Reincarnation in the New Testament

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

The disciples wanted to know the reason for the man's blindness. They offered two possibilities to Jesus. Either the man was blind because of the sins of his parents or he was blind because he was reaping the fruit of his own sins (karma). If our souls do not exist prior to this birth and if the man was born blind, then when or where could he have committed the sins that caused his blindness? His soul would have existed prior to that birth and he would have been engaged in a corporeal setting with other people to commit sins against or with. In other words, the blind man had a previous life. This indicates that the pre-existence of the soul was a prevalent idea among the disciples, otherwise how could they have asked such an unusual question? Neither does Jesus ask them where they got such a strange idea. He does not marvel that they have presented him with such a foolish concept. Where did they get this idea? As we have seen in the"blind man"scripture and other scriptures, the concept of reincarnation was understood by Jesus and the disciples. They employed the concept in these discussions in a matter-of-fact way.

Elijah the prophet is believed to have lived in the ninth century B.C.E. At the point of his death a fiery chariot with horses of fire took him in a whirlwind to heaven and he was seen no more (II Kings 2:11). Four hundred years later, Malachi closed the last lines of the Old Testament with a prophecy from God stating that God would send Elijah before the"great and terrible day of the Lord"comes (Malachi 4:5). The Jewish people were expecting Elijah to return as the necessary preface to signal the coming of the Messiah.

The disciples all felt that Jesus was the Messiah but they were puzzled. Where is Elijah? The disciples asked the Master about this and he told them that Elijah had already returned as John the Baptist. The first discussion of this is in Matthew, chapter 11.

I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist; yet he who 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 forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of 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. He who has ears, let him hear. Matthew 11:11-15, NIV

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 17:10-13, NIV

The above scripture indicates that the disciples and Jesus believed in reincarnation. John the Baptist was the reincarnation of Elijah. In an attempt to fit these scriptures into the orthodox view of one-life-only, some believe that Elijah never died as we know it because he went up in a chariot of fire, thus discounting John the Baptist as an instance of reincarnation. Their thinking is that Elijah did inhabit John the Baptist but it was not rebirth because Elijah had never died. For this"discounting"to really work, the Baptist would need to have returned in the same fiery chariot as a grown man. However, he was clearly placed in the womb of a human mother after which he had a very mortal and common birth. Jesus said he was"born of woman"And in Luke 1:13-17, an angel tells John's father, Zacharias, that John will be born to his wife Elizabeth...”And he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah.”Others use this last line to say that John the Baptist was under the power of Elijah but was not the incarnation of Elijah. However, Jesus says in no uncertain terms that John is Elijah and not simply an ambassador of Elijah's power," This is Elijah... He who has ears to hear let him hear" (Matthew 11:14-15). Also, Malachi does not say that Elijah will appear by proxy but that Elijah himself will return.

Yet another discussion between Jesus and the disciples underscores their belief in reincarnation.

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.” "But what about you?”he asked.”Who do you say I am?”Simon Peter answered," You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”Matthew 16:15-16

The flow here seems to be that if a prophet were to appear he must be the incarnation of one of the prophets from the past and so Jesus is asking the disciples who the people think has incarnated as Jesus. The idea of the reincarnation of the prophets is taken for granted and the sole point of the question is to find out who the multitudes believe him to be. These scriptures indicate that, at least to Jesus and the disciples, the concept of reincarnation was common fare. Herod also heard that others were saying one of the prophets of long ago had reincarnated. This again indicates that such a belief in reincarnation was common at that time.

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, NIV"

Reincarnation in the New Testament

Reincarnation quotes from famous people

Benjamin Franklin

"I look upon death to be as necessary to the constitution as sleep. We shall rise refreshed in the morning.”And," Finding myself to exist in the world, I believe I shall, in some shape or other always exist.”

Jack London, author, best known for book Call of the Wild

"I did not begin when I was born, nor when I was conceived. I have been growing, developing, through incalculable myriads of millenniums. All my previous selves have their voices, echoes, promptings in me. Oh, incalculable times again shall I be born.”

Mark Twain

"I have been born more times than anybody except Krishna.”

Leo Tolstoy

"As we live through thousands of dreams in our present life, so is our present life only one of many thousands of such lives which we enter from the other more real life and then return after death. Our life is but one of the dreams of that more real life, and so it is endlessly, until the very last one, the very real the life of God.”

Henry Ford

"I adopted the theory of reincarnation when I was 26. Genius is experience. Some think to seem that it is a gift or talent, but it is the fruit of long experience in many lives"

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, (German poet, playwright and scientist)

"As long as you are not aware of the continual law of Die and Be Again, you are merely a vague guest on a dark Earth.”

Freidrich Nietzsche

"Live so that thou mayest desire to live again - that is thy duty - for in any case thou wilt live again!"

Mahatma Ghandi

"I cannot think of permanent enmity between man and man, and believing as I do in the theory of reincarnation, I live in the hope that if not in this birth, in some other birth I shall be able to hug all of humanity in friendly embrace.”

Ralph Waldo Emerson

"The soul comes from without into the human body, as into a temporary abode, and it goes out of it anew it passes into other habitations, for the soul is immortal.” "It is the secret of the world that all things subsist and do not die, but only retire a little from sight and afterwards return again. Nothing is dead; men feign themselves dead, and endure mock funerals... and there they stand looking out of the window, sound and well, in some strange new disguise.”

General George S. Patton

"So as through a glass and darkly, the age long strife I see, Where I fought in many guises, many names, but always me.”

Albert Schweitzer

"Reincarnation contains a most comforting explanation of reality by means of which Indian thought surmounts difficulties which baffle the thinkers of Europe.”

Walt Whitman

"I know I am deathless. No doubt I have died myself ten thousand times before. I laugh at what you call dissolution, and I know the amplitude of time.”

William Wordsworth

"Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting; The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star, Hath had elsewhere its setting. And cometh from afar.”

Jalalu Rumi (Islamic Poet of the 13th century)

"I died as a mineral and became a plant, I died as a plant and rose to animal, I died as animal and I was man. Why should I fear? When was I less by dying?”

Carl Jung

"My life often seemed to me like a story that has no beginning and no end. I had the feeling that I was an historical fragment, an excerpt for which the preceding and succeeding text was missing. I could well imagine that I might have lived in former centuries and there encountered questions I was not yet able to answer; that I had been born again because I had not fulfilled the task given to me.”

Henry David Thoreau

"Why should we be startled by death? Life is a constant putting off of the mortal coil - coat, cuticle, flesh and bones, all old clothes.”


"I am confident that there truly is such a thing as living again, that the living spring from the dead, and that the souls of the dead are in existence.”

Jesus Christ in Gnostic Gospels: Pistis Sophia

"Souls are poured from one into another of different kinds of bodies of the world.”


"It is not more surprising to be born twice than once; everything in nature is resurrection.”

Josephus (most well known Jewish historian from the time of Jesus)

"All pure and holy spirits live on in heavenly places, and in course of time they are again sent down to inhabit righteous bodies.”

Honore Balzac (French writer)

"All human beings go through a previous life... Who knows how many fleshly forms the heir of heaven occupies before he can be brought to understand the value of that silence and solitude of spiritual worlds?”

Arthur Schopenhauer (Philosopher)

"Were an Asiatic to ask me for a definition of Europe, I should be forced to answer him: It is that part of the world which is haunted by the incredible delusion that man was created out of nothing, and that his present birth is his first entrance into life.”

Paul Gauguin (French post-impressionist painter)

"When the physical organism breaks up, the soul survives. It then takes on another body.”

George Harrison

"Friends are all souls that we've known in other lives. We're drawn to each other. Even if I have only known them a day., it doesn't matter. I'm not going to wait till I have known them for two years, because anyway, we must have met somewhere before, you know.”

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