Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Defense of Purgatory: Part 2

Now, I have already stated why purification in the afterlife may be necessary. That it is real is attested to by many Scripture passages. Besides the ones I have already provided, we have the following, which would be quite peculiar and difficult to understand were it not for the reality of Purgatory.

Mt 12:32 And whoever says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come
The phrase “in the age to come” generally refers to the afterlife (cf., Mk 10:30; Lk 18:30; 20:34-35; Eph 1:21). But, there is no forgiveness in hell and forgiveness is not necessary in heaven. Thus, this must refer to purgatory.

Lk 12:46-48 the master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he does not know, and will punish him, and put him with the unfaithful. 47 And that servant who knew his master's will, but did not make ready or act according to his will, shall receive a severe beating. 48 But he who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, shall receive a light beating. Every one to whom much is given, of him will much be required; and of him to whom men commit much they will demand the more.
The coming of the master is certainly an allusion to Judgment, either once we die or at the end of time. At this time, those who knew His will and did not do it will be put with the unfaithful and punished severely. This is the condemnation of hell. But, those who sinned unknowingly will receive, at their Judgment, a light beating. But, hell is a severe punishment for those who knowingly sin, and there is no beatings (or punishment) for those in heaven. Thus, this light beating refers to Purgatory, where all our lesser sins are purged away.

Phil 2:10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth
Jesus is not worshipped in hell, and heaven is already mentioned in this verse, so the place (for lack of a better word) under the earth where knees bow at the name of Christ is Purgatory.

2 Tim 1:16-18 May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiph'orus, for he often refreshed me; he was not ashamed of my chains, 17 but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me eagerly and found me-- 18 may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day--and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.
Onesiphorus is already dead, yet Paul still prays that he will find mercy from the Lord "on that day", or at the Judgment (cf. Rom 2:5,16; 1 Cor 1:8; 3:13; 5:5; 2 Cor 1:14; Phil 1:6,10; 2:16; 1 Thes 5:2,4,5,8; 2 Thes 2:2,3; 2 Tim 4:8). But, there is no mercy, and nor can we pray for, those in hell, and those in heaven do not need mercy. Thus, Paul is praying for the dead because he knows there's the possibility Onesiphorus is undergoing a purging.

1 Cor 3:12-17 Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done. 14 If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire. 16 Do you not know that you are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in you? 17 If any one destroys God's temple, God will destroy him. For God's temple is holy, and that temple you are.
Pay close attention to what is going on here. It is not in every day life that the fire is refining. It is on "the Day" which, as well have already seen, is Judgment Day. It is when we stand before Christ that the perishable works of a man's life will be consumed. "He will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved." This can only describe that last act of sanctification called Purgatory. "For our God is a consuming fire" (Heb 12:29). The flashes of his love "are flashes of fire, a most vehement flame" (So 8:6), and through it are "the spirits of just men made perfect" (Heb 12:23).

Now, I understand that there are responses to all the verses of Scripture that I have used, and I also know that it may seem hard for some to believe that the NT writers had something like Purgatory in mind. But, it is not that far-fetched. The Jews believed in a purging after death. Even if you don't consider Maccabees a canonical book of the Bible, it is still a reliable historical record of Jewish belief and practice. In Maccabees, we read of their prayers and atonement for the dead:
2 Macc 12:43-45 He also took up a collection, man by man, to the amount of two thousand drachmas of silver, and sent it to Jerusalem to provide for a sin offering. In doing this he acted very well and honorably, taking account of the resurrection. 44 For if he were not expecting that those who had fallen would rise again, it would have been superfluous and foolish to pray for the dead. 45 But if he was looking to the splendid reward that is laid up for those who fall asleep in godliness, it was a holy and pious thought. Therefore he made atonement for the dead, that they might be delivered from their sin.

There is also a very interesting practice that takes place in the First Book of Samuel:
1 Sam 31:11-13 But when the inhabitants of Ja'besh-gil'ead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth-shan; and they came to Jabesh and burnt them there. 13 And they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh, and fasted seven days.
Now, I'm open to correction on this point, but the Jews here seem to be fasting for the dead, which would further affirm their belief in a purging in the afterlife.

Of course, when they celebrate the Kaddish, they are witnessing to this belief. From the entry on the "Kaddish" in the Jewish Encyclopedia:
The kaddish for the dead was originally recited at the close of the seven days' mourning, with the religious discourses and benedictions associated with it, but, according to Masseket Soferim xix. 12, only at the death of a scholar; afterward, in order not to put others to shame, it was recited after every burial (Naṭmanides, "Torat ha-Adam," p. 50; see Mourning).

In the course of time the power of redeeming the dead from the sufferings of Gehenna came to be ascribed, by some, to the recitation of the kaddish.
[. . .]
The idea that a son or grandson's piety may exert a redeeming influence in behalf of a departed father or grandfather is expressed also in Sanh. 104a; Gen. R. lxiii.; Tanna debe Eliyahu R. xvii.; Tanna debe Eliyahu Zuṭa xii.; see also "Sefer Ḥasidim," ed. Wiztinetzki, No. 32. In order to redeem the soul of the parents from the torture of Gehenna which is supposed to last twelve months ('Eduy. ii. 10; R. H. 17a), the Ḳaddish was formerly recited by the son during the whole year (Kol Bo cxiv.). Later, this period was reduced to eleven months, as it was considered unworthy of the son to entertain such views of the demerit of his parents (Shulḥan 'Aruk, Yoreh De'ah, 376, 4, Isserles' gloss; see Jahrzeit).
The NT writers were Jews. It's not hard to imagine that they held this belief. This is even more obvious when you consider that the early Church retained this belief as well (see this article).

I hope that helps. For more information on Purgatory, see my "Resources on Purgatory" blog post.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

10 comments:

Joseph said...

I don't know if I'm commenting on your blog because of it's content or because you're from steubenville and I think that's great, but I want to point out (for the sake of argument) that in 2 Tim 1:16-18 - Paul is praying for the "house" of Onesiphorus - his family, so even if he's dead it doesn't point to paul mentioning a purgatory. Doesn't the scenario of refining fire mentioned in 1 Cor 3 happen to all of us on a daily basis, if it doesn't there's something wrong - why else would paul so expressly say he "dies daily" - back to luke 16, perhaps the death these two men have died aren't the physical death, but the "death to self" which paul refers to - the rich man dies to further himself to more riches and finds it's all in vain and now he's experiencing hell (happens everyday), while the poor man dies to himself and becomes well-off (overcome poverty), and although the both live- one is in hell and the other in heaven.

Anonymous said...

Dear Nicholas: You've done it again; a most excellent and elegant apology of purgatory.
For what it worth and as an add'l scriptural response to Joseph comments above -

Mk 5:48 - be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect
Heb 12:14 - strive for holiness w/o which cannot see God
Jam 3:2 - we all fall short in many respects
Rev 21:27 - nothing unclean shall enter heaven
1 Jn 5:16-17 - degree of sins distinguished
Jam 1:14-15 - when sin reached maturity gives birth to death
2 Sam 12:13-14 - David, though forgiven, still punished for sin
Mt 5:26 - you will not be released until paid the last penny
2 Macc 12:44-46 - atoned for dead to free them from sin
1 Cor 15:29-30 - Paul mentions people baptizing for the dead
(notes from St Joe Radio)
Vivat Jesus!
JuanCarlos

phatcatholic said...

Joseph,

Thank you for your comment! I hope that you return to my blog often! I would like to respond to your assessment of a few of the Scripture passages I cited. Your words will be in italics.

I want to point out (for the sake of argument) that in 2 Tim 1:16-18 - Paul is praying for the "house" of Onesiphorus - his family, so even if he's dead it doesn't point to paul mentioning a purgatory.

Look at the passage again:

2 Tim 1:16-18
16 May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiph'orus, for he often refreshed me; he was not ashamed of my chains,
17 but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me eagerly and found me--
18 may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day--and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.

You're right about vs. 16. Paul is indeed praying for the house of Onesiphorus. BUT, in vs. 18 he's praying specifically for Onesiphorus. So, this passage would in fact support praying for the dead, which you don't do unless you believe in Purgatory.


Doesn't the scenario of refining fire mentioned in 1 Cor 3 happen to all of us on a daily basis, if it doesn't there's something wrong - why else would paul so expressly say he "dies daily"

Well, actually, the "refining fire" is Heb 12:29, not 1 Cor 3. But, 1 Cor 3 is talking about the same thing.

As for "dying daily", there is indeed the hope that we will all die daily to self, like Paul did (cf. 1 Cor 15:31). But, God's refining fire is a symbol for his judgment (cf. Deut 4:24; 9:3; Exo 24:17; Isa 33:14). Look at the context:

1 Cor 3:12-15
12 Now if any one builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw--
13 each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it, because it will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test what sort of work each one has done.
14 If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward.
15 If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire.

First of all, the fire will reveal the perishable works of man on "the Day." Paul says, "the Day will disclose it" (vs. 13). Thus, this can't be talking about something that happens every day. It's talking about "the Day" --Judgment Day-- when the Justice of the Lord will make all things known, and everyone will receive exactly what he deserves.


back to luke 16, perhaps the death these two men have died aren't the physical death, but the "death to self" which paul refers to - the rich man dies to further himself to more riches and finds it's all in vain and now he's experiencing hell (happens everyday), while the poor man dies to himself and becomes well-off (overcome poverty), and although the both live- one is in hell and the other in heaven.

This is a stretch, to say the least. The context simply does not bear out what you are asserting here. The death that is described in Lk 16 is definitely a physical one. When the poor man died he was "carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom." The rich man died and was buried. There is also reference to torment in Hades and anguishing fire. Abraham even reminds the rich man of the good things he receive when he was alive (which means he's not alive anymore). The rich man requests that Lazarus go and warn his brothers because Lazarus is "from the dead" and so they will be more likely to heed his words. But Abraham said to him, "If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced if some one should rise from the dead."

There are just too many indications that an actual, physical death has taken place. I see nothing in the context of this passage that would warrant the understanding of a "spirital" death.

I hope that answers all of your questions and concerns.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Laura H. said...

That probably could have been a new post, silly.

Joseph said...

Phat-

Thank you for your response, I will be visiting often. In response - Onesiphorus - to say Paul is referring to purgatory when he says "that day" is AS MUCH a stretch as my assertion that lazurus and the rich man merely died a spiritual death - the difference is Jesus is talking in parables when he speaks of the rich man - much like we learned not to eat strange colored food from Dr. Suess - Jesus used the understanding of the time to convey his message - probably a stretch again, but to your credit I noticed you've got an appetite for study - with strong's greek and hebrew on your blog - Here's something you may want to look into - Hebrews 2:5-7 notice- Hebrews is in Greek and in verse 6 "one in a certain place" is referring to Psalm 8:4-6, but Psalms is written in Hebrew. - If you can stomach what that is about then you can easily see that being sons of God we go through the refining fire everyday Look at Hosea 6:1-2 notice "who?" hath torn, healeth, smitten- it's a process of maturing and coming into our destiny being a completed work - the process mentioned in Romans 12:2 "renew-ing" (continuous) and 2 Cor 3:18 "be-ing" transformed into the same image from glory to glory (continuous). It's easier to see these things when you can understand the bible as a whole, some see it verse by verse, others chapter by chapter, still others old and new testament - if you can see it as a completed book - you'll know what power it has over other books.


p.s. JuanCarlos - John 5:39

phatcatholic said...

Joseph,

I'm glad that you checked back in to read my response. Most people leave comments and then you never hear from them again.


In response - Onesiphorus - to say Paul is referring to purgatory when he says "that day" is AS MUCH a stretch as my assertion that lazurus and the rich man merely died a spiritual death

Well, technically, I said that "the Day" was in reference to Judgment Day, but of course (as is my understanding) a purging after death may be part of that. At any rate, how is that a stretch? Is it not obvious that "the Day" refers to Judgment? Did you not read the Scripture passages I cited in support of 1 Cor 3? Here they are again:

Rom 2:5,16
5 But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.
16 on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

1 Cor 1:8 who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

1 Cor 5:5 you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.

2 Cor 1:14 as you have understood in part, that you can be proud of us as we can be of you, on the day of the Lord Jesus.

Phil 1:6,10
6 And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,

Phil 2:16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.

1 Thes 5:2 For you yourselves know well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.

2 Thes 2:2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or excited, either by spirit or by word, or by letter purporting to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.

2 Tim 4:8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

Both 2 Tim 1:18 ("may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day") and 1 Cor 3:13 ("each man's work will become manifest; for the Day will disclose it") have for their context the Day of Judgment. This is clear from verses I just provided. You'll have to go a long way to prove to me that this is a "stretch."


the difference is Jesus is talking in parables when he speaks of the rich man - much like we learned not to eat strange colored food from Dr. Suess

So, just because he was using a parable, this means we should take him as referring to a spiritual death? That is an odd hermeneutical principle, if you ask me. Parables are stories meant to convey a message. The events of the story literally happen, and underneath these events is a lesson that applies to our lives. The Navarre Commentary articulates well the lesson we should take from this parable:

"19-31. This parable disposes of two errors--that of those who denied the survival of the soul after death and, therefore, retribution in the next life; and that of those who interpreted material prosperity in this life as a reward for moral rectitude, and adversity as punishment. This parable shows that, immediately after death, the soul is judged by God for all its acts--the "particular judgment"--and is rewarded or punished; and that divine revelation is by itself sufficient for men to be able to believe in the next life. In another area, the parable teaches the innate dignity of every human person, independently of his social, financial, cultural or religious position. And respect for this dignity implies that we must help those who are experiencing any material or spiritual need."

That is the lesson, and the context bears it out. Joseph, you must account for the fact that your interpretation of this parable has no support in the context of the passage. It's simply not there.


Jesus used the understanding of the time to convey his message - probably a stretch again

Not at all. I agree with this statement, and I think it only reinforces my interpretation. A rich man looking down at a poor beggar, that was an every-day example they could relate to, and it illustrates there belief that the rich have been "blessed" while the poor have been "cursed." He is indeed "using the understanding of the time to convey his message." That is also why I showed that Jews believed in praying for the dead. This was the understanding of the Jews in Jesus' day, as well as of the early Church, which lends even more credibility to my claim that purgatory is present here and in other NT passages.

As for the rest of your post, it's not necessary to quote the whole thing (its cumbersome to write such long replies in a comment box), I get your general point. Note that I never denied the fact that we are being transformed by God's grace every day. But, the issue is this: what is the context for the fire that will "test what sort of work each one has done" (1 Cor 3:13) and that will cause a man to "suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire" (vs. 15). The context is "the Day" (vs. 13). God may indeed refine us with his love throughout our lives, but Paul is referring to that particular act of refining that takes place on Judgment Day. Purgatory is what we call this purification.

I think the main key to this debate is context. I have not seen very much support of your interpretation from the context of the actual verses in question at all. I hope you are not offended by this. I try only to be honest, as I do with all my writings.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

p.s. Joseph - 2 Pet 3:15-16

Štefan said...

Hi Phatcatholic,
how do you know that Onesiphorus was dead. I mean - 2Tim1,16-18 is a great quote to defend the purgatory. I did a computer search for "Onesiphorus" and it didn't show many times and from verses I found one can't say he was dead. It isn't a scholar approach, I know :)
Help please!

Stefan

revProdeji said...

Phatty,

good job with these two. I think you need to go through 2 more things.

1.) Protestants that have held onto purgatory. ala CS Lewis. and other themes of the sanctification process we see in evangelical soteriology

2.) The difference in purgatory is mostly based on a strong difference in how we view grace.
http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/index.php?showtopic=58469

phatcatholic said...

Štefan,

You raise a good question, and I thank you for it. I think the context strongly implies that Onesiphorus is dead. Here again are the verses that mention him:

2 Tim 1:16-18
16 May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiph'orus, for he often refreshed me; he was not ashamed of my chains,
17 but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me eagerly and found me--
18 may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that Day--and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.

2 Tim 4:19-20
19 Greet Priscilla and Aquila and the household of Onesiphorus
20 Erastus stayed in Corinth, and I left Trophimus sick in Miletus.

Now, first of all, we notice in vs. 16 that Paul prays that mercy be granted to the household of Onesiphorus. They seem to be a household in need of consolation. Verse 17 is very reminiscent of a eulogy. He is recalling all the good that Onesiphorus did for him, which is why he has such high regard for the man's family. Finally, in vs. 18 he prays that Onesiphorus will receive mercy on Judgment Day. Now, why should prayer for them take account of present needs while prayers for him looked forward to the day of judgment? Also note that in 2 Tim 1, Paul mentions the man himself and the good that he did in this life, but thereafter he only refers to the man's household (2 Tim 4:19). He mentions other men by name in his salutation, but he only mentions the household of Onesiphorus.

I think the most reasonable explanation for all of this is that Onesiphorus is dead. I hope that helps.

Pax Christi,
phatcatholic

Štefan said...

Hi Phatcatholic,
it's as clear as 1+1=2. I wonder why I didn't understand it myself. Thank you very much.

Stefan

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