by Matt Slick
A familiar spirit is a demon that is summoned by a medium, with the intention that the spirit summoned will obey his or her commands. Often, familiar spirits are believed to be the spirits of people who have died (Duet. 18:11). However, biblically this is not the case. Such appearances are in actuality demonic forces imitating people in order to deceive.
We know that people cannot come back from the dead from what Jesus said in Luke 16:19-31 when he gave us the story of Lazarus and the rich man. Jesus said in verse 26 "and besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us." So, we can see that people cannot come back from the dead. However, we cannot leave this topic without addressing 1 Samuel 28 that deals with Saul and the medium who, apparently, actually contacted the departed Spirit of Samuel. Commentators are split on whether or not this was actually Samuel, but the text seems to imply it was. So why the exception? We are not sure, but it might have been allowed for the purpose of rebuking Saul for his sin, something that does not happen with familiar spirits when they manifest. Perhaps it is a teaching tool to show us the difference between those who are really of God (Samuel) and those who are not (familiar spirits).
The two words "familiar spirit" in the King James Bible are translated into the English from the single Hebrew word obe אֹוב.
|King James Bible||New American Standard Bible|