2 Maccabees 12:39-45: This passage is taken from the Apocrypha which is recognized by the Roman Catholic Church and a few Protestant denominations as an integral part of the official canon of scripture. It talks about living persons praying for the dead. One could reason that there is no need to pray for the deceased if they are in Heaven; they have already received their reward. If the deceased is in Hell, then prayer would again be meaningless because they would be beyond help. One might surmise that there must be an intermediate state or location where a person’s soul could be helped by the prayer of others.
1 Corinthians 3:15 discusses how each individual’s good and bad works will be judged after death. This is probably the main text used by Catholics to support their belief in Purgatory. The passage refers to fire which will test the quality of each man’s work. If it is burned up…he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. This passage could be interpreted as a reference to the purifying fires of Purgatory, which would eventually allow a person to escape. This reference cannot refer to Hell, because one cannot leave that place; it cannot refer to Heaven because there is no pain there; it must refer to some intermediate location. The key word in the original Greek is “zemiothesetai” which is translated as “suffer loss” in many versions of the Bible. But the original word also can refer to punishment; this alternative meaning is suppressed in most translations.
Revelation 21:27 states that no impure person will enter heaven. “But nothing unclean shall enter it…” Some reason that if a person dies with some minor sins still on their record, then they are obviously not pure; they must go to some place to be refined until they can attain heaven.
Other passages include: Psalm 141:8; Daniel 12:10; Micah 7:9; Zechariah 9:11; Matthew 5:26; Matthew 12:32 & 36; Luke 12:47-48; Philippians 2:10; Hebrews 12:22b; James 3:1; 1 Peter 3:19; 1 Peter 4:18; 1 Peter 7:37; and Jude 23. 2
Passages which discuss “penitent mourning or concern for safe passage of the dead” are: Genesis 50:10; Numbers 20:29; Deuteronomy 34:8; 2 Maccabees 12:44-45; 1 Corinthians 15:29; 2 Timothy 1:16-18; 2 Timothy 4:19. These have been used to imply the existence of Purgatory. 2