Does purgatory exist?

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Tuesday 2 March 2010

Some people believe that when you die there is an area in between heaven and hell called purgatory. Whether it does or doesn't exist is irrelevant to this post, as I am writing about the importance of commas, but those who claim that it does exist get support from something Jesus said while he was hanging on the cross.

In the gospel of Luke, Chapter 23 verses 42-43, one of the men on the cross next to Jesus starts speaking to him - the bible reads:

  • 42Then he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.[f]"
  • 43Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise."
This version implies that the other man will be with Jesus in paradise on that very day. However, some others claim that the comma in Jesus' answer should be placed one word on, that is:
  • "Jesus answered him, "I tell you the truth today, you will be with me in paradise".
This answer implies that Jesus is speaking the truth on that very day, but the man will be in paradise at some time in the future. Perhaps that day, perhaps much later, leaving open the possibility of going somewhere in between, perhaps purgatory.

I don't believe the latter, but it shows the power for controversy the simple comma can have.


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