– by Got Questions

The Bible doesn’t give instructions on how a body should be handled after death. In the cultures of Bible times, burial in a tomb, cave, or in the ground was the common way to dispose of a human body (Gen 23:19; 35:4; 2 Chron 16:14; Matt 27:60- 66). The most common type of burial in the Bible was the dead being placed in aboveground tombs, for those who could afford it. For those who could not afford it, bodies were buried in the ground. As we see in Joshua 7:25, the only time the dead were burned in the Bible was as a punishment of the wicked for offenses they committed against God’s commands (Lev 20:14). In the New Testament, tombs were still the burial places of the wealthy, which is why Jesus, who had no earthly wealth at all, had to be buried in a tomb borrowed from a wealthy member of the Jewish hierarchy named Joseph of Arimathea (Matt 27:57-60). 

Can a Christian consider cremation?
While burial was the common practice, the Bible nowhere commands burial as the only allowed method of disposing of a body. Cremation was practiced in Biblical times, but it was not commonly practiced by the Israelites or by New Testament believers. The Bible does not give any specific teaching about cremation. There are occurrences in the Old Testament of people being burned to death (1 Kings 16:18; 2 Kings 21:6) and of human bones being burned, but these are not examples of cremation. It is interesting to note that in 2 Kings 23:16-20, burning human bones on an altar desecrated the altar. At the same time, the Old Testament law nowhere commands that a deceased human body not be burned.

God will resurrect your body
Some believers object to the practice of cremation on the basis it does not recognise that one day God will resurrect our bodies and re-unite them with our soul/spirit (1 Cor 15:35-58; 1 Thess 4:16). However, the fact that a body has been cremated does not make it any more difficult for God to resurrect that body. The bodies of Christians who died a thousand years ago have, by now, completely turned into dust. This will in no way prevent God from being able to resurrect their bodies. He created them in the first place; He will have no difficulty re-creating them. Cremation does nothing but “expedite” the process of turning a body into dust. God is equally able to raise a person’s remains that have been cremated as He is the remains of a person who was not cremated. The question of burial or cremation is within the realm of Christian freedom. A person or a family considering this issue should pray for wisdom (James 1:5) and follow the conviction that results. 

Your eternal body awaits
Today, obeying the laws of the land regarding corpses is always a significant consideration. Whatever method is used to dispose of a body is not nearly as important as the truth that the body is no longer housing the person who has died. Paul describes our bodies as “tents” that are temporary abodes. “Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in Heaven, not built by human hands” 2 Cor 5:1. When Jesus returns, Christians will be raised to life and our bodies will be transformed to glorified, eternal bodies. “So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable; it is sown in dishonour, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.” 1 Cor 15:42-43.

Article from JOY! Magazine.

Return to Home