What does the Bible say about cremation?

Author: BibleAsk Team


Cremation was not practiced by the Old or New Testament believers. In the Bible days, it was the custom to bury the dead in the ground or in caves (Genesis 23:19; 35:19; 2 Chronicles 16:14; Matthew 27:60-66). God’s judgment on Adam at death was to return to the ground from which he had been taken. He was to return to dust, not be turned into ashes (Genesis 3:19; Job 34:15; Psalms 104:29; Ecclesiastes 3:20; 12:7; Daniel12:2). Burning a body to ashes is what will happen to the devil and his children at the end of the world (Genesis 3:1-7; Job 1:1-22; 2:1-10; Matthew 8:29; 15:22; 25:41; 27:5).

The Old Testament

God buried Moses Himself (Deuteronomy 34:5-8; Jude 1:9). Abraham, purchased the first family cemetery, and many family members were buried there (Genesis 15:15; 23:1-20; 25:9-10; 35:8,19,29; 47:29-31; 49:28-33; 50:1-14). Joseph wanted his bones be carried out of Egypt, so he could be buried in Canaan, though they had to keep his embalmed body in a coffin for about 200 years until the Exodus (Genesis 50:24-26; Ex 13:19; Joshua 24:32). David, was buried; and the location of his tomb was still well known 1000 years later in Jerusalem (I Kings 2:10; 11:43; Acts 2:29; 13:36).

However, in specific cases, cremation was carried out  like in Leviticus 20:14; 1 Samuel 31:12. In Amos 6:10, burning bodies is also mentioned. It might have been needed at that time because of the great number of deaths due to pestilence or because the burying site outside the city could not be reached because of an enemy siege.

The New Testament

In the New Testament, Christians buried their dead. Martha and Mary buried Lazarus. And the family or friends of the rich man also buried him (Luke 16:22; Matthew 8:22; 27:1-10,57-60; John 11:33-44; Acts 5:1-11; 8:2). The Lord Jesus Christ was buried. Even though His body had been mangled, and there was no funeral, they still took the time to prepare His body for burial (Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60; Mark 15:43-46; Luke 23:50-53; John 19:38-42; Acts 13:29; I Corinthians 15:4).

If a believer got cremated beyond his will, God will still be able to resurrect him for the Lord is the Creator and He will grant him a new glorified body at the Resurrection Day at His second coming (1 Corinthians 15:35-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:16).

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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