Early Church Fathers' Quotes on Purgatory

by Matt Slick

  1. Purgatory supported 
    1. Tertullian (155-220), "We offer sacrifices for the dead on their birthday anniversaries [the date of death—birth into eternal life]" (Tertullian, The Crown 3:3).
    2. Chrysostom (349-407), "Let us help and commemorate them. If Job’s sons were purified by their father’s sacrifice [Job 1:5], why would we doubt that our offerings for the dead bring them some consolation? Let us not hesitate to help those who have died and to offer our prayers for them" (Homilies on First Corinthians 41:5).
    3. Augustine (354-430), "Temporal punishments are suffered by some in this life only, by some after death, by some both here and hereafter, but all of them before that last and strictest judgment. But not all who suffer temporal punishments after death will come to eternal punishments, which are to follow after that judgment," (The City of God 21:13).
  2. Purgatory not supported
    1. Aphrahat (270-345), "For when men die, the animal spirit is buried with the body, and sense is taken away from it, but the heavenly spirit that they receive goes according to its nature to Christ. And both these the Apostle has made known, for he said:--The body is buried in animal wise, and rises again in spiritual wise. The Spirit goes back again to Christ according to its nature, for the Apostle said again:--When we shall depart from the body we shall be with our Lord. For the Spirit of Christ, which the spiritual receive, goes to our Lord . . . But our faith thus teaches, that when men fall asleep, they sleep this slumber without knowing good from evil. And the righteous look not forward to their promises, nor do the wicked look forward to their sentence of punishment, until the Judge come and separate those whose place is at His right hand from those whose place is at His left . . . (Demonstrations, 6:14, 8:20, 8:22-23, 22:9).
    2. Augustine (354-430), "And it is not impossible that something of the same kind may take place even after this life. It is a matter that may be inquired into, and either ascertained or left doubtful, whether some believers shall pass through a kind of purgatorial fire, and in proportion as they have loved with more or less devotion the goods that perish, be less or more quickly delivered from it." (The Enchiridion, 69).
    3. Polycarp (69-150), “ . . . This do in the assurance that all these have not run in vain, but in faith and righteousness, and that they are now in their due place in the presence of the Lord, with whom also they suffered. For they loved not this present world, but Him who died for us, and for our sakes was raised again by God from the dead." (The Epistle of Polycarp to the Philippians, 9).

About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.