Word of Truth Radio Home
Listen - Search This Site - Newsletter



What does the Bible say about cremation?  Is it alright for someone to be cremated?


The Bible does not give any exact rules on how one should be buried.  Nothing is said about burial before the flood.  People were often buried in caves (Abraham and a number of his decedents, Genesis 25:9) or in chambers cut out of the face of a rock cliff (Lazarus & Jesus in the tomb of a rich man, John 11:38 & John 19:41).  History clearly tells us that many Christians were thrown to hungry lions and eaten or burned alive from torches by the Roman Emperor Nero. We also know that many people were lost at sea and never have a normal burial.

1 Samuel 31 describes how Saul and Jonathan were killed in battle and the Philistines mutilated their bodies.  "And 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."  (verses 11-13)  Here we have Jonathan: a godly man who was cremated and, although God is the only judge, it's pretty safe to say that he will be in God's heavenly kingdom. 

So, how should one consider this final act of honor for the deceased?  I think that we must admit that the answer you get will depend more on the personal traditions of the one you ask than on the Bible.  If you were to see how Christians in India (an extremely hot climate country that must deal with disease constantly and immediately) handle a dead family member, you will find cremation the tradition of that country.  If we study the Old Testament and zero in on Joseph, the Prime Minister of Egypt, we will see that he was mummified and preserved by the traditions for the “great ones” of his time
(Genesis 50:26). Jacob his father also was given the burial rites of the Egyptians of that time with great honor and ceremony (Genesis 50:2-13).

This leaves us with the need to see what the Bible says about this “house” or body we live in while we are alive.  What becomes of it when we die?  What will we need when we are brought to life again when Jesus comes?

Scripture compares our life to a “vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14): like a flower that fades away; …a shadow that does not continue” (Job 14:2).  God said to Adam and Eve after they sinned by taking and eating the fruit of the forbidden tree, You shall “return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for dust you are, and to dust you shall return” (Genesis 3:19).  Solomon wrote, “Man’s fate is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath; man has no advantage over the animal….All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return." (Ecclesiastes 3:19-21).  I have no difficulty then in seeing that if we are going to return to “dust” or dirt, then the process that makes that possible is of no great consequence. You see, whether we return to dust slowly (as in a casket or inside a vault) or quickly as with cremation makes no difference.  I do think that respect should be shown to the person and it should be done with dignity and honor according to Christian beliefs and the family’s need for closure.  The exact method is basically a matter of conscience since we do not find a direct commandment on this matter in God's Word.

Now I personally might not feel this way IF, at some distant time, God planned to restore me to life and was going to use the original particles that once housed my being.  But, that is not God’s plan.  When Jesus returns the second time to take his people home, we will all be changed.  “Behold, I show you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, (die) but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (1 Corinthians 15:51-55).  In fact, in Paul’s day this same question was asked, “What kind of body will we have when Jesus comes and takes us to heaven?” (1 Corinthians 15:35)  Then Paul takes the time to tell us that just as a seed that dies when put in the ground becomes a new plant with a different structure or body (or creature) (1 Corinthians 15:37-38) so we will have a new body given to us by our Lord, a glorious one (1 Corinthians 15:42-49).  In fact, it will be much like Christ's glorified body (Philippians 3:21 & 1 John 3:2).  What was Jesus like after his resurrection?  The Bible tells us that He could disappear before your very eyes (Luke 24:31), yet at the same time, He had "flesh and bones" like us (Luke 24:39-42).  Jesus told Mary not to touch Him because He had not yet ascended to heaven to see if His Father had accepted His sacrifice (John 20:17).  That is a distance that mortals couldn’t make in a lifetime.  Yet, it appears that Jesus made that trip and returned in time to meet with his disciples yet that day (John 20:19). Wow!

Yes, we will have new bodies that will never again age or have pain, and we will be forever young (Revelation 21:4 & 1 Peter 1:3-4).  Marvelous.

--Thanks to George Blumenschein for answering this question!  If we've accepted Jesus as our Savior, than we can look forward to a body that will never "return to dust"!  "So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.  O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?  The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.  But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
(1 Corinthians 15:54-57)


Main Question Page


Word of Truth Radio.com