I believe this is a question that many people ask themselves. Using the idea of the good thief on the cross and how Jesus said to him "Amen, I say to you, today you will be in paradise with me". Many non-Catholics use this verse to say that Purgatory does not exist and that Jesus took the thief immediately to heaven. My question to this theory is this, how could Jesus take the man to heaven that day when in fact Christ didn't open the gates of heaven until he was resurrected. In fact, when he died he didn't go up to a party in heaven, instead he went down into the "Prisons" to preach the good news to those that were waiting for him. Jesus also said that a day to him is like a thousands years to us, therefore saying "Today" could have meant that the thief wouldn't have been in heaven for a very long time or it could have been a very short time before he made it. However the fact still remains that Christ waited 3 days before the gates were opened by him.. and it was those 3 days that the theif had to wait for in the least bit.
I have heard a few people say that when Christ died his sacrifice finished everything and that there was no longer any need for purgatory and so Christ ended it. How can this be when the New Testament points to many different verses at the teaching of purgatory:
In (Matthew 12:23-36) Jesus speaks of sins to be forgiven in the life to come. If we are in heaven then there is no need to have forgivess and if we are in hell, we cannot be forgiven.. therefore what did Jesus mean by this? Only one answer; Purgatory.
Take a look at (Corinthians 3:13-15), St. Paul speaks about those that are saved through the next life through fire. Heaven will not have fire.. Hell you cannot be saved in.. so what is left? Purgatory.
Again in (Peter 3:18-20), St. Peter speakes upon Jesus speaking to the spirits in prison and of the gospel preached to the dead in (1 Peter 4:6).
The bible also affirms it again that we are to pray for the dead in (2 Maccabees 12:44-46) which is only in the Catholic bible since Luthers teaching would not have worked if he hadn't removed the 7 books of the bible to take out those books that would have challenged his new ideology.
Did Purgatory End When Christ was Resurrected?
No, I think not. How could it be when the bible has so many numerous verses that continually point to its very existence. The bible says we must be cleanes through fire before we can be pure enough for heaven, therefore.. how many of us die pure like God? None. How many people make it straight to heaven after they die? Very few.