By   •   June 1, 2004   •   Topics:

dying flowers on wooden box


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


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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  1. April Powell says:

    Thank you for all that you do. God Bless You!

  2. Karen says:

    I want to thank Dr. Graham for his wonderful insight on this and with biblical references to back it up.
    I also want to thank him for his wonderful ministry and the wonderful people he has selected to lead his ministry.
    I was saved through his ministry, thank you, thank you for helping me to this point in my life, the beginning you gave me and all of God’s children by your ministries effort to lead lost souls to God.
    Your dedicated focus on God has been a testimony to everyone!!!
    You have always been my inspiration!!!

  3. Frances Goodwin says:

    So glad to have read this because my daughter had ask me about this. I was once asked if I could have a meal with anyone who would it be. I said Billy Graham. Please pray for me. Something is really bothering me. God know knows what it is.

  4. Carol says:

    Thank you for this answer. It was a very good description of what happens at death

  5. Eduardo says:

    Praise Jesus!! Let the dead bury the dead. Let us not be concerned with matters of this world but what God Requires from us. If cremation offends a familly member do not bring pain or suffering to them by suggesting or going through with the cremation. We are not people of debates but of peace. Let us not despice people but embrace them just like Jesus embraces us. Do not let arguments or debates rob you of the Joy of salvation you have received! GOD BLESS EVERYBODY

  6. Linda Dibner says:

    With the prices of burial today I have been considering creamation. I am a Christian and was worried about creamation now I feel better. Thank You

  7. ron messer says:

    Thank you for your bible are a man of god.

  8. REW says:

    Whenever I am struggling with a spiritual question, I seek the wisdom of Billy Graham. Your compassionate and always non-judgmental advice has forever been appreciated. I’ve struggled with this topic because of the enormous expense involved. Thank you for your insight.

  9. Anne Betts says:

    Dr. Graham. Thank you for your spiritual leadership for all of these many, many years! God Bless You!

  10. Ruth Myers says:

    I am thirsty for true knowledge. My parents brought me up in the Church in which I am proud. I feel like I need to know more.. Thank you,