John asked:

Paul says to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord, which most Protestants believe that at the moment you die you are in the presence of the Lord and so there wouldn’t be any time to go to purgatory.

Jimmy Akin replied:

"...The passage you’re thinking of is 2nd Corinthians 5:8 ... That’s a common misquoting that you frequently hear from Protestant apologists ... Here’s the passage with a little bit of extra context...

Paul writes, ‘So we are always of good courage; we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, for we walk by faith, not by sight. We are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So whether we are at home or away we make it our aim to please him.’

So you can hear right there he doesn’t say it’s the same thing ... That doesn’t mean that the instant you are away from the body you are at home with the Lord. I could say I’d rather be away from the office and at home with my wife ... that doesn’t mean the instant I leave the office I materialize ... at home with my wife ...

Because these two states are not identified with each other, you can’t infer that there’s no space of time in there in which a final purification would occur, which is what the Church understands purgatory to be, the final purification that finishes up any remaining any spiritual healing and spiritual purification that we need if we’re not already totally pure at the end of our lives...

Even if purgatory is instantaneous which the Church doesn’t say it’s not, then it still occurs because we still have lots of people dying without that perfect holiness that we need to be in heaven because we’re still sinning, we’re still tempted to sin at the end of this life, but that’s not the way it’s going to be in heaven. So there has to be a final purification between death and full glory. Whether that takes place in a flash, in an instant or whether it takes place over time or whether it takes place over something similar but not the same as time as we experience it, all of those are possibilities. Even if this verse did identify the state of being away from the body, strictly with the state of being at home with the Lord, all that would mean is purgatory takes place in a flash.”


Catholic Answers, "Open Forum for Non-Catholics" (San Diego: Catholic Answers, 2013)

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Show air date: August 5, 2013

Name of show: Open Forum for Non-Catholics

Guest comments by: Jimmy Akin

Question appeared in show: 27:46

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