For follow-up discussion and general commentary on the topic. Comments are sorted chronologically.
Jesus is God (John 1:: 14; 14: 9-14), those who believed in God before Jesus, believed in Jesus.
"And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He gave up his Spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus' resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many people".(Mathew 27: 50-53).
Prior to Christ's death, it appears that believers in the rightness of God, rather than be cast into hell or raised to heaven, may have gone to a place called " Abraham's bosom ". Abraham's bosom is recognized as a place in Luke 16.Someplace was emptied of the righteous at the time of Jesus's death. Matt 27:51-53 tells us that the dead were raised and recognized, at least by some of the people alive at that time. Could this be what some religions call " purgatory" ? If this is so, it would explain why living people saw others who had died prior to His death and victory over the grave.
I have read other commentaries concerning this question and, while my comment is short, it does seem to explain why some people consider purgatory as a once existing area. I think it would be very dangerous to continue believing in such a place since it would deny the finished work of Christ.