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Ezekiel was sitting in his house. Then was Ezekiel's spirit leaving his body in Ezekiel 8:

1 In the sixth year, in the sixth month on the fifth day, while I was sitting in my house and the elders of Judah were sitting before me, the hand of the Sovereign Lord came on me there. 2I looked, and I saw a figure like that of a man. From what appeared to be his waist down he was like fire, and from there up his appearance was as bright as glowing metal. 3He stretched out what looked like a hand and took me by the hair of my head. The Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and in visions of God he took me to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the north gate of the inner court, where the idol that provokes to jealousy stood. 4And there before me was the glory of the God of Israel, as in the vision I had seen in the plain.

John was on the Island of Patmos. Then was John's spirit leaving his body in Revelation 17:

1 One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and said to me, “Come, I will show you the punishment of the great prostitute, who sits by many waters. 2With her the kings of the earth committed adultery, and the inhabitants of the earth were intoxicated with the wine of her adulteries.” 3Then the angel carried me away in the Spirit into a wilderness. There I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast that was covered with blasphemous names and had seven heads and ten horns.

A 3rd example was pointed out by Nigel's comment:

2 Corinthians 12:1 I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.

According to Paul, some kind of out-of-body experience is possible without causing death.

Can a person's spirit supernaturally leave its body temporarily?

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We must treat cautiously here as the words for "spirit" and "breath" are identical in both Greek and Hebrew. This even persists into modern languages with words like "expired" (= breathed out" meaning "dead". For example,

  • Gen 49:33 - When Jacob had finished giving instructions to his sons, he drew his feet up into the bed, breathed his last and was gathered to his people.
  • Gen 25:8 - Then Abraham breathed his last and died at a good old age, an old man and full of years; and he was gathered to his people.
  • Job 3:11 - "Why did I not die at birth, Come forth from the womb and expire?
  • Ps 104:39 - When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust.
  • Job 14:10 - But a man dies and is laid low; he breathes his last and is no more.
  • Mark 15:37 - With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last. [that is, Jesus died.]
  • Luke 23:47 - Jesus called out with a loud voice, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit." When he had said this, he breathed his last. [The Greek is ἐξέπνευσεν = "expired"]
  • Acts 5:5 - When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it.

... and so forth.

Hebrew Idiom, "In the spirit"

Thus, "apart from the Body" and "in the Spirit" simply mean Hebrew idiom for a vision of some kind as was the case with John, eg, Rev 4:2, 17:3, etc.

However, "in the Spirit" can also be Hebrew idiom for "with the same attitude and values" as in Col 2:5, Eph 1:13, 1 Cor 5:3, 4, 2 Kings 5:26, Luke 1:17, 1 Thess 1:5, etc.

The phrase can also mean "lead by the Spirit" as in Luke 2:27, Acts 18:25, Eph 6:18, Gal 5:25, Rom 7:6, etc.

Thus, we must be careful to to not "literalize" a metaphor or idiom, else we end up with nonesense.

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No. The spirit can not leave the body ‘miraculously’. It only leaves in, or as as a result of death. Although dying and coming back to life would be miraculous - so in a sense - yes!

But your Q asked whether the spirit could leave without causing death, so that’s why the answer is No. The word clearly answers this! -

JAMES 2:26 For as the body apart from the spirit is dead,

Central to this understanding is the Biblical understanding of death. Death means separation. Any separation. So body separating from spirit is death.

Now, John on the isle of Patmos was caught away ‘in’ the spirit - meaning a vision. In a biblical vision, your spirit completely takes over your senses, all your physical senses. You are swept away. So here, the spiritual ‘experience’ is not one where your spirit leaves the body, but rather your spirit ‘sees, hears, experiences’, that is, participants with/in the spiritual realm, and your physical senses participate as well.

REV 1:10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet*

The same is true for ‘seeing’ angels. Elijah’s servant needed his spiritual eyes to be opened before he ‘saw’ the angelic host that Elijah could see.(2 Kings 6). Elijah, being a prophet, often had Gods spirit allowing him to ‘see’ and ‘hear’ into the spiritual realm.

2 KINGS 6:17 Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw,

As said in my earlier comment, Paul’s experience [almost certainly] came as a result of his being stoned. (Acts 14:19). That is, a near death or actual [temporary] experience with death.

ACTS 14:19 But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead.

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  • So the angel carried me away in the spirit means that John died while he was out?
    – snoopy
    Mar 27 at 21:35
  • @Spirit RealmI nvestigator, you are missing the point. A soul is different from a spirit. John did not see spirits. He saw souls. Read it again.
    – Bagpipes
    Mar 27 at 22:40
  • @snoopy No, I didn’t mean that. I’ve edited to try and clarify this. Johns experience was that as, similar to what I described for Elijah’s servant.
    – Dave
    Mar 27 at 22:42
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    @snoopy Yes, a ‘key’ word in that verse is ‘in’ (en). John was ‘in’ the spirit. And his physical senses (eyes, ears, taste,etc) were experiencing what his spirit ‘saw/heard/etc’. That is, his spirit didn’t leave his body, it used it.
    – Dave
    Mar 27 at 23:04

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