The issue of ghosts has always been mysterious. Ghosts are not only dreaded but some even revere them. Every Halloween season, the issue of ghosts is heightened as people stage haunted houses and other types of spooky things. It is believed that there are both bad and good ghosts – the good haunts people while the good ones help humans. But is any of these factual? Does the Bible say anything about ghosts?
The answer depends on how you describe ghosts. If you mean spirit beings, then yes, the Bible acknowledges their existence. If you mean ghosts of people who died, no, the Bible dismisses their existence. The Bible acknowledges that both good and bad spirit beings live among us.
The Good and Bad Spirit Beings
According to Hebrews 9:27, it is appointed for everyone to die once and then face judgment. This means that when a person dies, their soul or spirit immediately goes to judgment. After death, the spirit goes into judgment and so the fate of the dead person is decided. Philippians 1:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:6-8 state that a believer who walked in all the righteous ways goes to heaven while a non-believer will go to hell. So there’s no coming back to earth as a ghost.
Instead of ghosts, the Bible speaks about the existence of spirit beings. These spirit beings can come into contact with our physical world and the Bible categorizes them as either good or bad.
The good spirit beings are known as angels, while the bad spirit beings are considered demons. Angels serve two main roles – they serve God and they also serve man. According to Hebrews 1:14, the angels are ministering spirits that are tasked with serving the believers. Angels can appear in human form, but they are not created to look like us. They are also holy, good, and righteous.
On the other hand, bad spirit beings are demons who are evil and deceptive. Their mission is to lead humans astray, and they can masquerade as angels of light. The Bible states that demons also can torment humans. For example, in Mark 5:1-20 there are legions of demons who torment a man. They caused the man to live in the burial caves where he used to run around and cut himself.
Demons were first created as good angels, but Satan, who is also a spirit, deceived them. He led them into rebelling against God, and they were hurled to earth and are sometimes known as fallen angels. Bible scholars believe that Satan fell with a third of the angels. This is based on the interpretation of the stars that are described in Revelation as angels.
His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth so that when she bore her child he might devour it. Revelation 12:4
These fallen angels work with the devil to continue deceiving the rest of humanity. As the Bible notes in John 10:10, they come to kill, steal, and destroy.
Can the Dead Return as Ghosts and Reveal Some Life Truths?
Job 7:9-10 says that the dead are gone, never to be seen again. It goes further to explain that the dead will never be seen again in their home. The verses clearly show that once someone dies, they have no other business on earth.
Another scripture that confirms this is Psalms 146:4. It makes it clear that once a person dies, their plans die with them. This scripture negates the common notion that the ghosts of people return to finish their unfinished plans.
But there is a strange scripture in the book of Samuel where King Saul sought the help of a medium when God stopped speaking to him. According to the scripture, the medium summoned the spirit of Samuel who then addressed Saul (1 Samuel 28:6-7). Some argue that this is the confirmation that ghosts exist.
The reality however is that Satan is a master deceiver. Apostle Paul aptly warns that the devil masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14). As such, the medium in the scripture above did not consult Samuel but a demonic spirit masquerading as Saul. So, this instance cannot be used as evidence that the dead can return as ghosts.
Are There Ghosts Mentioned in the Bible?
Yes, the word ghost is used several times in the Bible. However, the Bible doesn’t mean spirits of dead people whenever it mentions ‘ghosts.’ In Mark 6:49, the Bible says that the disciples of Jesus were quite scared when they saw him walking on water. They thought that it was a ‘ghost.’
There is another mention of ‘ghost’ in the Bible when Eliphaz, Job’s friend, was talking about a dream he had with a ghost (Job 4:15-16). Also, in Isaiah 29:4, the prophet warned the city of Ariel that their voices would sound like that of ghosts. In all these instances the word ghost is used to refer to a spirit being. As we have already established, the spirit being can either be an angel of light or an angel of darkness.
Should Christians Be Afraid of Ghosts?
When grieving many people may think that the spirit of the dead loved one will watch over them or haunt them. Christians should stay clear of such thoughts and should not be afraid of ghosts because, as we have seen, they do not exist.
However, demons are real. But still, you shouldn’t be afraid of demons. As 1 John 4:4 explains, you have the greater one (God) in you so you shouldn’t be afraid. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 also makes it clear that God will protect believers from the demons. This means Christians should be confident that God will protect them from the harm demons can cause.
As we have seen, ghosts are not real, but there exist spirit beings, both good and bad. The good ones are angels whose main mission on earth is to minister to the believers. They are holy, righteous, and good. On the other hand, bad spirit beings are demons whose main work is to torment and keep humans away from God.