A photo of a Bible placed beside an urn containing cremated ashes, symbolizing the contemplation and reflection on the Scriptures' teachings regarding cremation.

What Does The Bible Say About Cremation?

Cremation is a method of final disposition of a dead body through burning. With rising funeral costs, more people are choosing cremation over traditional burials. If you’re wondering what the Bible says about cremating human remains, this comprehensive guide examines the scriptural evidence.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: the Bible does not directly prohibit cremation. While traditional burial was more common in biblical times, cremation is not presented as an unsuitable method.

Burial Practices in the Bible

Old Testament Examples

In the Old Testament, burial was an important ritual. Bodies were typically buried shortly after death to avoid defilement of the land (Deuteronomy 21:23). Tombs were often located on a family’s property, like the tomb Abraham purchased to bury Sarah (Genesis 23).

Some tombs were elaborately constructed, like the tomb where Jesus would later be buried (Isaiah 53:9).

According to archaeological evidence, bodies were typically placed on stone shelves inside tombs after being wrapped in linen clothes. Spices and perfumes were often used to prepare the body and mask odors. A large stone would seal the tomb entrance.

There are also accounts of burials in the ground, like Rachel’s roadside grave (Genesis 35:16-20). Mass graves are referenced several times in the Old Testament as well, usually after war or disaster struck an area.

New Testament Examples

The most famous New Testament burial story is that of Jesus. After his crucifixion on the cross, his body was removed from the cross and placed in a donated tomb, wrapped in linen strips, with spices like myrrh and aloes according to Jewish burial custom (John 19:38-40).

A large stone was rolled over the entrance.

On Easter Sunday, his disciples and followers discovered that his body was no longer there. Christians believe he was resurrected into a glorified body and the empty tomb serves as proof of his supernatural victory over sin, death, and Satan.

The New Testament also records the miraculous raising of Lazarus after four days in the tomb (John 11:1-45), as well as the raising of the widow’s son (Luke 7:11-18) and Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:21-24, 35-43) from the dead, all pointing toward victory over death.

Does the Bible Forbid Cremation?

Lack of Clear Prohibition

The Bible does not clearly prohibit cremation. While traditional Jewish and Christian practice has been burial, there is no direct biblical command forbidding cremation. Several instances in the Old Testament describe burning of human remains (1 Samuel 31:12; Amos 2:1), but these are not presented as normative practices.

Overall, the Bible focuses more on eternal destinations and the resurrection of the body rather than specific burial practices.

Resurrection and Cremation

Some Christians have hesitated about cremation because of uncertainty over whether God can resurrect ashes as easily as a body. However, this objection does not fully consider the power of an omnipotent God.

Just as God created humanity from dust, He is certainly able to resurrect a person regardless of what has become of their earthly remains. Ultimately, someone’s eternal salvation depends on their faith in Christ rather than the disposal method of their physical body after death.

Considerations for Christians

Honoring the Body

Christians believe that the human body is a sacred gift from God that was created in His image (Genesis 1:26-27). As such, many feel that cremating the body fails to fully honor it. Scripture teaches that the body of a believer is a “temple of the Holy Spirit” (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).

Burial shows respect for the physical body that housed the spirit.

That said, the Bible does not explicitly prohibit cremation. While burial was the common practice in biblical times, there are some instances in Scripture where burning the dead did occur (1 Samuel 31:12-13; Amos 2:1). The Bible focuses far more on the resurrection of the body.

Ultimately, the decision on cremation is a matter of personal choice and Christian freedom.


Some view cremation as the more responsible choice financially and environmentally. Funerals and burials can be quite costly, while cremation is generally less expensive. Cremation also utilizes fewer natural resources and less land space.

However, finances and stewardship need not be determining factors. Christians still have options for affordable burial and can make preparations for simpler, economic funerals. The focus should be on honoring the deceased and comforting the grieving, not the price tag.

Motivations and Witness

Some Christians avoid cremation because of its association with non-Christian religions and movements. Historically, the church opposed cremation because of its ties to pagan burial practices. Some religions like Hinduism promote cremation as an affirmation of their belief in reincarnation.

In contemporary Western society, the rise in cremation rates has coincided with a growing secularism and fewer affiliations with Christianity. Some believers thus feel cremation could present a poor witness for funeral attendees.

They prefer the traditional burial as a stronger testimony of their hope in bodily resurrection.

Ultimately, Christians have freedom to make this choice according to their convictions. Both cremation and burial can be carried out in a distinctly Christian manner. What matters most is that funeral plans are made with thoughtfulness, care, and an eye toward gospel witness.


In the end, the Bible does not strictly prohibit cremation or prescribe any one method as the only acceptable way to handle human remains. Prayerful consideration of stewardship, motivations, and the principles behind Bible passages on honoring the body can guide decisions today.

While cremation does not conflict with core biblical teachings, burial remains a common tradition. Each believer must follow their own spirit-led convictions on the topic.

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