(Mt. 12:32) Does this passage support the Roman Catholic doctrine of purgatory?

CLAIM: Jesus taught, “Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come” (Mt. 12:32). Catholic apologist Tim Staples writes, “This declaration of our Lord implies at least some sins can be forgiven in the next life—a declaration to a people who already believed it. If Jesus wanted to condemn this commonly held teaching, he was not doing a very good job of it, according to Matthew’s Gospel.”[1] Catholic apologist Karl Keating writes, “This implies expiation can occur after death.”[2]

RESPONSE: Jesus says that the sin of “blaspheming the Holy Spirit” will never be forgiven. Catholic interpreters suggest that Jesus is claiming that some sins might be forgiven in the next age—just not the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. However, this is eisegesis—not exegesis. They are reading into the text—not pulling the interpretation out of the text. Jesus is claiming that this sin will never be forgiven—not that some sins will. Note that the first half of this verse says that forgiveness for blaspheming Jesus only occurs in this life—not in the afterlife. By contrast, the Bible says that there is one judgment after death (Heb. 9:27). For more on this subject, see our earlier article “Purgatory.”

[1] Staples, Tim. “Is Purgatory a Catholic Invention? No Way!” This Rock. Volume 22. Number 2. 2011.

[2] Keating, Karl. Catholicism and Fundamentalism. San Francisco: Ignatius, 1988. 193.