Q&A: Is the Bible teaching reincarnation in Job 1:21?

Is the Bible teaching reincarnation in Job 1:21?

Question

Is the Bible teaching reincarnation in Job 1:21?

Answer

No, the Bible does not teach reincarnation. Scripture teaches that it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment (Heb. 9:27).Life, death and then judgment doesn't leave room for reincarnation. In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus teaches once in hell, always in hell and once in heaven, always in heaven (the new heavens and new earth). So, if a person does not get it right the first time, they get it wrong for eternity!

Job 1:21 reads:

And he said, "Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord."

Ecclesiastes 5:15 makes a similar point when speaking poetically about a mother's womb:

As he came from his mother's womb he shall go again, naked as he came, and shall take nothing for his toil that he may carry away in his hand.

In context, the womb in question is not literally Job's mother’s womb but refers to the depths of the earth. This is also taught throughout the Bible:

Genesis 2:6-7: And a mist was going up from the land and was watering the whole face of the ground — then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

Genesis 2:19: By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Psalm 139:15: My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Job 1:21 is not speaking about reincarnation. It is teaching about life and death and the fact that we came into the world with nothing and we shall return to the earth with nothing as well (cf. Psa. 49:17; 1 Tim. 6:7).

Job also said, "For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God," (Job 19:25-26; cf. 1 Cor. 15:42-44). One day you shall meet God face to face. You will have a new imperishable body that will last for eternity. Reincarnation is a false belief. But the question then may be, where will your eternity be, in heaven or in hell?

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Answer by Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr.

Dr. Joseph R. Nally, Jr., D.D., M.Div. is the Theological Editor at Third Millennium Ministries (Thirdmill).