“Love the Lord with all your heart, and with all your soul,
If you've ever been in a discussion with a Protestant about Purgatory often this argument is proposed to refute Purgatory:
Paul says in the Bible that "to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord." That is, if we're absent from the body (i.e. dead), we are present with the Lord (in heaven). Therefore, they argue, no Purgatory. We're either in our body (alive) or at home with the Lord (saved) in heaven. After all, that's what Paul says in Corinthians.
Except, that this verse by Paul, curiously, is not actually found in Corinthians. Nor anywhere in the Bible.
What I think has been happening is, ironically, a man-made tradition of arguing against Purgatory, without actually going to Scripture to see what the verse says. One person heard his pastor say it, who heard another man say it, who heard another man say it...but no one ever checked the Scriptures to see what it actually said.
The actual verse is this: "We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord." - 2 Corinthians 5:6-8
In other words, "Oh, how I wish I could be away from this life and be joyfully present with God in heaven!"
That's rather different from the equation: "to be dead" is equal to "being saved in heaven."
I could say, "I would prefer to be away from the office and at home with my family", but that does not mean that when I am away from work that I must be at home. It's simply my wish, or my preference, that when I'm not at work that I'd like to be at home. However, if I'm not at work I could be in, well, purgatory (here, fill in the blank with whatever your purgatory may be: the dentist's chair, traffic, waiting in line at the License Bureau, listening to your 3rd grader relate in great detail the latest Pokemon episode....)
If you do a google search of alleged Scriptural arguments against Purgatory you'll find numerous hits offering the mantra, "The Bible says that to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord and yet those Catholics still keep teaching about Purgatory, which is clearly against the Bible!"
In fact, when I did a search, I came up with this site,
Over 10 pages of people using this verse to refute the Catholic teaching on Purgatory--all based on something that the Bible does not ever say! (To be sure, some of those hits include the Catholic response: "The Bible does NOT say this!", but the majority of references claim that Paul said to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord).
Oh, the irony of folks criticizing Catholic doctrine with a Bible verse that isn't actually found in the Bible!
Incidentally, if someone is going to use this (non-existent) verse to deny the existence of Purgatory, then this Christian is also going to have to use it to deny the existence of Hell, too--something most Protestants are not willing to do. For if it's true that "to be absent from the body is to be at home with the Lord" then, of course, it rules out the existence of Hell.
Finally, I'd like to leave you with this wonderful quote by Christian apologist, CS Lewis (who was, curiously, NOT a Catholic, but apparently was an apologist for the doctrine of Purgatory)
"Our souls demand purgatory, don't they? Even if God doesn't mind people entering heaven dripping with mud and slime, should we not reply, I'd rather be cleansed first,' even if it may hurt?"--CS Lewis.
Apologist Steve Ray's Article on this verse
Catholics Come Home
"Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect" - 1 Peter 3:15