Evidence for Reincarnation
in the Bible

From Ch. 16 of In Search of the Loving God
by Mark Mason

. . .

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. IF THEY HAD BEEN THINKING OF THE COUNTRY THEY HAD LEFT, THEY WOULD HAVE HAD OPPORTUNITY TO RETURN. Instead they were longing for a better country — a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Heb 11:13–16)
The sentence I have emphasized with capitals clearly indicates that people who die still hankering after the things of earth, will be given the opportunity to return to it. This is precisely what reincarnation is all about. This passage also says that people who consider themselves “aliens and strangers on earth” will have a city prepared for them by God. This ties in with Jesus saying,
“In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you.” (John 14:2)
It is also exactly what believers in reincarnation say happens when all earthly desires and karma have been worked out, except that they call these heavenly cities “astral planes” (or in some cases “etheric planes”). They mean exactly the same thing, though; only the words differ.
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When each person overcomes all the possibilities for evil in creation, and becomes the embodiment of this love Paul talked about, he or she will be perfect, and will incarnate no more, in the physical, astral or causal. As the Spirit revealed to John in Revelation,
Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out. (Rev 3:12 AV)
After reaching perfection, people spend all their time with God. All sense of ego and separation from God is dissolved away, although a sense of individuality remains, so each soul can enjoy the bliss of being with God.
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Having looked in some detail at what reincarnation is, we are in a position to further investigate what the Bible has to say about it. A number of the key Biblical passages supporting reincarnation have already been quoted, during the discussion of the concept, but there is more of this evidence to consider. The most well known is a series of passages which establish that John the Baptist was a reincarnation of Elijah:

"See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the LORD you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty. (Malachi 3:1)

"See, I will send you the prophet Elijah before that great and dreadful day of the LORD comes." (Malachi 4:5)

But the angel said to him "do not be afraid, Zechariah; your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John…And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah…to make ready a people prepared for the Lord." (Luke 1:13,17)

Then three times, that we know of, Jesus assured his disciples that John the Baptist really was Elijah returned:

"But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him."
(Mark 9:13)

"For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come."  (Matt 11:13-14)

"But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him…" Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.
(Matt 17:12-13)

And it's not as if Elijah just came down from heaven and appeared as a herald for Jesus: his spirit and power manifested in a little baby, born in the normal way - just how reincarnation says souls return. Some Christians say this only shows John the Baptist was a prophet like Elijah, with a similar spirit and power. They are contradicting Jesus, however, who quite clearly, in the above passages, says John the Baptist is Elijah, and is not just like him. This could, of course, be a special case of reincarnation, and by itself it doesn't prove that everybody reincarnates. For what it is worth, though, Jesus' brother James makes a point of Elijah not being a special case, when he says,

Elijah was a man just like us. (James 5:7)

And, as I have shown, this is not the only evidence for reincarnation in the Bible, and the other passages do not refer to special cases, but are universal in their nature. That it was quite usual to believe in reincarnation in Jesus' day is shown by this passage from John:

As he went along he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" (John 9:1-2)

If the man was being punished for his own sin, and he was born blind, his sin must have been from a previous life - obviously Jesus' disciples were familiar with the idea of reincarnation, and it was quite acceptable to talk about it. In this case, Jesus' disciples assumed a belief in reincarnation, and Jesus did not correct the assumption, even though he went on to shift the focus away from who was to blame for the man's blindness, to how his healing would demonstrate the glory of God.

The story of The Sheep and the Goats, told by Jesus, also assumes a belief in reincarnation. I showed, in the last chapter, that at the end of the story, where it says the wicked “…will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life,” the Greek word translated as “eternal” actually means “a long period.” If the wicked are not punished forever, but only for a long period, it seems the righteous must not be rewarded forever either, but only for a similarly long period of time. If there were no reincarnation, then the question of what happens to the righteous after this limited period of reward is left begging: do they just disappear into nothingness? With reincarnation, this doesn’t present a problem, as both the wicked and the righteous will eventually incarnate again, on the earth, or in the astral, until they finally “overcome,” and become pillars in the temple of God, after which they will “go no more out,” (Rev 3:12) but will be with God forever.

Finally, there are these two intriguing statements from the Bible which presume a belief in reincarnation:

Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return there. (Job 1:21)
and,
…when Melchizedek met Abraham, Levi was still in the body of his ancestor. (Hebrews 7:10)
Both of these are very obscure and strange references if you don’t believe in reincarnation. How can a man return to his mother’s womb if not through rebirth into another body? Apparently Job, in Old Testament times, believed in reincarnation. And, apart from reincarnation, how could anyone have ever been in the body of their ancestor? This could just supposedly be taken as an obscure reference to Levi’s “seed” being still back with his line of descent, a number of generations before he was born. With reincarnation, though, it quite literally makes sense: in an earlier incarnation, Levi’s soul was living in the body of one of the ancestors of his current body.

What adds weight to all this evidence in the Bible for reincarnation, is that there is not one shred of sustainable evidence against it. This is, of course, what you would expect, if the Bible is not to contradict itself. The one passage Christians have tried to use to prove there is no reincarnation is the verse from Hebrews:

Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,… (Heb 9:27)
I have already shown, however, that, taken in context, the word “death” in this passage must be referring to a death to sin and worldliness, and that the passage then ties in perfectly with the concept of reincarnation. All that is achieved by insisting this verse refers to the physical death of the body is to put it into conflict with its context, and make it contradict the host of evidence for reincarnation from many parts of the Bible, including some from the same book of Hebrews.
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From: In Search of the Loving God by Mark Mason - Copyright © 1997.

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