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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/the-mystery-of-reincarnation/

2. “Was Reincarnation Ever in the Bible?” – www.probe.org/was-reincarnation-ever-in-the-bible/

Shalom in Christ,
Michael Gleghorn

© 2010 Probe Ministries

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