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Bible Passages on the subject

Joshua 7:15, 25 – Achan and all his property and family were burned.

1 Samuel 31:12 – Men of Jabesh took the bodies of Saul and his sons and burned them. This protected them from ridicule from the enemy.

2 Kings 23:16, 20 – Josiah burned bones from tombs, killed priests and burned them

2 Chronicles 34:5 – burned the bones of the priests – cleansed Judah and Jerusalem

1 Kings 16:18 – Zimri set palace on fire and died (suicide) in the fire that burned him up

Amos 2:1 – He burned the bones of Edom into lime

Amos 6:10 – burn the bodies – stop a plague, prevent spread of disease

Genesis 38:24; Leviticus 20:14 – Punishment often involved cremation

Summary of Bible passages

  1. Some cremations were an expression of punishment (Achan, Edom)

  2. Some cremations were done to honor the dead – Saul and sons

  3. Some cremations were done for health reasons – stop plague

  4. Some cremations were accidental or suicide – Zimri, (explosions, 9-11)

  5. Some cremations were done for spiritual reasons – Josiah cleansed


  1. Problem with resurrection?

  2. Proper respect for the dead body?

  3. Current method – embalm, seal casket, seal vault – prevent return to dust

  4. Organ donation – at death we are through with this body

  5. Cremation – NOT a moral or biblical issue

  6. Cremation – IS an emotional, philosophical, cultural issue


Advantages to Cremation

  1. Costs much less – $500-$800 vs. $5,000-$8,000 for traditional funeral

  2. Schedule of services – Memorial service can be days or weeks after the death

        1. Weather factors eliminated

        2. Travel arrangements easier for long distance relatives

        3. Stress of so many decisions so quickly is eliminated

  1. Land use – In large cities, cemetery space is at a premium – bury 4 deep


Practical Suggestions

  1. Have in mind ahead of time which funeral home will be used to carry out your wishes.

    1. Have you paid them anything in advance?

    2. Have you prearranged, given them instructions?

  2. Discuss with your family the type of final disposal you feel appropriate.

  3. Prepare and have readily available all pertinent information.

    1. Vital documents – Social Security, military records, life insurance policies, parent’s names, birth certificate

    2. Pre-arrangement documents – funeral home, cemetery lots, headstone, organ donations, where ashes are to be kept or scattered, donate body to science, mausoleum vault

    3. Financial information – Bank accounts, savings, retirement pension, etc.

  4. Make those persons responsible aware of any prearranged plans.



  1. We are taught in the Bible to show proper respect for the dead and to deal with them in a respectful way.

  2. Cremation in no way violates these principles.

  3. The matter is an emotional, philosophical and aesthetic one.

  4. Cremation violates no New Testament principle.

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