What does the Bible say about Cremation?

What are the bible verses that talk about cremation? Is cremation a sin? Is it wrong for Christians to cremate their dead? Can God resurrect a cremated body? If yes, how?

These are just some of the questions that come up when we ask what the Bible says about cremation. Especially today, at the time of this writing, that we are facing a global pandemic, it seems that cremation has increasingly become popular.

Thus, it is not surprising to see more and more people asking about cremation and how Christians should respond to it.

Thankfully, you don’t have to search far and wide for the answer. In this post, let us answer the question, “What does the Bible say about cremation?”

What does the Bible say about cremation or burning of corpses?
What does the Bible say about cremation?

Content in a glance


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What is cremation?

Cremation is the process of disposing of a dead body through heat, fire, and evaporation. Usually, the process includes using a cremation chamber or retort, which is a specially designed furnace for burning dead bodies. The dead body is put inside a container like a sturdy cardboard container or casket.

An electric cremator in Austria

The cremation chamber can produce heat of up to 871 to 982 °C (1,600–1,800 °F) temperature. This heat is enough to burn up corpses and ensure that what remains would only be a few fragments. 

On average, it takes about 1-2 hours for an adult body to be fully disintegrated. Moreover, after the body is burned, there would still be around 2-3 kg of “ashes” or “cremains.” If there still are bones or huge chunks of remains, it would be grounded to powder.

Why people choose cremation

The main reason cremation is becoming more popular is because it is cheaper and more convenient. You would not need burial plots anymore. Moreover, you can bring with you the ashes anywhere you go.

Another reason for cremation is to ensure the dead body won’t spread diseases. This is especially true in the COVID-19 pandemic when people who died of the coronavirus are cremated to prevent the virus from infecting other people.

Cremation process at Pashupatinath temple

Here’s a quick look at some of the most common reasons why cremation is preferred by some people:

  1. Religious reasons
  2. Cremation hastens the body decomposition process
  3. Simplifying funeral process
  4. Eliminates the need for a burial ground
  5. Ashes are easier to transport
  6. Cremation is more cost-effective than burial

[Also read: 10 Best Lessons We Learn from the Coronavirus Pandemic]

Bible verses about cremation KJV

What does the bible say about cremation?
What does the bible say about cremation?

Here are some verses that may answer what does the Bible say about cremation KJV version:

I Samuel 31:11-13:

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.

Amos 2:1:

Thus saith the Lord; For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not turn away the punishment thereof; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime.

Amos 6:8-10

The Lord God hath sworn by himself, saith the Lord the God of hosts, I abhor the excellency of Jacob, and hate his palaces: therefore will I deliver up the city with all that is therein.

And it shall come to pass, if there remain ten men in one house, that they shall die.

And a man’s uncle shall take him up, and he that burneth him, to bring out the bones out of the house, and shall say unto him that is by the sides of the house, Is there yet any with thee? and he shall say, No. Then shall he say, Hold thy tongue: for we may not make mention of the name of the Lord.

Leviticus 20:14

And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you.

Joshua 7:25

And Joshua said, Why hast thou troubled us? the Lord shall trouble thee this day. And all Israel stoned him with stones, and burned them with fire, after they had stoned them with stones.

II Samuel 23:6-7

But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands:

But the man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear; and they shall be utterly burned with fire in the same place.

Jeremiah 49:2

Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will cause an alarm of war to be heard in Rabbah of the Ammonites; and it shall be a desolate heap, and her daughters shall be burned with fire: then shall Israel be heir unto them that were his heirs, saith the LORD.

Micah 1:7

And all that graven images thereof shall be beaten to pieces, and all the hires thereof shall be burned with the fire, and all the idols thereof will I lay desolate: for she gathered it of the hire of an harlot, and they shall return to the hire of an harlot.

I Corinthians 13:3

And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

These are just some of the cremation KJV bible verses that talk about the body being burned up. Now, it’s time for us to dig deeper into this topic.

Video about the Bible and Cremation

Here’s a video from Bible munch which talks about cremation and the Bible. The speaker brought good points to consider when trying to figure out whether cremation is acceptable or not.

What does the Bible say about cremation?

To answer this question easily and quickly, let me give you three points.

1. Cremation isn’t mentioned in the Bible

The first thing we need to establish is the word “cremation” does not appear in the Bible. It’s a modern word that didn’t exist in the time when the Bible is written. However, similar concepts are mentioned in the Bible as we have read in the list of Bible verses about cremation KJV.

2. Burning the body is not the usual practice for burial

Throughout the scripture, we see that the usual practice of God’s people is to bury the dead. Even Jesus Christ said in Luke 9:60, “Let the dead bury their dead.”

So, burning corpses is something done unusually. That was the case in the body of King Saul.

Let’s read again I Samuel 31:11-13:

11 Now when the inhabitants of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul, 12 all the valiant men arose and traveled all night, and took the body of Saul and the bodies of his sons from the wall of Beth Shan; and they came to Jabesh and burned them there. 13 Then they took their bones and buried them under the tamarisk tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days.

In the case of King Saul, we read that he was decapitated (I Samuel 31:9). Aside from that, it could be that he was also mutilated, and by the time he was found by the valiant men of Israel, his body could already be rotting or decaying.

Thus, instead of trying to put together the body of King Saul, they chose to burn the body and not go through the usual way of putting to rest the kings of Israel.

3. Burning bodies is part of capital punishment

In some instances, burning bodies isn’t actually a burial rite, but rather a capital punishment. This was the case in Leviticus 20:14:

14 If a man marries a woman and her mother, it is wickedness. They shall be burned with fire, both he and they, that there may be no wickedness among you.

In Joshua 7:25, we read:

25 And Joshua said, “Why have you troubled us? The LORD will trouble you this day.” So all Israel stoned him with stones; and they burned them with fire after they had stoned them with stones. 

You might have heard about Achan, the man who hid treasures in his tent after God forbade the Israelites not to do so.

As a result, Joshua and His men were defeated by the soldiers of Ai. Eventually, Joshua knew Achan caused the defeat of Israel by taking the accursed things.

Yahweh, Himself, commanded that the culprit, along with all that he has, would be burned (Joshua 7:15).

We also read Jeremiah 49:2 (KJV):

Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will cause an alarm of war to be heard in Rabbah of the Ammonites; and it shall be a desolate heap, and her daughters shall be burned with fire: then shall Israel be heir unto them that were his heirs, saith the LORD.

In some translations, the “daughters” in this verse are translated as villages. Whether this refers to actual people or the village, we can see that burning bodies is part of God’s punishment.

These are the three things the Bible says about cremation. Now, let’s go to another important question.

Is cremation sin?

No, cremation is not a sin. The Bible doesn’t directly condemn cremation and there’s no verse in the Scripture that says it is a sin.

Perhaps, the biggest concern among people who ask what the Bible says about cremation is the question, “Is cremation sin?” This is a valid question that needs to be answered.

Dead body being inserted in a furnace for cremation.

Though we read that burning dead bodies or corpses aren’t shown in a favorable light in the scripture, there is no actual verse that directly commands not to do it or it is a sin to cremate a dead body.

The Apostle Paul even said:

“And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing” (I Corinthians 13:3).

Of course, Christian tradition would favor more burying the dead rather than burning them.

Because cremation isn’t a sin and is nowhere condemned in the Bible, it comes down to an individual decision whether it is best to cremate or bury a body.

Can God resurrect a cremated body?

Some people may be concerned about a cremated body and how it will be resurrected in the future.

Well, this should not be a source of concern for Christians.

Why?

Because God can resurrect a cremated body. God is the Almighty who is not limited to resurrecting buried bodies. He can do whatever He pleases and certainly, He can resurrect bodies that have been burned.

The vision of the Valley of Dry Bones.

We must also remember how some saints were burned at the stake. Some were fed to the lions while others were sawn in two. Some were decapitated and impaled. Some were not even given a proper burial.

Would you say that these saints have lost their chance of being part of God’s kingdom simply because of the manner of their death? Does this mean that God will not resurrect them simply because they were not buried properly?

Of course, the answer is no.

Moreover, even if you bury a dead body, the body would still decay and decompose, eventually, leaving bones and other hard materials. This is the same thing that happens to some extent with cremation. Cremation simply hastens the process of decomposition.

Moreover, even the bodies of the saints in the past would have already been dust after thousands of years being on the ground. So, in the final analysis, there’s really no difference between burial and cremation in terms of what would become of the corpse.

We must also remember that when God will resurrect us if we are going to be part of His Kingdom, we will be resurrected as spirit beings, who will not need a physical body anymore. We will not be subject to illness, hunger, thirst, and even death.

Should you cremate or bury the dead?

Now, we come to making decisions. When presented with two options, cremation or burial, how can you make the right choice?

The answer really would depend on the individual or family making the decision. In some cases, cremation is needed or imposed by the government. This is what’s happening in some places in the world as we battle the pandemic COVID-19.

burial of a coffin with flowers or cremation
Should you bury or cremate a dead person’s body?

To help you decide, here are the factors you might want to consider:

  • The preference of the dead
  • The preference of the family
  • Legal requirements
  • Cultural customs/norm
  • Budget

However, under normal circumstances, most people would choose burial since it is the custom of many and it has always been the standard tradition.

Moreover, it is worth noting as well that cremation isn’t only reserved for people who are on a tight budget. Some wealthy people also choose cremation as a personal preference.

So, it really comes down to personal choice.

Asking the more important question

I believe it is not really whether cremation is right or wrong.

We must not be all too focused on the question, “Is cremation a sin?” or “What does the Bible say about cremation?”

What we must ask ourselves is, “Did I live a life worth living for?” “Did I serve God and fulfill His purpose for me?”

The main concern that we must all have as Christians, followers of the great God, is whether we have lived a life that is pleasing to our Father or not.

King Solomon, as he approached the final years of his life, made this conclusion:

Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.

14 For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)

In the final analysis, what the Bible says about cremation isn’t the main concern of every Christian. Our main concern is to do the work of God, follow His commandments, and fulfill His will and purpose in our lives.

2 thoughts on “What does the Bible say about Cremation?

  1. Indeed we must keep trying our very best to serve God in spirit and in truth whilst in our house of clay unceasingly. – always at war

    There will be a new heaven and a new earth. God has already spoken it into existence,

    Which places a guiding and big picture context around the issue of cremation or burying a body. It is respectfully a personal decision only.

    Bodies of the saints, heaven, and earth will be renewed by God.

    Jesus our great redeemer ate and was in the physical body prior to his departure post-resurrection. I too believe that it will be so for the saints a resurrection of spirit soul and body to eternity in a new heaven and new earth. This to me is the fullest expression of God’s plan to rescue, to offer the good news of salvation i.e resurrection, restoration vs decay, death, and utter hopelessness in outer darkness for respectfully poor souls that reject the freely given offer of salvation into the eternities of the eternities.

    God bless us all as we fight the good fight and run the good race.

    Much love and prayers from Fiji

    Like

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