Malachi 3:3, Is Purgatory Real?

And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

//This may look like a strange verse to introduce the topic of purgatory, but this is in part where the idea derives. Purgation is a purifying of our souls, after we die. Paul used a similar metaphor:

Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by 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 shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire. –1 Corinthians 3:13-15.

This passage seems to read more this-worldly than as a description of the afterlife, but again the concept is there. Burn away the chaff to retain the good. Now, put these two verses together with many other verses that hint of fiery pain, like the lake of fire in Revelation, and the idea of purgation surfaces.

When would be better for this purging, then, than in the time between when you die and when Christ returns to welcome you to heaven? Such ideas began to surface among the church fathers as early as the second century. It took some time before the fire was considered a sort of penance, but by the twelfth century, it became a fixed doctrine. The spirits of the dead did penance until they were purified, in a place called purgatory. By 1300, purgatory was so established that Dante (1265-1321) could write his portrait of the afterlife in the Divine Comedy … and, as they say, the rest is history.

So is purgatory real? Dunno. I hope not.

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