Teleportation in Ancient History - The Bible Says it Happened At Least Five Times

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Fr. Joseph Gleason

As with the rest of creation, our God is Lord even of quantum mechanics. He created the space-time continuum, and physical barriers or geographical distances are no obstacles for his might. He can transport people (and their prayers) to any location in the universe—instantaneously. In him we live, move, and have our being (Acts 17:28).

With all our concordances, commentaries, and investigations into Greek syntax, we often forget to sit back, relax, and simply revel in just how incredibly amazing are some of the events recorded in Scripture. One such example is the feat of “teleportation.”

Teleportation is, according to one definition: “the transfer of matter from one point to another without traversing the physical space between them.” What could be more amazing?

When we think of teleportation, science fiction comes immediately to mind. We might remember Star Trek and the oft-referenced, “Beam me up, Scotty!”—even though this exact phrase was never said in any Star Trek episode or feature film.

But these forms of entertainment—wonderful as they may be—are only fantasy. In the real world, the scriptures record multiple incidents where humans were actually teleported from one location to another, in real life. This is more amazing than anything Hollywood can accomplish with either camera trickery or post-production magic.

Matthew’s Gospel records a time when Jesus moved an entire ship to a remote location—over two miles, in fact, from its origin:

Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them. Then the sea arose because a great wind was blowing. So when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near the boat; and they were afraid. But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Then they willingly received Him into the boat, and immediately the boat was at the land where they were going. —John 6:16–21

The Sea of Galilee is about six miles across, and the disciples had rowed just past the halfway point. Jesus approaches, walking on the water (also amazing), and gets into their boat. The boat and all its occupants then immediately appear at the other side of the sea.  They were teleported a distance of at least two miles. Years before Star Trek hit the airwaves, our Lord was already “beaming” people from one place to another.

In another story, the Holy Spirit teleports a man as far as 40 miles—from a desert road to the city of Azotus:

So he commanded the chariot to stand still. And both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water, and he baptized him. Now when they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught Philip away, so that the eunuch saw him no more; and he went on his way rejoicing. But Philip was found at Azotus. And passing through, he preached in all the cities till he came to Caesarea.
—Acts 8:38–40

While we don’t know Philip’s exact location on the road between Jerusalem and Gaza, we know that Azotus is not directly between these two cities and that Philip was teleported as far as 40 miles to his destination. (This map shows the locations of Jerusalem, Gaza, and Azotus.)

Even before the advent of Christ, God was freely teleporting his people from place-to-place:

31 They threw Daniel into a lions’ den, where he remained six days. 32 In the den were seven lions. Two carcasses and two sheep had been given to them daily, but now they were given nothing, so that they would devour Daniel.

33 The prophet Habakkuk was in Judea. He mixed some bread in a bowl with the stew he had boiled, and was going to bring it to the reapers in the field, 34 when an angel of the Lord told him, “Take the meal you have to Daniel in the lions’ den at Babylon.” 35 But Habakkuk answered, “Sir, I have never seen Babylon, and I do not know the den!” 36 The angel of the Lord seized him by the crown of his head and carried him by the hair; with the speed of the wind, he set him down in Babylon above the den. 37 “Daniel, Daniel,” cried Habakkuk, “take the meal God has sent you.” 38 “You have remembered me, O God,” said Daniel; “you have not forsaken those who love you.” 39 So Daniel ate, but the angel of God at once brought Habakkuk back to his own place.
Daniel 14:31–39

Here in the book of Daniel (in the section sometimes known as Bel and the Dragon), God grabs Habakkuk by the hair and rapidly transports him from Israel to Babylon. This is done, of course, so he can deliver a meal to Daniel in the lion’s den. (Habakkuk was either quite old, or else time-travel was also involved!) Then, after the meal had been delivered, God immediately transports Habakkuk back home—a journey of over 1,000 miles.

Perhaps another case of teleportation can be identified in John’s Gospel, as Jesus enters a room without using a door:

And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, “Peace to you!”
—John 20:26

One of my favorite examples of divine teleportation is found in Luke’s Gospel. Jesus breaks bread with two of his disciples, and then instantly vanishes from their presence:

Now it came to pass, as He sat at the table with them, that He took bread, blessed and broke it, and gave it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him; and He vanished from their sight. —Luke 24:30–31

Long before Scotty gets assigned to the U.S.S. Enterprise, God has been teleporting people around the world.

Incidentally, this is also one of the reasons why it is easy to believe we are actually united with the saints and angels of heaven during our earthly worship. During the Divine Liturgy, heaven and earth intersect and we find ourselves in the very presence of God, the saints, and the angels. We participate with (and of) them in our worship, and they even hear our prayers. Our iconography testifies to this reality, as well. Fr. Alexander Schmemann writes (The Eucharist):

"the icon is a witness or rather a consequence of the unification of heaven and earth."

The saints in heaven are a great cloud of witnesses (Heb. 12:1). They watch over us, pray for us, and encourage our efforts to endure to the end. This is what it means to believe in the communion of saints. In the Body of Christ, we are all connected—regardless of the limits of both space and time.

Our God is Lord even of quantum mechanics, and he created all things out of nothing. Physical barriers or geographical distances are no obstacles for him. In and through him, we are all instantly connected, and we can be any place he needs us to be.

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