Cremation- What does the Bible Say?

The burning of the dead is not a Christian practice.

The Bible and Cremation

1. Cremation is associated with idolatry. The Bible records several occasions where people were burned alive. It was called “passing through the fire,” and it was part of an idolatrous act [2 Chronicles 28:3; 38:6; 2 Kings 16:2-3; 17:17, 31; 21:1-2, 6; Jeremiah 7:31; 19:4-5; Ezekiel 16:20-22; 20:31; 23:37]. The Mishna called cremation idolatry. God commanded Israel not to burn their children [Lev. 18:21].

2. Cremation is associated with God’s judgment. God brought fire down on individuals as a judgment [Gen. 19:24; Num. 11:1; Lev. 10:1-2; Ezek. 39:6; Matt. 25:4; 2 Peter 3:10]. God punished Moab for cremating the King of Edom [Amos 2:1-2].

3. Cremation is associated with God’s people burning the dead to show contempt [Josh. 7:25; 2 Sam. 23:7; 2 Kings 23:16, 20].

4. Cremation is associated with pantheism. Pantheism in its eastern form is usually associated with a salvation from the body by escaping the cycle of reincarnation.

5. Cremation is associated with disobedience [Josh 7:15-26]. Burning brings images of human sacrifices [Lev. 18:10], criminals [Lev. 20:14; 21:9], and hell itself [Mark 9:43-47; Rev. 20:11-15].

6. The Jews or the Christians in the Bible did not cremate their dead.

7. Cremation gives the false idea that death is the end of everything.

8. Only if one rejects important Christian truths does cremation make any sense. That’s why cremation finds greater acceptance among liberal churches and unbelievers.

The Bible and Burial

1. God commanded the dead to be buried in the Old Testament [Deut. 21:22-23].

2. God buried Moses and all of God’s people were buried [Deut. 34:5-6; Jude 1:9].

3. Paul is not talking about cremation [1 Cor. 13:3]. He was talking about being burned alive for the sake of Christ. No matter how much a person may suffer, there is no spiritual gain if the motive is not love.

4. Burial after death has a important spiritual symbol [Rom. 6:1-5; Col. 2:12; 2 Cor. 15:1-4]. Paul seems to teach burial [1 Cor. 15:35-37], using the analogy of planting a seed which is similar to burial. Burial shows respect for the body but it also symbolically anticipates the resurrection. There is no difficulty for God to transform ashes into a glorified body, or those burned in a house fire, blown up, or lost at sea. God will raise the bodies for Judgment, despite the manner of death or disposal of the body.

5. The Lord Jesus was buried. He never attacked the Jewish tradition of burial as the means of disposing of the body.

6. Jesus clearly expressed burial as the common practice [Luke 9:59-60].

7. The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit and is important in Christian teaching, dead or alive, because it was uniquely designed to give expression to the image of God [Gen. 1:27; 9:6; 1 Cor. 6:19-20].


The Scriptures set forth the pattern of burial and not cremation for the believer. No one is condemned to hell for cremation, but it is not the Biblically preferred way of disposal of the body.

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