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What Does the Bible Say About Cremation?

What Does the Bible Say About Cremation?

The Bible’s answer

 The Bible contains no specific direction on the practice of cremation. There is no Bible command regarding either burial or cremation of the dead.

 The Bible does report instances of faithful servants of God burying their dead. For example, Abraham went to great lengths to secure a burial place for his wife, Sarah.​—Genesis 23:​2-​20; 49:29-​32.

 The Bible also mentions faithful individuals burning the remains of the dead. For example, when King Saul of Israel and three of his sons were killed in battle, their corpses initially remained in enemy territory and were treated dishonorably. Hearing of the situation, faithful Israelite warriors retrieved the bodies of Saul and his sons, burned them, and buried the remains. (1 Samuel 31:​8-​13) The Bible indicates that this was an acceptable way to treat the remains of those men.​—2 Samuel 2:​4-6.

Common misconceptions about cremation

 Misconception: Cremation dishonors the body.

 Fact: The Bible says that those who die return to the dust, which is what naturally happens to a corpse when it decomposes. (Genesis 3:​19) Cremation speeds up the process by reducing the body to ashes, or dust.

 Misconception: In Bible times, only people in God’s disfavor were burned after death.

 Fact: The dead bodies of some unfaithful people, such as Achan and his family, were burned. (Joshua 7:​25) However, this was an exception rather than the rule. (Deuteronomy 21:22, 23) As noted earlier, the bodies of even some faithful people, such as King Saul’s son Jonathan, were burned after death.

 Misconception: Cremation prevents God from resurrecting a person.

 Fact: Regarding resurrection of the dead, it does not matter to God whether a person’s body was buried, cremated, lost at sea, or eaten by wild animals. (Revelation 20:13) The Almighty can easily re-create a new body for the person.​—1 Corinthians 15:35, 38.