1. Introduction to Reincarnation in Christianity
Religious scholar Dr. Ken R. Vincent asks, “Why bother with reincarnation if you are Christian?” He answers, “First of all, the University of Virginia Medical School Division of Perceptual Studies has collected 2,500 cases suggestive of reincarnation. Surveys in the U.S. and U.K. have shown that 25% of Christians in both countries believe in reincarnation even though it is not the official position of any mainline denomination.” Dr. Ian Stevenson had devoted most of his life to the study of children who had memories of their previous past life and had birthmarks to prove it.
Reincarnation is the doctrine that human beings alive today have been on Earth many times before and will return many more times until their purpose of life is reached. In many documented near-death experiences (NDEs) involving Jesus, the concept of reincarnation appears. In the NDE testimony of Sandra Rogers resulting from a suicide attempt, for example, she was given two options by Jesus to choose from. She could return to life, resulting in an NDE, and overcome the problems she was currently having trouble facing. Obviously, this was the option she chose. Her other option was to remain in heaven with the agreement to reincarnate at a later time to overcome the problems she couldn’t in her previous life. In another NDE example, this time not involving suicide, Jeanie Dicus was given the same option.
Reincarnation is not some “New Age” fad; and people have had misconceptions about reincarnation for thousands of years including Christians. Some people wrongly assume reincarnation means souls do not inhabit heavenly realms between Earth lives. The fact is the NDE literature shows souls DO inhabit heavenly realms — and for as long as they desire. Some people wrongly assume reincarnation always happens immediately after death. Some people wrongly assume reincarnation means the soul never becomes a permanent resident of heaven. Even the reincarnational religions of the East do not support these misconceptions about reincarnation. Neither do NDE testimonies support these misconceptions. In every reincarnational religion, reincarnation is something a person must overcome. The goal for the soul is to become liberated from the need to reincarnate. And although reincarnation is always a choice — rather than a mandate — the benefits of reincarnating may prove to be “an offer too good for the soul to refuse.”
There are options other than reincarnation available for the soul. But it is the Earth’s “School of Hard Knocks” which provides the soul with best, quickest, and most efficient method of attaining its spiritual goal. Other options such as learning in a heavenly classroom where there is “no pain,” and therefore “no gain,” is not as real as “hands-on training” on Earth. Because despite what many Christians believe, heaven is all about deeds — not creeds — and in the afterlife, thoughts are deeds. Only in the physical realm, where darkness and light coexist, can a person say one thing while thinking another. In the afterlife there is nowhere to hide your thoughts because the spirit realm is the realm of thoughts and mind. Communication in the spirit realm is mediated by thought. This is why the major world religions teach the importance of having good thoughts and intentions — not just good words — because thoughts are deeds in the spirit world. This principle is what Jesus was referring to when he taught Nicodemus about the consequences of rejecting his message:
“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God” (John 3:19-21).
The ultimate purpose of reincarnation is for the soul to learn enough spiritual lessons, gain enough enlightenment from Earth lives, so that the soul can qualify for even higher heavenly realms of the afterlife and dwell even closer to the light of God. And there are many realms — many heavens, many hells and many realms in between. The physical realm is just one of these realms in between. For example. the apostle Paul wrote about a man who had an NDE and journeyed to the “third heaven” (2 Corinthians 12:2-4). Jesus mentioned there were “many dwelling places” in his “Father’s house” (John 14:2). Many sources reveal a cosmology of at least ten major afterlife realms. So reincarnation is God’s “grand design” for the soul, through good works, to “work its way up” through the afterlife hierarchy of realms toward the goal of becoming permanent citizens in God’s highest heaven — which is complete at-onement with the light of God. These Christian mysteries were once available during the first 500 years of early Christianity until the Church decided to declare them “heresy” for the sake of “orthodoxy.” This article will reveal to you the mysteries of reincarnation as the lost doctrine in Christianity and the true interpretation of the end time Resurrection of the Dead.
NDE testimonies reveal how people have the free will to spend whatever amount of “time” they desire in afterlife realms before reincarnating to Earth again, if reincarnation is indeed their choice. This is because time does not exist in the afterlife realms like it does in the physical realm. NDE studies reveal time only exists in the physical realm, and according to Albert Einstein, time is relative and flexible. Upon entering the afterlife, you soon realize that you’ve been there before. You realize you existed before you were born and now you are returning to where you were before you were born. Returning to the afterlife feels as though you have been away for only a few moments. You feel as though your Earth experience was just a dream for which you are now waking up. This is because you have now entered eternity where time doesn’t exist and cannot be measured. One moment can extend into a thousand years or vice versa. This principle agrees with the Bible:
“With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day” (2 Peter 3:8).
One event follows another event in the afterlife, but there is no universal way to measure time. There is no sunrise to mark the start of the day, nor a sunset to mark the start of the night. And no need for sleep. There is no day or night — only the constant light source everywhere that is God. So clocks are relatively useless. When you are in heaven, you are happy and “time seems to fly” — events follow one another quickly. When you are in hell, or bored to tears, “time seems to drag on forever” — events seem to follow one another slowly. This is why people who have hellish NDEs often say their experience felt like it lasted an “eternity.”
It’s also understandable how a Christian would find the idea of reincarnation repulsive. After all, why would anyone want to leave heavenly paradise and return to this world of suffering and evil? Note that this is a question we might ask of Jesus himself. Why would he want to leave paradise to suffer and die a horrible death; and then promise he would return again in the future? Well, in Jesus’ case, his reason for coming into this world was to save people. As someone once eloquently put it, “It was love, not nails, that held Jesus to the cross.” So to better understand the answer to such questions, it helps to understand the nature of reincarnation itself and how it relates to life and the afterlife.
It all begins at birth when we are thrust from the womb onto the carousel of life, carried away in a blur of activities from childhood to adulthood and then old age. Day after day, life is busy. We have relationships, go to school, go to work, and we tend to not think about death. We have hints of a life after death. We have nightly dreams — a virtual reality that seems to exist only in our minds. We have religious experiences which gives us transcendental hints of an afterlife. Some people have NDEs which have revealed a wealth of information concerning what happens after death and the reality of an afterlife and reincarnation. When you die, the real “you” — your “soul body” — leaves your physical body and you can experience the physical world as you would expect a ghost would — having the ability to walk through walls, be invisible to the living, and fly through the air. Eventually, a “tunnel” appears and you are drawn into another realm. This other realm is part of the “soul realms” where you are greeted by the souls of your deceased loved ones and you have a kind of homecoming. At some point you will have a “life review” where you instantaneously “re-live” in your mind the life you lived on Earth with every memory and every second brought to mind. This life review process is for educational purposes and soul growth and may include revelations from past lives. Your life review also determines the next destination in the afterlife hierarchy you have earned. There are higher realms in the afterlife — the “spirit realms” — and the goal of everyone is to attain the highest spirit realm where there is no longer any reason to leave.
According to Edgar Cayce, after each Earth experience and life review, you enter the spirit realm which you have earned. The NDE literature shows how in the spirit realm, you meet and merge with your “spirit body” — your “higher self.” In the spirit realm, you can also merge on a spirit level with God, remember your true origins, remember your true spiritual nature, realize your souls’ shortcomings, and live forever with the spirits of all your loved ones you have known for all eternity. So your spirit actually never leaves the spirit realms. Even while you live on Earth, your spirit within you exists in the spirit dimension. Humans are multidimensional beings living in multidimensional realms. Every time you reincarnate (if that is your choice), a particular aspect of your greater personality (your spirit) incarnates as a new soul. Depending upon which level in the spirit realms you have earned, you realize how close you are to complete at-onement with God and what is needed to attain the highest spirit heaven. You can choose soul growth without the need to reincarnate in lower realms, but there are great advantages in reincarnating into Earth’s “School of Hard Knocks” as previously mentioned. A soul may choose to operate only in the soul realms for soul growth. The soul/spirit reincarnates into lower afterlife realms — not only for its own soul growth and goal to attain the highest realm of spirit — but to help loved ones in these realms, and to help further God’s cosmic plan of salvation in these realms. The NDE literature shows that as you grow into higher realms of soul and spirit, the closer you draw to God, the more you become like God — the more love you have for every soul, spirit, and body. Indeed, you are not a human being having a spiritual experience. You are a spirit being having a human experience. Some day, all souls/spirits will be liberated from their “prison” of flesh which is the goal of reincarnation.
According to Edgar Cayce, the relationship between the mind, the soul and the spirit, can be best understood as consciousness (mind), subconsciousness (soul) and superconsciousness or God Consciousness or Universal Consciousness (spirit). While you are awake, your conscious mind is in control and your subconscious mind (soul) recedes beyond your conscious awareness. Your spirit recedes even farther beyond your conscious awareness. When you sleep and dream, your conscious body sleeps and our subconscious mind “awakens” and becomes your conscious mind during which your soul/spirit body actually leaves your sleeping body and inhabits the “astral realm” near the physical realm. In the astral realm and in the soul realms, your superconscious mind (spirit) plays the same role that your subconscious mind plays while you are fully awake. Reincarnation allows multidimensional beings to ultimately attain the goal of at-onement with God which also means at-onement with your higher self and everyone else.
a. A Brief History of Reincarnation in Christian History
One of the reasons many Christians reject the validity of NDE testimony is because they sometimes appear to conflict with their interpretation of Christian doctrines. But Christians are usually surprised to learn that reincarnation, and its corresponding doctrine of pre-existence, were beliefs held by a significant number of early Christians for the first 500 years of Christian history. As you will see in Part 5 of this article, the Bible mentions human beings preexisting as souls before the world began and having previous lifetimes. And as you will see in all parts of this article, the Bible is filled with references to reincarnation. The first great Father of the early Church, Origen of Alexandria (185-254 AD), was the first person since Paul to develop a system of theology around the teachings of Jesus. Origen was also an ardent defender of preexistence and reincarnation. Origen often expressly declared his stance against the transmigration of souls (or “metempsychosis“) because it included the belief that humans could reincarnate into animals. Origen held a far more exalted reincarnational belief which was continued re-embodiment of the soul in the physical, destined for places of purification, but with the soul’s ultimate goal of restoration to heaven and oneness with God. History shows how reincarnation was considered a mystery teaching and oral tradition handed down from the apostles only to those initiated into the Christian mysteries. St. Jerome (347-420 AD), Doctor of the Roman Catholic Church and no friend of Origen’s doctrines, wrote how Origen’s doctrines of preexistence and reincarnation were secretly taught within certain Christian sects in the past and in his day. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia article on Metempsychosis:
“St. Jerome tells us that metempsychosis was a secret doctrine of certain sectaries in his day, but it was too evidently opposed to the Catholic doctrine of Redemption ever to obtain a settled footing.” (Catholic Encyclopedia)
Not only is there evidence of Origen teaching reincarnation in his lifetime, there is evidence that when his works were translated into Latin, these reincarnation references were concealed. One of the epistles written by St. Jerome, “To Avitus” (Letter 124) which asserts that Origen’s On First Principles was mistranscribed:
“About ten years ago that saintly man Pammachius sent me a copy of a certain person’s (Rufinus‘s) rendering, or rather misrendering, of Origen’s First Principles; with a request that in a Latin version I should give the true sense of the Greek and should set down the writer’s words for good or for evil without bias in either direction. When I did as he wished and sent him the book, he was shocked to read it and locked it up in his desk lest being circulated it might wound the souls of many.” (Jerome, “To Avitus“, Letter 124)
Under the impression that Origen was a heretic like Arius, St. Jerome criticizes ideas described in On First Principles. Further in “To Avitus” (Letter 124), St. Jerome writes about “convincing proof” that Origen teaches reincarnation in the original version of the book:
“The following passage is a convincing proof that he holds the transmigration of the souls and annihilation of bodies. ‘If it can be shown that an incorporeal and reasonable being has life in itself independently of the body and that it is worse off in the body than out of it; then beyond a doubt bodies are only of secondary importance and arise from time to time to meet the varying conditions of reasonable creatures. Those who require bodies are clothed with them, and contrariwise, when fallen souls have lifted themselves up to better things, their bodies are once more annihilated. They are thus ever vanishing and ever reappearing.'” (Jerome, “To Avitus“, Letter 124)
The original text of On First Principles has almost completely disappeared. It remains extant as De Principiis in fragments faithfully translated into Latin by St. Jerome and in “the not very reliable Latin translation of Rufinus.”
According to Jerome’s Letter 133 to Demetrias (414 AD), Jerome lamented that Origin’s doctrines of preexistence and transmigration of souls (the “serpent’s poison” according to Jerome) was formerly “ripe” within the churches in Egypt and the Middle East and continued to exists as a “secretly” as a teaching within these same churches:
“In [Anastasius‘] days a terrible storm of heresy (of the Origenists) came from the East and strove first to corrupt and then to undermine that simple faith which an apostle has praised (Romans 1:8). However the bishop (Anastasius), rich in poverty and as careful of his flock as an apostle, at once smote the noxious thing on the head, and stayed the hydra’s hissing. Now I have reason to fear — in fact a report has reached me to this effect — that the poisonous germs of this heresy still live and sprout in the minds of some to this day. I think, therefore, that I ought to warn you, in all kindness and affection, to hold fast the faith of the saintly Innocent, the spiritual son of Anastasius and his successor in the apostolic see; and not to receive any foreign doctrine, however wise and discerning you may take yourself to be. Men of this type whisper in corners and pretend to inquire into the justice of God. Why, they ask, was a particular soul born in a particular province? What is the reason that some are born of Christian parents, others among wild beasts and savage tribes who have no knowledge of God? … Now if God’s judgments, they say, are “true and righteous altogether,” (Psalm 19:9) and if “there is no unrighteousness in Him,” (Psalm 92:15) we are compelled by reason to believe that our souls have pre-existed in heaven, that they are condemned to and, if I may so say, buried in human bodies because of some ancient sins, and that we are punished in this valley of weeping (Psalm 84:6) for old misdeeds. This according to them is the prophet’s reason for saying: “Before I was afflicted I went astray,” (Psalm 119:67) and again, “Bring my soul out of prison.” (Psalm 142:7) They explain in the same way the question of the disciples in the gospel: “Who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2) and other similar passages. This godless and wicked teaching was formerly ripe in Egypt and the East; and now it lurks secretly like a viper in its hole among many persons in those parts, defiling the purity of the faith and gradually creeping on like an inherited disease till it assails a large number … However, I have defeated their wiles and counterworked their efforts to undermine the truth in a treatise (Jerome’s Letter 124 to Avitus Concerning Origen)…” (Jerome’s Letter 133 to Demetrias)
Origen was a disciple of Clement of Alexandria who was a disciple of Saint Mark, the author of the Gospel of Mark and disciple of the apostle Peter. Clement and Origen wrote about receiving secret teachings of Jesus handed down from the apostles. The doctrines of preexistence and reincarnation championed by Origen were eventually declared a heresy by the Roman Church in 553 A.D at the Second Council of Constantinople. It was at this time the Roman Church aggressively destroyed competing teachings and so-called “heresies” within the Church. Along with the destruction of unorthodox teachings came the destruction of Jews and Christian Gnostics, and ultimately anyone who stood in the way of the Inquisition and Crusades:
“If anyone asserts the fabulous pre-existence of souls, and shall assert the monstrous restoration which follows from it, let him be anathema [excommunicated].” – Decree of the Fifth Catholic Council, of the Second Council of Constantinople (553 AD), declaring preexistence and reincarnation to be heresy
From the time of this 6th century Council onward, reincarnation virtually became a lost doctrine in Christianity. Lost were the mystery of Christ’s teaching of a special “resurrection” — a rebirth as Jesus taught Nicodemus, symbolized by water baptism:
(1) A rebirth of the spirit into flesh (i.e., “born of water”, childbirth, reincarnation) (John 3:5-6).
(2) A rebirth through the Holy Spirit (i.e., “born of the Spirit”, spiritual regeneration, spiritual “resurrection”) (John 3:6-8).
Evidently the mystery of reincarnation in Christianity was meant to remain mostly hidden for almost two thousand years until the 1945 discovery of the lost Christian Gnostic writings in northern Egypt and the 1946 discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls around the time of the “rebirth” of the nation of Israel in 1948 which was a great fulfillment of Bible prophecy. Early Christian texts, such as the Gospel of Thomas and the Gospel of Philip, clearly show Jesus teaching reincarnation which is one reason they were declared heretical.
b. The Mystery of the Resurrection of the Dead
The “resurrection of the dead” (in Greek “anastasis ton nekron”), literally meaning “standing up again of the dead,” is a term frequently used in the New Testament and in the writings and doctrine and theology in other religions to describe an event by which a person, or people are resurrected (brought back to life). The concept of resurrection originated with the Persian Zoroastrian religion (of Magi fame) which was then passed along to Judaism during their Babylonian exile. As distinct from Judaism, the Zoroastrian resurrection concept is a raising of all the dead to universal purification and renewal of the world. The early Hebrews had no notion of resurrection and thus no intermediate state after death. As with neighboring groups around Israel, the early Hebrews understood death to be the end of life. Their afterlife, Sheol (the Pit), was a dark place from which none return. By Jesus’ time, however, the Book of Daniel (Daniel 12:1-4) and a prophecy in the Book of Isaiah (Isaiah 26:19) had made popular the idea that the dead in Sheol would be raised for a Last Judgment. According to the Book of Enoch, the righteous and wicked await the resurrection in separate divisions of Sheol, a teaching which may have influenced Jesus’ Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). In the Septuagint and New Testament the authors used the Greek term Hades for the Hebrew Sheol. In the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus Jesus describes Hades along the lines of the Jewish understanding of a Sheol divided between the righteous, in the “bosom of Abraham,” and the wicked “in torment.”
According to Christian eschatology, some theological traditions, including most Protestants and Eastern Orthodox, teach that a particular judgment occurs immediately after death and an intermediate state exists as a disembodied foretaste of the final state before the final resurrection. Therefore, according to these traditions, those who die in Christ rest in peace in Hades while they await the final resurrection. Those who die unrepentant will experience torment in Gehenna while they await the resurrection and final condemnation on Judgment Day. So for thousands of years, Christians have believed that when a person dies their soul rests in peace until the final resurrection of the dead and the Last Judgment. The idea of people going immediately to heaven after death is a relatively new concept in orthodox Christianity. However, as previously mentioned, the suppressed early Christian teachings held reincarnation to be God’s plan for the soul to “work its way up” the afterlife realms immediately after death with the goal of becoming permanent citizens in God’s highest heaven. Early 20th century American preachers such as Billy Sunday epitomized the evangelical focus on “going to heaven” immediately after death in their sermons. Modern evangelists such as Sunday spoke of many aspects of the afterlife such as the nice weather and eternal health without any mention of the resurrection of the dead. Billy Sunday would end his sermons with an illustration about a man who dies and goes to heaven exclaiming “Home, home at last!” as if he had arrived at the end of his eschatological journey. NDE studies and reincarnation research affirms that consciousness does indeed continue on in some afterlife dimension immediately after death. To people who understand early Christian Gnosticism, early esoteric Christianity, and early Christian mysticism, the doctrines of “soul sleep” and a final resurrection of corpses are the result of a gross misunderstanding of Christ’s secret, mystery teachings concerning the “resurrection” of the spirit mentioned in the previous section. Part of this misunderstanding comes from the early Church’s misunderstanding of the nature of Christ, the mystery of God in man, and of the nature of the soul in relation to the body. From this misunderstanding the Church erroneously concluded:
(1) Jesus was God in the flesh.
(2) The body and soul are inseparable and are of one substance.
(3) Only within Jesus does God uniquely reside meaning Jesus is the only son of God.
(4) The soul is not preexistent. It was created during conception and sleeps after death until the Resurrection of the Dead and Last Judgment.
So the traditional doctrine of the Resurrection of the Dead is based upon the unusual notion that the soul is inseparable from the physical body. As applied to the afterlife, this means the final resurrection process is simply the “reawakening” of the soul within the same body it belonged to in life. The official doctrine of the largest Christian church, the Catholic Church, reads the following in its Catechism (Part One: The Profession of Faith, Section Two I: The Creeds, Chapter Three: I Believe In The Holy Spirit, Article 11: “I Believe In The Resurrection Of The Body“):
990 – The term “flesh” refers to man in his state of weakness and mortality. The “resurrection of the flesh” (the literal formulation of the Apostles’ Creed) means not only that the immortal soul will live on after death, but that even our “mortal body” will come to life again.
As previously mentioned, the resurrection of corpses did not originate with Christianity, but with the Persian Zoroastrian religion. During the Babylonian exile in Old Testament times, the Jews were greatly influenced by many Zoroastrian concepts — not just resurrection. Other Zoroastrian influences in Judaism include: a final day of judgment, a dualism of good versus evil, a hierarchy of angels including fallen angels, and an arch rival of God in the form of a satanic being. Over time, these Zoroastrian concepts were incorporated into Judaism; and from those days forward, the concept of the resurrection of corpses competed with the much older concept of reincarnation and the concept of Sheol — concepts which can be found in the Hebrew scriptures. The first-century Jewish historian Flavius Josephus (31-100 AD) wrote about the Pharisees being believers in reincarnation. The Pharisees were the Jewish sect which Paul belonged to before conversion to Christianity. Josephus wrote about the Pharisees’ belief of the souls of evil men being punished after death; but the souls of good men are “removed into other bodies” and they will have “power to revive and live again.” From time to time throughout Jewish history, there was a persistent belief about dead prophets returning to life through reincarnation. But the Sadducees, a purist sect of Judaism, rejected Persian concepts of resurrection and all foreign influences involving reincarnation existing in Jesus’ day. The Sadducees accepted only the ancient Hebrew belief in Sheol of which no one returned. History shows there were a variety of eschatological ideas existing in Jerusalem at the time of Jesus. Israel and the Middle East has always been the connection between Europe, Asia and Africa and its flow of ideas.
But the notion of a massive worldwide reanimation of corpses coming out of graves at the end of time seems bizarre, unnatural, repulsive, and against everything known in science. A better interpretation of a biblical “resurrection” is “live babies coming out of wombs” instead of “dead bodies coming out of tombs.” Although “sleep” is a common metaphor in the Bible for “death”, the idea of the soul sleeping after death until the resurrection is also an idea originating with Zoroastrianism. In the few instances in the Bible where corpses were reanimated, a mediator was needed to perform the miracle. Doctors today bring people back from the dead with modern technology as evidenced by NDEs. However, soul sleep is contradicted by the biblically supported idea of an immortal soul (or spirit) implying that it does not sleep after death nor can it be extinguished. By overcoming the flesh through spiritual rebirth (regeneration) by the Holy Spirit, the immortal soul need no longer be subjected to the cycle of physical birth-death and rebirth and can attain eternal life.
c. The Mystery of Rebirth Defined
As you will read in the next section of Part 1 in this article, the prophetic fulfillment of John the Baptist as a reincarnation of Elijah the prophet is the clearest biblical statement of the reality of reincarnation. When Jesus began his ministry, many people wondered if Jesus was the reincarnation of one of the prophets. Some people wondered the same thing concerning John the Baptist. Even Jesus affirmed to his disciples that John the Baptist was the reincarnation of the prophet Elijah. The Bible reveals John had both the spirit and power of Elijah — meaning his reincarnation. Skeptical objections to Elijah’s reincarnation as John are debunked in this article. John and Elijah shared many similarities suggestive of reincarnation including appearance, diet, personality, relationships, life situations, ministry, locations they inhabited throughout in Israel, and karma. The evidence shows that if John was not the reincarnation of Elijah as prophecy foretold, then Jesus could not have been the Messiah as prophecy foretold. Elijah and Moses appeared transfigured with Christ at his first coming; and in the Book of Revelation, Elijah and Moses are implied to be reincarnated for Christ’s second coming. This will also be shown in the next section.
As you will read in other Parts of this article, the Bible mentions the reincarnation of other prophets and other biblical personalities. The Bible even mentions the entire nation of Israel reincarnating. The Bible also mentions the apostles John and Paul reincarnating; and if you are willing to accept it, the Bible gives evidence of Jesus’ past lives as Melchizedek, David, Joseph, Joshua, and Adam. Jesus mentioned to his followers they would be alive on Earth at his second coming implying their reincarnation. In other Parts of this article, you will read how some of the parables of Jesus only make sense if reincarnation is true. The Bible records Jesus himself teaching reincarnation to his followers. The Bible uses the Greek word “palingenesía” which translated means reincarnation. The Bible describes life as a cycle and how God brings everything to life again. Some books of the Jewish and Christian Apocrypha mention reincarnation. You will also read in other Parts of this article where the Bible refers to angels as humans, humans as angels, and souls who “fell from heaven” long ago and are currently on a path back to God through reincarnation. The Bible mentions angels in “prisons” which is a Christian Gnostic metaphor meaning “flesh”. The soul must free itself from this “prison” by following Christ in taking up one’s own cross. The Bible also uses “prison” as a metaphor for hell. Both angels and humans are described in the Bible as being rescued from hell.
Another Part of this article describes God’s law of divine justice as defined in the Bible as the law of karma which is reincarnation. Karma is the principle of “an eye for an eye” and “live by the sword, die by the sword.” The assumption is if you live by the sword, and don’t die by the sword, then you must die by the sword in some future lifetime. The law of karma and reincarnation can be found in the Hebrew Bible, the New Testament, the Gospels, the Epistles of Paul, and the parables of Jesus. All Hebrew and Christian scriptures support karma and reincarnation: the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Christian Gnostic gospels, the Torah, the Biblical Apocrypha, the New Testament Apocrypha, the Kabbalah and Zohar. Reincarnation was widely believed by the people throughout the Roman Empire in Jesus’ day, throughout Israel, and by people all around the world. The Bible teaches how “bad karma” can extend into multiple lifetimes — to multiple generations. The Bible teaches how overcoming bad karma with good karma leads to eternal life and the end of the cycle of death and rebirth. The Bible also teaches how God’s law of love, grace, and forgiveness can overcome bad karma.
d. The Real Resurrection of the Dead
In Part 2 of this article, you will read how, throughout his ministry, Jesus taught people about the true “resurrection” — a rebirth (regeneration) of the spirit within a living person. When Jesus declared he was “the resurrection and the life,” he was teaching them a radical new principle apart from the well-known doctrine of the rebirth of the spirit into flesh (reincarnation). Jesus was teaching a new “resurrection” by the Holy Spirit which would liberate people from the cycle death and rebirth and bring eternal life. Reincarnation is the rebirth of a person’s spirit into a new body to be born again as an infant. Spiritual “resurrection” is the rebirth of a person’s spirit in a living person to be born again by the power of the Holy Spirit. You will read how Jesus taught Nicodemus of two births: one of the flesh, and the other of the spirit. To be “born of the flesh” means to be born of water, childbirth, and reincarnation. To be “born of the spirit” means spiritual regeneration by the Holy Spirit. Jesus taught how people must become spiritually reborn (regenerated) by the Holy Spirit or else they cannot attain eternal life. Those who are not spiritually reborn, and do not attain eternal life, must be physically reborn and continue the cycle of death and rebirth until they are spiritually reborn. The Bible often uses childbirth (reincarnation) as a metaphor for spiritual regeneration by the Holy Spirit. Along with the metaphor of childbirth is the use of baptism as a metaphor for spiritual regeneration. The Bible also often uses bodily resurrection as a metaphor for spiritual regeneration by the Holy Spirit.
In Part 3 of this article, you will read about many Judeo-Christian doctrines supporting reincarnation. The most obvious are the doctrines of: universal salvation, salvation by works, the preexistence of the soul, sanctification by the Holy Spirit, and glorification (divinization) of the saints. You will read how universal salvation defines God as having a plan of salvation after death for those who have not been spiritually regenerated. For the first 500 years of Christianity, Christians and Christian theologians were broadly Universalist. The mistranslation of the scriptures from Greek to Latin contributed to the reinterpretation of the eternal nature of hell. The merging of Church and State also fostered the corruption of Universalist thought. There are also plenty of Bible verses supporting universal salvation and how God’s punishments are not eternal. Part 4 of this article shows how the doctrine of people being judged according to God’s law is based upon their good and bad works and how this also supports reincarnation. People who have not overcome their bad works through good works must reincarnate until they do. The Bible is clear on how God’s law, the Ten Commandments, has never been abrogated. Paul’s writings tended to dismiss the law, perhaps because he erroneously believed Jesus was returning in his lifetime, but it is clear that Paul didn’t believe salvation was based upon faith alone (Galatians 5:6). There are abundant Bible verses teaching salvation by good works according to God’s law, especially in the teachings of Jesus. The few verses suggesting salvation by faith alone are either out of context or misinterpretations of Christ’s teachings about the law. Salvation begins with repentance and the continual non-practice of sin. Those sinners who refuse to do so will not attain eternal life. They must instead continue the cycle of death and rebirth until they do. Everyone is working toward the goal of salvation whether they are awakened to the fact or not. Jesus has given us the way, the pattern to follow. We must take up our own crosses and follow his example.
Also in Part 4 of this article, you will read how the Bible refers to Christian perfection and glorification and how it implies reincarnation. The Bible is filled with teachings compelling people to be perfect and become sanctified through the Holy Spirit. Christians who are not perfected are reborn for more lifetimes until they are. The Bible reveals even Jesus needed to be perfected by suffering on the cross (Hebrews 2:10, Hebrews 5:9) proving he had a human nature subjected to temptation and reincarnation. As previously mentioned, the Christian mystery of the “resurrection of the dead” is that reincarnation is God’s remedy for people to become permanent citizens in the highest heaven by “working their way up” the many afterlife realms immediately after death. The process of perfection and sanctification obviously takes more than one lifetime; and the Bible describes Jesus as the “firstborn” among those perfected. The goal for every human being is to become like Christ — to be transformed into his image. The mystery of God within human beings is an immortal human soul joined with a divine spirit encased in flesh. It is the flesh which must be overcome through reincarnation. As co-heirs with Christ, humans can attain at-onement with God as Christ did. Attaining perfection and at-onement with God requires a long period of time as the works of Christ show. For these reasons and more, reincarnation is a doctrine which can be accepted by every follower of Christ and should be a part of orthodox Christian doctrine today.
a. John the Baptist as Elijah is the Clearest Biblical Statement of Reincarnation
In many instances in the Bible, John the Baptist is identified as the reincarnation of Elijah the prophet. Often the person identifying John the Baptist as Elijah is Jesus himself. These instances are the clearest statements in the Bible declaring the reality of reincarnation. One example is during the “Transfiguration of Jesus” in the Gospel of Matthew:
When Jesus took Peter, James and John to a high mountain where he transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Moses and Elijah also appeared and talked with Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, the disciples asked Jesus, “The disciples asked him, ‘Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?’ Jesus replied, ‘To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.’ Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.” (Matthew 17:1-13)
In very explicit language, Jesus identified John the Baptist as the reincarnation of Elijah. Even the disciples of Jesus understood what Jesus was saying.
The earliest New Testament Bibles began with the Gospel of Mark which opens by introducing John the Baptist as the return of Elijah, the greatest prophet of Israel:
“The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way.‘” (Mark 1:1-2)
Because the Old Testament literally ends with the promise of Elijah’s return, and the New Testament begins with the announcement of Elijah’s return, this “John the Baptist as Elijah” information in the Bible seems to be extremely important. In the last book in the Old Testament, the final words are:
“See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” (Malachi 4:5-6)
In the case of the beginning of the Gospel of John, we are given extra information about John the Baptist which is also very interesting. The verse in John 1:6 suggests John preexisted in the same way the Bible mentions Jesus preexisted:
“There was a man sent from God whose name was John [the Baptist].” (John 1:6)
Notice John 1:6 says the Baptist was “sent from God” meaning his soul came from heaven before he was born. This means John preexisted before he was conceived. And because John the Baptist is identified as Elijah later on throughout the gospels, then his preexistence supports the fact he is Elijah. Not only this, James (the brother of Jesus) declared Elijah to be a human being “even as we are”:
“Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.” (James 5:17)
b. John Had the Spirit and Power of Elijah
In the beginning of the Gospel of Luke, an angel appeared before Zacharias to announce his wife would bear a son who would be the embodiment of a prophet. The angel announced with total clarity the spirit manifested in the prophet would be Elijah; and he even quotes Malachi:
“And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous — to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17)
Anti-reincarnationalists claim this Bible verse confirms John to be merely a prophet who performed the same ministry as Elijah — not as a reincarnation of Elijah. But this is not what the verse actually says. In fact, the verse gives a perfect definition of reincarnation: the return of a person’s “spirit” and “power” into another body. It is the spirit and power of a person which reincarnates. Therefore this verse clearly states that John the Baptist had the spirit and power of Elijah. And this is exactly what reincarnation means. It does not get much clearer than this.
Jesus not only identified the Baptist as the reincarnation of Elijah — the greatest of the Old Testament prophets — Jesus identified the Baptist as the fulfillment of all the prophets and the law:
“Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been subjected to violence, and violent people have been raiding it. 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. Whoever has ears, let them hear.” (Matthew 11:11-15)
In the above passage, Jesus again clearly identifies John the Baptist as the reincarnation of Elijah the prophet. He also mentions there has not “risen” anyone greater than John the Baptist referring to reincarnation. But equally important, he identifies the Baptist with the prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah and the one who precedes him. This identification of John to be the reincarnation of Elijah is very important when it comes to Bible prophecy. By identifying John with Elijah, Jesus identified himself as the Messiah. The Hebrew scriptures mentions specific signs would precede the coming of the Messiah. One of them is Elijah will return first:
“Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” (Malachi 4:5)
c. If John Was Not Elijah, Then Jesus Was Not the Messiah
The above Bible verse in Malachi is one of the major Messianic prophecies from God found in the Bible. And these “John the Baptist is the reincarnation of Elijah” verses clearly demonstrate the reality of reincarnation. So there are two important conclusions we can draw from this:
(1) The Old Testament prophesied Elijah himself – not someone like him or someone in the same ministry as him – but Elijah himself would return before the advent of the Messiah. (Malachi 4:5)
(2) Jesus declared John to be Elijah when he stated Elijah has come. (Matthew 17:10-13)
Based on the Bible verses in (1) and (2) alone, either (a) or (b) must be true:
(a) John was the reincarnation of Elijah the Prophet. Therefore, reincarnation must become once again a part of Judeo-Christian theology. It also means the current concept of the Resurrection of the Dead, the “reanimation” of corpses on “Judgment Day,” can be discarded and replaced with:
I. Bodily “resurrection” (reincarnation); and
II. Spiritual “resurrection”, which is the spiritual regeneration of spiritually dead LIVING people. In other words, becoming “born again” of the Holy Spirit.
(b) John was not the reincarnation of Elijah the Prophet. Then this would mean Elijah himself had not returned. And if this were true, then we must conclude the following:
I. The Old Testament prophecy about Elijah returning before the coming of the Messiah failed to come to pass (meaning Biblical prophecy is fallible).
II. Jesus was not the Messiah.
So based upon the above logic, only one of the following can be true:
- Reincarnation is a reality, or else…
- Jesus was not the Messiah, or else…
- Bible prophecies are not reliable.
There are no other options. You must select one. And because Jesus’ declaration of “John is Elijah” was overt and direct, then the only logical option is option (1) Reincarnation is a reality.
Had Elijah’s spirit not reincarnated in the life and body of John the Baptist, the prophecies of Malachi 4:5 and Luke 1:17 would never have been fulfilled; and the Messiah — with Elijah yet to come — could not have possibly arrived! Therefore, Christian anti-reincarnationalists are inadvertently agreeing with Jewish Rabbis who, to this very day, await the return of Elijah before the Messiah. However, the fact that these prophecies were already fulfilled is self-evident when John identified himself to be “the voice crying in the wilderness preparing the way of the Lord.”
d. Skeptical Objections To John as Elijah Answered
Some anti-reincarnationalists use 2 Kings 2:9-15 as evidence of John, having the “spirit” and “power” of Elijah, not referring to reincarnation:
“When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, ‘Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?’ ‘Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,’ Elisha replied. ‘You have asked a difficult thing,’ Elijah said, ‘yet if you see me when I am taken from you, it will be yours — otherwise, it will not.’ As they were walking along and talking together, suddenly a chariot of fire and horses of fire appeared and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up to heaven in a whirlwind. Elisha saw this and cried out, ‘My father! My father! The chariots and horsemen of Israel!’ And Elisha saw him no more. Then he took hold of his garment and tore it in two. Elisha then picked up Elijah’s cloak that had fallen from him and went back and stood on the bank of the Jordan. He took the cloak that had fallen from Elijah and struck the water with it. ‘Where now is the Lord, the God of Elijah?’ he asked. When he struck the water, it divided to the right and to the left, and he crossed over. The company of the prophets from Jericho, who were watching, said, ‘The spirit of Elijah is resting on Elisha.’ And they went to meet him and bowed to the ground before him.” (2 Kings 2:9-15)
Anti-reincarnationalists claim Elijah didn’t die, but was taken to heaven. Therefore, they claim it would be impossible for Elisha to receive Elijah’s spirit. However, we have already established the fact that Elijah was a normal human being according to James 5:17. And, according to Paul:
“Flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.” (1 Corinthians 15:50)
So there should be no doubt that Elijah died the moment he was taken to heaven. Also, the fact that Elisha was an adult when he received the spirit of Elijah is not a conflict either according to reincarnation. According to all world religions teaching reincarnation, there is the phenomenon of the “walk-in reincarnation.” This is when the spirit of a deceased person “possesses” the body of a living person. For example, after Herod had John the Baptist beheaded and began hearing about Jesus performing miracles, he thought Jesus was the “walk-in reincarnation spirit” of John the Baptist:
“They (the disciples) drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them. King Herod heard about this, for Jesus’ name had become well known. Some were saying, ‘John the Baptist has been raised from the dead, and that is why miraculous powers are at work in him.’ Others said, ‘He is Elijah.’ And still others claimed, ‘He is a prophet, like one of the prophets of long ago.'” (Mark 6:12-15)
“At that time Herod the tetrarch heard the reports about Jesus, and he said to his attendants, ‘This is John the Baptist; he has risen from the dead! That is why miraculous powers are at work in him.'” (Matthew 14:1-2)
“Now Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was going on. And he was perplexed because some were saying that John had been raised from the dead, others that Elijah had appeared, and still others that one of the prophets of long ago had come back to life.” (Luke 9:7-8)
By “some” people in Israel assuming in the possibility of Jesus being one of the prophets of Israel from ancient times, they implicitly acknowledged their belief in reincarnation. Another reference of people believing Jesus had the “walk-in reincarnation” spirit of John the Baptist is in the Gospel of Matthew:
“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, ‘Who do people say the Son of Man is?’ “They replied, ‘Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.'” (Matthew 16:13-14)
Notice in the above Bible verse, Jesus asked his disciples who they believed he was in a past life. Also notice how the disciples knew exactly what Jesus was asking and gave reincarnational answers. The disciples’ answer to Jesus, referring to John the Baptist, could only be true if Jesus was a “walk-in reincarnation” of John. The disciples’ answer also referred to prophets who died a very long time ago. Although later in verse 16, Peter answers Jesus with, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God,” Jesus does not deny reincarnation or correct them against the possibility of reincarnation. In many other instances, Jesus teaches reincarnation.
Now let’s mention the final verse, John 1:19-27. used by anti-reincarnationalists to deny reincarnation which instead actually supports reincarnation:
“Now this was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely, ‘I am not the Messiah.’ They asked him, ‘Then who are you? Are you Elijah?’ He said, ‘I am not.’ ‘Are you the Prophet?’ He answered, ‘No.’ Finally they said, ‘Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?’ John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet, ‘I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’ Now the Pharisees who had been sent questioned him, ‘Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?’ ‘I baptize with water,’ John replied, ‘but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.'” (John 1:19-27)
There are several items of interest in the above verse. First of all, notice how the Pharisees questioning John were expecting John to answer he was the reincarnation of an Old Testament prophet. And John did not refute the concept of reincarnation when he cleverly stated he was not Elijah — after all, he was John! Nevertheless, John’s answer affirmed the fact of him being Elijah when he identified himself as “the voice of one calling in the wilderness” who “prepares the way” for the Messiah:
“I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.” (John 1:23)
The above Bible verse (John 1:23) and its connection to Elijah, is so important, the Bible mentions it in six other instances in the Bible:
(1) Isaiah 40:3: “A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
(2) Malachi 3:1: “‘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.”
(3) Matthew 3:3: “This is he (the Baptist) who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: ‘A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'”
(4) Mark 1:1-3: “The beginning of the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God, as it is written in Isaiah the prophet: ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way;’ ‘a voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'”
(5) Luke 3:3-4: “He (the Baptist) went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: ‘A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'”
(6) Luke 7:27: “This is the one (the Baptist) about whom it is written: ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.'”
From the above verses we must conclude one of two options:
- John didn’t know he was the reincarnation of Elijah.
- John knew he was the reincarnation of Elijah; but was being clever with the Pharisees.
Let’s examine each option:
1. John didn’t know he was the reincarnation of Elijah.
After all, John said he wasn’t Elijah. But Jesus knew better:
“He is the Elijah who was to come.” (Matthew 11:14)
So Jesus revealed John to be Elijah; but John denied it. Which of the two people are right — Jesus or John? The answer should be very clear. John’s denial of his own past identity as Elijah does not mean he did not have a past life as Elijah. This is especially true when Jesus claimed John was indeed Elijah. Although John carried the living spirit of Elijah, he did not carry Elijah’s conscious mind and memory. Reincarnation involves only the higher consciousness of the spirit and not the conscious mind. With very few exceptions, nobody has a conscious memory of past lives. However, John did identify himself with an Old Testament prophecy about Elijah as being “the voice in the wilderness” (John 1:23): And if John did not have the conscious mind and past-life memories of Elijah, this would explain why John denied being Elijah.
2. John knew he was the reincarnation of Elijah; but was being clever with the Pharisees.
This appears to be the only option because John did identify himself as being “the voice” (John 1:23) who is “preparing the way” in Isaiah 40:3 and Malachi 3:1. Although John may not have had the conscious memory of Elijah, his cleverness shows he carried the personality trait of Elijah. Personality traits do carry over from reincarnation. Elijah was certainly clever when he challenged the priests of Baal to a show of power by preparing two altars of sacrifice: one for them, and one for him. When the priests of Baal’s sacrifice did not burn, Elijah told them to pray louder and made fun of them saying their “god” must be sleeping (1 Kings 18:27). Then Elijah had water poured over his sacrifice before he called upon God to send fire down from heaven to consume it (1 Kings 18:33–35).
So the anti-reincarnationalist argument of the Baptist’s denial as evidence of him not being Elijah, doesn’t necessarily mean he wasn’t Elijah. It may simply been not aware of it. But the evidence shows he was aware of it.
e. The Similar Lives and Personalities of John and Elijah
When we compare the lives and personalities of Elijah and John the Baptist we find striking similarities. These similarities cannot be dismissed as mere coincidences. Believers in the concept of reincarnation know personality traits can be passed on from one life to the next, even though conscious memories are not passed along. The following is a list of their similarities:
(1) Elijah and John where great prophets:
Elijah: “Then Elijah said to them, ‘I am the only one of the Lord’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets.'” (1 Kings 18:22)
John: “What did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.” (Matthew 11:9)
(2) Elijah and John “turned the hearts of the parents to their children”:
Elijah: “He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents” (Malachi 4:6)
John: “And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous — to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17)
(3) Elijah and John had good relations with the Ruler of Israel:
Elijah: “Meanwhile a prophet came to Ahab king of Israel and announced, ‘This is what the Lord says: ‘Do you see this vast army? I will give it into your hand today, and then you will know that I am the Lord.'” (1 Kings 20:13)
John: “Herod feared John and protected him, knowing him to be a righteous and holy man. When Herod heard John, he was greatly puzzled; yet he liked to listen to him.” (Mark 6:20)
(4) Elijah and John lived in the wilderness and had a bizarre diet:
Elijah: “The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.” (1 Kings 17:6)
John: “His food was locusts and wild honey.” (Matthew 3:4)
(5) Elijah and John abstained from wine:
Elijah: “If a man or woman wants to make a special vow, a vow of dedication to the Lord as a Nazirite, they must abstain from wine and other fermented drink.” (Numbers 6:2-3)
John: “He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born.” (Luke 1:15)
(6) Elijah and John wore a garment of hair and a leather belt around his waist:
Elijah: “He had a garment of hair and had a leather belt around his waist.” (2 Kings 1:8)
John: “John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist.” (Matthew 3:4)
(7) Elijah and John led multitudes of people to repentance:
Elijah: “Then Elijah said to all the people, ‘Come here to me.’ They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the Lord, which had been torn down.” (1 Kings 18:30)
John: “People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan.” (Matthew 3:5)
(8) Elijah and John admonished Israel for demoralizing their religion:
Elijah: “Elijah went before the people and said, ‘How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.'” (1 Kings 18:21)
John: “John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.'” (Luke 3:7-8)
(9) Elijah and John admonished the King of Israel:
Elijah: “So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. When he saw Elijah, he said to him, ‘Is that you, you troubler of Israel?’ ‘I have not made trouble for Israel,’ Elijah replied. ‘But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals.” (1 Kings 18:16-18)
John: “Now Herod had arrested John and bound him and put him in prison because of Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife, for John had been saying to him: ‘It is not lawful for you to have her.'” (Matthew 14:3-4)
(10) Elijah and John baptized a sacrifice to God with water:
Elijah: “Then he said to them, ‘Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood… Then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, ‘The Lord — he is God! The Lord — he is God!'” (1 Kings 18:33; 38-39)
John: (Paraphrased) After John baptized Jesus, the Lamb of God, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit of fire descended upon Jesus in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Luke 3:21-22)
(11) Elijah and John were victims of the Ruler of Israel’s evil wife:
Elijah: “So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, ‘May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.'” (1 Kings 19:2)
John: “On Herod’s birthday the daughter of Herodias danced for the guests and pleased Herod so much that he promised with an oath to give her whatever she asked. Prompted by her mother, she said, ‘Give me here on a platter the head of John the Baptist.'” (Matthew 14:6-8)
(12) Elijah and John were associated with Mount Carmel:
John: Josephus wrote that the Essenes were believers in baptism and reincarnation. The Essene community was located at Mount Carmel; and there is strong evidence that John the Baptist was an Essene. (See “Reincarnation for the Christian” pp. 88-91)
(13) Elijah killed with the sword and John was killed with the sword:
Elijah: “Then Elijah commanded them, ‘Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!’ They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.” (1 Kings 18:40) “Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword.” (1 Kings 19:1)
John: “The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and his dinner guests, he ordered that her request be granted and had John beheaded in the prison.” (Matthew 14:9-10)
f. John Had To Pay For Elijah’s Bad Karma
Because Elijah killed the prophets of Baal with a sword; and John the Baptist himself was killed with a sword, this presents a major connection between the two men involving “karma“. Although karma is often viewed as an Asian concept, it is practically a universal concept found throughout the world and throughout the Bible. In fact, Jesus himself taught it in the Gospel of Matthew:
“Jesus said to him, ‘for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.'” (Matthew 26:52)
Karma is divine justice; and karma is reincarnation. Karma means if those who “draw the sword” do not die by the sword in their lifetime, they must die by the sword in a future lifetime. In the case of Elijah, he killed the priests of Baal with the sword because their sacrifice failed to catch fire whereas his sacrifice did. Having all the priests of Baal beheaded was an incredible injustice on Elijah’s part. And because John the Baptist was the reincarnation of Elijah, John had to “pay” Elijah’s “karmic debt” for unjustly murdering the priests of Baal. John paid Elijah’s debt by having his own head cut off. Jesus himself mentioned this karmic debt John paid as Elijah in the Gospel of Mark:
“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)
What was written about Elijah is that he had Jezebel’s prophets of Baal killed by the sword (1 Kings 18:40). In referring to John the Baptist as Elijah — and everything they (Herod and his wife) had done to John (killed by the sword) “just as it is written about him (Elijah)” — Jesus associated John’s death with what was written about Elijah concerning the killing of the prophets of Baal.
g. Elijah and Moses Appear at the First and Second Coming of Christ
The arrival of Elijah at the advent of the Messiah is a great fulfillment of Bible prophecy. So is the arrival of both Elijah and Moses. After John the Baptist was beheaded, when Jesus transfigured into a “Being of Light” at the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1-13), he met with the spirits of Elijah and Moses. Afterward, Jesus identified John the Baptist to be the reincarnation of Elijah to his disciples. The description of Jesus’ face “shining like the sun” and “his clothes becoming as white as the light” is remarkably similar to descriptions of Jesus in many NDE testimonies. The transfiguration of Jesus is just one of many events in the Bible corresponding with NDEs. Notice also how the appearance of Elijah and Moses in spirit with Jesus refutes the concept of people “resting in peace” until the Final Judgment.
The Bible also describes another reincarnation of Elijah occurring at the time of Jesus’ Second Coming. Not only does Elijah reincarnate again, but Moses is reincarnated at Jesus’ Second Coming as well. In the same way that John and Elijah appeared together on the Mount of Transfiguration, so they will appear together again at Jesus’ return. Here is the biblical evidence:
“And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth. They are ‘the two olive trees’ and the two lampstands, and ‘they stand before the Lord of the Earth.’ If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. They have power to shut up the heavens so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the Earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.” (Revelation 11:3-6)
While this passage in Revelation does not specifically identify the “two witnesses” as Elijah and Moses, the miraculous powers they perform suggest it is them. Just like one of the witnesses in this Revelation passage, Elijah had the power to prevent rain from occurring for three and a half years (or 1,260 days):
“Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, ‘As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.'” (1 Kings 17:1)
“He (Elijah) prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years.” (James 5:17)
And just like the other witness in the Revelation passage, Moses had the power to turn water into blood and to bring plagues:
“This is what the Lord says: By this you will know that I am the Lord: With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood‘…’This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me, or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people.” (Exodus 7:17; 9:13-14)
The Bible prophecy in Revelation 11:3-6 describes two prophets who have the identical powers as Elijah and Moses. Is this a mere coincidence? You be the judge. And if Elijah and Moses are to reappear at Jesus’ Second Coming, then the only realistic way for them to do so is through reincarnation. In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses gives a prophecy about God reincarnating a prophet like him which can be interpreted to refer to Revelation 11:3-6:
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me (Moses) from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.” (Deuteronomy 18:15)
Because Elijah and Moses appeared at the First Coming of Christ, it no stretch of the imagination to believe Elijah and Moses will appear again at the Second Coming of Christ as well. The Malachi prophecy of Elijah’s return may be references to reincarnations of Elijah at both the First and Second Coming of Christ:
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord.” (Malachi 4:5)
h. The Disciples Didn’t Know What Spirit They Had
The next Bible verse describes the disciples asking Jesus if they should call down fire upon an unbelieving city as Elijah did. Jesus rebuked them by telling them they didn’t know what spirit they had to accomplish the miracle. This is an important statement uttered from the lips of Christ concerning an aspect of reincarnation previously mentioned. People do not have a conscious awareness of the spirit they possess from a past life:
“Now it came to pass, when the time had come for him (Jesus) to be received up, that he steadfastly set his face to go to Jerusalem, and sent messengers before his face. And as they went, they entered a village of the Samaritans, to prepare for him. But they did not receive him, because his face was set for the journey to Jerusalem. And when his disciples James and John saw this, they said, ‘Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them, just as Elijah did?’ But he turned and rebuked them, and said, ‘You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.’ And they went to another village.” (Luke 9:51-56)
The disciples wanted to call down fire upon the unbelievers just as Elijah did. Jesus rebuked them by telling them they didn’t know “what manner of spirit” they had to accomplish this. The spirit of Elijah could call down fire from heaven; but this does not mean the disciples could. Also, in the original text, the phrase “manner of” was not part of the above original translation of the Bible verse nor in the Vulgate version. The phrase “manner of” was added at the time when the Bible was being translated into English. Without the words “manner of” in the verse, it becomes an even clearer reference to reincarnation. The verse shows Jesus telling his disciples they “don’t know what spirit they have.” In a later translation of the Bible, this mistranslation was corrected:
“And turning, he rebuked them, saying: ‘You know not of what spirit you are. The Son of man came not to destroy souls, but to save.’ And they went into another town.” (Luke 9:54-56, DRA)
The mystery of the “resurrection of the dead” was a secret teaching passed on as an oral tradition only to those initiated into the Christian mysteries. The mysteries of bodily resurrection (reincarnation) and spiritual resurrection (spiritual regeneration by the Holy Spirit) were misunderstood and eventually suppressed by the Church when it was seeking orthodoxy within the Roman Empire. Reincarnation allows people to “work their way up” through the afterlife realms immediately after death with the goal of becoming permanent citizens in God’s highest heaven. The idea of a massive worldwide reanimation of corpses at the end of time is bizarre, unnatural, repulsive, and against science. Based upon the biblical evidence of John the Baptist as the reincarnation of Elijah alone, it can be easily declared that Jesus taught reincarnation. The prophetic fulfillment of John the Baptist as a reincarnation of Elijah the prophet is the clearest biblical statement of the reality of reincarnation. John had both the spirit and power of Elijah — meaning he was the reincarnation of Elijah. Skeptical objections to Elijah’s reincarnation as John have been debunked. John and Elijah shared many similarities suggestive of reincarnation including appearance, diet, personality, relationships, life situations, ministry, locations inhabited throughout in Israel, and karma. If John was not the reincarnation of Elijah as prophecy foretold, then Jesus was not the Messiah as prophecy foretold. Elijah and Moses appeared transfigured with Christ at his First Coming. Elijah and Moses will become reincarnated for Christ’s Second Coming. For these reasons and more, reincarnation must now be considered an official doctrine of Christianity as it was widely believed during the first 500 years of Christian history.