We read in Lk 24:37-39(NIV)the narrative of Jesus' post- Resurrection appearance to the disciples:

They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. 38 He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? 39 Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh
and bones, as you see I have.”.

< Here Jesus does not dismiss the disciples' belief in ghost- appearance, but substantiates that he is not one, by reasoning that a ghost does not have a physical body. The traditional Christian teaching is that souls of deceased persons have a place to stay and are not permitted to visit the earth, as is clear from the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.My question is : Does Lk 24:39 hint at the prospects of existence of ghosts on the earth ?

2 Answers 2


First a word about translation: The Greek word here is pneuma (spirit). Translators are roughly evenly divided as to whether it should be rendered as "ghost" or "spirit." Related to this, in the Gospel of Matthew, the disciples thought they had seen a spirit/ghost when Jesus came to them on the water:

Mt. 14:26

When the disciples saw him walking on the sea they were terrified. “It is a ghost,” they said, and they cried out in fear.

From this we can deduce that Jesus' disciples believed that spirits or ghosts were real. Whether the Bible itself teaches this is somewhat controversial.

Luke tells us that "spirit of Elijah" inspired John the Baptist (1:17). He also mentions Moses and Elijah appearing to Jesus in 9:30. Some readers understand these to be appearances of the prophets' glorified physical bodies, while others understand them to be appearances of their spirits. In the OT we also have the famous appearance of the ghost of Samuel to Saul at Endor. This too is controversial as some readers understand this not to be the actual spirit of Samuel but a counterfeit. The text, however, does seem to tell us that this was Samuel's ghost.

1 Sam. 28

“I see a god rising from the earth,” she replied. 14 “What does he look like?” asked Saul. “An old man is coming up wrapped in a robe,” she replied. Saul knew that it was Samuel, and so he bowed his face to the ground in homage. 15 Samuel then said to Saul, “Why do you disturb me by conjuring me up?”

Conclusion: Luke 24 does not tell us whether ghosts are real or not, but the gospels do inform us that the disciples believed that spirits could appear on earth. The Bible also describes the apparent return of the spirits of people such as Moses, Elijah and Samuel to people on other. However, not all readers agree as to how to interpret these events.

  • 1
    "Some readers understand these to be appearances of the prophets' glorified physical bodies, while others understand them to be appearances of their spirits." — And some understand this to be simply a vision, not a real event. In fact Jesus himself called it that in Matthew 17:9: "And as they came down from the mountain, Jesus charged them, saying, Tell the vision to no man, until the Son of man be risen again from the dead.". Apr 14 at 15:02
  • @RayButterworth... Thanks I hadn't considered that... although the text does say that the prophets appeared and spoke with Jesus. Apr 14 at 18:44

Short Answer: It does not necessarily hint at the existence of ghosts on earth. However, it does prove that the disciples had a concept of ghosts or spirits.

That being said, the point here was Jesus addressing the disciples' fear and/or confusion by demonstrating to them that he was not some disembodied spirit or ghost but rather a physical being with flesh and bones.

When Jesus' said, "a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have," all that was meant was to dispel any misconceptions they may have had about his identity. He was a tangible, corporeal presence.

What's the point? Well, this passage does not necessarily imply the existence of ghosts or disembodied spirits roaming the earth. Rather, it reveals the reality of Jesus' bodily resurrection.

Now, the underlying questions might be, does the Bible teach that ghosts exist? Of course, this would depend on what one meant by ghosts.

The Bible teaches very clearly that there are indeed spirit beings who can connect with and appear in our physical world. [a]

We read in Hebrews 1:7 NKJV

7 And of the angels He says:

“Who makes His angels spirits And His ministers a flame of fire.”

However, if we say that the term means “spirits of people who have died,” then that would not have a clear answer.

Based on Hebrews 9:27 we may be able to say "no". People die then after is the judgement. This scripture does not indicate that there is an in-between stage where people's spirits can wander the earth.

27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,

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