Does the Bible say anything about near-death experiences?

The Bible does not provide information on near-death experiences, but it does mention several occasions when a person died and was later restored to life. Further, there are occasions in which writers of Scripture had visions of the afterlife and wrote down details of their experiences.

Here are ten people raised from the dead in the Bible (from Meredith's Big Book of Bible Lists):

1. Elijah raised the son of the Zarephath widow from the dead (1 Kings 17:17-22).
2. Elisha raised the son of the Shunammite woman from the dead (2 Kings 4:32-35).
3. A man was raised from the dead when his body touched Elisha's bones (2 Kings 13:20, 21).
4. Many saints rose from the dead at the resurrection of Jesus (Matt. 27:50-53).
5. Jesus rose from the dead (Matt. 28:5-8; Mark 16:6; Luke 24:5, 6).
6. Jesus raised the son of the widow of Nain from the dead (Luke 7:11-15).
7. Jesus raised the daughter of Jairus from the dead (Luke 8:41, 42, 49-55).
8. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-44).
9. Peter raised Dorcas from the dead (Acts 9:36-41).
10. Paul raised Eutychus from the dead (Acts 20:9, 10).

Some biblical writers who saw scenes of the afterlife are Paul (2 Corinthians 12:2-5), the apostle John (the book of Revelation), and Daniel (Daniel 12:1-4).

Angels are also often mentioned in Scripture, though the Bible does not associate them with near-death experiences. The word angel in Greek means "messenger," which indicates an angel's role in many biblical passages. For example, Gabriel visited Mary with a message of the birth of Jesus (Luke 1:26-38), and a host of angels told the shepherds that Jesus had been born (Luke 2:8-20). In the story of the rich and Lazarus, Jesus said that, when Lazarus died, "the angels carried him" to paradise (Luke 16:22). There is nothing in the story, however, to indicate that Lazarus could see the angels as he was nearing death.

Perhaps the closest we find to a near-death experience in Scripture is Stephen's death in Acts 7:55-60:

"He, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, 'Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.' But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. . . . And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.' And when he had said this, he fell asleep."

Stephen had a vision of Jesus shortly before his death, but this was before he was killed. It technically does not fit the modern definition of a near-death experience.

Near-death experiences today must be evaluated by Scripture rather than solely by experience. While God can certainly communicate through a vision if He chooses to, Scripture does not offer an established pattern of this type of communication. In addition, Satan is called the father of lies (John 8:44) and could certainly use a near-death experience to deceive a person into believing something about the afterlife that is not true (2 Corinthians 11:14-15).

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