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What Does The Bible Say About Cremation

Jesus Christ Was Entombed In A Sepulchre

What Does the Bible Say About Cremation?

When Jesus Christ died he was not buried in a typical manner. He was entombed in a stone sepulchre . By no means does this mean that everyone who is a follower of Christ must also be entombed in a stone sepulcher in the same way at death.

Entombment was just the situation available at the time of Christs death and the tradition of His family.

What Are The Traditions Of Our Day

In the same way that Jesus was buried or entombed in a sepulchre and Abraham was buried, those were both the traditions of their time and their family. There are really two main traditions of our day being the burial or cremation of the body after death.

Cremation is becoming more and more popular around the world. Over the last twenty years, cremation has become a common practice. In fact, according to , since 2004 the average consumer is searching for cremation more than two times more often.

Cremations have even become equally as common as a traditional burial.

What Happens To The Body At Death

In Genesis, we know that man was formed from the dust of the ground. After Adam and Eve sinned, death entered the world. Because of their sin, we now face suffering and death. Here is what happens to our bodies after death:

By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground since from it you were taken for dust you are and to dust you will return .

The natural evolution of the body after death is that it will eventually return to dust. The length of this process can vary depending on how the body is treated after death, but regardless it is going to happen. You might even consider cremation as the express version of what is going to happen naturally.

In biblical times within the nation of Israel, cremation was not practiced burial was the tradition. We see this in both the Old and New testaments. Here are two examples:

1 Kings 2:10 Then David rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David.

Acts 8:2 Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him.

These are just two examples but there were plenty others including Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Rebekah, Jacob, Hezekiah, Lazarus, even Jesus himself. Burial was an important part of the process of mourning and respecting those who had died. In spite of this, the Bible doesnt make any mandate that the body at death has to be treated in this fashion. This could be seen very much as a cultural decision and not necessarily a spiritual one.

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What Does The Bible Say About Cremation And Burial

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If youre not sure whether to choose cremation or burial, you might be wondering what the Christian Bible has to say about it. Maybe youre a member of the Christian faith, or maybe youre in charge of planning a Christian funeral. Maybe youre just curious about Christian funerary beliefs and practices.

Jump ahead to these sections:

In this article, well explore what information you can find in the Bible about cremation, whether its allowed, and whether burial is a better option. Well also let you know what the Bible says about keeping ashes at home, alternative burials, and other matters around final disposition.

Cremation In The Bible

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So, what does the Bible say about cremation? It may surprise you that the Bible contains no specific direction on the practice of cremation. However, there are instances where cremation is mentioned.

Having a proper burial for your recently departed was held with great importance during Biblical times. Most of us are aware of the great lengths ancient Egyptians went through to preserve the dead for their eternal journey, but the ancient Hebrews also took great care in preparing their dead for burial, as evident in John 19:39. In most cases, Jewish families buried their dead in caves and tombs when possible.

The practice of cremation is found throughout the Bible. The first time cremation is referenced as a burial practice is Samuel 1:31:

âWhen the people of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all their valiant men marched through the night to Beth Shan. They took down the bodies of Saul and his sons from the wall of Beth Shan and went to Jabesh, where they burned them. 13 Then they took their bones and buried them under a tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and they fasted seven days.â

Saul and his sons were cremated because burial was not possible. While ancient Hebrews and Egyptians traditionally buried their dead in tombs of some form, cremation was also an option when necessary.

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What Does The Bible Say About Keeping Ashes

Remarkably, the Bible actually talks about keeping ashes in the home. The ashes in question are from a young female cow, and the ashes are used to mix into ceremonial water used for purification.

Lets take a look.

The one who burns the heifer shall wash his clothes in water and bathe his body in water and shall be unclean until evening. And a man who is clean shall gather up the ashes of the heifer and deposit them outside the camp in a clean place. And they shall be kept for the water for impurity for the congregation of the people of Israel it is a sin offering.

Numbers 19:8-9

These instructions are for making the water for purification when someone becomes ceremonially unclean. The water is mixed with the ashes from the heifer, then they dip a hyssop branch and use that to sprinkle the person that is unclean.

This is what David is talking about in Psalm 51:7 where he says, Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.

When Jesus turned water into wine at the Cana wedding, John 2:6 says he used the six stone water jars there for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. Those jars were typically filled with water and ashes. They were stone, huge and thus immoveable. So we can imply that they were keeping this near where they were living.

And it is this same purifying ash-water that the writer of Hebrews refers to here:

Cremation Or Burialhow To Decide

When deciding how to dispose of a dead body, consider the following factors.

  • The wishes of the deceased. The Bible records instances in which family members respected the instructions a person gave regarding treatment of his body after his death.Genesis 50:4, 5 Exodus 13:19.

  • Local customs. These often have a bearing on how dead bodies are treated. For instance, in Bible times, people customarily buried the dead. Likewise today, a person may choose to deal with the remains of the deceased according to local customs as long as such customs do not conflict with Bible principles.

  • Legal requirements. The Bible encourages obedience to secular authorities. In some areas, the authorities enact laws about the treatment of dead bodies. For instance, in the case of cremation, some authorities place restrictions on where the ashes may be disposed of.

  • The feelings of others. The Scriptures encourage us to look out for the interests of others. When deciding how to deal with a dead persons remains, we might consider these questions: How do other family members feel about cremation or burial of the deceased? How does the local community view such customs?

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Billy Grahams Perspective On Cremation

The well-known religious leader Billy Graham agrees that there is no mention in the Bible that prohibits cremation. However, the Bible does teach that God has the ability to bring together whatever has been scattered according to scripture,

And He will send his angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heavens.

This is another excellent argument against the assumption that a cremated body cannot be resurrected.

What Does The Bible Say About Burial

What does the Bible say about cremation?

Unlike cremation, burial is clearly described and depicted in the Bible. Most of the key figures in the Bible were buried. This indicates that burial is the customary method of final disposition in the religion of Christianity. And throughout history, burial has been a traditional component of Christianity.

The topic of burial appears in the Bible both independently and when describing the deaths of important figures.

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What Does It All Mean

As I said from the beginning, you can view cremation as the express method of what is going to happen to your physical body after you die. When you look at all the factors and add in what the Bible says about cremation, you can put your mind at ease knowing that you can decide what you want to be done with your body once you die. If you are in Christ you are safe and will be with him forever.

Besides, lets not spend so much time thinking about this corruptible body and what we do with it at death. You should be rejoicing because there is a new incorruptible body that is waiting for you. At the end of it all, that is the body that truly matters most.

Clarence L. Haynes Jr. is a speaker, Bible teacher, and co-founder of The Bible Study Club. He is the author of The Pursuit of Purposewhich will help you understand how God leads you into his will. He has also just released his new bookThe Pursuit of Victory: How To Conquer Your Greatest Challenges and Win In Your Christian Life.Do you want to go deeper in your walk with the Lord but cant seem to overcome the stuff that keeps getting in the way? This book will teach you how to put the pieces together so you can live a victorious Christian life and finally become the man or woman of God that you truly desire to be. To learn more about his ministry please visit

Why Do Some People Believe Cremation Is Prohibited In The Bible

Even though the Bible remains neutral on the point of cremation, many still believe that cremation is unacceptable as a method of disposition for followers of Christ. They believe that cremating a body renders the body ineligible for Resurrection since its effectively destroyed.

Most people believe this isnt a sound conclusion, however, since even bodies that are buried intact will eventually decompose and become unrecognizable. Bodies are destroyed in various ways every single day and its doubtful many Christians feel as though those people are excluded from Resurrection, especially if their deaths were beyond their control.

Another reason some people believe burial is preferable to cremation is because burial is explicitly mentioned in the Bible as a form of disposition. Jesus himself was buried in a tomb, after his crucifixion. Many disciples who followed Jesus were also buried and there are phrases that reference burial directly in the Bible. Additionally, it wasn’t until 1963 that the Catholic church lifted the restriction on cremations as an acceptable form of disposition for Catholics, so the stigma in the community can still exist, even today:

Daniel 12:2 – Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt.

Genesis 23:4 – I a stranger and a sojourner with you: give me a possession of a buryingplace with you, that I may bury my dead out of my sight.

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Final Thoughts On Cremation

As we finish examining what the Bible says about cremation, let’s consider the following:

  • The attitude of the Christian’s heart will show deep respect for the wonderful body that God designed.
  • God will resurrect all of His children regardless of what has become of their bodies. When Jesus comes, The dead in Christ will be raised and given immortal bodies, fashioned like unto his glorious body . How happy we are as we look forward to that great day!

Protestant Christian Views On Cremation

What Does The Bible Say About Cremation?  Memorial Cremations

Most Protestant Christian views on cremation are rooted in one or more of these seven arguments:

  • Positively, the main examples of disposition in Scripture are burials, so burial should be preferred.
  • Negatively, the Bibles few references to cremation-like burnings are typically pagan and/or a judgment, so cremation should be avoided.
  • Doctrinally, the honor accorded to the human body being made in the image of God and the emphasis on bodily resurrection indicates a preference for burial.
  • Historically, Christians have uniquely shown a special care towards the departed by burying the dead, while cremation has often been associated with pagan practices.
  • However, modern cremation is different, and not culturally identified with pagan practices, so the tension between burial and cremation no longer remains.
  • The Bible does not directly address the issue, so it is not a matter of right or wrong but rather of freedom.
  • Since all bodies eventually decompose, and God is able to resurrect any person, cremation and burial are both viable options.
  • The preference among Protestant Christian thinkers and authors tends towards burial, but most believers, churches, and Christian organizations seem to be open to cremation.

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    What Does The Bible Say About Cremation Our Interpretation In 2019

    As a Christian you might be wondering, what does the bible say about cremation? Or more than that, how God feels about it?

    Although theres no definitive answer in the bible, most religious leaders today will agree that it is ok.

    If youre looking for guidance, we will examine some of the most important scriptures & verses.

    Well also look at the Christian and Catholic perspectives, and mention key perspectives from prominent figures such as Billy Graham.

    Given Below Are A Few Bible Verses About Cremation

    Genesis 3:19By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.1 Corinthians 13:3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing.1 Samuel 31, verses 11-13And when the inhabitants of Jabeshgilead heard of that which the Philistines had done to Saul All the valiant men arose, and went all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Bethshan, and came to Jabesh, and burnt them there. And they took their bones, and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.

    Joshua 7:25And Joshua said, Why have you troubled us? The Lord will trouble you this day. And all Israel stoned them with stones and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones.

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    Biblical Perspective On Cremation

    You may do well to investigate why your family doesn’t approve of your cremation choice. Perhaps they consider cremation as not Biblical. However, as we have seen, cremation is never a Biblical issue. Here are some other concerns of Christians about cremation.

    1. Perhaps they are worried that when Jesus returns at the Rapture and the bodies of long-dead Christians are resurrected and transformed into spiritual bodies that you wont have a body to resurrect. Frankly, since the first century, most bodies are now dust anyway. Since God is big enough to produce a world-wide resurrection, He certainly can make a spiritual body from only a speck of dust — or less.

    2. Perhaps your family wants you in a casket-filled grave so they can have a place for remembering you and your lives together. This desire is natural and normal.

    Recently, I’ve observed families foregoing the expensive caskets and burial plots by choosing cremation. They then purchase a small cemetery plot in which to bury the ashes. Others scatter the ashes over a prearranged place meaningful to the deceased. Some save a few ashes in a small locket as a token reminder of their loved one. Some ashes reside in burial urns over fireplace mantles.

    With all that being said, remember that your body is still your body. Discuss openly with your family that you want to dispose of your body in the way most comfortable to you. In your case, that is cremation.

    Well, B, I hope this helps. Have a great talk with your family.

    Roman Catholic Views On Cremation

    What does the Bible say about Cremation?

    Cremation is permitted in the Catholic Church, but from 1886 to 1963 the practice was forbidden entirely, as it was held to be a pagan practice and a denial of the doctrine of Resurrection.

    In the early 19th century, with modern technology on the rise, cremation was becoming an acceptable and affordable option for disposition throughout Europe.

    David W. Jones, in his informative essay To Bury or Burn: Toward A Christian Ethic of Cremation writes,

    While the Protestant church remained silent on this issue, the Roman Catholic Church responded by ofcially banning cremation in canon law in 1886.

    The relevant laws state, The bodies of the faithful must be buried, their cremation is forbidden. . . . Anyone who has requested that his body shall be cremated shall be deprived of ecclesiastical burial unless he has shown signs of repentance before death.

    This ban, however, was fairly short-lived, as with his 1963 decree de Cadaverum Crematione Pope Paul VI softened canon law, allowing for cremation as long as the act is not motivated by reasons hostile to the Christian life.

    Furthermore, in the 1994 Catechism of the Catholic Church the faithful are instructed that the Church permits cremation, provided that it does not demonstrate a denial of faith in the resurrection of the body.

    To Bury or Burn: Toward A Christian Ethic of Cremation

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