Does the Bible ever talk about reincarnation?
The short answer is "No; the Bible nowhere speaks of reincarnation." Unfortunately, however, some people have claimed to find evidence for this belief in the Bible. For example, John the Baptist is often claimed to be the reincarnation of Elijah.
This is a popular "New Age" sort of interpretation. Of course, no respected biblical scholar would accept this interpretation as true.
And it certainly wasn't the view of Jesus, His disciples, John the Baptist, or the Gospel writers. Luke 1:17 tells us that John came in the "spirit and power" of Elijah, which is far different than asserting that John was the reincarnation of Elijah. In addition, it's important to remember that Moses and Elijah appeared to Jesus, Peter, James, and John on the Mount of Transfiguration. But as Geisler and Rhodes observe, "Since John [the Baptist] had already lived and died by then, and since Elijah still had the same name and self-consciousness, Elijah had obviously not been reincarnated as John the Baptist." Third, we must remember that Elijah never died (2 Kings 2:11); therefore, he doesn't fit the reincarnation model.
An important verse to bear in mind in these discussions is Hebrews 9:27. This verse teaches us that we die once, and then face God's judgment. The consequences of that judgment, according to the Bible, are eternal—not temporal (Matt. 25:46; 2 Thess. 1:9; Rev. 20:10-15).
If you would like more information about this subject, please see the following two resources on Probe's website:
1. The Mystery of Reincarnation - www.probe.org/mystery-reincarnation
2. "Was Reincarnation Ever in the Bible?" - www.probe.org/reincarnation-bible
Shalom in Christ,
© 2010 Probe Ministries
About the Author
Michael Gleghorn is a research associate with Probe Ministries. He earned a B.A. in psychology from Baylor University and a Th.M. in systematic theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in theology from Dallas Theological Seminary. Before coming on staff with Probe, Michael taught history and theology at Christway Academy in Duncanville, Texas. Michael and his wife Hannah have two children. His personal website is michaelgleghorn.com.
What is Probe?
Probe Ministries is a non-profit ministry whose mission is to assist the church in renewing the minds of believers with a Christian worldview and to equip the church to engage the world for Christ. Probe fulfills this mission through our Mind Games conferences for youth and adults, our 3-minute daily radio program, and our extensive Web site at www.probe.org.
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