What's that?

Many people see that word reincarnation and immediately think of people who believe that when their uncle died that he would come back to life on the earth as a cow (or some other animal). While there are religions that teach that, there are also some that teach that after death the disembodied spirit can pick and choose what kind of body they come back in, animal or mineral. Some of those teach that the disembodied spirit has no choice but is directed to some physical body based on deeds done in the last life, or "karma."

Most people have the idea that reincarnation is something mystical and of the new age genre, but in fact this concept has been around in many forms since the dawn of history. Looking in secular documents of myth and legend, you will find many stories of heroes, and sometimes ordinary people, being reincarnated after their physical deaths. How many of them are true? Well, that's up to you to read them and make your own decision.

Meanings of words
Everything we know, think we know, and believe is based on words and our understanding of their meanings. Without understanding the meanings of words we cannot communicate with each other or understand anything we read. Misunderstanding the meanings of words is the primary cause of ignorance and sometimes leads to even worse.

For instance, look at the perfectly acceptable and useful word "niggardly." That word means stingy, but some overly sensitive black people and politically correct freaks have erroneously associated it with the word "nigger" (which itself is derived from negro which means "black" in many languages) so that now it is looked at as a racial slur. So now the perfectly acceptable word niggardly is considered impolite and itself a racial slur. See what I mean? Not knowing the meaning of a word can lead to disastrous results.

With that in mind let us get a little technical about the meaning of words associated with the subject of this article for just a moment.

The base of the word reincarnate is "carnal," which literally means "of the physical body or flesh." The word "incarnate" means that a living physical body is inhabited by a spirit. "Reincarnate" is how that ex-disembodied spirit got into that living body, and "reincarnation" is the process.

So what should we believe about reincarnation?
Only what we can find, if anything, in scripture. That is the book that deals with matters spiritual and the only place any real spiritual answers can be found. Regression hypnosis for the purpose of determining "past lives" makes very interesting reading, but there is too much uncertainty about the human psyche and its ability to invent stories to satisfy the questions to really accept at this time. Maybe someday if the uncertainty factor is satisfactorily resolved then it would be acceptable as a proof.

Very young children who spontaneously express remembrance of past lives, and there are many, are strong evidence too. But again, there is no way to prove that reincarnation is actually the cause of their memories. Other factors could be at work in those instances.

Should we believe that people who die reincarnate as animals?

Not a chance! That's nowhere to be found in scripture.

How about rocks or stones?

Same answer.

So if there is evidence of reincarnation in scripture, let us go look and see if we can find it, but let us first make sure that we are not trying to find passages of scripture to defend or "prove" a predetermined doctrine. Let the scripture speak for itself.

Evidence of Reincarnation in the Scripture:
What we will be looking for here are passages of scripture, in context, that speak of any spirit entering any living body for any reason. Some of the passages may be prophecy about the return of an individual to this world sometime after his physical death, some may deal with past events, and others may deal with more immediate events.

Future Cases of Reincarnation:
Zerubbabel as someone unnamed who is to come in the last days

    Chaggay (Haggai) 2:21-23 Speak to Zerubbabel, governor of Yahudah saying, "I will shake the skies and the earth. 22 I will overthrow the throne of kingdoms. I will destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the heathen. I will overthrow the chariots, those that ride in them; and the horses and their riders shall come down, every one by the sword of his brother. 23 In that day, says Yahuwah of hosts, I will take you, Zerubbabel My slave, the son of She'altiy'el, says Yahuwah, and will make you as a signature ring, for I have chosen you, says Yahuwah of hosts."

Zerubbabel is one of the two witnesses spoken of in Revelation chapter 11.

Yahuchanan (the delegate) as someone unnamed who is to come in the last days

    Revelation 10:11 And He said to me, "You must prophesy again before many peoples, nations, languages, and kings."

Yahuchanan is the other witness spoken of in Revelation chapter 11.

The only way this can happen is if these two men are reincarnated, or return to earth in a physical body. What physical body they come back in is not of any importance. It may be the same one they had when they were on the earth before, or it may be a completely different one. They may be placed on the earth by Yahuwah as adults or they may be born of woman and grow up as a normal human does. The fact remains that the spirits of these two men will live in physical bodies AGAIN, and that is reincarnation.

Past cases
Yahuchanan (John) the Immerser (Baptist) as EliYahuw (Elijah - Elias)

    Mal'akiy 4:5 Behold, I will send you EliYahuw the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of Yahuwah 6 and he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the sons and the heart of the sons to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

    MattiythYahuw (Matthew) 11:11-15 Assuredly I say to you, among them that are born of women there has not risen a greater than Yahuchanan the Immerser, notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of the sky is greater than he. 12 And from the days of Yahuchanan the Immerser until now the kingdom of the sky suffers violence, and the violent take it by force, 13 for all the prophets and the law prophesied until Yahuchanan. 14 And if you will receive it, this is EliYahuw (Elias or Elijah) which was to come. 15 He that has ears to hear, let him hear. (See also MattiythYahuw 17:10-13, Mark 9:11-13)

The English word risen, above, is translated from the Greek word egeiro, which means to waken (trans. or intrans.), i.e. rouse (literally from sleep, from sitting or lying, from disease, or from death). This is the same Greek word that is used to describe the rising of Yahushua. Yahushua also used another word to describe what He was going to do. That word is anistemi which means to stand up (lit. or fig., trans. or intrans.). When the word resurrection is used, it is rendered from the word anastasis which means a standing up again, i.e. (literally) a resurrection from death.

Something to think about here is if this concept was not a common belief at the time, why does the language have so many different words to describe the different aspects of it?

    MattiythYahuw 17:10-12 And his disciples asked Him saying, "Why then do the scribes say that EliYahuw must first come?" 11 And Yahushua answered and said to them, "EliYahuw truly shall first come and restore all things. 12 But I say to you that EliYahuw has come already and they did not know him but have done to him whatsoever they determined. Likewise also shall the Son of man suffer of them."

Pretty strong words about the return to a physical body of the spirit of EliYahuw. Note carefully that he was in a different body than the one he had been incarnate in before too. He was born of woman and grew up as all other humans do. This is a classic case of a disembodied spirit assuming a new physical body through the process of being physically born into it.

    Yahuchanan 9:1-4 And as Yahushua passed by, He saw a man that was blind from his birth. 2 And His disciples asked Him saying, "Master, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?" 3 Yahushua answered, "Neither has this man sinned nor his parents, but that the works of Yahuwah should be made manifest in him. 4 I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day. The night comes when no man can work."

Since this man was BORN blind, when did he have opportunity to commit sin? Certainly not in the womb. If his condition had been caused by sin, he must have lived before in order to commit that sin. Notice that Yahushua treated this as a valid question and gave it a valid answer. He did not remonstrate with His disciples for asking a question dealing with reincarnation. (His parents could have been the cause, because of the second commandment.)

General statements and events indicating or confirming reincarnation
The following scriptural passages show that the idea of reincarnation was prevalent in Yisra'el well over 2000 thousand years ago. People talked about people coming back to this earth in another body as an everyday subject.

  • 1 Shemwu'el (Samuel) 2:6 Yahuwah kills and makes alive. He brings down to she'owl and brings up.

  • Psalms 9:17 The wicked shall be returned (H07725 - shuwb {shoob} - to return, turn back, go back, etc.) to she'owl (Hell) and all the nations that forget Elohiym, (You can not go back unless you were there before!)

  • Psalms 71:20 Which has shown me great and sore troubles, shall quicken (bring back to life) me again, and shall bring me up again from the depths of the earth (she'owl or hell).

  • Psalms 121:8 Yahuwah shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

  • MattiythYahuw 16:13-14 When Yahushua came into the borders of Kaisareia Philippoi, He asked His disciples saying, "Whom do men say that I the Son of man am?" 14 And they said, "Some Yahuchanan the Immerser, some EliYahuw, and others YirmeYahuw (Jeremiah), or one of the prophets."

Note that Yahushua asked the question that sounds like He wanted to know who everybody thought He had been before this incarnation.

    Markos 6:14-16 And king Herodes heard of him (for his name was spread abroad) and he said that Yahuchanan the Immerser was risen from the dead and therefore mighty works do show forth themselves in him. 15 Others said that it is EliYahuw. And others said that it is a prophet or as one of the prophets. 16 But when Herodes heard of it he said "It is Yahuchanan whom I beheaded. He is risen from the dead." (See also Loukas (Luke) 9:7-8)

    Yahuchanan 1:21-23 And they asked him, "What then? Are you EliYahuw?" And he said, "I am not." "Are you that prophet?" And he answered, "No." 22 Then they said to him, "Who are you that we may give an answer to them that sent us? What do you say for yourself?" 23 He said, "I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, make straight the way of Yahuwah, as said the prophet YashaYahuw."

Yahuchanan was not EliYahuw. He was Yahuchanan. But the spirit inhabiting the body WAS the same one that had inhabited the body known as EliYahuw.

    Galates (Galatians) 6:7 Do not be deceived. Yahuwah is not mocked. For whatsoever a man sows, that shall he also reap. (See Revelation 13:10, below)

    Revelation 13:10 He that leads into captivity shall go into captivity. He that kills with the sword must be killed with the sword. Here is the patience and the faith of the saints.

If people do not return to a physical body sometime after death, how then can the above passages be true? We know of many instances where bloody murderers have died in bed, peacefully, and surrounded by their loved ones.

The two primary religious sects of the Yahudiy that were around when Yahushua was walking the earth were the Parash (Pharisees) and the Tsadowq (Sadducees). The biggest difference in the two were that the Parash believed in resurrection (reincarnation) and the Tsadowq did not. The Tsadowq denied it, but the Parash not only believed it, but also taught it and lived their lives in the consideration of its truth.

    Acts 23:8 for indeed Tsadowq say that there is no resurrection (anastasis), nor messenger, nor spirit. Moreover the Parashiym confess both.

Some positive indications of disincarnate spirits incarnating into an existing physical body are the stories of the dumb spirit (MattiythYahuw 9:32-33), the spirit that left his "house" (MattiythYahuw 12:43-45, Loukas 11:24-26), the boy with the evil spirit (Markos 9:17-22), the man in the tombs at Gadarenes (Markos 5 and Loukas 8), and the girl who was possessed with a spirit of divination (Acts 16:16-18). Some will say that these are clearly possessions by demons, and except for the girl, they would be right. Remember however that a "demon" is in fact an unclean or evil spirit and these stories do show that there is a mechanism in place for a spirit to leave and enter a physical body. What is the difference in possession by an evil (unclean) spirit and by a clean spirit anyway?

Immediate Considerations
And finally, the words of Yahushua in the book of the end times sums it all up.

    Revelation 3:12 Him that overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of My Eloah and he shall go out no more. And I will write upon him the name of My Eloah and the name of the city of My Eloah, which is new Yeruwshalom, which comes down out of the sky from My Eloah, and I will write upon him My new name.

C.F. Castleberry