Christians looked for an imminent end of the world and many of them had little interest in an interim state between death and resurrection. The Eastern Church admits of such an intermediate state, but refrained from defining it, so as not to blur the distinction between the alternative definitive fates of Heaven and Hell. The Western Church goes differently by defining the intermediate state, with evidence from as far back as the Passion of Saints Perpetua and Felicity (203) of the belief that sins can be purged by suffering in an afterlife, and that the purgation can be expedited by the intercession of the living. Eastern Christians also believed that the dead can be assisted by prayer.
East and West, those in the intermediate state have traditionally been the beneficiaries of prayers, such as requiem masses. In the East, the saved are said to rest in light while the wicked are confined in darkness. In the East, prayers are said to benefit those in Hades, even pagans. In the West, Augustine described prayer as useful for those in communion with the church, and implied that every soul's ultimate fate is determined at death. In the West, such prayer came to be restricted to souls in Purgatory, which the idea has "ancient roots" and is demonstrated in early Church writings.Roman Catholic Church offers indulgences for those in purgatory, which evolved out of the earlier practice of canonical remissions. While some Protestants, such as Anglicans and Lutherans, affirmed prayer for the dead, other Nonconformist Protestants largely ceased praying for the dead.
In general, Protestants denied the Catholic purgatory. Luther taught mortality of the soul, comparing the sleep of a tired man after a day's work whose soul "sleeps not but is awake" ("non sic dormit, sed vigilat") and can "experience visions and the discourses of the angels and of God", with the sleep of the dead which experience nothing but still "live to God" ("coram Deo vivit").Calvin depicted the righteous dead as resting in bliss.