What Does the Bible Say About Ghosts?

Ghosts, spirits and mediums are a common feature in books, movies and television shows. Ghost-hunting shows are popular, and many people say that they have seen ghosts or apparitions themselves.

What Does the Bible Say About Ghosts

The idea of ‘ghosts’ can bring a lot of questions for the faithful.

The Bible contains many references to ghosts, spirits and what happens to our souls and bodies after death. Separately, the Bible also talks of the Holy Ghost – which scholars accept as a spirit that makes up part of God’s being.

The Bible accepts the existence of spirits without a physical body, but the Word also warns against seeking out any communication with these spirits (such as through a medium).

Like in the book of 1 Samuel, the wise Saul requests to see a woman who communicates with the deceased – unfortunately, not a wise decision as the rest of the text tells us.

Are Ghosts Real?

Ghosts (and apparitions) are very real according to the Bible. Several passages reference ghosts or spirits, and they appear to many people throughout the Word – including to Jesus Himself.

One of the most discussed examples of ghosts in the Bible includes the story of King Saul, who asked ot see the medium at Endor (sometimes spelled as En-dor).

Saul asks his servants to point him to the medium. When he visits her, she tells him the very real prophesy of his own death by the sword.

‘Then Saul said to his servants, “Seek out for me a woman who is a medium, that I may go to her and inquire of her.” And his servants said to him, “Behold, there is a medium at En-dor.”’ 1 Samuel 28:19

While ghosts can be real, the Word cautions us to never let the appearance of any illusion alter our faith.

Can People See Ghosts?

Yes, and ghosts (or visions of the deceased) appear to several individuals throughout the Bible. However, the Bible also warns us against false prophets and temptations from the devli = which can sometimes be disguised as a ghost.

Other than ‘ghosts’, Matthew speaks of people who saw the saints resurrected in front of their eyes. After this, the passage said that the image ‘appeared to many’ in the holy city.

“The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” Matthew 27:52-53

Are Ghosts Physical Beings?

Ghosts and apparitions can sometimes be seen with the naked eye, but the Bible also makes it very clear that apparitions and spirits are not people (and that they are not physical in the sense that they can be felt or touched).

In Luke, it is said that a spirit does not have flesh (or bone) like people do.

‘See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.’ Luke 24:39

The idea of ghosts as the Bible talks about them starts to become clearer when taking all these individual passages into account. While ghosts appear, they are not physical humans – and more like a fleeting vision or flash.

Can People Imagine They’ve Seen a Ghost?

The Bible has more than one account of people who see spirits, ghosts or visions throughout its text. But what about when people only think they have seen a ghost, and instead might have seen something else?

In Matthew, disciples are so startled when they see Jesus walking on the water that they mistake him for a ghost.

‘But when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were terrified, and said, “It is a ghost!” and they cried out in fear.’ Matthew 14:26

The Bible admits that people can be wrong at first sight!

Doesn’t that help to explain a lot of what you might see on the internet as spirits or ghosts?

Are Ghosts Demons?

There is at least one prominent account in the Bible where the appearance of people who are no longer living are classified as saints. This occurs in Matthew, and it’s considered to be just one of Jesus’ resurection miracles.

“The tombs also were opened. And many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many.” Matthew 27:52-53

Outside the book of Matthew, there are also several appearances of ghosts and spirits that are not attributed to God. Demons were given the ability to appear and to tempt, and the Bible says they very well might.

Is It a Sin to Speak to Ghosts?

The Bible doesn’t mention ghosts in the Ten Commandments, but there are practical examples in the Word that point out the consequences of those who seek out communication with ghosts and spirits.

The story of Saul and the medium of Endor, told in the book of 1 Samuel, goes into great detail about what could happen.

“Now Samuel had died, and all Israel had mourned for him and buried him in Ramah, his own city. And Saul had put the mediums and the necromancers out of the land. The Philistines assembled and came and encamped at Shunem. And Saul gathered all Israel, and they encamped at Gilboa. When Saul saw the army of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his heart trembled greatly.” 1 Samuel 28:3-19

The death of Samuel, much like the death of any friend or family of ours, was painful to the entire city of people. This pain, which we all are known to feel, was what eventually made Saul seek out the services of a medium.

If we seek out communication with ghosts or spirits, we go further away from our faith in the Lord. It is as good as believing that we do not trust his plans for anyone – and in this way, communicating with ghosts and spirits is not in line with the Lord.

What Does the Bible Say About Ghosts

Can the Dead Speak to the Living?

There is another mention of communication with the deceased that can be found in the book of 2 Samuel. This passage makes it clear that when someone has passed on, they “will not return” to the people they have left behind in any way.

“But now he is dead. Why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I shall go to him, but he will not return to me.” 2 Samuel 12:23

Seeking out communication with people who have passed on can only lead one further away from God in many ways.

Once someone has passed away from the material world, we can only expect judgment for them according to the Bible. People have no reason to come back to the living after they are gone.

Can a Medium Answer Questions from the Living?

There is a direct mention of necromancy in Isaiah, where the Bible asks why people should not instead inquire of their God.

There are many things we might want to know from people once they have passed on, but it means that we do not have full faith in the Lord to give us the answers we need.

“And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living?” Isaiah 8:19

Mediums and necromancers should not be counted upon to provide answers for the living. If there is anything we want to know, God is the one we should ask through knowledge, faith and prayer.

Can the Dead Come Back to Life?

There are resurrections in the Bible, but it’s important to know that Jesus and Lazarus are both counted as rare miracles from God – and events that do not happen again in the Bible.

Hebrews gives us some of the answer to this important question, when it says that man dies only ‘once’, and judgment is the immediate process after this.

“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.” Hebrews 9:27

It only adds to the Biblical evidence that the dead have no reason to come back to live or communicate with the living.

Another clear reference to what happens to us after we die comes in Ecclesiastes, where it says that the dead ‘know nothing’.

Once people die, it is accepted by the Bible that they have passed on and have no further need to be with the living.

“For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.” Ecclesiastes 9:5

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