revelation 21:1 as it believes this and verse 20 are referring to a different period (Ronquillo EA. BACHELOR OF THEOLOGY THESIS: An Interpretation of the phrase: "For the Child shall die a hundred years old" in Isaiah 65:20. c. 2011)--and he is right about that.

More on what the Old and New Testament teaches on what happens to the unsaved after death is found in the free online booklet: Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God's plan of salvation.

Concluding Comments on Purgatory

The Bible talks about a 100 year period. This was from the Old Testament, taught by Irenaeus in the second century, and taught by Church of God Christians later.

Going back to the earliest sources, we see that the early Christian church did not teach the doctrine of purgatory, that apocatastasis was taught in early times, that in the late 4th century apocatastasis was questioned and something like purgatory proposed and refined in later centuries by the Roman Church.

Again, let's look at some of what is admitted by even The Catholic Encyclopedia:

Some stress too has been laid upon the objection that the ancient Christians had no clear conception of purgatory ... There are several passages in the New Testament that point to a process of purification after death. Thus, Jesus Christ declares (Matthew 12:32): "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"...(Hanna, Purgatory. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

Purgatory was NOT a belief of the original catholic church (for even more on the original beliefs, check out our free online book: Beliefs of the Original Catholic Church: Could a remnant group have continuing apostolic succession?).

The Catholic Encyclopedia also teaches:

St. Augustine also argues "that some sinners are not forgiven either in this world or in the next would not be truly said unless there were other [sinners] who, though not forgiven in this world, are forgiven in the world to come" (City of God XXI.24). The same interpretation is given by Gregory the Great (Dial., IV, xxxix). (Hanna, Purgatory. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

St. Gregory recurs to the same thought of the final annihilation of evil, in his "Oratio catechetica", ch. xxvi; the same comparison of fire which purges gold of its impurities is to be found there; so also shall the power of God purge nature of that which is preternatural, namely, of evil. Such purification will be painful, as is a surgical operation, but the restoration will ultimately be complete. And, when this restoration shall have been accomplished (he eis to archaion apokatastasis ton nyn en kakia keimenon), all creation shall give thanks to God, both the souls which have had no need of purification, and those that shall have needed it (Hanna, Purgatory. The Catholic Encyclopedia).

From the moment, however, that anti-Origenism prevailed, the doctrine of the apokatastasis was definitely abandoned. St. Augustine protests more strongly than any other writer against an error so contrary to the doctrine of the necessity of grace ... (Batiffel, Apocatastassis. The Catholic Encyclopedia).
It is true that there are some similarities between apocatastasis and purgatory. Both teachings indicate that for those that are not saints now, but who have not knowingly rejected the real truth of God, that there is some type of opportunity for salvation. However, the Roman concept is one of major punishment theoretically last thousands of years, while the apocatastasis teaching shows a more positive opportunity for salvation--and a period of 100 years. The Bible itself clearly teaches an age to come where salvation will be available (see the free online book, Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God's plan of salvation). 

History suggests that apocatastasis was condemned in the mid-6th century, while something that resembles modern concepts of purgatory were being pronounced by the Roman Bishop Pope Gregory I around 600 A.D.

History also shows that early groups with some ties to the Church of God condemned the idea of purgatory, that the Romans partially base their belief of a book that most Jews/Protestants/COG members do not consider to be scriptural, and that the Romans re-defined the purgatory doctrine in the mid-16th century. Perhaps I should add here that the passage in Maccabees referred to by many Romans as "proof" of purgatory is not specifically teaching purgatory, but teaches that prayers could be made for the dead.

Interestingly, we also see that the Roman Church officially teaches that giving money (almsgiving) on the behalf of the dead is good--and supposedly can reduce the time suffering in their Purgatory.

Jesus taught that it was very hard “for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God” (Mark 10:25):

23 Then Jesus looked around and said to His disciples, "How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!" 24 And the disciples were astonished at His words. But Jesus answered again and said to them, "Children, how hard it is for those who trust in riches to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

26 And they were greatly astonished, saying among themselves, "Who then can be saved?"

27 But Jesus looked at them and said, "With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible." (Mark 10:23-27)

Yet, the Roman Church indicates that giving money on behalf of the dead supposedly helps them get out of Purgatory and into heaven quicker--and much quicker if a lot is given. Thus if the Roman position is true, it looks to contradict Jesus’ teaching, as it would seem to be easier for a rich man/woman to get into heaven than a poor one who could not have as much almsgiving on his/her behalf.

The fact is that neither the Greeks (the Orthodox) nor the true Church of God ever adopted Purgatory, nor fully abandoned the teaching of apocatastasis. Purgatory as the Romans teach it, clearly was not an original part of "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints " (Jude 3).

History shows that pagans taught something like Purgatory.

The original true Church of God has never taught the doctrine of Purgatory, but has instead taught the apocatastasis’ teaching that salvation would be offered to all. 

We in the Continuing Church of God believe:

20 Our God is the God of salvation (Psalm 68:20).

In the 21st century, the Continuing Church of God continues to teach against Purgatory and does promote the apocatastasis’ teaching that salvation would be offered to all who ever lived (for more information on this important topic, please see the free online book titled Universal OFFER of Salvation, Apokatastasis: Can God save the lost? Hundreds of scriptures reveal God's plan of salvation).

Here are links to two related sermons: Did Early Christians Believe in Purgatory or ? and Purgatory or Apocatastasis?

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Thiel B. Ph.D. Did the Early Church Teach Purgatory? www.cogwriter.com/purgatory.htm (c) 2008 2009 2010 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017/2018/2020 /2023 0422

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