Does purgatory have a prayer with Protestants?

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Illustrations to Dante's "Divine Comedy," object 44 (Butlin 812-42) The Baffled Devils Fighting.

Photo courtesy of William Blake [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Illustrations to Dante's "Divine Comedy," object 44 (Butlin 812-42) The Baffled Devils Fighting.

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(RNS) A reworked version of purgatory is something that has intrigued some Protestants, and it seems to have won over more than a few.

  • Fran

    There is no such thing as “purgatory” since it is based on tradition and not Scripture.

    The soul does not survive the death of the body. As Ezekiel 18:4 brings out, “the soul that sinneth, the same shall die.”

    James 5:20 brings out: “Anyone who can bring back a sinner from the wrong way that he has taken will be saving a soul from death and covering up a great number of sins.”

    Further punishment for sin is not exacted after one’s death because Romans 6:7 states: “A man who is dead has been freed from sin.”

    Ecclesiastes 9:5,10 confirms that “The living know at least that they will die, but the dead know nothing. All that your hand finds to do, do with your very power, for there is no work nor devising nor wisdom in Sheol (the grave), the place to which you are going.”

    According to the Bible, we can receive purification from sins while we are alive through the ransom sacrifice of Jesus and asking for forgiveness from God in the name of his son, Jesus, who is our mediator. (1 Timothy 2:5).

    “Jesus Christ … loves us and has washed away our sins with his blood.” (Revelation 1:5)

  • Fmr Cath

    YES, Sister Fran, every point you bring out is from GOD’S WORD and NOT man made traditions.
    Matthew 15:6B- So you have made the word of God invalid because of your tradition. Also Matthew 15:9 says, “It is in vain that they keep worshipping me, for they teach commands of men as doctrines.” (said Jesus)
    1 Corinthians 3:18-20- 18 Let no one deceive himself: If anyone among you thinks he is wise in this system of things, let him become a fool, so that he may become wise. 19 For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God, for it is written: “He catches the wise in their own cunning.” 20 And again: “God knows that the reasonings of the wise men are futile.”
    1 Corinthians 1:19-20– 19 For it is written: “I will make the wisdom of the wise men perish, and the intelligence of the intellectuals I will reject.” 20 Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this system of things? Has not God made the wisdom of the world foolish?
    The doctrine of purgatory is totally man made and an apostasy from the truth taught by first century Christians.

  • John LeMond

    During times of stress, we often look to the past for answers. Even if the answers we find are bad answers, they provide us with a sense of security and continuity. But the tendency to value tradition, apparently any tradition, over innovation, stifles the imagination required to respond creatively to the challenges of the present. Walls may be right that “purgatory is going to develop as a serious conversation” among Protestants,” but if so it will only serve to emphasize the rapid decline of Christianity’s relevance in the 21st century and beyond.

  • Neon Genesis

    The pot calling the kettle black. I’m pretty sure most evangelical Christians would consider your claim that the soul doesn’t survive death to be heretical.

  • Fran

    Neon Genesis,

    It is not my claim that is being made through the Scriptures, but Scriptures cited above that tell the truth. If persons do not want to accept scriptures as truth, it is their own free will to make that choice.

    However, in addition to the subject of death, there is the hope of future resurrection back to life on earth of those who have died and are still asleep in death.

    That resurrection hope is mentioned at Acts 24:15 and John 5:28,29, and will be taking place during the upcoming millenial rule of God’s kingdom or heavenly government.

    Jesus himself resurrected Lazarus back to life after he had been dead for 4 days and also referred to him as sleeping in death (John 11:1-44).

    Lazarus had passed away again and has that hope of again being resurrected back to life on earth, which will be cleansed of all its bad conditions (2 Peter 3:13), and in which righteousness will dwell.

  • Fran

    Frm Cath,

    Yes, it so wonderful and freeing to know these truths, isn’t it? 😀

  • Fran

    Neon Genesis,

    If people do not wish to consider what the Scriptures cited above provide as truth, that is their free will or choice.

    The Bible also holds out the promise of resurrection back to life on a cleansed earth (2 Peter 3:13), on which righteousness is to dwell; yet many are told that there are only 2 destinations available immediately after death:

    1. Everlasting life in heaven;
    2. Everlasting torment in a fiery place.

    The Bible specifically states that the meek shall inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5; Psalm 37:10,11). Only a limited number of Christians form God’s kingdom or heavenly government to rule with Jesus (144,000 according to Revelation 7:4-8; 14:1-5).

    In addition, there is only the common grave, where the dead are asleep in death and not being tormented forever (Ecclesiastes 9:5,10).

    The truth concerning these matters definitely need to be made known.

  • Fran

    Sorry for the repeat… I did not think that my first post made it!!

  • Karla

    Fran-The verse in Ecclesiastes refers to/means they have no more
    knowledge/know nothing of matters here on earth but as it says in
    the Bible once you die then the judgment to heaven or hell. The
    Bible is clear that hell is real where there is weeping/gnashing of
    teeth! Matthew 13:42. Hell is real and the Bible says it is real!

  • The Great God Pan

    Each denomination’s doctrines are already as arbitrary as the rules in any work of fantasy. What difference could changing them make?

    Purgatory. No purgatory. Don’t feed a Mogwai after midnight. A bucket of water will melt the Wicked Witch. None of it makes sense anyway.

  • Fran

    Karla,

    Read the entire account of Jesus resurrecting Lazarus back to life on earth after he had been dead for 4 days at John 11:1-44. Jesus referred to Lazarus as sleeping and that he would awaken him to his disciples; they thought he was resting in sleep. But Jesus told them that Lazarus had been asleep in death (John 11:1-44).

    Also, in the book of Acts, Stephen had been stoned to death by certain ones who were disputing with him and accused him of blaspheming Moses and God. (Acts 6:8-7:59)

    After a lengthy discussion with those people, and before the end of his life, Stephen “kneeled down and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, lay not their sin to their charge.” And when he said this, he fell asleep.” (Acts 7:60, King James Version)

    Therefore, the Bible confirms that after being stoned, Stephen was asleep in death.

    And finally, God resurrected his son, Jesus, after 3 days, and brought him back to life after he was sleeping in death as well
    (Acts 2:24; 2:32; 13:33,34; 17:31; 26:23). Please look them all up.

    Therefore, the dead are NOT AWARE of anything at all; it is comparable to being in a deep coma; however, the dead are not living and those in a coma are still alive.

    Resurrection by God and his Kingdom will be available to those who are still dead, but alive in God’s memory (Acts 24:15; John 5:28,29). CGod is the God of the living and not of the dead (Matthew 22:32).

    The meek ones shall inherit the earth, as Jesus told many on his Sermon on the mount (Matthew 5:5), and confirmed by the psalmist at Psalm 37:10,11.

    Even the animals on earth will be peace with one another, not applicable to the heavens (Isaiah 11:6-9), and the earth will also be filled with the knowledge of God as the waters cover the sea (verse 9).

  • Fran

    Great God Plan,

    Many doctrines of denominations today are based on traditions and not on truth.

    Jesus told the Scribes and Pharisees (religious leaders of his day) that they were hypocrites, that they overstepped the commandments of God because of their tradition, and they taught commandments of men as doctrines (Matthew 15:1-9).

    Some things have not changed in that regard, even in our days. Many religious leaders are changing their minds on moral matters, such as homosexuality and same-sex marriage, for example.

    Others are encouraging their attendees as to whom should be voted for or what stands should be taken for certain issues (this actually happened in the case of my relative, and she voted for the other party).

    Disunity and disagreements about doctrines is also quite evident and unfortunately does not serve to provide truth for those looking for it.

  • Diogenes

    Hell yes, Purgatory No. This is the consensus of 500 years of Protestant Theological scholarship. Believe it, or disbelieve it as you will. @Fran, I presume from your past posts that you are a Jehovah’s Witness or 7th Day Adventist, this would explain your position on soul death. I then pose a question; Do you believe Jesus is merely a created being and not co-eternal with the Father, additionally do you equate Him with Michael the Archangel

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  • Fourth Valley

    Not sure why people discount an idea based on the fact there is no scripture supporting it?? It seems to me like people are willing to accept ideas from outside of scripture.

    Jesus (PBUH) abridges or changes some laws (declaring all animals fit for consumption, changing the definition of adultery to include lust) yet for certain laws, like Psalm 81:3 “Sound the ram’s horn at the New Moon, and when the moon is full, on the day of our festival.” Jesus does not explicitly say that this law is repealed or changed. Yet, I’ve personally never met a Christian who sounds a ram horn to herald the New Moon, as Christians consider the law for another time, and not something that applies to modern times. Which is a fine belief, though it is not found in Christian scripture.

    Jesus never says anything to change Psalm 81:3 that was recorded in scripture. Nothing in scripture indicates this law no longer applies. Yet it seems widely accepted amongst Christians that it does not apply any more.

    So if you want to go with a “only things found in the scripture are legitimate beliefs” viewpoint, I’d think you’d need to acquire a ram’s horn and pay close attention to the lunar calendar, as nothing inside scripture indicates that the law regarding this has changed.

  • Falcon 78

    Fran
    Slow down, take this with a more objective outlook. Google (or whatever search engine you use) the Catholic explanation and references for purgatory. There is plenty of scripture cited. You will even recognize some of the passages, that you–as a Protestant–just haven’t associated with the concept. Quite frankly, I’m still looking for the passage from Scripture that says, “sola scriptura” is the way to go. Apostolic tradition came long before the word ‘Bible’ was ever uttered. Also remember that the canon of scripture was set long before the Reformation, but then Luther thought that he knew better than the forebearers of the Church, 1500 years before him. The ancients of the Church prayed for the dead–that’s a fact. Maybe investigate more closely why they did that. Do not close the book (no pun intended) until you look at it more objectively.

  • Falcon 78

    Fact–you have a soul and when you die, you will stand in judgment before the Lord. You may want to think a little deeper about your statements.

  • Fourth Valley

    “nothing inside scripture”

    Er, quick self-correction. Meant to say “nothing inside Christian scripture”. Mohammed (PBUH) did change the shofar-blowing rules.

  • EqualTime

    I was raised Catholic, but am no longer a believer. However, when I’d given purgatory some thought, I concluded it couldn’t be supported, on the basis that Christ said to the Good Thief, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” What a great time it would have been for Christ to say, “Once to satisfy necessary time in Purgatory, you will be with me in Paradise.”

  • Karla

    EqualTime-Amen/very well said! Many people confuse purgatory with what
    the Bible calls Abrahams bosom which is where the Old Testament saints
    went before Jesus went to the Cross. Once we die it’s either heaven of hell.
    I don’t know why you are no longer a believer but your have good doctrine
    so I hope you return to your beliefs/to Christ because Jesus is the Truth.

  • Garson Abuita

    Fascinating example. Judaism doesn’t derive laws, like keeping kosher, from Psalms, a collection of poetry. Yet I have seen many Christians turn to the Psalms for the purpose of legal conclusions, like prohibiting abortion. The only Jewish law regarding the blowing of the ram’s horn [shofar] comes from the Torah itself and refers only to Rosh Hashanah, So while it could be true that Jesus never mentioned this Psalm, it’s also true that it’s not a law to be negated. Add to that the fact that the translation of this verse is disputed — most Jewish commentators translate it differently.
    I’ll leave it to Christian readers to explain their view of why the laws generally aren’t followed anymore.

  • Fourth Valley

    Aw crap, you’re right. I was coming from the idea that Psalms was the law given by the Prophet David (PBUH), but slipped up and forgot that not every religion shares that view of Psalms…

    Er, change example then to say Deuteronomy 22:11, banning mixed fabric clothing. Sorry about that.

    Just wondering any Christian thoughts on such like this. Because while the belief that certain old laws no longer apply is valid, that belief doesn’t come from Christian scripture. Just wondering why some ideas wholly dismissed on the basis of not being tied to scriptures, while other non-scripture beliefs are widely accepted.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    St. Paul did use the word “tradition” as a positive in one of his letters. On the other hand the Trinity is nowhere in the Bible but taught and believed in by virtually all mainstream Protestants. And “sola scriptura” is not a phrase from the Bible.

  • It is good to read the account Jesus gave us of the rich man and Lazarus, and to know the Scripture that says, “It is appointed unto man but once to die, after that, the judgement.”
    Purgatory has no basis in the Scriptures. Teaching purgatory only benefits those who are receiving money from those paying money to get their loved ones out of purgatory, and it leads others to believe they can reject the Lord in this life and do what they want because they will get another chance in the afterlife.
    http://downtownministries.blogspot.com/2013/07/false-prophets-and-their-motivation.html

  • Jackson

    Please note and check out the fact that the Catholics have there own Bible, not the one Christians use. Specifically, check out the ten commandments.
    There is no purgatory in the Bible. When people die they are dead in the grave. They stay there until the first resurrection of the saved those whom belong to Christ. That happens when Jesus returns to earth and claims His own, who sleep and those who are still alive. The wicked are resurrected 1000 years later. It is called the resurrection of the damned. Further more Hell last as long as the body survives, not forever as some say. God is a merciful God he would never leave someone whom He loves to burn forever.
    There are only a few people who Jesus has brought to himself Elijah, and Moses. Also, it says a few were drawn out of the grave when he rose.

  • Jackson

    How in the world could you compare the Jehovah’s witnesses with seventh day adventists? Maybe you are thinking of the church of latter day saints?
    The adventist’s are the only church who still follows the Bible to the letter. Meaning the church and not necessarily individual churches. There is a lot of trouble brewing in the adventist camp.
    In answer to your questions: Jesus was created in Mary’s womb by God and was a human and also at the same time was one with His father in Heaven. It is not an either/or situation. There is some speculation that Jesus was Micheal before being implanted in Mary. Merely speculation until we get to heaven and ask.

  • Jackson

    Only the ceremonial laws were done away with when Jesus was sacrificed on our behalf. All the ceremonial laws, like the sacrificing of the lamb, etc. When Jesus died there was no more need to kill the lamb to atone for their sins.
    Jesus took all our sins upon himself.
    The Decalog was never done away with after all God wrote it in stone with his finger. 10 commandments are a list of God character, whom never changes.
    If it is not in the Bible, it just isn’t so.
    I agree with those who say many Christians think the 10 commandments were done away with. However it is not true and those who think in such a way are at risk of being lost.

  • Jackson

    Just for clarifications sake, the original text of the Bible had no punctuation. The line when read correctly, reads, Truly I say to you today …. you will be with me in Paradise. As it reads that would mean that Jesus went to Heaven that day, which we know He did not. He spent 3 days in the tomb, and rose to heaven some time later after spending time with the disciples. As Jesus said of Lazarus, He is asleep, and to clarify it, He said Lazarus is dead.
    By the way my wife was a former Catholic and she left that church when she realized that what she was taught was pagan worship. Did you know that the statue of St. peter was around before Peter died? It was originally a pagan statue. The original statue has the toes nearly worn away from people kissing the feet. You shall worship no other Gods. That is in the original 10 commandments not in the new Catholic bible.

  • Jackson

    “Sola Scriptura” the Bible and The Bible Alone, I believe should be credited to Martin Luther. He was the one of the first to discovered in the Bible that the papacy was the antichrist. This was believed by the protestants until about the end of the 19th century. Around the same time a new religion of evolution began along with a whole lot of spiritual movements began. All corrupting Christianity.

  • Karla

    Jackson-Jesus was in hell to free Old Testament saints when He died and
    was not asleep/is not a created being and is eternal with God the Father
    and the Holy Spirit. Bible is very clear that hell is eternal. Read the Bible.
    The thief went to paradise that day because Jesus is part of the Trinity.

  • peppers

    Some interesting comments. Purgatory seems to line up well with the loving character of God. Like McKnight, I’m persuadable. The rapture isn’t found in Scripture either, and neither is dispensationalism, but I’d venture to guess that some of the loudest critics here are true believers in both. As to Sola Scriptura, who’s sola we gonna run with? John McArthur’s? RC Sproul’s? Greg Boyd’s? Cornell West’s? How about Tony Campolo’s? We all see Scripture through a specific lens. Give me the Wesleyan Quadrilateral instead.

  • ejd

    The Catholic Bible (OT) is basically the Greek Septuagint written in Alexandria, Egypt in approximately 300 B.C. which includes 2 Maccabees 12; 44-46 which talks about atonement for sins in this world and the next; reference the New Testament there are as follows: Revelations 21:27 nothing unclean shall enter heaven; Matthew 5:26 that no one shall be released until you have paid every last penny; 1 Corinthians 3:15 where you suffer loss but saved as through fire; 1 Peter 3:18-20; 4:6 where Jesus preached to the Spirits in prison; 2 Timothy 1:16-18 where Paul prays for his dead friend Onesiphorous

  • ejd

    There are prayers for the dead written by the early Christians in first century AD in the catacombs—3 centuries before the Bible was written; the deacon who blogged above correctly references the importance of traditions per St. Paul—1 Cor 11:2 commends them for following traditions; 2 Thessalonians 2:15 where they are commanded to keep traditions; 2 Thessalonians 3:6 where they are commanded to shun those not acting according to tradition

  • Arnold

    First of all, Catholics are Christian. Evangelicals don’t have a unique claim on that title. My evangelical friends would be appalled by your comment. Secondly, the books of the Bible used by Catholics and Eastern Orthodox and other branches of ancient Christianity were there for 1,500 years prior to Luther. The Old Testament canon in the Catholic Bible is the canon of Jewish scripture known as the Septuagint in use at the time of Christ and adopted by the early Christian church. It was Luther and the Protestants who removed certain books, most likely because one of them, Maccabees, contradicted Luther’s teaching about no prayers for the dead.

  • Thomas Palmieri

    The concept of Purgatory does indeed have a basis in the Scriptures. We read in the Septuagint Bible used by the Apostles that Judas, the commander of the forces of Israel, “making a gathering…sent twelve thousand drachmas of silver to Jerusalem for sacrifice to be offered for the sins of the dead, thinking well and religiously concerning the resurrection (For if he had not hoped that they that were slain should rise again, it would have seemed superfluous and vain to pray for the dead). And because he considered that they who had fallen asleep with godliness, had great grace laid up for them. It is therefore a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from sins.” (2 Maccabees 12:43-46) That the dead are not unconscious we understand from the Apostle Peter, who says that when Christ had died “he went and preached unto the spirits in prison” (1 Pet 3:19), signifying that ‘sleep’ is meant in a figurative sense in Biblical discourse. For indeed, the Rich Man was conscious of his torments prior to the Final Judgment (cf. Lk 16:23) Another Scriptural reference to the concept of Purgatory can be found in the Gospel of Matthew, where Christ says: “agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison: verily I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence, until thou hast paid the uttermost farthing” (Mt 5:25-26). This suggests that there is a limited penal state after death for those who have not committed ‘sin unto death’ (cf. 1 Jn 5:16-17). The Roman catacombs attest that the early Christians offered prayers for the departed. Likewise with the ancient Christian liturgies. Prayers are not needed for those souls who are in the presence of God in heaven, nor for the damned. Hence they are offered for the benefit those who are ‘on the way’ to eternal glory. The Church Father Tertullian of Carthage (The Chaplet, Ch 3), writing at the turn of the third century A.D., mentions that it was an Apostolic tradition still practiced in his day for prayers to be offered for the repose of the dead.
    It is a great defect of a great deal of Protestant theology that it understands the Sacred Scripture primarily upon the basis of the written word as interpreted by the worldly intellect which has not been purified of its concupiscence and thereby initiated into the divine mysteries. For a practicing physician and a laymen can both read a medical text, but only the former truly apprehends the knowledge which is revealed therein owing to his prior training and experience. In the same way, the holy saints, who have dedicated their lives to prayer, study and asceticism, who have experienced communion with the uncreated light of Godhead and its illuminating glories on this side of the mortal veil, know far better than those who have not attained unto such Apostolic degrees of virtue what is signified in the mysterious language of Scripture. Hence it is by their guidance that we are led into the inner meaning of the Gospel. For our purposes let us examine what they have to say about St. Paul’s teaching in 1st Corinthians wherein he declares: “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” (1 Cor 3:11-15). A strain of Eastern Orthodox Christian thought derived from the writings of the holy fathers has something very profound to say about this passage: “it seems there is no true distinction between heaven, hell and the so-called purgatory: all souls partake differently in the same mystical fire (which, according to St. Isaac of Syria, is God’s love) but because of their spiritual change they are bound to different reactions: bliss for those who are in communion with him; purification for those who are in the process of being deified [i.e. sanctified–ed.]; and remorse for those who hated God during their earthly lives. (PURGATORY, Orthodox Wiki, at orthodoxwiki.org/Purgatory) We cannot say that time applies properly to the spiritual world, but we must recognize that just as on earth, as witnessed in the lives of the saints, there is a gradual process of purification (i.e. purgation) and holy illumination which leads the soul into spiritual union with God, so in the afterlife we should expect some graduated process of spiritual integration with the heavenly life. If the process were indeed immediate, the ancient Christians following upon the Apostolic practice would have seen no necessity in offering prayers for the faithful departed.
    What is being defended here is neither the Medieval Roman Catholic practice of selling indulgences for the supposed benefit of departed loved ones, which the Protestant Reformers rightly condemned, nor of the Church’s concept of a created purging fire that burns away sins. The notion of the light and love of God serving as the cleansing fire, however, has profound resonance and squares with the Biblical teaching. For what has the more profound ring of truth to it, the simplistic and unspiritual Protestant conceptions of the afterlife which have appeared in the comments above or the words of the ancient Chruch Father Clement of Alexandria, a contemporary of Tertullian, who, meditating on the fate of the death bed Christian convert who has not had opportunity for a proper repentance for his sins says that such a soul in the afterlife shall “through discipline divest(s) himself of his passions and passes to the mansion which is better than the former one, passes to the greatest torment, taking with him the characteristic of repentance for the faults he may have committed after baptism. He is tortured then still more, not yet attaining what he sees others have acquired. The greatest torments are assigned to the believer, for God’s righteousness is good, and His goodness righteous, and…these punishments cease in the course of the expiation and purification of each one” (P.G., IX, col. 332; PURGATORY, New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, at http://www.newadvent.org > Catholic Encyclopedia > P). Or his successor Origen of Alexandria, who, commenting on the teaching of St. Paul says the following with respect to our state in the afterlife: “our God to those who can comprehend heavenly things is called a cleansing fire. But this fire consumes not the creature, but what the creature has himself built, wood and hay and stubble. It is manifest that the fire destroys the wood of our transgressions and then returns to us the reward of our great works” (P.G., col. 445, 448; PURGATORY, New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia). The modern Protestant concept of cheap grace has no place in the first fifteen centuries of Christianity. Salvation is a cooperative work of both God and man, who though estranged from one another from the sin of Adam, become one through the saving work of Jesus Christ, true God and true man.

  • Thomas Palmieri

    Jackson, you have been spoon fed a lie by the Jehovah’s Witness leadership as to the words of Christ in Luke 23:43. A detailed analysis of Luke’s Gospel shows that Jesus speaks in the declarative 42 times. On 31 occasions he says either “I say to you” (singular or plural ‘you’) or “to you I say” (sometimes adding “for”, “but” or and “therefore” as appropriate), followed by the content of the declarative statement. In 8 other instances he adds the emphatic “truly” (“Amen) or “most truly” (“Amen amen”) to the declarative, which is followed once again by the content of the utterance. In 2 other instances he employs a different locution. At Luke 6:27 he says: “But I say to you WHO ARE LISTENING”, followed by the content of the declarative, and Luke 22:34, where he says: “I say to you, PETER”, followed by the content of the declarative. In these two instances the ones to whom he is speaking is interjected between the form of declaration (“I say to you”) and the content of the utterance. Finally we have Luke 23:43: “Amen (Today) soi (to you) lego (I am saying–I say) semeron (today) met’ (with) emou (me) ese (you will be) en (in) to (the) paradiso (paradise). We have seen that on 39 occasions he says either “I say to you/To you I say” followed by the content of the declarative, and that on 2 occasions he interjects the interlocutor (i.e. YOU WHO ARE LISTENING; PETER) between the declarative form and the content of the utterance. In none of these cases is he observed to say “I say to you TODAY.” Therefore there is no justification on grammatical grounds to suppose that Jesus had said “I say to you TODAY,” a phrase which appears nowhere else in Luke’s Gospel. But the New World Translation says that based on “the context”, it is proper to omit the comma in this instance and translate “I say to you TODAY.” However, they cannot supply the context that would warrant such a grammatical exception. Indeed, whenever the New World Translators insist that the ‘context’ demands a different translation into English than is indicated by the plain Greek text, a red flag should go up in the minds of the Witness followers that some false Watchtower doctrine is being superimposed upon the text of Holy Scripture. Indeed, let us look at the context within which Luke 23:43 appears. The Greek text records that the Good Thief literally says to Jesus: “Jesus, remember me WHENEVER YOU MIGHT COME into your kingdom.” We observe that the Good Thief has asked Jesus to remember him AT THE TIME when Jesus comes into his kingdom. In reply, Jesus says to him, indicating the time when he will come into his kingdom: “TODAY you will be with me in paradise.” For by paradise here is perhaps meant Abraham’s bosom, the abode of the righteous prior to the resurrection (cf. Lk 16:22). Or the Good Thief entered that day into heaven to be with Christ’s divinity, which is all pervading of heaven and earth (cf. Heb 1:2). There is precedent for that supposition with regard to Elijah’s assumption into heaven (2 Kngs 2:11), or St. Paul’s being caught up into the paradise of he third heaven while still alive in the body (2 Cor 12:3). For we must understand that the Good Thief did not ask Jesus “Wilt thou be with me in paradise?” such that he should have replied “Truly I tell you today, YOU WILL BE WITH ME IN PARADISE,” but the Good thief rather implored of Jesus: “Remember me WHENEVER YOU MIGHT COME INTO YOUR KINGDOM,” wherefore the Lord of Glory (cf. 1 Cor 2:8), who had taken on human flesh, in signifying the time when he would ascend once more unto his kingdom in the heavenly places, replied unto him: “TODAY you will be with me in paradise.” The NWT’s “I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise,” is a forced an unnatural rendering of the Greek, and is completely unsupported by the context.
    But why should you be surprised that you are being misled by the Witness leadership. You will notice that in the September 2014 issue of the Watchtower magazine that an article is dedicated to the Aramaic Peshitta translation of the New Testament, which goes at least as far back as the 5th century, and is based on still earlier texts going back to the 2nd century A.D. The article notes that the disputed Johannine (Trinitarian) comma (1 Jn 5:7) does not appear in the Peshitta. However, the Watchtower neglects to inform its readership that it contains a locution Mar-Jah (Lord Jah) attesting to the presence of the tetragrammaton on over 6800 occasions in the Old Testament. Why would they omit this valuable piece of information, when it clearly supports the Watchtower’s teaching as to early Christian veneration for the Hebrew Divine Name? Because it also contains between 30 and 50 references to Jesus Christ as Mar-Jah (Lord Jah). Yes, that’s right, the ancient Aramaic speaking Christians believed that Jesus Christ was Jehovah God come in the flesh (cf Jn 1:14). Some examples:
    (Lk 2:11) “Unto you this day is born in the city of David the savior, who is the Messiah Lord Jah.”
    (Rom 14:8) “the Messiah died and is raised that he might be the Lord Jah to the dead and the living.”
    (1 Cor 8:6) “there is one Eloah, the Father…and one Lord Jah, Yeshua the Messiah”
    (1 Cor 12:3) “neither is a man able to say that the Lord Jah is Yeshua except by Ruach HoKadesh (i.e. the Holy Spirit–ed).”
    (1 Cor 15:47) “The first son of man was dust that was from the earth. The second man was the Lord Jah from heaven.”
    And what’s more, the Peshitta New Testament is older by a thousand years and more than the J versions which the New World Translation uses to “restore” the Divine Name to the Christian Scriptures. Why does the NWT not employ the ancient Peshitta, which applies the tetragrammaton (that is to say, a variant of it, Lord Jah) to the Lord Jesus Christ, as a manuscript source in its reconstruction of the New Testament text? There is no textual reason for it not to do so, only a doctrinal reason. Why, I ask again, did the Watchtower fail to inform its readership about the appearance of Mar-Jah in the Peshitta, and its frequent application to the Lord Jesus Christ? Should anyone put their trust in what the organization teaches with respect to the gospel, when they are so blatant in their misrepresentation of facts? Look into the facts for yourself, Jackson, and stop blindly following the Watchtower leadership, which believes that it owes its followers no proper accounting with regard to its false and misleading translation and interpretation of the Sacred Scripture.

  • Fran

    Diogenes,

    Yes, I am one of Jehovah’s Witnesses and both my parents were originally born and raised in the Catholic religion. They are no longer in the Catholic faith.

    Yes, I believe that Jesus was the first-born of all creation or the first direct creation of Almighty God, Jehovah (Colossians 1:13-20; Psalm 83:18).

    In addition, Jehovah God created all other things through his son, Jesus, according to Colossians cited above.

    Jesus had a start, but God did not have a start (Psalm 90:2) and they both will have no end.

    Jesus is not equal to his Father, Jehovah, but is in subjection to God, who is in a superior position (1 Corinthians 11:3).

    Jesus acknowledged that his Father is greater than him (John 14:28) and always gave glory and praise as well as prayers to his Father, and never to himself.

    The most important work to Jesus was doing his Father’s will, providing himself as a ransom sacrifice for all imperfect mankind (John 3:16) and also ruling over mankind from God’s heavenly kingdom or government, provisions of God that will get rid of man’s sin and imperfection.

    At the end of his millennial rule over mankind, Jesus will give all rulership authority back to his Father, since Jesus will no longer be required as a mediator (1 Corinthians 15:20-28).

    Mankind will be able to live forever on a paradise earth, which was God’s purpose for mankind when he originally created Adam and Eve.

    And yes, I equate Jesus with Michael the archangel referred to at 1 Thessalonians 4:16. If you would like for me to provide Biblical support on this, please let me know.

  • Diogenes

    I compare JW’s with SDA’s because both groups teach annihilationism with respect to the unsaved dead, further some members of both groups Identify Jeus with Michael, both positions I believe are unscriptural

  • Diogenes

    Fran, I respect you greatly, but cannot agree with you on the points regarding the death of the soul, nor the ‘created’ aspect of Jesus, or His linkage with Michael. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, before Abraham was, He was the I AM (A clear declaration of His equality with the Father).

  • Diogenes

    Both JW’s and SDA’s teach annihilation of the soul, and many from both groups identify Jesus with Michael; just seeking clarification from Fran on which group she might be member of.. I don’t believe that SDA’s have a corner on the market of Christian truth.

  • Karla

    Bible ls clear there is no purgatory. Paradise as Jesus said to the theif on the
    Cross was Abrahams bosom where the Old Testament saints went before the
    death of Jesus on the Cross but the Bible is clear that people who were in hell
    could not cross over to paradise where all the Old Testament saints were so
    hell is real/final once you are there. The rich man died and he was in agony
    in hell so he wanted to go warn all his brothers not come to this place so
    they wouldn’t be in torment but was told he could’t cross over/go warn them
    because the judgment is final once somebody goes to hell. Two guys were
    next to Jesus on the Cross and only one guy wen to to heaven! Why is that?
    Only one guy Repented/had a change of heart about his sin. There is no
    purgatory but there is a real hell for all who don’t Repent/trust in Christ.

  • rob

    NO IT DOES NOT HAVE ANY CHANCE AT ALL not with confessional Lutherans . John Eck THE ROMAN catholic apologist even he had to run from that false teaching after Luther proved it was the invention of men.

  • Rev. Dr. Norman Martin

    As a protestant who has never forgotten defending his doctoral thesis before a doctoral committee and then waiting for the verdict, I had thoughts that there must be something to this purgatory idea.

  • Mike

    Purgatory is the logical extension of a Roman Catholic theology built out of a synthesis of a poorly translated Bible (Vulgate), the philosophy of Aristotle, a pile of assumptions (that human reason penetrates the mind of God), the theology of Aquinas, and especially the sociopolitical need to reinforce the institutions that funded Catholic power in the Middle Ages (indulgences). That last force is still in effect. Visiting churches in Rome one can still buy a mass for the dead locked in purgatory. Purgatory is all about money and power.

    Luther once asked the question that if the Pope is so all powerful as he claims to be able to forgive sins and release people from purgatory, why does he not do it out of love rather than for money. So why sell Masses in Rome in the 21st century?

    Christ is sufficient. For a Christian, to argue for purgatory is to argue that His death was not enough.

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  • mag

    Fran, are you Seventh Day Adventist?

  • Citizen Jerry

    The Orthodox Church doesn’t accept it, either.

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  • Jim

    The soul does not survive death? Then you must not believe in the soul’s immateriality and spirituality. And you certainly can’t believe in the Resurrection if the souls goes out of existence. You might hold to a re-creation but not a resurrection,
    The fact that the soul does not/cannot die is a matter of philosophy, not religion.
    It is as provable as the existence of God.

  • Jim

    Citizen Jerry,
    Explain why the Orthodox pray for the dead then. If a soul is in heaven, it doesn’t need prayer. If in hell, prayers cannot help it.
    The souls must exist in some state that is neither heaven nor hell.

  • Jim

    Mike,
    Luther was way wrong. He was not excommunicated for his views on purgatory and indulgences as they were not an issue for him at first despite the myth. His views on predestination are what got him thrown out of the Church,
    After formulating his doctrine of Justification By Faith Alone, it was all a matter of jettisoning any beliefs that couldn’t be made to fit Luther’s “My Doctrine”. That included the Bible itself. Maccabees had to go. James and Revelation too.

    Purgatory is based on the very biblical teaching that says that after forgiveness ( no more threat of hell ) punishment can still remain. If anyone leaves this life with some of that punishment remaining, it is addressed in purgatory.
    The Bible is also clear on degrees of sin. Some are worthy of damnation (mortal ) and some are not (venial ). People who dies with unrepented venial sin won’t go to hell for it but they will suffer in purgatory.

  • Jim

    Mike,
    You say,
    “Christ is sufficient. For a Christian, to argue for purgatory is to argue that His death was not enough.”

    St. Paul said he was happy to fill up in his own sufferings for the Church what was lacking in the sufferings of Christ. Colossians (?)

    By the way, neither Masses or indulgences are or were ever “sold”. Remember Peter telling Simon the Magician that God’s grace was not for sale?
    Protestant ministers give away free copies of their books in exchange for a freewill offering of any amount. Are they selling books?

    As for Luther’s comment, the Pope can’t empty purgatory as the power of the keys given him by Christ ( Mt 16 ) don’t extend into purgatory other than by sufferage,

    The philosophy of Aristotle had nothing to do with purgatory as he did not even believe in the survival of the individual soul.

    Finally, you say purgatory was all about “the sociopolitical need to reinforce the institutions that funded Catholic power in the Middle Ages…”.

    Well, yes and no. Remember that in the middle Ages there were no welfare agencies, no public works, no state run hospitals or orphanages. Feuding kings and princes did not keep up roads and bridges in order for trade to prosper. This all fell to the Church. Religious orders cared for the sick, fed the hungry, clothed the naked and were the only ones to bury plague victims or supply doweries for poor girls doomed to spinsterhood if their families couldn’t pay for their marriages. Europe was built on indulgences.
    Nobody got fat off them.

  • Jim

    Karla,
    The Good Thief was forgiven of his sins by Jesus. Yet he still had to pay for them by his crucifixion. His eternal guilt was forgiven but he still had temporal punishment.
    Also, he did not go immediately to heaven. Jesus was the first to go to heaven.

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  • Laurence Charles Ringo

    Wow. Who knew those Jehovah’s Witnesses could be so sneaky, huh Fran? Gotcha!!

  • Laurence Charles Ringo

    No, Jehovah’s Witness.

  • Laurence Charles Ringo

    Whatever point you are trying to make, Deacon, guess what? BIG FAIL. (1), the great Apostle Paul didn’t”teach”tradition, he merely made mention of it, and even then he taught nothing contrary to Scripture nor added anything to said Scripture. (2), inre the theological construct”Trinity”certainly is taught throughout The Word of God; and it’s not just”virtually all mainstream Protestants”that believe it; “mainstream”catholics do too. (3), the doctrine of the Trinity is descriptive of the Persons in the Triune Godhead, I.e.Father, Son, and Holy Spirit-One God in Three Persons.That is what Scripture teaches, and ALL mainstream Christians believe. The word”aseity”is not found in Scripture either; it is a theological construct descriptive of Almighty God’s self-existing nature, that is, His existence is not dependent upon any other being–He is the great”I AM”. (4), see 2 Timothy 3 :16,17.There is simply NO getting around that; if Scripture was good enough for Our Saviour, then… (He always viewed”tradition”negatively, especially man-made traditions, so…there it is, Deacon.

  • Laurence Charles Ringo

    What the what are you talking about, Jim? Crucifixion was the Roman method of capital punishment; it had NOTHING to do with any other human being”paying for their sins”thereby; the paying for our sins upon the Cross applied to JESUS ALONE. What’s more, Jesus’ words to this thief was pretty clear; the Saviour said NOTHING about any further”temporal punishment”.Don’t put words into Almighty God’s mouth!

  • Kate

    Falcon, I appreciate your comments! So many like Fran cherry pick some verses (usually old testament or obscure) and interpret them in a heartless way –that we are forbidden to pray for the dead. I prefer other verses, such as Ephesians 6:18 where we are exhorted not only to pray for everything–but also to pray for the Saints! Who are , presumably, dead! God tells us to pray for everything and that is what a true Christian does. I also am appalled at Jackson commenting here –who is so certain that the dead lie senseless in their graves until resurrection day—while the thief on the cross verse in the bible so clearly states that the soul of a believer is taken to heaven–as Jesus says–“today!” Yes, you can cherry pick verses to fit your preconceptions, and the Bible can even be contradictory. That is why Jesus boiled it down to “love the Lord with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.” And praying for the dead is loving!

  • Kate

    Thomas, I love your comments. I think the bottom line is: Who should we believe the most: a denomination such as Jehovahs’ witnesses etc. only created very recently in history? Or more ancient churches –close in time to our actual Lord Jesus’ time? I pick the ancient truth. Gee, if these recently created “Christian” denominations have the only truth, I guess all the Christians who lived for the hundreds of years before them must have all been lost—only us fortunate people to live recently then can know the truth. Hmmmmmm.

  • R.C.

    The part about “some number of years that was often the subject of convoluted calculations about the relative value of mortal and venial sin” is a bigoted old anti-Catholic libel. It’s not true and never was.

    The early church proposed standard durations for EARTHLY disciplinary penances which a penitent had to complete before receiving communion again. The standards existed so one bishop wouldn’t give a penitent 10 years for adultery, only to have another bishop give a penitent 6 weeks for a lesser offense.

    When folks asked to reduce penance-periods by Bible-reading or almsgiving, the church offered “indulgences”; e.g., “A year’s daily Bible-reading will reduce the penance-period by 6 months.”

    Other asked to do these penances on behalf of their deceased relatives, to assist them in purgatory:

    Q:”How much help will auntie get for a year’s Bible-reading?”

    A: “Equivalent to 6 months’ earthly penance.”

    Not “6 months of purgatory time” (no such thing!)…

  • R.C.

    Another problem:

    Scot McKnight says, “there is no evidence in the New Testament for second-chance purgatory.” Well, of course not! “Second-chance” is NOT the Catholic/Orthodox/Lewisian idea of purgatory, and never was.

    According to the early church, prayers for the dead assisted them IF, and ONLY IF, they were destined for heaven to begin with. If they were already saints or martyrs in heaven, they had no need of them; if they were damned, the prayers would do no good. But a soul in purgatory would be helped by them on his already-heavenward journey.

    SO a soul in purgatory doesn’t need a “second-chance” to go to heaven because his “first-chance” already went the right way! He’s on his way.

    BUT, he isn’t yet a perfect soul inside and out. Only 100% perfect souls can enjoy, or even survive, the unmasked Beatific Vision.

    Hence, the need to be cleansed of the last vestiges of self-love. It’s not a second chance at heaven, but rather the process of entering heaven.

  • R.C.

    Correction; the Orthodox have about five different widely-speculated (one cannot say “held”) theories about the issue of purgatory.

    What’s interesting is trying to figure out how compatible any of these views are with the various Catholic understandings!

    In the opinion of Catholic theologians, most of the Orthodox formulations are perfectly compatible with the various Catholic understandings.

    In the opinion of the Orthodox theologians, none of the Catholic understandings are compatible with any of the Orthodox speculations.

    And in the opinion of both Catholic and Orthodox theologians, none of the understandings or speculations of either side are compatible with most Protestants’ views on Justification, temporary-vs.-eternal consequences of sin, imputed righteousness, or rejecting prayer for the dead.

    So while Protestants can’t cite the Orthodox in favor of THEIR views, it’s disputable whether Catholics can.

    Make sense?

  • R.C.

    Hahahaha!

    Okay, Rev. Dr. Norman Martin wins the thread.

  • R.C.

    True ’nuff!

    Catholics agree…with one caveat: Not all critical doctrines of Christianity can be unambiguously derived from scripture alone.

    One example is the canon itself: The Bible nowhere lists which texts belong in the Bible. Even if one book did, you couldn’t be sure that THAT book was one of the ones that belonged! Only an indefectible Church can give you an infallible canon-list.

    More examples: The Trinity, Infant Baptism, Baptismal Regeneration, the consubstantiality of the Son and the Father, the existence of a purgatorial process whereby the souls of the just are made perfect, etc.. The Scriptures are ambiguous on each of these.

    So the best way to refute JWs, SDAs, LDSs, etc. is not to say their views are “unscriptural.” They claim they are…via a quirky interpretation!

    The best way is to ask, “How come no Church Father agrees with your interpretation?” JWs answer: “They were wrong.” You respond: “Then how come you trust them for your…

  • R.C.

    Laurence Charles Ringo:

    No, sorry. You are misinterpreting Paul, and putting words in the mouth of Our Lord which He never spoke.

    Paul commended those who heard his verbal teaching for receiving it as what it was, the Word of God. He also commanded his hearers to hold fast to the traditions he delivered to them, whether by word-of-mouth or by letter.

    That’s because Divine Tradition (a.k.a. the “Word of God” or “The Apostolic Deposit of Faith”) is obligatory for Christians. Human Traditions which do not contradict the Word of God (e.g. having pot-luck dinners on Wednesday nights) are optional. And the only kind of tradition which is forbidden by Jesus Christ is any human tradition which nullifies/contradicts the Word of God (whether delivered by word-of-mouth or by letter). That’s what He, and St. Paul, said.

    BTW, some Bibles mistranslate Paul, having him command adherence to “the teaching” instead of “the tradition.” The Greek word is paradosis:…

  • R.C.

    Then she started out ignorant of her faith, and left it because in her ignorance she was open to being deceived by persons who knew nothing about it, but said stuff about it anyway.

    There is no pagan worship in Catholic Christianity. Nobody “knows” that the statue of St. Peter was around before Peter died, ’cause it wasn’t. St. Peter’s Basilica is a Late-Renaissance construction, and the original which it replaced was built in the 4th century AD. The prominent statue you mention was made in the Renaissance by Arnolfo di Cambio, an Italian sculptor. Look it up on Wikipedia if you like.

    See, what you’re repeating is the kind of crap you can get tricked into believing if you listen to folks in tinfoil hats who like to be thrilled by conspiracy-theories, like that Jews bake the blood of baby Christians into their matzoh, Catholics are crypto-pagans, and Jehovah Witnesses are the world’s best art historians. It’s Dan Brown all the way down.

    With (tough) love,

    R.C.

  • R.C.

    Jesus is the Lamb of God.

    You can’t kill the Lamb any more, because He can no longer die.

    However, God does not change. The 10 Commandments still represent a great summation of moral commands vis-a-vis God and man.

    And, God does not change: For ongoing membership in the People of God, the Passover Sacrifice must still be eaten. He can no longer die, but He still offers us the covenant meal which incorporates us into the family of God, and transforms us into His body.

    Our Lord says it quite precisely in John 6: “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.”

    Both show the unchanging nature of God.

  • R.C.

    A simplistic, but fairly representative explanation can be found in a YouTube video, in the Lutheran Satire channel, titled, “Horus Reads The Internet.”

    Check it out.

    There are more sophisticated Christian OT & Judaica scholars (e.g. Brant Pitre, John Bergsma) who would cite the Mishnah and phrase the purpose of the Ceremonial Law a little more carefully than that. But the “slickly-prepared Venn Diagram” and the distinction between the Ceremonial Law and the Moral Law is a good rough-and-ready Cliff’s Notes kind of explanation.