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Hell vs. Purgatory: Know the Difference

Shumaila Saeed
By Shumaila Saeed || Updated on December 25, 2023
Hell is traditionally viewed as a place of eternal punishment for the damned, while Purgatory is seen as a temporary state for the purification of souls destined for heaven.
Hell vs. Purgatory

Key Differences

Hell is often described as a place of eternal suffering and punishment for sins, reflecting a state of definitive separation from the divine. Purgatory, in contrast, is conceptualized as a temporary state where souls undergo purification to achieve the holiness necessary to enter heaven.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 06, 2023
The concept of Hell is found in various religious traditions as a permanent destination for the wicked or non-believers. Purgatory, however, is primarily a doctrine of the Catholic Church, not universally acknowledged in all Christian denominations.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 06, 2023
In Hell, the stay is considered eternal and unchangeable, symbolizing ultimate justice and retribution. Purgatory, on the other hand, is temporary, with souls eventually moving to heaven after their purification.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 06, 2023
Hell is often depicted with imagery of fire, brimstone, and despair, emphasizing punishment and despair. Purgatory is sometimes portrayed less harshly, focusing on the process of cleansing and preparation for heaven.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 06, 2023
Beliefs in Hell can influence moral behavior due to fear of eternal damnation, whereas the concept of Purgatory often emphasizes the mercy of God and the value of prayers for the deceased.
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Dec 06, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Purpose

Eternal punishment for the damned
Temporary purification of souls
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Theological Basis

Found in various religions
Mainly a Catholic doctrine
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Duration

Eternal, no escape
Temporary, until purification
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Imagery

Fire, brimstone, suffering
Cleansing, preparation for heaven
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Effect on Beliefs

Fear of damnation, moral behavior
Hope for mercy, prayers for the dead
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Hell and Purgatory Definitions

Hell

Place of Eternal Punishment
He feared his actions would condemn him to Hell.
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Dec 06, 2023

Purgatory

Intermediate State
She was in a Purgatory of uncertainty about her job.
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Dec 06, 2023

Hell

Extreme Suffering
The war zone was like Hell on earth.
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Dec 06, 2023

Purgatory

Process of Improvement
The training was a sort of Purgatory before the competition.
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Hell

Strong Exclamation
Hell, I never thought it would happen!
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Dec 06, 2023
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Purgatory

State of Temporary Purification
Souls in Purgatory await entrance to heaven.
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Dec 06, 2023

Hell

Often Hell The place of eternal punishment for the wicked after death, often imagined as being presided over by Satan and his devils.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Purgatory

Place of Cleansing
In his beliefs, Purgatory cleanses the soul.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 06, 2023

Hell

A state of separation from God; exclusion from God's presence.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Purgatory

Painful or Tedious Situation
Waiting in line felt like Purgatory.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 06, 2023

Hell

The abode of the dead in any of various religious traditions, such as the Hebrew Sheol or the Greek Hades; the underworld.
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Oct 19, 2023

Purgatory

Roman Catholic Church A state in which the souls of those who have died in grace must expiate their sins.
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

A situation or place of evil, misery, discord, or destruction
"War is hell" (William Tecumseh Sherman).
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Purgatory

A place or condition of suffering, expiation, or remorse
A purgatory of drug abuse.
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

An extremely difficult experience; torment or anguish
Went through hell on the job.
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Oct 19, 2023

Purgatory

Tending to cleanse or purge.
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

The spirits in hell or the powers of evil
All hell could not stop him.
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Oct 19, 2023

Purgatory

(Christianity) Purgatory
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

(Informal) One that causes trouble, agony, or annoyance
The boss is hell when a job is poorly done.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Purgatory

Any situation where suffering is endured, particularly as part of a process of redemption.
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

A sharp scolding
Gave the student hell for cheating.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Purgatory

Tending to cleanse; expiatory.
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

A tailor's receptacle for discarded material.
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Oct 19, 2023

Purgatory

Tending to cleanse; cleansing; expiatory.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hell

(Printing) A hellbox.
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Oct 19, 2023

Purgatory

A state or place of purification after death; according to the Roman Catholic creed, a place, or a state believed to exist after death, in which the souls of persons are purified by expiating such offenses committed in this life as do not merit eternal damnation, or in which they fully satisfy the justice of God for sins that have been forgiven. After this purgation from the impurities of sin, the souls are believed to be received into heaven.
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

An outstanding or noteworthy example
You are one hell of a good cook.
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Oct 19, 2023

Purgatory

A temporary condition of torment or suffering;
A purgatory of drug abuse
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

Used as an intensive
How the hell should I know?.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Purgatory

(theology) in Roman Catholic theology the place where those who have died in a state of grace undergo limited torment to expiate their sins
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hell

Used for intensive effect in idioms such as beat the hell out of (someone) for beat (someone) very badly.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hell

(Archaic) A gambling house.
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

To behave riotously; carouse
Out all night helling around.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hell

Used to express anger, disgust, or impatience.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hell

A place of torment where some or all sinners and evil spirits are believed to go after death.
May you rot in hell!
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

A place or situation of great suffering in life.
My new boss is making my job a hell.
I went through hell to get home today.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hell

(countable) A place for gambling.
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

(figuratively) An extremely hot place.
You don’t have a snowball's chance in hell.
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

Used as an intensifier in phrases grammatically requiring a noun.
I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it any more.
What the hell is wrong with you?!
He says he’s going home early? Like hell he is.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hell

(obsolete) A place into which a tailor throws shreds, or a printer discards broken type.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hell

Something extremely painful or harmful (to)
That steep staircase is hell on my knees.
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

Used to express discontent, unhappiness, or anger.
Oh, hell! I got another parking ticket.
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Shumaila Saeed
Oct 19, 2023

Hell

Used to emphasize.
Hell, yeah!
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

Used to introduce an intensified statement following an understated one; nay; not only that, but.
Do it, or, rest assured, there will be no more Middle Eastern crisis – hell, there will be no more Middle East!
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

(postpositional) nodot=a or like hell.
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

; used to emphasize strongly.
That was hell good!
They're hell sexy.
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

To add luster to; to burnish (silver or gold).
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

(rare) To pour.
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

The place of the dead, or of souls after death; the grave; - called in Hebrew sheol, and by the Greeks hades.
He descended into hell.
Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell.
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

The place or state of punishment for the wicked after death; the abode of evil spirits. Hence, any mental torment; anguish.
It is a knellThat summons thee to heaven or to hell.
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

A place where outcast persons or things are gathered
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

To overwhelm.
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Hell

Any place of pain and turmoil;
The hell of battle
The inferno of the engine room
When you're alone Christmas is the pits
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

A cause of difficulty and suffering;
War is hell
Go to blazes
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

(Christianity) the abode of Satan and the forces of evil; where sinners suffer eternal punishment;
Hurl'd headlong...To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
A demon from the depths of the pit
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

(religion) the world of the dead;
He didn't want to go to hell when he died
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

Violent and excited activity;
They began to fight like sin
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

Noisy and unrestrained mischief;
Raising blazes
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Oct 19, 2023

Hell

Difficult Situation
Getting through the jungle was Hell.
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Dec 06, 2023

Hell

Emphatic Denial
Hell no, I won't agree to that!
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Repeatedly Asked Queries

How long does a soul stay in Purgatory?

It varies, but Purgatory is temporary.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 06, 2023

Do all Christians believe in Purgatory?

No, it's primarily a Catholic belief.
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Dec 06, 2023

What is Hell?

A place of eternal punishment in many religions.
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Dec 06, 2023

What is Purgatory?

A temporary state for the purification of souls in Catholicism.
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Dec 06, 2023

Who goes to Purgatory?

Souls not ready for heaven but not damned.
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Dec 06, 2023

Does everyone go to Hell or Purgatory?

Beliefs vary; not all traditions accept these concepts.
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Can you escape from Hell?

Traditionally, Hell is eternal with no escape.
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Is Purgatory mentioned in the Bible?

It's not explicitly in the Bible; the idea developed in church tradition.
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Dec 06, 2023

What happens in Hell?

It's depicted as a place of suffering and punishment.
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Dec 06, 2023

How is Purgatory different from heaven?

Purgatory is for purification; heaven is a state of eternal bliss.
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Dec 06, 2023

Can prayers help souls in Purgatory?

Catholic doctrine says prayers can aid in their purification.
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Dec 06, 2023

Are there any descriptions of Purgatory?

Descriptions vary, often focusing on spiritual cleansing.
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Dec 06, 2023

Is Hell a physical place?

Its depiction varies; some see it as symbolic.
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Dec 06, 2023

Can Hell be a metaphor?

Some interpret it symbolically, representing separation from the divine.
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Dec 06, 2023

Is Hell the same as damnation?

Hell is often associated with the concept of eternal damnation.
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Dec 06, 2023

Is belief in Hell and Purgatory essential?

It depends on the religious tradition.
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Dec 06, 2023

How does one avoid Hell?

Beliefs vary, typically involving living a moral life.
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Dec 06, 2023

Does Purgatory have different levels?

Some traditions suggest varying levels of purification.
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Shumaila Saeed
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Do all religions have a concept of Hell?

Many do, but the details and interpretations vary.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 06, 2023

What are the origins of Hell in religion?

Ideas of Hell are ancient and present in various religious texts.
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Shumaila Saeed
Dec 06, 2023

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Shumaila Saeed
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Shumaila Saeed
Shumaila Saeed, an expert content creator with 6 years of experience, specializes in distilling complex topics into easily digestible comparisons, shining a light on the nuances that both inform and educate readers with clarity and accuracy.

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