Answers

By   •   June 1, 2004   •   Topics:

Q:

When a Christian dies is it all right to cremate the body?


A:

The Bible does not give specific directions for the disposal of the body following death. Bible-era practices are described in Unger’s Bible Dictionary as follows: “Interment in Bible times followed soon after death, as is evident in the narratives of the burial of Sarah (Genesis 23:1-20), Rachel (Genesis 35:19-20), and Rebekah’s nurse (Genesis 35:8). The Hebrews did not normally cremate, except in most unusual cases of emergency, as in the case of Saul and his sons (1 Samuel 31:11-13).

Later Babylonians burned their dead and deposited their ashes in ornate funerary urns, as did Greeks and Romans. Hebrews in later time, indicated by the numerous ossuaries found in New Testament Palestine, also practiced cremation.”

Christians will want to show respect for the body. Even though the essential person or spirit has moved on to an eternal destiny, the body is the tangible reminder of all that person meant to us. In addition, the body is destined for resurrection, transformation, and reunion with the spirit at Christ’s return.

Whether burial or cremation best expresses that appropriate respect is a very personal decision. The wishes of other close family members and friends should also be considered in any decision, because they are the ones who will live with the decision and with the memories.

At the resurrection it will not make any difference whether a person’s body has been buried or cremated. God knows how to raise the body, either in the resurrection of life or the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:28-29). The new body of a Christian will be a radically changed and glorified body like the body of the exalted Christ. It will be an eternal, spiritual body never again to experience weakness, disease, suffering, or death (1 Corinthians 15:35-54 and Philippians 3:20-21).

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213 Comments

  1. Ann says:

    It was very helpful. Thank you.

  2. Carol A McAlister says:

    My BIL was a Christian and I just learned he requested to be cremated. I found this article very helpful.

  3. joyce jurczak says:

    Thank you for the peace of mind after reading about cremation.

  4. Daniel D Balint says:

    I had a very difficult time in choosing burial or cremation, but these comments have helped me see that the choice of cremation was appropriate.

  5. Danielle johnson says:

    Just to clarify, Saul and his sons’ bodies were not burned: “All the valiant men arose, and took away the body of Saul, and the bodies of his sons, and brought them to Jabesh, and buried their bones under the oak in Jabesh, and fasted seven days.”
    ‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭10:12‬

  6. Vickie says:

    Helpful. Thank you.

  7. Barb hoover says:

    Very helpful in deciding what to do. Thank you

  8. Lisa Hyndrich says:

    This was very helpful to me. Thank you

  9. Denise hardigree says:

    Jesus promised us a new body so i wont need this one ,whether worms or fire the body is destoryed