Whether you’re in the middle of Halloween season or just finished watching a scary movie, you might find yourself wondering, “What does the Bible say about ghosts?”
While the concept of ghosts, as we’re used to seeing them in movies or pop culture, may not be explicitly addressed in the Bible, there are various passages that touch on the supernatural and the existence of spirits. Check out what we can find about ghosts in the Bible – as well as angels, demons, and the unseen world.
What does the Bible say About Ghosts?
Admittedly, the Bible doesn’t say much about ghosts in particular. When it comes to the unseen world, however, the Bible is full of stories and accounts of extraordinary events and beings. Here are a few:
Angels in the Bible
Throughout the Bible, angels are depicted as messengers and servants of God, often intervening in the affairs of humans. Angels are part of God’s creation, and they serve a special purpose. Hebrews 1:14 explains that “Angels are only servants – spirits sent to care for people who will inherit salvation.”
One of the most notable accounts of angels in the Bible is found in the book of Luke. An angel appeared to Mary, letting her know that she would one day give birth to the Savior, Jesus.
Demons in the Bible
The Bible contains several references to demons. Demons are evil spiritual entities that play a role in the supernatural landscape.
One of the most well-known instances involving demons is the account of Jesus casting out demons from individuals. In Mark 5:1-20, Jesus encounters a demon-possessed man. Jesus expels the demons from the man and into a herd of pigs. The pigs then rush off the cliff and fall into the sea.
The Bible also describes the activities of demons as they seek to deceive, torment, and oppose God's people. Ephesians 6:12 says, "For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places."
King Saul’s experience with a medium
In the Old Testament, where we find an interesting account of communication with the deceased prophet, Samuel.
In 1 Samuel 28:3-25, King Saul, the king of Israel, is desperately seeking guidance from God as the Philistine army approaches. Samuel, the revered prophet, has died, and Saul is in dire need of counsel.
King Saul turns to a medium. The medium conducts a séance (a ritual that attempts to communicate with the dead), and to everyone's surprise, Samuel appears to speak with Saul.
The resurrection of the dead saints
The New Testament also offers a supernatural event that has some parallels to the concept of ghosts. In Matthew 27:52-53, following the crucifixion of Jesus and the moment the curtain in the temple is torn, a remarkable event is described:
"The earth shook, rocks split apart, and tombs opened. The bodies of many godly men and women who had died were raised from the dead. They left the cemetery after Jesus’ resurrection, went into the holy city of Jerusalem, and appeared to many people."
It’s important to note that, instead of being brought back from the dead as ghosts or spiritual beings, these people were restored to normal, human life.
If ghosts aren’t real, what happens when people die?
Ghosts are believed to be manifestations of the spirits of people who have died. The Bible doesn’t acknowledge ghosts specifically, nor does it give us any reason to believe that ghosts are real. However, Romans 8:11 offers a glimpse into what happens spiritually when people die:
"The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you."
When someone becomes a follower of Christ, the Holy Spirit essentially moves in. The Holy Spirit’s job is to advocate for us and remind us of God’s truth as we go about our lives (John 14:26). Then, when we die, our spirit leaves our bodies and goes on to the afterlife (Ecclesiastes 12:7).
As a church, we believe that in the afterlife, we’ll end up in one of two places: heaven or hell. Heaven is eternity with God, in the splendor of his presence. Hell is eternity separate from God, full of anguish and suffering. The only way to heaven is by believing in Jesus – that he’s real, that he died from our sins, and that he rose from the dead and returned to heaven (John 3:16).
Just because the Bible doesn’t handle the subject of ghosts specifically doesn’t mean a supernatural realm doesn’t exist. We’ve looked at examples of angels, demons, spirits, and evidence of humans trying to interact with the unseen.
There’s more to discover about heaven, hell, and what comes next in the Bible. Check out some of these resources!
6 Misconceptions About Heaven and Hell
3 Truths to Know About the Kingdom of Heaven
Does it Really Matter How We Live?
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