Reincarnation, Jesus, the Bible & Christianity

A Biblical Examination of the Case for Reincarnation

By Grantley Morris


Reincarnation & Jesus

Reincarnation & the Bible

Reincarnation & Christian Belief

    When his baby died, King David knew it would almost certainly be decades until his own death (and it turned out that it was). Nevertheless, he said of his dead baby, “I will go to him, but he will not return to me,” (2 Samuel 12:23). By this he was saying that over all that time, his deceased child would not return in any form to where the living dwell but would remain in the realm of the dead where David himself would eventually go when he died.

    Over and over, the Jewish Scriptures (known by Christians as the Old Testament) insist that the dead do not, in any form, return to the realm of the living, but remain indefinitely in the place of the dead.

    One of the most common Old Testament ways of referring to death is to sleep/rest with one’s fathers (i.e. one’s ancestors). In fact, this expression occurs about forty times. For example:

      Deuteronomy 31:16 And the LORD said to Moses: “You are going to rest with your fathers . . .”

    Jews were often buried in ancestral plots but “rest with your fathers” is clearly not an allusion to this practice because Moses died in the wilderness, not in Egypt where for centuries all his ancestors had lived and died, nor in the Promised Land, where his more distant ancestors, Abraham and Isaac were buried, nor in Ur, where their ancestors had lived and died. In fact, the Jewish practice of burying people with their ancestors might have been a symbol of their belief that people go to be with their ancestors when they die.

    To say that those who die rest with their forefathers means one can trace back many generations and none of their ancestors had been reincarnated but continued to exist in the realm of the dead. This expression is used regardless of whether those who died were godly (examples) or ungodly (examples).

    Jesus himself referred to death as “sleep” (John 11:11-14), and the rest of the New Testament also uses it often (Ten Examples).

    Resting indefinitely with one’s forefathers, however, is not the end of the Scriptures’ story: there will come a time when those who sleep the sleep of death will be raised to life and then they will be judged and the result of that judgment will be eternal:

      Daniel 12:2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.

    Jesus named many people who, despite having died generations ago, were still able to interact with other dead people. For example:

      Matthew 12:41-42 The men of Nineveh will stand up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and now one greater than Jonah is here. The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here.

      Luke 13:28 There will be weeping there, and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but you yourselves thrown out.

      Luke 16:23-25 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham . . . But Abraham replied . . .

    By Jesus’ time, Abraham, the Queen of the South, and so on had been dead for centuries but according to him they still were the same individuals. If reincarnation occurs, these people would no longer be Abraham, the Queen of the South, and so on, but would have reincarnated into animals or become other people, possibly several times.

    Over and over and over, Jesus’ teaching revealed that, after death, people maintain their individual identity, regardless of whether or not they have lived a godly life. They do not end up being a succession of different creatures and people nor, as some Indian religions teach, do they finally lose their individuality by merging into something much bigger, like a drop in an ocean. On the other hand, individuality does not mean isolation: heaven will be a place of deep and fulfilling and all-inclusive love. Nor does remaining the same person mean they will not undergo change. In fact, Jesus taught that after death people become so different to earthly people and animals that they become like angels, for whom marriage is meaningless and there is no sexual reproduction:

      Matthew 22:30 At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven.

    Jesus revered the Jewish Bible (the Old Testament) as the source of spiritual truth (see Jesus & the Jewish Bible). Moreover, he kept stating over and over that dead people still exist as the persons they were when they died. Even though hundreds or thousands of years had passed they had not reincarnated.

    The New Testament book of Hebrews says that in order for him to atone for the sins of the entire human race, Jesus had to become like humans in every way, except that he was sinless (Hebrews 2:17; 4:15). One aspect of him being like all other humans is that he would die just once. This book was written to Jewish Christians and the writer knew that dying just once (not over and over as would be the case if reincarnation occurred) is an elementary belief of those with a Jewish background.

      Hebrews 9:25-28 Nor did he [Jesus] enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. Just as man [every human] is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people . . . (Emphasis mine.)

    For further confirmation, see Was John the Baptist Elijah Reincarnated?

    Not to be sold. © Copyright, 2014 Grantley Morris. Not to be copied in whole or in part without citing this entire paragraph. Many more compassionate, inspiring, sometimes hilarious writings by Grantley Morris available free at the following internet site Freely you have received, freely give.