As discussed, the Bible shows to the perceptive reader that there was ample spirit-human communication in the Old Testament times. Some of it was forbidden – but practiced nonetheless by the rebellious – as it involved contact with the evil spirit world and drew people away from their Creator. On the other hand, spirit communication with the spirit world that was in harmony with God was encouraged, for it was the means of learning divine truths not accessible to humans any other way. There were mediums of both kinds, and godly men like Samuel, Elijah and Elisha even had “medium schools” or “schools of prophets” for training mediums in righteously using their God-give gifts. This article explores New Testament spirit communication. Do we see similar spirit communication in the early Christian era?
In the days to which the New Testament refers there were no special medium schools among the Christians. However, they were not needed because the assemblies for Divine worship fulfilled the functions of the earlier medium schools. The worshippers joined hands when they offered prayer, to signify that they were ‘all of one heart and one soul’, that they were united by love into one community, and that they were addressing their prayer to God as a single unit, all of them as members of one spiritual body, inspired by one spirit. (1 Corinthians 12:12-13; Ephesians 4:3-6).
In New Testament spirit communication, for the mediumistically gifted members of the community, the custom of joining hands was of great importance, since in this way the odic power of those present was collected into a single odic current. The spirits of God could then use this current both for the purpose of manifesting themselves through the already developed mediums, as well as for developing those in the process of becoming mediums. The steps in the development of mediums were familiar to the Gentile Christians who had converted from heathenism. Their previous practices involved communicating with evil spirits, and the natural laws governing such communication were well known to them. They had also learned that heathen idol worship was nothing but communication with demons, carried out under the same natural laws that apply to communication with good spirits.
Paul’s Teaching on New Testament Spirit Communication
Chapters 12 and 14 of the First Epistle to the Corinthians contain everything relating to communication with the good spirits that any devout, God-seeking
person needs to know. Unfortunately, however, due to general ignorance and bias toward matters relating to spirit communication, as well as incorrect Bible translations, this knowledge relating to New Testament spirit communication has become largely unavailable.
For example, Chapter 12 begins with the words: “About spiritual gifts, dear brothers, I do not want to leave you in uncertainty. You know from when you were pagans, how you were drawn with irresistible force to dumb idols.” Already the very first words, “About spiritual gifts”, contain a misleading error in translation. The reader can construe them only as meaning that the gifts are those that God bestowed on humans, whereas the original Greek text says something quite different. Translated literally, it says: “About matters relating to spirit communication, I do not want to leave you in uncertainty.” Also, the original text did not say “dumb idols” but “dead gods”, the latter term being universally understood to mean “demons”, or spirits severed from God, which are also referred to in the Bible as “the dead”. The correct translation of the whole passage would thus be: “About spiritism [spiritualism] I do not want to leave you in uncertainty. You are familiar with it from the time when you were still heathens, when you went to the spirits who had fallen away from God, spirits to whom you felt yourselves irresistibly drawn.”
Also in the translation of verse 3 there is an error that obscures the meaning. The Greek text does not say through the Spirit of God and through the Holy Spirit, but rather through a spirit of God and through a holy spirit. It is not God Himself who brings about the various effects, but the spirits serving Him, who accomplish His will among His creatures with the aid of His power (Hebrews 1:14).
As a result of Scripture translators having used in countless passages the expression “the Holy Spirit” where the Greek text has “a holy spirit”, they have not only caused erroneous interpretations of the passages in question, but have, above all, caused such confusion regarding the term “holy spirit” as to give rise to the false doctrine of the Trinity which makes the Holy Spirit a Divinity.
Thus at the meetings of the Christians in Corinth, when one spirit spoke through a medium in a foreign language, a second through another medium interpreted in their mother tongue, a third endowed its medium with healing power, and many other spirits worked in other ways. These spirits were not acting at their own discretion or under their own power, but at the will and under the power of the one God, the highest, almighty, Spirit.
It may seem extraordinary that spirits should speak in a language unknown to their hearers, but there was a good reason for this also, since it served to prove the reality of spirit communication, or, as Paul aptly says, as evidence for unbelievers. (The Bible translations refer to speaking in foreign languages as “speaking in tongues”, and to communications imparted in the mother tongue of the hearers as “prophesying”.)
That Paul heartily approved of the Corinthians’ eager desires to communicate with the spirit world is shown by his words: “So, since you are enthusiastic about spirits, seek that you may have many spirits come, for the enlightenment of the congregation.” (I Corinthians 14:12). The translators have again rendered this sentence unintelligible by substituting the term “spiritual gifts” for the word “spirits”, in spite of the fact that the original text expressly states “spirits”.
Paul encouraged the church to discuss among themselves what they had heard, or to “judge” what has been said. The spirits who would remain present during the discussions could again enter into the mediums and clear up any confusion or misunderstandings.
The good spirits’ communication cannot be overestimated. They are our best friends, and are always present in large numbers at religious gatherings. They are spirits that were once mortals and have progressed toward God in the Beyond. They have been assigned as our guides, counselors and guardians. They fervently desire to lead each person as far as possible along the path toward God while still on earth, so that, when one leaves the earth, they may enter as high a sphere as possible in the spirit world. Many of our spirit friends lived in other countries and spoke the languages of those countries while they were on earth. Some of them cannot speak our native tongue, for spirits, too, must learn human languages they did not know while on earth. All of them, however, are eager to speak a good word to those seeking to better know God, and they crowd about the mediums to use them for speaking or writing.
To preserve order, there is, at each gathering devoted to communication with good spirits, a “controlling spirit” that decides which of the spirits may speak and how long they may do so, taking into account also the desires of the assembly participants. The mediums, too, have the power to refuse a spirit being entry into their bodies, for a state of “trance” occurs only when no resistance is offered on the part of the medium. Hence, as Paul says: “the prophetic spirits obey the prophets”, that is, the mediums (1 Corinthians 14:32).
Paul’s teaching to the Corinthians regarding the nature of spirit communication is not of his own making, but was given at the Lord’s behest, for he ends his admonition with the words: “If anyone thinks himself a prophet, or spiritually gifted, let him know that what I write here is a commandment of the Lord.” (I Corinthians 14:37).
Reference, and parts adapted from: Johannes Greber, Communication with the Spirit World (translated from German original, copyright 1932, with subsequent translations and revisions, pp. 136-142.)
Image: Eva Peck