Every instance in the Bible where a spirit, (including for the most part God) speaks to a physical person, or moves a physical someone it is done in a body or through another person that possesses a physical body. Is it necessary for a spirit to have a body to manifest?

  • 1
    from which denominations point of view are you asking?
    – depperm
    Commented Oct 28, 2019 at 16:49
  • Protestant and evangelical preferred.
    – Autodidact
    Commented Oct 28, 2019 at 17:57
  • You must clarify what spirit are you talking about, is it the Holy Spirit that indwelt man, or the angelic spirit. There are only Two Spirit at war in this world and both the Holy Spirit and spirit of the devil wants to indwelt the soul of man to manifest their power & mission. Remember satan indwelt the serpent to manifest, copying what God had done to Adam. Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 11:20
  • I’m not talking about in dwelling hence disembodied spirits. @jongricafort
    – Autodidact
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 11:46
  • A spirit can manifest to us even without bodies simply by satisfying our senses and intellect. But, to effectively manifest and communicate they have to indwelt a body because we are corporeal. Can you clarify the word "spirit" and "manifest" in what form or nature? I can post an answer as the Holy Spirit manifested in a lot of forms without using a body. Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 20:30

4 Answers 4


As a lifelong Protestant whom most people accept as being 'evangelical' I would say the following :

There are many examples and this is but one [Acts 8:27-29, KJV] :

Behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet.

Then the Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot.

Here we see God, the Holy Spirit, communicate directly to Philip, in spirit, without any physical intervention, without any other agency and without any manifestation.

From the OP's comments I would suggest it may be helpful to consider I Theesalonians 4:14 :

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.[KJV]

Human minds are immaterial but require the material presence of a brain in order to communicate intelligently and logically. The question of whether a human spirit can 'communicate' without a brain or by by-passing the brain is somewhat hypothetical.

Disembodied human spirits 'sleep'. And the question of 'communication' then becomes totally hypothetical. If we die in the Lord, we shall experience whatever that 'sleep' is.

The disembodied spirit of the rich man (who did not help the beggar Lazarus) 'communicated' with Abraham (perhaps) or possibly experienced something within himself, in hades, which Jesus attributes to a likeness of communication with Abraham.

Myself, I do not think we have sufficient information in scripture to answer the question. As I say, we may experience something in the future, if the Lord tarries.

It is an interesting question, however, and I did up-vote it.

We are what we are. And what we are, is what God made us to be. And we can only express ourselves (in prayer, particularly, as the OP comments) in spirit and in understanding with a human spirit and with a human mind.

Yet, if we receive and believe the Gospel and are justified by faith we shall receive the Holy Spirit in a union of spirit, within our own spirit. Then shall we pray in the Spirit and with our own understanding.

What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. I Corinthians 14:15, KJV.]

  • I appreciate that @NigelJ but that is ambiguous because according to Scripture the Spirit could have spoken to Philip from within him spirit to Spirit. “Then the Spirit entered me when He spoke to me, and set me on my feet; and I heard Him who spoke to me.” ‭‭Ezekiel‬ ‭2:2‬ this indicates that the Spirit was in the body or even upon the body but a body was still present through which the two spirits communicated/manifested/demonstrated understanding. Maybe you have an example of a bodiless spirit (preferably not God because I can think of a few examples) where the spirit manifested.
    – Autodidact
    Commented Oct 28, 2019 at 18:02
  • At a minimum Philip had a physical brain that was able to decipher what the Spirit had said to him and we can’t say for certain the Spirit didn’t speak to Philip’s mind/brain because we need a mind and brain to understand the spirit as per “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.” ‭‭I Corinthians‬ ‭14:14‬ this being an example where the spirit bypasses the mind/brain and therefore no understanding is possible unless it is translated in an intelligible language processed by the mind.
    – Autodidact
    Commented Oct 28, 2019 at 18:07
  • 1
    If you don’t understand the comment then that’s fine, there’s a good chance you can’t help me. I gave you a +1 for your answer.
    – Autodidact
    Commented Oct 28, 2019 at 18:48
  • I up-voted your question and I have also added an edit regarding your comments.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 8:35

Do spirits need bodies to manifest?

The short answer is no.

The dreams of St. Joseph, the husband of Mary point that out clearly.

Saint Joseph's dreams

Saint Joseph's dreams are four dreams described in the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament in which Joseph, the legal father of Jesus, is visited by an angel of the Lord and receives specific instructions and warnings of impending danger. All four dreams come from the period around the Nativity of Jesus and his early life, between the onset of Mary's pregnancy and the family's return from the Flight to Egypt. They are often distinguished by numbers as "Joseph's first dream" and so on. Especially in art history, the first may be referred to as the Annunciation to Joseph.

The four dreams are as follows:

  • First dream: In Matthew 1:20-21, Joseph is told not be afraid to take Mary as his wife, because she has conceived by the Holy Spirit. (See also the Annunciation in Luke 1:26-38, when an angel visits Mary and she agrees to conceive "through the power of the Most High".)

  • Second dream: In Matthew 2:13, Joseph is warned to leave Bethlehem and flee to Egypt.

  • Third dream: In Matthew 2:19-20, while in Egypt, Joseph is told that it is safe to go back to Israel.

  • Fourth dream: In Matthew 2:22, because he had been warned in a dream, he departed for the region of Galilee instead of going to Judea.

In art

The dreams have sometimes been depicted in art, though they have never been among the most common subjects from the Life of Jesus in art or the Life of the Virgin. It is often unclear which dream is intended. The second dream is probably most often depicted, and if there is no other indication it can be assumed that is the subject. If the Virgin Mary is present (but no infant Jesus), especially if visibly pregnant or shown spinning, this suggests the first dream, which tends to be shown in an indoor setting. An outside setting may suggest the second dream, as does the angel pointing outside the picture space, urging Joseph to leave. The tools of his carpentry workshop are often shown around him, probably indicating the second dream, although logically there seems to be no reason why these should not be present for the first and third dreams as well. In the absence of a place in a sequence, inscribed text, a title, or decor showing a setting in Egypt, the third and fourth dreams can generally be ruled out where there is uncertainty.

In the Gospel according to St. Matthew it is clear that it was an angel (spirit) that spoke to St. Joseph in a dream.

But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” - Matthew 1:20-21

The Dream of Saint Joseph, by Philippe de Champaigne.

The Dream of Saint Joseph, by Philippe de Champaigne.

Now if the good angels can speak to us in dreams, it makes sense that the demons or evil spirits can do likewise.

Generally speaking spirits have no need the carry one a conversion with the living. Often it is the living who desire such things. Many turn to unhealthy and unsafe practices of the occult and employ such methods as ouija boards which are considered very dangerous spiritually speaking of.

In the Book of Job, Satan manifested his hated against Job by creating storms and plagues over Job, testing him with all sort of evils with God’s permission. Satan did not have a body to demonstrate his hatred of Job!

  • I appreciate the response but I don’t want to know about dreams and visions. Because for that dream to occur it requires a physical brain to interpret what the mind had conceived/received. I would like to know outside of the person (mind, spirit) interacting with the spirit does that spirit require a body to manifest, speak or act? +1 for this angle but not what I was asking per se
    – Autodidact
    Commented Oct 28, 2019 at 23:52
  • @Autodidact What you seem to be searching for is whether a disembodied human spirit can communicate, in spirit. The answer is unclear, for spirits 'sleep' in Jesus. I have edited my answer to include disembodied human spirits.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 8:07
  • @NigelJ there in lies the crux of my question (although it is not limited to human spirits only). Samuel was asleep but apparently a witch could call him up and therefore if it is possible to manifest without a body Samuel could have spoken but if a human spirit from the dead cannot manifest without a body then the medium/channel/witch allowed her body to be the means through which Samuel spoke (if indeed Samuel spoke).
    – Autodidact
    Commented Oct 29, 2019 at 11:08
  • @Autodidact The answer is still no. They can still manifest themselves through different means.
    – Ken Graham
    Commented Oct 31, 2019 at 22:38
  • Right, but could you also back that statement with Scriptural examples please?
    – Autodidact
    Commented Nov 1, 2019 at 3:14

It is so with angels too, it is believed that they have no wings and no appearance as human beings. They do look like we can imagine them - for they are spiritual beings and can not be visible to us, made of materia. We wouldn't accept their image if we see them as they are indeed.


It mustn't have body to manifest, it did so in front of ancient people, who didn't know anything about spirit, as Paul says : when you were children in faith you were fed with milk, nowI you have teeth to eat. Nowadays people do not need any physical forms to believe in spiritual things.

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