That’s a good question.  First, let’s look at the definition of purgatory as found on the Catholic Answers website.  That says, “The Catechism of the Catholic Church defines purgatory as a ‘purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven,’ which is experienced by those ‘who die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified.’  It notes that ‘this final purification of the elect . . . is entirely different from the punishment of the damned.’  The purification is necessary because, as Scripture teaches, nothing unclean will enter the presence of God in heaven (Rev. 21:27) and, while we may die with our mortal sins forgiven, there can still be many impurities in us, specifically venial sins and the temporal punishment due to sins already forgiven.”  Another description of purgatory is “In Christian theology, and especially in Catholic theology, Purgatory is an intermediate state after physical death in which those destined for heaven “undergo purification, so as to achieve the holiness necessary to enter the joy of heaven”.  Only those who die in the state of grace but have not yet fulfilled the temporal punishment due to their sin can be in Purgatory, and therefore no one in Purgatory will remain forever in that state or go to hell.”  It should be noted that NO version of the Bible uses the word ‘purgatory’, not even the Catholic Bible.  The term and teaching originates back to about 1160 AD.

What we understand from this is that (supposedly) purgatory is a condition or place of purification for those who ‘die in God’s grace and friendship, but still imperfectly purified.’  While these people are believers on the Lord, yet they still have many impurities that disqualify them from going immediately into the presence of God after death.  They have not ‘fulfilled the temporal punishment due to their sin.’  Also, this is different from Hell.  No one goes from purgatory to Hell.

Now let’s look at those two verses you asked about.  2 Corinthians 5:8 says, “We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”  This verse shows that when we (believers) die, we being absent from the body, are in the Lord’s presence.  It actually disproves the idea of purgatory.  The Apostle Paul speaks of confidence and of being willing to be absent from the body for this means to be present with the Lord.  Paul wrote in Philippians 1:23-24, “For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you.”  His words are clear.  To ‘depart’ is to ‘be with Christ.’

Now let’s read Luke 16:22-24, “And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.”  Since the Catholic Church teaches that no one goes from purgatory to Hell, we really don’t see how this portion can be used to teach the idea of purgatory.  In the event of the poor man’s death, he was immediately carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom (Heaven).  Lazarus was immediately in a place of torment.  Abraham spoke to the rich man about the permanence of his place.  We read in Luke 16:25-26, “But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; NEITHER CAN THEY PASS TO US, THAT WOULD COME FROM THENCE.”

The major error with the idea of purgatory is that they teach that some true believers can die, yet still have some of their sins upon themselves.  The Lord told His disciples that once we are cleansed, we are “…clean every whit: and ye are clean.” (John 13:10)  To say that a believer on the Lord Jesus can be ‘imperfectly purified’ absolutely denies the finished work of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross.  1 John 1:7 says plainly, “…the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from ALL SIN.”  (222.4)