Thief on the cross - is "paradise" the same as "purgatory"?

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sabrinaofmn

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Jesus told the thief on the cross that he would be with him in paradise that very day. We know that Jesus didn’t mean heaven because he still had some preaching to do, so did he mean purgatory? If so, the word “paradise” would not connotate the suffering that I often hear associated with the purgatory cleansing process. Who can resolve this for me? Is “paradise” the same as “purgatory”?
 
The word Paradise would have been the same as what Christ calls “Abraham’s Bosom”, namely that area of Sheol (where the dead, both saved and condemned await the coming of Christ) where those who served the Lord faithfully on earth were comforted. When Christ descended “to hell” or “to the dead” as we profess in the Apostle’s Creed, this refers to His bringing of the Good News to those who had fallen asleep, but were not yet able to enter Heaven because Christ had not yet opened the gates. So when the Good Thief died, he would have joined Christ in Sheol prior to His Resurrection. He would not have gone to Purgatory, as Purgatory is reserved to cleanse souls of the temporal effects of sin. Since it is understood by the Church that the Good Thief (aka St. Dismas) underwent a “baptism of desire” on the cross, he would have already had the temporal effects of his sin wiped away.
 
“Paradise” here refers to the “limbo of the Fathers,” also known as “Abraham’s Bosom.” It was the repose of the just before Christ Ascended and opened the gates of Heaven for them.
 
I just wanted to throw my $.02 in on this and since it is a non-Catholic point of view it is only $.02 Canadian.

One of the huge problems is that the word “Hell” has been indiscriminately applied to four separate words; Hades, Sheol, Tartarus, and Gehenna.

The word “Hell” has its origin in the Old English word “Hel” which was the Norse goddess of the underworld. Being Old English would of course tell us once again that the word “Hell” never existed in the original biblical writings.

The fire and brimstone aspect probably came from misinterpretation. The New Testament refers to hell as Gehenna – which I believe is a misnomer for the valley of Ge-Hinnom, a place in ancient times where garbage was constantly burning. Bodies of individuals who were thought to be damned were often thrown into such fires.

The word Hades first appeared in biblical writings when the bible was translated into the Septuagint. At this time the word Sheol was translated as thus. The Hebrew word She’Ol literally means “unseen”. Sheol was a place that both the good and bad go after death, I believe the Jewish use the words king and slave alike. It was a comfortless place but that does not mean an uncomfortable place. It is a place of non-existence.

The New Testament refers to Hades in direct translation. The KJV made the mistake of translating Hades into the version of hell that we have now. In Greek mythology Hades was simply called the underworld. It was not considered a place of eternal torment. If looked at simply Hades was a waiting ground to see if you were sent to Tartarus (which is where the condemned would be sent for punishment) or the Elysian Fields (where the privileged resided), and all other souls were said to be walking in the asphodels (a type of flower) until that time. Ancient Greeks planted aphodels on the graves of the dead. Walking in the aphodels was a time in which you did not exist in either place.

In Peter 2:4 God uses the word Tataroo which is now translated Tartarus. As far as I can tell there has never been mention of fire in Tartarus. Tartarus holds the spirits of sinning angels not humans so that word really does not apply to us. (Matthew 25:41) When the bible spoke of Hades it was more in the sense of the walking in the aphodels.

That is what I can remember from my studies. I could be making some errors, but I cannot look things up as I am typing this at work.
 
Well Shibboleth, I guess the Canadian exchange rate must be improving 👍

Excellent post, but I have a couple of nitpicks:

1.) It’s not the New Testament that refers to hell as Gehenna, it’s Christ himself. Christ used the term Gehenna (which you are correct, it is another name for the Valley of Ge-Hinnom) to illustrate the eternal suffering of Hell

:bible1: “And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. Better for you to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into Gehenna” Mark 9:47

Christ sets up Gehenna as the opposite of the Kingdom of God. Therefore, interchanging the terms hell and Gehenna remains accurate.

2.) You say that Sheol was a comfortless place, but not uncomfortable. Christ, however, speaks of Sheol when he tells the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.

:bible1: “Abraham replied, 'My child, remember that you received what was good during your lifetime while Lazarus likewise received what was bad; but now he is comforted here, whereas you are tormented.” Luke 16:25

Sounds like there are pretty disparate levels of comfort in the netherworld afterall.
 
I think this is a fascinating thread., but must admit when we start talking about dead languages I begin to feel like my head is about to spin in to orbit :ROFLMAO:

But to respond to the thought by the OP; I am reminded that when we earthbound creatures consider time and space in relation to the eternal we can’t compare them on equal terms.

Sorry, not very scholarly I know. But true nonetheless - In eternity, one day is equal to a thousand years.

Peace and all good ~
 
am glad to hear you say that the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus is a parable. From the posts that I had been reading I couldn’t quite discern if Catholics thought of it as a parable or a true story.

One thing with parables you have to try and figure out what it the purpose of the story and what is added to illustrate that point. Is the point that we will burn in purgatory for our injustices, or is it talking about a flip-flop of roles and doing onto others as you would have done on to you. A big paradox comes in with the simultaneous “neitherness” and “torment” verses: 23 –24.

I often get confused on these verses because you are dealing with the OT because Jesus has not yet completed the work of salvation, but it is still the teachings of Christ.
Lazarus was in the “Bosom of Abraham” and not “Asleep in Christ”
 
You are correct that we have to understand what Christ’s message is in His parables. But we should also remember that Christ cannot speak anything that is untrue. If He mentions a place, such as “Abraham’s Bosom”, etc, we must realize that this is a real state of existence, or else the parable would have no relevance to real life.

BTW, Catholic tradition has always understood Lazarus and the Rich Man to be parable.
 
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sabrinaofmn:
Jesus told the thief on the cross that he would be with him in paradise that very day. We know that Jesus didn’t mean heaven because he still had some preaching to do, so did he mean purgatory? If so, the word “paradise” would not connotate the suffering that I often hear associated with the purgatory cleansing process. Who can resolve this for me? Is “paradise” the same as “purgatory”?
Seeing as how the thief got “saved” at that instant, perhaps all of his past sins were washed away…something similiar to baptism of desire. If that happened, then there would be no sins to atone for in purgatory.

Also, Heaven and Hell exist in other dimensions so time doesnt really work the same way as on earth…so the “this day” thing doesn’t concern me too much.
 
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sabrinaofmn:
Jesus told the thief on the cross that he would be with him in paradise that very day. We know that Jesus didn’t mean heaven because he still had some preaching to do, so did he mean purgatory? If so, the word “paradise” would not connotate the suffering that I often hear associated with the purgatory cleansing process. Who can resolve this for me? Is “paradise” the same as “purgatory”?
I’m a Protestant, so I don’t believe in a purgatory, but I think we can agree that the thief went to the Abraham’s Bosom part of Sheol considering this was before the Atonement. Luke 16 describes Lazarus’ as being “comforted” so this takes away from any purgatorial attributes.

One interesting thing to consider, albeit off topic, is that when Christ spoke the words to the thief in Luke 23:43 it would seem he went to heaven if it weren’t for John 20:17. When He spoke to Mary after his resurrection, He said:
"Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God.’ "
If He hadn’t yet ascended to His Father yet told the thief in Luke 23:43:
“Assuredly I say to you, today you shall be with Me in Paradise.”
Then Sheol makes perfect sense as being Paradise (well at least the Abraham’s Bosom side anyway 😃 ).

So Christ descended into Abraham’s bosom along with the thief. Sometime after his resurrection, we have an interesting account in Matthew 27:53 where the dead came…
…forth out of the tombs after His resurrection, they entered into the holy city and appeared to many.
So, take it for what it’s worth, but the “limbo of the Fathers” seems to have been a waiting place. It wasn’t purgatorial, but a place of comfort where the OT saints gathered until the Atonement 😉 .

Peace,
CM
 
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sabrinaofmn:
Jesus told the thief on the cross that he would be with him in paradise that very day. We know that Jesus didn’t mean heaven because he still had some preaching to do, so did he mean purgatory? If so, the word “paradise” would not connotate the suffering that I often hear associated with the purgatory cleansing process. Who can resolve this for me? Is “paradise” the same as “purgatory”?
Maybe he did mean heaven. By Jesus having more preaching to do, do you mean his ‘descent to the dead’ to preach to the souls to whom heaven was barred ‘until’ his saving sacrifice? I put the word ‘until’ in quotes because time really has no meaning as applied to the afterlife. Time ceases when we die. So how long did Jesus spend in sheol, the abode of the dead, or whatever you want to call it? No time at all, or as long as necessary; either way it has no relation to earthly time. And after the resurrection, in his glorified body, I don’t think that time was applicable to Jesus, either. When He ascended into Heaven, it doesn’t mean that 40 days had passed *in heaven * or *in purgatory * since his resurrection.

If we view Purgatory as a place of purification, the church teaches that can be accomplished either on earth or in Purgatory or both. The good thief was being crucified! That should make up for a lot of purgatory time! (Again, using ‘time’ only in a metaphorical sense.)
 
I have to agree with JimG. I always considered that for the Good Thief, going through the excruciation of being crucified would have been temporal punishment enough for his mortal sins. Once, of course, he had made his confession. Don’t know if that is Church Tradition though. I also agree that “Paradise” was the same as Abraham’s Bosom, not Heaven and not purgatorial.
 
:bible1: “And indeed, we have been condemned justly, for the sentence we received corresponds to our crimes” Luke 23:41

It would seem that the Good Thief’s crucifixion was sufficient temporal punishment for his sins. But even if it were not, we recognize that he received Baptism of Desire, and as the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches:
**1263 ** By Baptism all sins are forgiven, original sin and all personal sins, as well as all punishment for sin.
 
Why would pain wash away sin? Something extraordinary happened to the thief on the cross. I think it happened through his conversation with Jesus and not through his spikes in his wrists.
 
Of course, something extraordinary happened with the Good Thief on the cross, and no, his crucifixion certainly didn’t *forgive * his sin. But your question really boils down the difference between Catholic and Protestant theologies of the value of suffering. I would recommend that you read this tract that sums up the idea of the necessity of suffering as expiation for sin and really ties into this whole discussion.
 
Not to be a troll, but isn’t all this talk about the thief’s punishment on the cross being purgatorial a tad too much. After all, he was a thief and subject to Roman law and its punishments. To infer a purgatorial essence is reading too much into this. The thief professed faith in Christ and this bought about his salvation.

Again, I mean no offense, but I’ve seen too many attempt to draw parallels to purgatory from the most basic of situations or verses.

Peace,
CM
 
The passage in no way proves or disproves the existence of Purgatory, if that’s what you mean. However, the understanding of purgatorial suffering, or more correctly, temporal suffering, is that the suffering of the just can be expiation for the justice due to sin, both in this world and the next.
 
Dr. Colossus:
The passage in no way proves or disproves the existence of Purgatory, if that’s what you mean. However, the understanding of purgatorial suffering, or more correctly, temporal suffering, is that the suffering of the just can be expiation for the justice due to sin, both in this world and the next.
Greetings!

I am thoroughly familiar with the concept of temporal suffering and what it means to the Catholic, but this isn’t what I took issue with. I was specifically referring to the posters who are attempting to tie a purgatorial essence to the thief’s sufferings. I just cannot see how they can pull anything out of the verses other then what is there.

Peace,
CM
 
I think we’re just saying that because of his faith, his undoubted suffering was given a sanctifying value, which would not be the case had he rejected Jesus, as did the un-repentant thief.

JimG
 
I agree. By virtue of his faith in Christ, the Good Thief was able to “offer it up” in the same way Catholics do now. At least, I’d like to think he was able to.
 
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