Attending a Christian funeral service means listening and joining in with many prayers and readings from the Bible. Scriptures are traditionally chosen to give mourning family and friends a sense of hope that the deceased person has found a place with God in Heaven.
Popular Bible Verses for Funerals
Most Christian funeral services include at least one Bible scripture or reading with Catholic funeral masses containing several. While individual services may vary, there are some popular Bible verses with fitting messages that can be found over and over in Christian funerals.
Romans 8:35, 37-39
These verses from Romans begin with line 35 "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?"(New International Version (NIV)), followed by lines 37-39: "No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." The verses speak to a God who will always be there for us, no matter what troubles may arise.
Another verse that is popular because of the strong message that death is a part of God's plan and the deceased will find peace in Heaven. "The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death." (NIV)
This popular comforting reading begins with the kind words, "Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am." (NIV)
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
Another often-used reading at funerals, this verse reminds the family and friends of the deceased that God is there to comfort us so that we may be a source of comfort to others. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God." (English Standard Version)
This verse demonstrates how God welcomes his faithful servants into Heaven after a life of work is done. "His master replied, 'Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master's happiness!'" (NIV)
A reading that lets us mourners know that God has a plan for everyone, even if it may not seem that way. "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose." (ESV)
"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (NIV) This well-loved verse is used at many funerals to remind believers of the existence of the afterlife in Heaven and God's love and sacrifice.
This verse is a blessing to those in attendance at the funeral service. "May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (NIV)
"Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor's crown." (NIV) A lesson to all Christians that a life of good works despite hardship will lead to the kingdom of Heaven.
Popular Funeral Psalms
There are many psalms that are appropriate for a funeral and contain messages with true meaning for the family and friends attending the services.
This short verse has a peaceful message for mourners. "In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety." (NIV)
Psalm 23 is one of the most popular readings because it presents an image of God caring and protecting the living and the dead as their loving shepherd. "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever." (King James Bible)
This psalm's positive declaration is a boon to saddened relatives of the deceased. "I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD." (NIV)
This Psalm of David demonstrates God's care for the downtrodden and awash in grief. "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (NIV)
Another popular psalm begins with "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling." (ESV) This psalm is known as the "song of holy confidence," or "Luther's Psalm." The psalm focuses on how God is there for us during dark times to pull us through.
"That this is God, our God forever and ever. He will guide us forever." (ESV) The message in this verse is that God will always be there for us, whether we're living or dead.
A calming and comforting verse to those grieving a lost loved one: "Cast your cares on the Lord and He will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall." (NIV)
Psalm 90:1-6, 12
This psalm looks at the cycle of life and death and contains the beautiful line, "You sweep people away in the sleep of death - they are like the new grass of the morning: In the morning it springs up new, but by the evening it is dry and withered." It concludes with the wise request to, "Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom." (NIV)
This psalm is known as "a song of ascents" and contains hopeful, inspiring verses. "I lift up my eyes to the hills - From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth." (New King James Version)
Psalm 139: 7-12, 23-24
In this psalm the petitioner describes how God is everywhere, both in life and death, to keep us strong. "If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast." (NIV)
Comforting Bible Verses for Funerals
Funerals are a time of great sorrow and it can be difficult for family and friends to accept that a loved one is gone. These verses have comforting themes for a grieving audience.
This passage provides healing words to the deceased's loved ones. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid." (NIV)
This gentle verse from Matthew welcomes in those who need comfort and ease, both the mourning family and the soul of the deceased seeking the afterlife. "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." (NIV)
Another verse from Matthew has calming words for the mourners present. "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." (ESV)
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." (NIV) This reading provides reassuring to the mourners about God's intentions to help his people when they are scared and upset.
The Lamentations of Jeremiah in the Old Testament has this inspiring set of verses: "For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone." (NIV)
The story of Job is one of suffering and perseverance in life, including dealing with grief. "The lowly he sets on high, and those who mourn are lifted to safety." (NIV)
This verse is a good choice for comforting mourners with a vision of the joy to be found in Heaven. "Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow." (NIV)
Funeral Verses That Celebrate Life and Death
Many Bible readings will talk about the cycle of life and the necessity of death as a next step in the life of the soul, rather than an event to be dreaded.
This reading explains the value of both accepting life and death. "For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better." (ESV)
This beautiful verse from the Bible speaks to the cycle of life, and how death is something to be expected and not feared. It begins, "To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven; A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck what is planted." (NKJV) You might also recognize the verse as the lyrics to the Pete Seeger folk song Turn! Turn! Turn!
1 Corinthians 15:50-57
This longer passage lets us know that death is a necessary part of life and required in order to reach Heaven. It begins "I declare to you, brothers and sisters, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable." (NIV)
Another verse that exemplifies the cycle of life and importance of death. "We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life." (NIV)
A reading that gives hope to loved ones hoping to see their deceased family again. "Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him." (NIV)
2 Corinthians 5:1-5
This verse from the second book of Corinthians reminds us that Heaven is waiting for us after death. "For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands." (NIV)
"If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord." (NIV) This passage reminds Christians that neither life or death will change our relationship with God.
This is another well-known verse heard at many Christian funeral services. "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?'" (ESV)
Funeral Readings for a Child's Funeral
Some funeral Bible readings are more appropriate for a funeral of an infant or child. These scripture readings that may bring more comfort than others:
This verse specifically speaks to the innocence of children related to the kingdom of Heaven. "And he said: "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me." (NIV)
This reading reminds the parents and mourners of the special love Gold holds for children. "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." (NIV)
Song of Solomon 2:10-13
This beautiful verse gives grieving parents a glimpse of Heaven. "Arise, my darling, my beautiful one, come with me. See! The winter is past; the rains are over and gone. Flowers appear on the earth; the season of singing has come, the cooing of doves is heard in our land. The fig tree forms its early fruit; the blossoming vines spread their fragrance. Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me." (NIV)
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
This is another comforting verse for grieving parents and relatives of a child that had died too young. "So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal." (ESV)
1 Samuel 1:27-28
This reading from the first book of Samuel relays the story of Hannah thanking God for the gift of her son. "I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord." (NIV)
A Bible verse that reminds parents of their child's ascendence to Heaven and the angels. "And they can no longer die; for they are like the angels. They are God's children, since they are children of the resurrection." (NIV)
Choosing the Best Bible Passages for a Funeral
A funeral is a difficult time for family and close friends, and choosing a scripture that speaks to the deceased can be a deeply emotional task. It's best to read through some of the most popular verses to find one that resonates with you. You can also think of a theme that comes to mind when thinking of the one who has passed and look for verses that exemplify their life. You can also speak with your priest or pastor for their guidance.
Finding Biblical Funeral Verses
If the funeral director, priest or pastor is asked to handle the funeral arrangements, you won't have to worry about picking out the Bible readings. If you want to give your input, speak to them about verses that appeal to you and your family in memory of the deceased. The Bible is rich with thoughtful, comforting and inspiring verses that will help to make the service a special and emotional experience.