The Quest

Scripture for Funerals

"A time to weep, and a time to laugh..."

"A time to weep and a time to laugh..."

 

Last weekend I had the privilege of officiating the funeral of a church member. (No, the picture to the right is not of me nor of the funeral at which I officiated.) As an assistant pastor, this isn’t something I do regularly, so in preparation for the funeral I compiled a list of Bible passages  that seemed “funeral-related.” In other words, these passages of Scripture would be appropriate for one or more aspects of the funeral process—speaking a word of comfort to the family, preaching during the funeral service, or reading during the committal. I have listed them below with a brief summary of each passage so I can quickly remember it. Do you have any others to add to the list? 

  • Job 1:21: Lord gave and has taken away; blessed be name of Lord.
  • Ps. 23: Duh!
  • Ps. 46: God refuge, strength, very present help in trouble; is with us.
  • Ps. 73:23–28: You guide me with your counsel and afterward receive me to glory. Flesh and heart fail, but God strength of my heart/portion forever. 
  • Ps. 90: God everlasting; life short; may God’s favor be upon us. 
  • Ps. 103:8–19: Lord merciful, gracious; removes sins from east to west; remembers that we are dust, grass.
  • Ps. 116:15: Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.
  • Ps. 121: My help comes from the Lord; He will keep from all evil.
  • Lam. 3:22–26: Steadfast love, mercies never end; hope in Him.
  • Matt. 11:28, 29: Come to Me and I will give you rest.
  • John. 5:24–29: Believe in Jesus, have eternal life. Judgment, resurrection.
  • John 6:35, 37–40: Jesus is the bread of life; those who believe will have eternal life and be raised on last day.
  • John 11:17–27: I am the resurrection and the life.
  • John 14:1-6: I will come again and take you to Myself.
  • Rom. 8:18–39: Suffering not worthy to be compared with glory; all things work together for good; nothing separates us from God’s love.
  • 1 Cor. 15:1–5, 51–58: Gospel; we will all be changed; victory over death.
  • 2 Cor 1:3, 4a: God is the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our affliction.
  • 2 Cor. 4:16–18: We don’t lose heart when our outer nature is wasting away; affliction prepares us for glory.
  • 1 Thes. 4:13–18: Don’t grieve as others who have no hope; dead and alive will meet the Lord in the air and will always be with Him.
  • 2 Thes. 2:16, 17: BenedictionGod loved us and gave us comfort and hope through grace, comfort and establish hearts in every good work and word.
  • Jude 24, 25: Benediction—keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of His glory with great joy.
  • Rev. 1:17b, 18a: “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore. . . . ”
  • Rev. 14:13: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord . . . that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.”
  • Rev. 21:1–9: New heavens/earth; God with man; no death, crying, pain.

7 Responses to “Scripture for Funerals”

  1. Dick Dayton says:

    Greg, I have often asked the questions : 1. WHy is there death ? 2. What has God done about it ? Then, I have gone to Romans 5 and shared the gospel message. For a godly church member, I have used II Timothy 4, “I have finished my course” I have also used II Corinthians 5, “Absent fromt the body, present with the Lord” for a committed believer. The ones I struggle with are funerals for those who made a profession of faith, but whose lives show so little evidence of transforming grace.

  2. Terry Gibson says:

    One I frequently use is 2 Corinthians 5:1-10, sometimes I read till verse 15. When our earthly tabernacle is dissolved we have a building made by God.

  3. David King says:

    I have had to do 3 funerals of infants and young children over the last couple years and one of the questions that I try to address is the question “why do children die” and “where do they go”.

    I have actually found teaching right from Genesis 3 adn the fall of man and thus sin enters the world and tieing that in with Romans 5 has worked well as it helps explain that their child’s death is not because God hates them or because of their own personal sin, but rather because of sin death is now in the world. I then share the gospel and how God has come to reverse the curse of sin and death.

    From there I will go to Samuel and share David’s assurance that his son was in heaven. I then encourage them in God’s grace during this time and their need to believe in Jesus Christ so that they too can join this child who has passed away.

  4. Greg White says:

    Greg, I have used many of the passages on your list. They are tried a true passages on hope and give opportunity to share the gospel clearly. While one saved man was dying he asked me to do his funeral and chose the Scripture passage for me to use “Do not boast about tomorrow, For you do not know what a day may bring forth.” Proverbs 27:1 (NKJV) He then told me “Preach the gospel, Pastor!” What a powerful challenge from a loved one who had already gone on to glory and wanted his loved ones to be prepared! BTW I have used that passage several times since.

  5. Jamie Hart says:

    Greg,
    You listed the one I use the most…John 14:1-6.
    This is a tough day for the family and anyone who loved ____________. I’m sure your heart is breaking. If your sick, you go to a doctor, if your car breaks, you go to a mechanic…but what do you do with a broken heart? Jesus gives three comforts. 1. There is a God. 2. There is a Heaven 3. There is a way. I use this for both saved or unsaved funerals.

  6. Greg,

    Great Scriptures for funerals – both in your list, as well as the responses. I, too, have used John 14 frequently, with glimpses of heaven from Revelation 21-22 added in.

    I have also used specific Scriptures that seemed to fit the individual – such as:
    Prov 31 – A godly woman
    Titus 2:11-14 – A life touched by grace
    Psalm 13 – Sorrow, Supplication, Singing
    II Tim 4:6-8 – Paul’s Perspective on Death, Life, and the Future
    Gen 5:21-24 – Enoch and the Walk of Faith

    I also agree that the most difficult services are those when the deceased has given no evidence of salvation. At those times I tend to focus on God as a source of comfort and the need of a personal relationship with Christ for the living – as opposed to saying too much about the deceased, other than memories of their life during the early portion of the service. About a year ago I had such a service and I actually focused on the purposes of a Memorial Service: 1) To remember our loved one – Prov 27:2; 2) To receive comfort – Several passages;
    3) To remind ourselves of the uncertainty of life – Heb 9:27-28

  7. At the outset of every funeral I conduct I something like this: “We are gathered here today to provide comfort and encouragement to the family, remember the deceased, and to examine our own lives.” A verse I often use as I transition to the actual message is Eccl. 7:2, “It is better to go to the house of mourning (the funeral home), than to go to the house of feasting (a party): for that is the end of all men; and the living will lay it to his heart (learn something from it).” Sometimes I will use the following outline to briefly explain the verse before going on to the message or use the outline for my message: life is short, death is sure, sin is the cause, Christ is the cure.

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