Friday, February 17, 2017

2 Corinthians 5:8 And Purgatory

The Greek of this passage is highly revealing. The phrases "at home in the body" and "absent from the Lord" in the first part of the passage are present tenses (which indicate continuing action). Hence, we might paraphrase it: "Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are continuing to be at home in the body we are continuing to be absent from the Lord."

By contrast, the latter part of the passage contains two aorist infinitives: "absent from the body" and "at home with the Lord." Such aorists indicate a sense of "once for all." Hence, we might paraphrase it: "We are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the [mortal, perishable] body and to be once for all at home with the Lord."9

Regarding all this, Bible scholar Anthony Hoekema comments:

Whereas the present tenses in verse 6 picture a continuing at-homeness in the body and a continuing away-from-homeness as to the Lord, the aorist infinitives of verse 8 point to a once-for-all momentary happening. What can this be? There is only one answer: death, which is an immediate transition from being at home in the body to being away from home as to the body."

The moment a Christian dies, he or she is immediately in the presence of Christ.

It is also noteworthy that the Greek word pros is used for with in the phrase "be at home with the Lord." This word suggests very close (face-to-face, as it were) fellowship. It is a word used of intimate relationships. Paul thereby indicates that the fellowship he expects to have with Christ immediately following his physical death will be one of great intimacy.

In view of such verses, there is clearly no stopover at purgatory for believers who die. Rather, the instant they die, all believers are ushered directly into the presence of Christ.

Ron Rhodes, Reasoning from the Scriptures with Catholics, p. 240-241

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