Scriptures Against Purgatory

Notes were compiled from Heaven by Randy Alcorn (Chapters 5-7)

  1. Those who have died = “Those who fall asleep” (1 Thess.4:13)
  2. Ecclesiastes 12:7 “The dust returns to the ground it came from and the spirit returns to God who gave it.” At death the human spirit goes to either Heaven or Hell.
  3. Christ depicted Lazarus and the rich man as conscious in Heaven and Hell immediately after they died. (Luke 16:22-31).
  4. Jesus told the thief of the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)
  5. Paul said that to die was to be with Christ (Phil.1:23), and to be absent from the body was to be present with the Lord. (2 Cor.5:8)
  6. After their deaths, martyrs are pictured in Heaven, crying out to God to bring justice on Earth. (Rev 6:9-11) These passages make it clear that there is no such thing as “soul sleep,” or a long period of unconsciousness between life on Earth and life in Heaven. The phrase “fallen asleep” (1 Thess.4:13) is a euphemism for death, describing the body’s outward appearance. The spirit’s departing from the body ends our existence on Earth (Dan. 12:2-3, 2 Cor.5:8). The OT passages (Ecc.9:5, etc.) address outward appearances and do not reflect the NT revelation concerning relocation and consciousness after death.
  7. Every reference in Rev. to human beings talking and worshiping in Heaven prior to the resurrection of the dead demonstrates that our spiritual beings are conscious, not sleeping, after death. (Nearly everyone who believes in soul sleep believes that souls are disembodied at death; it’s not clear how disembodied beings could sleep, because sleeping involves a physical body.
  8. John 4:24 “God is spirit and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” Intermediate Heaven is a place where God, angels, and humans dwell. Angels can exist in a physical world as well as in Heaven. They often take on human form (Heb. 13:2).
  9. Rev. 2:7 “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Now it is in the intermediate heaven.
  10. 2 Cor.5:2-4 “Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” Paul is longing to be with Christ. (Phil. 1:21) At death we are immediately clothed by a heavenly dwelling. The martyrs in Heaven are described as wearing clothes. (Rev. 6:9-11) Disembodied spirits don’t wear clothes. (The Ark of the Covenant had symbolic meaning but was also a real, physical object). The Greek word “psuche” = soul. These martyrs are called souls and here translated does not normally mean disembodied spirits. “Psuche” is typically used of a whole person who has both body and spirit. It is used in Rev. 12:11 to describe the martyrs who “did not love their lives (psuche) so much as to shrink from death.”
  11. The apostle John had a body when he visited Heaven, because he is said to have grasped, held, eaten, and tasted things. (Rev. 10:9-10) In 2 Cor. 12:3 Paul expresses uncertainty about whether he was in the body or not, but the fact that he thought he might have had a body is significant. Temporary bodies might be given – just as in OT times. We do not receive our resurrection (or true) bodies immediately after death.
  12. One resurrected, physical body is in the intermediate heaven, Jesus! If Christ’s body has a physical form, it stands to reason that others in Heaven might have physical forms, even if only temporary ones. Acts 7:56 = Christ is standing at the right hand of God. He is actually standing on something not floating. He has not been floating for 2,000 years.
  13. Enoch and Elijah were taken in their physical bodies. (Gen. 5:24, Heb. 11:5, 2 Kings 2:11-12)
  14. Moses and Elijah appeared physically with Christ at the Transfiguration. (Luke 9:28-36) God creates intermediate bodies for people.
  1. Luke 16:19-31 When Lazarus died, angels carried him to Paradise. The rich man died and went to torment. Lazarus is with Abraham; the rich man is by himself. Heaven and Hell are separated by a fixed chasm. Both the rich man and Abraham reasoned and communicated. They had physical forms (tongue, a thirst, fingers, and water). The rich man remembers his brothers, which indicates consciousness after death and clear memory of Earth and people on the Earth.
  1. In the intermediate Heaven or Hell, we will await the time Jesus foretold, “When all who are in their graves will hear His voice and come out. (John 5:28-29) Until that time, Scripture teaches: Those who die will go to a real place, either Heaven or Hell as conscious human beings with memory of their lives and relationships on Earth. (Rev. 6:9-11) v. 9 = There is direct continuity between our identity on Earth and our identity in Heaven. (Heb. 12:23 = “righteous men made perfect”) v. 10 = “They called out.” They expressed themselves audibly. This suggests they exist in a physical form. They raised their voice. They called out in “a loud voice.” Heaven is a place of unity. They asked God to intervene on Earth and act on their behalf. (v. 10) People have an audience with God. They remember their life on Earth. They pray for judgment on their persecutors. They intercede for suffering saints on Earth. “Each of them was given a white robe. (v.11) Only a physical form can wear a robe. They are distinct individuals. God answers their question. There is communication in the present Heaven. They have a strong familial connection with those on Earth who are called “fellow servants and brothers.”
  1. What is true for the martyrs is true of our loved ones already there and will be of us when we die.
  1. Luke 16:25 = In Heaven those who endured bad things on Earth are comforted for them. If there was no memory of bad things, what would be the need for comfort? Our righteous deeds on Earth will not be forgotten but will follow us to Heaven. (Rev. 13:13) 2 Cor.5:10 = Our deeds on Earth are recorded in Heaven, and at the judgment seat of Christ, we will receive rewards.
  2. 1 Sam. 28:16-19 = God brings Samuel back from the after life. Samuel remembered what Saul had done before Samuel died and was aware of what had happened since he died.
  3. Luke 9:31 = Moses and Elijah talked with Jesus and spoke about his departure. They seemed fully aware of His situation and what was going to be accomplished.
  4. Heb. 12:1-2 “a great cloud of witnesses” refers to the saints who have gone before us and are watching us and cheering us on. They surround us. (Rev. 2-3)
  5. Christ watches us. The saints are watching, too. When a great war is transpiring, are those in the home country uninformed and unaware of it? If angels know what is happening on Earth, (1Cor. 4:9, 1Tim. 5:21) why not saints?
  6. Luke 15:7 “There is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” It doesn’t say angels rejoice; it says in the presence of angels. Therefore, the saints rejoice, especially at the conversion of those they knew and loved on Earth. Obviously, they must be aware of what is happening on Earth.
  7. People can be in the present Heaven and be aware of bad things happening on Earth. (Rev. 21:4 refers to the New Heaven and New Earth where there will be no more sorrow. Happiness in the intermediate Heaven is not based on ignorance but on perspective. Those who live in the presence of Christ find great joy in worshiping God and living as righteous beings in a sinless environment. They are looking forward to Christ’s return, their bodily resurrection, the final judgment, and the New Earth being fashioned from the old.


Meanwhile, we on this dying Earth can relax and rejoice for our loved ones who are in the presence of Christ. As Paul states, though we naturally grieve, we are not “to grieve like the rest of men who have no hope.” (1 Thess.4:13) Our parting is not the end of our relationship, only an interruption. We have not lost them because we know where they are. They are experiencing the joy of Christ’s presence in a place so wonderful that Christ called it Paradise (like the Garden of Eden). One day, we’re told, in a magnificent reunion, they and we “will be with the Lord forever. Therefore, encourage each other with these words.” (1 Thess.4:17-18)

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