The Resurrection. (c. 1715-1716) By S. Ricci.

Hidden Beliefs Covered by the Church? Resurrection and Reincarnation in Early Christianity

Is it possible that early Christians believed in reincarnation? Although some may find this idea unbelievable, several Christian sources (including the Bible) suggest that many centuries ago, it was common to believe that one does not come to Earth just once, but various times.

In 1945, researchers discovered some early Judeo-Christian writings. Two years later, the world heard about the Dead Sea Scrolls, the discovery which changed biblical history.  The early Christians and Jews followed the teachings of Jesus - including the concept of resurrection. There are several examples of this found in ancient resources.

The oldest texts provide two concepts of resurrection: spiritual and bodily. The spiritual rebirth by the Holy Spirit is also known as being born again. A bodily resurrection of a human could also be called reincarnation. According to the first important father of the early Orthodox Church, Origen (185 – 254 AD), the soul exists before birth. He suggested that pre-existence was found in the Hebrew scriptures and the teachings of Jesus.

The Holy Spirit depicted as a dove descending on the Holy Family, with God the Father and angels shown atop, by Murillo, (c. 1677).

The Holy Spirit depicted as a dove descending on the Holy Family, with God the Father and angels shown atop, by Murillo, (c. 1677). (Public Domain)

Moreover, the writings of Clement of Alexandria - a disciple of the apostle Peter, suggest that his master received a few secret teachings from Jesus. One of them was related to the concept of physical and spiritual rebirth. The secret teachings confirm some writing in the Bible. There is a fragment which suggests that Jesus knew about reincarnation and past lives. Someone in the crowd apparently asked him: “What sign showest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. Then Jesus said unto them, Verily verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but My Father giveth you the true bread from heaven” - John 6:30-32

Jesus doesn't refer to “your fathers”, but “you”, signifying that the story is connected with every person. In Deuteronomy 18:15, Moses said: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.”

Once more, Moses doesn't say “your children”, but “you”, indicating that it would be the same people to whom he was speaking that would see and hear the Messiah. According to many specialists in the Bible, there are many examples which promote the belief that reincarnation was well known and a fully accepted fact for early Christians.

Moses Pleading with Israel, as in Deuteronomy 6:1-15.

Moses Pleading with Israel, as in Deuteronomy 6:1-15. (Public Domain)

Major Medieval Alterations

In the early medieval period, the doctrines of pre-existence and reincarnation only existed as Jesus’ secret teachings. In 553 AD this information was declared heresy at the Second Council of Constantinople. The Roman Church decided to destroy all the teachings which talked about it. The Catholic doctrine and the priests’ source of wealth could have been in danger if people believed that they would come back to life many times. The old knowledge faced the same fate as many ancient books by pre-Christian writers. The bishops were afraid of the knowledge which could prove that the institution of the Church wasn't the only option to bring “eternal life” to people.

During the Middle Ages, the growing Christian religion faced new unexpected problems. With the rising number of priests, bishops, parishes, and churches the new religious structure needed more money. Due to these needs, they also invented celibacy, to allow the church to own everything what belonged to their priests.

Moreover, they decided to invent more terrible outcomes for Christian followers if they didn't do what the bishops expected of them. In the ancient writings, there is nothing about asking the priest to ask God to release individuals from their sins…or even a place called Hell - where the people who broke God’s rules were said to go after death.

А fresco detail of Hell from the medieval church St. Nicolas in Raduil village, Bulgaria.

А fresco detail of Hell from the medieval church St. Nicolas in Raduil village, Bulgaria. (Edal Anton Lefterov/CC BY SA 3.0)

Another aspect which made the Church even more resistant in allowing the belief in reincarnation was related to the Crusades. During the Crusades, people were offering all they had to the Church and fought in the name of Jesus. The religious fighters may have been less intent to lose their lives for their religion if they thought they would be reborn in the future.

When the Inquisition started to kill people for crimes of heresy and witchcraft, the religious society remained silent. Although they were losing neighbors, friends, and family, the Christians believed that it was necessary to stay on the right side of the Church and Inquisition if they wanted to go to Heaven. A belief in the rules of karma and reincarnation wouldn't have allowed the leaders of the Inquisition to hurt so many people.

Images representing immortality.

Images representing immortality. (Gnostic Warrior)

The Church’s Current Views on Reincarnation

Nowadays, some Christian churches say that it is possible that reincarnation exists. One of the most liberal of these organizations seems to be the Church in the USA. However, the belief in reincarnation is still more applicable to Buddhism or even New Age followers. The idea of reincarnation has never been fully accepted by the Catholic Church. If they would permit reincarnation as a belief, it would ruin all of the doctrine they had created over the years. It may not fully destroy Christianity, however, it would bring it back to the beginning, before the transformations the Church made. As long as people believe that only God can punish evil, the Church sees no need to apply the impersonal law of karma and other lessons which reincarnation brings.


Reincarnation. (Himalayan Academy)

Top Image: The Resurrection. (c. 1715-1716) By S. Ricci. Source: Public Domain

By Natalia Klimczak


Reincarnation in the Bible by Kevin Williams, available at:

May a Christian Believe in Reincarnation? By Abbot George Burke

Reincarnation and Christianity, available at:

Christians and reincarnation, available at:

Ernest Valea, (2016) “REINCARNATION: Its meaning and consequences” [Online] Available at:

The Reluctant Messenger (2016) “Christian Reincarnation”. [Online] Available at:

"The Big Book of Reincarnation", by Roy Stemman, p. 14
"CHURCH FATHERS: Letter 124 (Jerome)".


Tsurugi's picture

Wow! My friend, that is a fantastic post. I am going to have to read it several times before I can respond substantively. I'm just posting this to express my appreciation of the time and effort you put towards answering my questions.

Shabda's picture

Hey sure, you just take whatever amount of time you need to go further. That response I made off of the top of my head, and I numbered your questions and my answers just to make it quicker and easier for me to reply to each point or questions specifically and also just to make all of it easier to follow through. While one of my main interests has always been history, especially of the ancient sort, another has always been spirituality, but in a way that is NOT limited by any one religion or spiritual viewpoint. So I have studied into many religions and the most interesting ones for me are always Eastern. I do this so as to better compare and comprehend the similarities between each, as I find those of the greatest interest while the rest of the world at large seems to spend time on arguing about the differences and which happen to be true. I am perhaps an Omnist, of the view that all religions are true, or at least to one extent or another. In my view none are without value which makes them interesting for me to research and compare. If there is a Godhead, I maintain that IT has no name or religion, both of which are human mental creations having no real value as far as experiencing or defining the Creator.

Also, I am well aware that many here choose to NOT have any sort of spiritual belief, and I have no problem with those folks either. Be a Christian, and Atheist, a Shaman, or and Agnostic. There is plenty of room for all of those and more, and no good reason for any to NOT get along well with others of different cultures or spiritual or philosophical systems. Again I’d like to thank you for asking clear and frank questions about my views on these natters, and you are by no means prevented from disagreeing with me about any views that anyone may have, nor are you expected to NOT formulate your own interpretations about any holy books meanings, or those of any religious grouping. The way I see it, this is a good way for the both of us to consider newer ideas and to perhaps learn something new about the topic! And feel free to ask more questions too if you care to!

"Does the author think early Christians also believed in karma? "

What part of "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." do you not understand?
It tracks with a quotation from the Hindu Law of Karma:

“Law of the Karma stipulates; if a person is spreading happiness through charity, good work, being kind and sympathetic toward others it means he/she is sowing the seeds of happiness that will produce the fruits of happiness in present of future”.

Job 4:8
"According to what I have seen, those who plow iniquity And those who sow trouble harvest it."
2 Corinthians 9:6
"Consider this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously."
Galatians 6:7
"Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." KJV)
Luke 6:38
"Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."

Seems pretty clear to me.

If you research the Nag Hammadi Library (The Nag Hammadi Scriptures) you will find that early christians believed in reincarnation. Calling something absolute crap just shows your ignorance about the matter.

Not sure what a dingle mouse is. But I do know what a dingle berry is; a wad of animal waste that gets caught near it’s behind. A slang term meaning stupidity. Being that there are two exists of the body the rectum and the mouth (verbal diarrhea) perhaps you could/should be referring to yourself as dingyberry not dingle mouse.

As any devote member of your faith when ever you come across anything that runs counter to your faith you first was an expletive then retreat to your holy scriptures. Too bad you can not expand your understanding of other faiths and traditions. A true sign of one who has chosen to remain ignorant.

I am amazed how many people of faith that I have meet over the years and when I inquire if they have ever read anything else the answer is no, as they have no need to, everything they need can be found in the holy bible. Good for you, that’s your right, but you do not have the right to attack others. If you choose to remain ignorant of other so be it
As to taking scripture and reformatting it, actually you have it wrong there. It is just the opposite.

“There was already a long tradition in Christian exegesis of spiritualizing mythography-that is, of finding Christian religious meaning in the old pagan texts. The mythographic enterprise,indeed , is one of the signal achievments of medieval humanism.”


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