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Acts 23:6-10 (ESV):

6 Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” 7 And when he had said this, a dissension arose between the Pharisees and the Sadducees, and the assembly was divided. 8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit, but the Pharisees acknowledge them all. 9 Then a great clamor arose, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees' party stood up and contended sharply, “We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?” 10 And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn to pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him away from among them by force and bring him into the barracks.

Did the Apostle Paul, as a Pharisee, believe in disembodied spirits?


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Of course Paul believed in spirits but the passage in Acts 23 never discusses anything "disembodied". More specifically, the Bible describes at least three types of "spirit" beings:

  • God including the Holy Spirit, Matt 12:28, 1 Cor 12:3, John 4:24, 2 Cor 3:18, etc.
  • Angels, Heb 1:7, 14, Zech 6:5,
  • demons, Luke 4:33, 8:2, 28, 9:42, 1 Tim 4:1, Rev 16:14, 18:2, Matt 8:16, 12:43, Mark 5:12, etc, etc.

Now, in the passage Acts 23:6-10, Paul alludes to all three of the above, including (demonic) deceiving spirits, the Spirit of God and heavenly angels who are also spirit beings. The passage does not mention anything about "disembodied" spirits because spirits do not have bodies as humans do, although, they are capable of inhabiting them as the OT stories illustrate such as Gen 18 and Josh 5 & 6 show.

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    If they were referring to demons, then how could they say We find nothing wrong in this man. What if a spirit or an angel spoke to him?” (v9) ? If demons are speaking to you, that should be something terribly wrong, right?
    – user38524
    Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 15:52
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator Did they say demons? People get confused because they don't understand what exactly angels are. The title "angel" is a job description; it literally means "messenger". It can refer to human beings as well as spirit beings. There are other spirit beings with titles such as cherubim and seraphim. Satan, who is a spirit being, was a cherub(Ezekiel 28:14-16). The point is, it is not either angels or demons. There are many different spirits of God with many different jobs. By saying "angel", you don't cover the area of all possible spirits from God; there are more.
    – Rajesh
    Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 16:49
  • @Rajesh - I think you should post an answer of your own :-)
    – user38524
    Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 16:52
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator - I agree with Rajesh - they were not referring to demons but one of the various classes of other spirits. There are at least two classes of angels, Cherubim and Seraphim.
    – Dottard
    Commented Feb 2, 2022 at 20:32

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