There are a few instances in the Bible where those who have died are depicted as talking with others. Some will tell you these were actually people who came back to talk with people on earth. Others will tell you these are visions. What do the Scriptures say?

First is 1 Samuel 28:7-25. King Saul had disobeyed God several times, and finally the Lord had left him and would no longer answer his prayers. Previously, Saul had asked the prophet Samuel for the Lord’s direction, but now Samuel had died. The present problem involved the Philistines army gathering to fight Israel, and Saul was unsure as to what tactic to take. Therefore, Saul’s servants found a medium at En-Dor, and Saul asked her to bring up Samuel to find out what he should do.

The next instance is on the Mount of Transfiguration (recorded in Matthew 17:1-9, Mark 9:2-9, and Luke 9:28-36). Jesus took three of his disciples to the mount, his appearance changed, and he spoke with Moses and Elijah. Moses and Elijah had died long before this event.

So, were Samuel, Moses, and Elijah actually temporarily brought back from the dead to speak to Saul and to Jesus?

In the Matthew account of the Mount of Transfiguration (verse 9), Jesus told them to “Tell no one the vision.” This was a vision, not an actual happening. The purpose of the vision was to visually bring out the scriptures where Moses and Elijah had “spoken” about Jesus’s death and resurrection (Luke 9:31).

Now consider the Saul and Samuel story. The woman medium (or witch) described a man she saw. Saul believed it was Samuel from her description (1 Samuel 28:14).

However, if God had left Saul and would not answer him, would God allow a medium to call Samuel from the dead? Remember, the Law stated, “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” Exodus 22:18.  Would any person have the power to command a dead person? This must have been a clever deception which created the appearance of a man done through the fallen angels. The scriptures indicate that no one can actually speak while dead. In fact the scriptures clearly state otherwise in Ecclesiastes 9:5,10 – “the dead know not any thing”… “there is no … knowledge … in the grave”.