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Does the Bible Teach Reincarnation?

Does the Bible Teach Reincarnation?

The Bible’s answer

 No, it does not. Neither the word “reincarnation” nor the idea appears in the Bible. Belief in reincarnation is based on the teaching of the immortality of the soul. a However, the Bible teaches that the soul is the entire person and is thus mortal. (Genesis 2:7, footnote; Ezekiel 18:4) At death, a person ceases to exist.​—Genesis 3:​19; Ecclesiastes 9:​5, 6.

What is the difference between reincarnation and resurrection?

 The Bible’s teaching of the resurrection is not based on the immortality of the soul. In the resurrection, people who have died will be brought back into existence by God’s power. (Matthew 22:23, 29; Acts 24:15) The resurrection offers the positive hope of coming back to a new earth with the prospect of never dying again.​—2 Peter 3:​13; Revelation 21:​3, 4.

Misconceptions about reincarnation and the Bible

 Misconception: The Bible says that the prophet Elijah was reincarnated as John the Baptist.

 Fact: God foretold: “I am sending to you Elijah the prophet,” and Jesus showed that John the Baptist fulfilled this prophecy. (Malachi 4:​5, 6; Matthew 11:13, 14) However, this did not mean that Elijah had been reincarnated as John the Baptist. John himself said that he was not Elijah. (John 1:​21) Instead, John performed a work like Elijah’s, proclaiming God’s message calling for repentance. (1 Kings 18:36, 37; Matthew 3:1) John also proved to be “strong and mighty like the prophet Elijah.”​—Luke 1:​13-​17, Good News Translation.

 Misconception: The Bible refers to reincarnation as being “born again.”

 Fact: The Bible shows that being born again is a spiritual rebirth that takes place while a person is still alive. (John 1:​12, 13) This rebirth is, not an inevitable consequence of past actions, but a blessing from God, giving those who receive it a unique hope for the future.​—John 3:3; 1 Peter 1:​3, 4.

a Belief in the immortality of the soul and in reincarnation can be traced back to ancient Babylon. Later, Indian philosophers formulated the doctrine of Karma. According to the Britannica Encyclopedia of World Religions, Karma is “the law of cause and effect, which states that what one does in this present life will have its effect in the next life.”​—Page 913.