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Question and Answer

What does the Bible say about cremation versus standard burial? If a person is cremated, will he or she still have a physical body in the resurrection?

Many people wonder whether God can raise up a cremated person at the resurrection. The answer is simple—if God can raise a decomposed body or one lost at sea or burned in a house fire, He certainly can raise someone who has been cremated into a pile of ashes. The whole idea of resurrection from the dead is miraculous and beyond our capacity to comprehend.

Although there is no verse of Scripture that absolutely forbids it, Mike Fabarez gives a biblical case in support of burial in his book, 10 Mistakes People Make about Heaven, Hell, and the Afterlife.

He begins with Paul’s commentary on the value of the created body: “Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, who you have received from God?” (1 Cor. 6:19). Our bodies are sacred vessels and worthy of dignity, even after death.

Second, the Bible demonstrates the concern people had when burying loved ones. These include Sarah, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and the Lord Jesus. There was even a serious effort to give a decent burial to the bones of the burned bodies of King Saul and his sons (1 Sam. 31:8–13).

Third, in the Bible, burial was considered a mark of dignity for the deceased. Solomon wrote, “A man may have a hundred children and live many years; yet no matter how long he lives, if he cannot enjoy his prosperity and does not receive proper burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he” (Eccl. 6:3). In biblical times, the failure to have a dignified burial was considered a terrible disgrace.

Whatever decision you make regarding cremation, here are a few final thoughts. First, don’t worry if a loved one was cremated. God can raise up stones to praise Him and He can resurrect our bodies from ashes. Second, start preparing now for your burial. Save money for the type of funeral you desire. Most important of all, make sure you’re ready to meet the Lord today. We need to trust that Jesus died for our sins and rose again, so if God were to say, “This day your soul is required of you,” you’ll be ushered into His presence and be there forever!

BY Dr. Michael Rydelnik

Dr. Michael Rydelnik is professor of Jewish Studies at Moody Bible Institute and the Bible teacher on Moody Radio’s Open Line, answering listener Bible questions on over 200 stations nationwide across Moody Radio. The son of Holocaust survivors, he was raised in an observant Jewish home in Brooklyn, N.Y. As a high school student, Michael became a follower of Jesus the Messiah and began teaching the Bible almost immediately. He is the author of Understanding the Arab Israeli Conflict and The Messianic Hope: Is the Hebrew Bible Really Messianic? He is the co-editor of the Moody Bible Commentary, a commentary on the whole Bible by the faculty of Moody Bible Institute. Michael served on the translation team of the Holman CSB Bible and contributed to several other books and study Bibles. Michael is a regular contributor to the Day of Discovery television program and appeared in the Lee Stroebel video The Case for Christ. Michael and his wife, Eva, have two adult sons who call and write all the time. The Rydelniks live in Chicago, Ill., and enjoy leading study groups to Israel and hiking with their two collies.

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