This was a question I had for a long time during my twenties, especially as I did more reading on the paranormal and tried to integrate the two often distinct and sometimes opposing views of ghosts and what maybe the bible says about them.
Despite the kickback that often comes from mainstream denominations, I think it’s an important question to ask, as, surprisingly, the answer can change how we see the world around us and can dramatically shape (or re-shape) our theology and world view.
So, let’s peel back the layers and discover what the bible really says about ghosts and the Paranormal.
What Are Ghosts, Anyway?
The prevailing theory about ghosts in mainstream western culture is, they are disembodied human spirits – people who have died but still tethered to this earthly plane for one reason or another, unable to leave.
But, for religious people, the most used response to this definition is, it’s impossible for ghosts to be people who have died, since people immediately go to heaven or hell upon their death.
Ask anyone in the modern evangelical church today and you will get as many answers – varied, often ill-informed, and rife with superstition, fear, and sometimes condemnation.
This knee-jerk response is often triggered by fear and biblical illiteracy. For, as we all know, and quite comically so, the bible is the least read book in the church today.
In fact, there are several biblical reasons why I have difficulty with their argument.
First, there are a multitude of bible references that mention people sleeping when they die (Daniel 12:2, John 5:28-29, 1 Corinthians 15:20-23, 51-55, Matthew 9:24, 26:31-46, Revelation 20:11-15, etc). This would stand to reason, given that the bible explicitly states that everyone will be resurrected in the end, so the dead really aren’t dead, they’re just asleep.
There is one episode in the bible that does seem to indicate the possibility of at least speaking with the dead. That’s found in 1 Samuel 28:7-20, where Saul goes against God’s instructions and seeks out a witch to perform a seance.
By the end of the ritual, even the witch herself is surprised (and afraid), due to the unusually successful conjuring.
But, this is not a depiction of our modern interpretation of ghosts. In fact, whether the dead are asleep, in purgatory, or immediately before the throne, there is no biblical reference whatsoever pointing to some remaining on earth in disembodied form.
There are many references, though, to the resurrection of the dead (Matthew 27:52, Daniel 12:2, John 5:28-29, etc). But, these are not ethereal beings trapped between planes of existence. They are brought back to life physically.
If You’re Not Seeing Dead People, then What?
So, if ghosts do exist, but are not departed souls trapped between this world and the next, what are they?
An alternative view comes from three passages in the bible and several extra biblical sources.
Both Jude 1:6 and 2 Peter 2:4 make reference to fallen angels that have been imprisoned by God in a place called Tartarus, awaiting judgment at the end of days. This view states these angels left their proper dwelling place (in heaven) and instead came to earth to take wives of human women. This is detailed in Genesis 6 as well as in the Book of Enoch and the Book of Jubilees (and, before anyone claims extra biblical sources have no theological authority, James quotes from 1 Enoch 1:9).
When these angelic beings procreated with human women, they produced hybrid offspring known as the Nephilim, and they were one of the causes for Noah’s Flood.
With these giants, half human, half angelic beings now wiped off the earth, their disembodied spirits became what we today refer to as demons – mysterious, malefic, listless, incorporeal creatures that, surprisingly, a great deal has been written about in the bible (Matthew 8:29, 12:43-45, Mark 3:11, etc).
But, you might ask, what do these demonic creatures have to do with ghosts?
The Nephilim and Demon – Ghost Connection.
Well, if the main purpose of Satan’s agenda is to deceive the world (Revelation 12:9), and his servants (demons) do as he does, even transforming themselves into angels of light, it stands to reason that ghosts are nothing more than these demonic spirits in disguise (2 Corinthians 11;14-15, Ephesians 6;12).
It is often the case, an experience with a ghost will lead someone to exploration, which will in turn open the door to other occult practices, such as mediums, witchcraft, and new age – all vehicles that lead people away from faith in God (Deuteronomy 18:10-12, Leviticus 20:6, Isaiah 8:19).
What did the Apostles and Jesus believe about Ghosts?
What we describe as ghosts today, apparently were called “unclean spirits” back in the first century.
In fact, when Jesus was secretly resurrected and then appeared to his disciples, the reaction was pretty much the same all the way around.
Everyone thought he was a ghost (Luke 24:37-40, Mark 6:49, Matthew 14:25-27).
Jesus had to correct them, stating, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”
He did not scold them for believing in some fairytale. He didn’t tell them ghosts weren’t real. In fact, he says, “a spirit does not have flesh and bones.”
What did he mean by that?
Well, it indicates that spirits or ghosts were considered real – by Jesus. That they are ethereal, and have no physical form.
What creature matches this description?
Likewise, what is the biblical description of demons’ behavior? What are demons up to on any given day of the week?
Matthew 12:43 states that demons are “passing through waterless places seeking rest but finding none” (and working together to possess people).
Matthew 8:29 shows us why these creatures are often scared, defensive and illusive, for they know their time of torment is soon at hand.
These two passages describe the behavior of ghosts today. Scared, illusive, defensive, violent, and dwelling in lonely, desolate, abandoned places.
So, according to the bible, ghosts are a real phenomena, known as evil or unclean spirits.
They are not the souls of departed people trapped between two planes of existence, but are what remains of the supernatural Nephilim hybrid offspring of Genesis 6.
Their purpose is to deceive humanity, to lead us away from faith and belief in God and in Christ, which they seem to do by tricking us about their origin and hijacking us, often inadvertently, leading us into the occult and new age religions.
So, the next time you hear a ghost story, keep in mind what those creatures really are, lurking around in the dark and desolate places late at night.
Make no mistake, you are the one they’re after.
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