The passages cited enable us properly to estimate two opposite errors.
A. They refute, on the one hand, the view that the souls of both righteous and wicked sleep between death and the resurrection.
This view is based upon the assumption that the possession of a physical organism is indispensable to activity and consciousness, an assumption, which the existence of a God who is pure spirit ( <430424>John 4:24) and the existence of angels who are probably pure spirits ( <580114>Hebrews 1:14), show to be erroneous. Although the departed are characterized as ?spirits?
( <211207>Ecclesiastes 12:7; <440759>Acts 7:59; <581223>Hebrews 12:23; 1Pet 3:19 ), there is nothing in this ?absence from the body? ( <470508>2 Corinthians 5:8) inconsistent with the activity and consciousness ascribed to them in the Scriptures above referred to. When the dead are spoken of as ?sleeping?
( <271202>Daniel 12:2; <400924>Matthew 9:24; <431111>John 11:11; <461130>1 Corinthians 11:30; 15:51; <520414>1 Thess. 4:14; 5:10),we are to regard this as simply the language of appearance, and as literally applicable only to the body. <430424> John 4:24 ? ?God Is a Spirit [or rather, as margin, ?God is spirit?]?; <580114> Hebrews 1:14 ? ?Are they [angels] not all ministering spirits??
<211207> Ecclesiastes 12:7 ? ?the dust returneth to the earth as it was, and the spirit returneth unto God who gave it?; <440759>Acts 7:59 ? ?And they stoned Stephen, calling upon the Lord, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit?; <581223>Hebrews 12:23 ? ?to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits ofjust men made perfect? <600319>1 Peter 3:19 ? ?in which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison?; <470508>2 Corinthians 5:8 ? ?we are of good courage, I say, and are willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be at home with the Lord?; <271202>Daniel 12:2 ? ?many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake?; <400924>Matthew 9:24 ? ?the damsel is not dead, but sleepeth?; <431111>John 11:11 ? ?Our friend Lazarus is fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep?; <461130>1 Corinthians 11:30 ? ?For this cause many among you are weak and sickly, and not a few sleep?; <520414>1 Thess. 4:14 ? ?For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also that are fallen asleep in Jesus will God bring with him?; 5:10 ? ?who died for us that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.?
B. The passages first cited refute, on the other hand, the view that the suffering of the intermediate state is purgatorial.
According to the doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church, ?all who die at peace with the church, but are not perfect, pass into purgatory.? Here they
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