Scriptures I Use For Funeral Services

Given the nice response I received from posting Practical Tips for Preaching a Funeral, I would like to follow up on this post with an answer to Gunny Hartman’s question found in the comments section: “Any particular format you use or favorite Scripture passages or other readings?”

I would like to touch on the favorite Scripture passages I use. Whenever I am called upon to preach a funeral of someone I really did not know all that well, I gravitate to John 14:1-6 and use a simple outline adapted from a John MacArthur sermon on this very passage:

1. Jesus comforts us with His presence (John 14:1);

2. Jesus comforts us with His promise (John 14:2-3);

3. Jesus comforts us with His pathway (John 14:4-6).

Again, you don’t want to give a full, 30-45 minute exposition unless the family requests it. Yet that does not mean we forsake structure.  This passage most certainly ‘works’ whether the person was a believer or not (or even if it was in doubt). 

When a Christian dies who suffered a long while with a debilitating condition, I believe one of the bests passages to preach on 2 Corinthians 5:1-10:

For we know that if the tent, which is our earthly home, is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. [2] For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, [3] if indeed by putting it on we may not be found naked. [4] For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened–not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. [5] He who has prepared us for this very thing is God, who has given us the Spirit as a guarantee.

[6] So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord, [7] for we walk by faith, not by sight. [8] Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. [9] So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. [10] For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil (ESV). 

Granted, this particular passage is following 2 Corinthians 4:16-18 in which Paul speaks of how ministry physically wears him out but spiritually is setting up for him an eternal weight of glory. Yet, as Christians, we do understand how important it is to maintain the faith even in times of physical distress and duress. This passage is appropriate for those who maintained their strong faith regardless of these circumstances.

(Another passage for this is Psalm 116:15, “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints.”)

At the interment, I read two passages of Scripture:  1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 and Revelation 21:1-5.  I use these passages to establish a hope for all Christians that this burial is not the end.  In fact, we need to comfort and encourage with the hope that awaits the Christian — a kingdom where “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4, ESV).  For the listening unbeliever, they will see what awaits the Christian and will plant some seeds of the Gospel. 

While these are not the only Scriptures I use, these are ones that jump out at me.  What Scriptures do you use for services?

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28 thoughts on “Scriptures I Use For Funeral Services

  1. Thanks for this–it is always nice to gain insight from others on what and how they preach difficult sermons such as a funeral.

    Whenever I preach a funeral (I do about 12 a year), it is usually because the family wants a “Christian” burial even though the deceased never really attended church. (My father-in-law owns a funeral home.) I preach from John 11:17-44. If you don’t mind, I would like to piggy-back off what you did and post my sermonette along with my graveside service on my “Deep Thoughts” blog. I will await your permission to do that because it is your idea, but thanks for this–it helps.

    God bless.

    1. Terry, I am not sure if you still have this funeral service, but if so, please send it. I have been asked to do a service for my aunt who is unsaved. I want to use this opportunity to share the good news with her family.

      Nick

  2. Feel free, Terry … I look forward to reading what you have to say as well. By the way, I appreciate the good work you do at your blog in your coverage of the chapel services. Nicely done! Keep moving the Kingdom forward!

  3. Thanks for the encouragement with the chapel blogging. That “role” came out of nowhere as did the whole idea for the diary–we both know where it came from but really it came from nowhere! I will get my funeral sermon posted in the next couple of days–right now, I am a bit busy with the new baby and all that has entailed. God bless.

    1. I am interested in reading your funeral service since I was asked to conduct a funeral for a close friend’s grandfather this Wednesday. I notice that your blog is by invitation only, so I am hopeful that I can garner an invitation from you. Thanks!

    2. I am interested in reading your funeral service since I was asked to conduct a funeral for a close friend’s grandfather this Wednesday. I notice that your blog is by invitation only, so I am hopeful that I can garner an invitation from you. Thanks!

    3. Hi Terry, I would like to read through your funeral sermon if it your blog is still up. I tried the link above, but it said I needed to be invited to this blog to view it. My email is revdan88@gmail.com.

      grateful,

      Dan

  4. Matthew, thanks for the info here. I am not a pastor but was asked and officiated a funeral (graveside) for a friend today. I got some pointers from my pastor and your blog. I also actually came up with some stuff of my own too! Here is something that seemed to be really helpful to the widow. I found the following prayer in Kenneth Boa’s, Handbook to Prayer (Praying Scripture Back to God). I wrote it on a small piece of cardstock, folded it and gave it to the widow the day after her husband passed away and encouraged her to pray it. I also memorized it and prayed it on her behalf during the service. I think it is perfect for a time like this and thought you might like it…

    I will not fear, for You are with me;
    I will not be dismayed, for You are my God.
    You will strengthen me and help me;
    You will uphold me with Your righteous right hand.
    For You are the Lord my God, who takes hold of my right hand
    And says to me, “Do not fear; I will help you.”
    (From Isaiah 41:10,13)
    I call this to mind,
    And therefore I have hope:
    The Lord’s mercies never cease,
    For His compassions never fail.
    They are new every morning;
    Great is Your faithfulness.
    (From Lamentations 3:21-23)

    Blessings!

  5. Thank you very much for your wisdom in these services. Although I am a pastor, I do very few funerals (only 3 in 7 years). I appreciate all of your insight in handling the death of a non-believer. Thanks again.

  6. I have been in the ministry assisting for many years, but recently becaome a pastor of a new church. I have assisted in many funeral services but never along. The information from this site has been helpful. Thanks for doing this.

  7. Many thanks to you all who have posted something on this thread about Preaching a funeral. One of the things I am taking away as I prepare to assist in conducting a funeral today is the variety in approach but similarities in the scriptures used.

    Blessings!

  8. Thanks Guys,
    I am a Pastor’s Wife.Given life to the Lord for 30 years. I have a very old friend who called today, doesn’t go to Church, she lost her Great Niece of 2 years old, her reply to me was “will you and your husband come and speak over her? Come and encourage her mom, dad and family. I know you will help us get through this. I have watched you and your husband you are people of great faith and with your faith it will help us heal.
    So I get on the web to find words that will help me get through a baby’s funeral, 34 years ago my Brother lost his baby at 3 days old, and it is still hard for me to talk about her. Your words here helped me today.

  9. Thank you for posting this very encouraging information. I too am a minister but only once have shared briefly during a funeral. If possible grant me access to your “Deep Thoughts” blog.

    Nick G.

  10. I was asked to speak and do a funeral I have done one so far now this one of a young lady age 28 whom suffered in a long battle with mersa it spread through out her whole body and she was just so tired I believe the lord took her home. She is a believer and has gone to heaven. But I must deliver a messsage to unbelievers as well, I appreicate the passages that we on this site Thank you.

  11. Thank you for the passages it will truly help me at the funeral which I will be doing. Thank you again. You are a blessing.

  12. Hey Dr. White I just googled scriptures for funerals. Your sight was first and gave me what I needed!! You are awesome thanks. WOW!!! The things people do in silent for God and further His Kingdom are always the bigest blessings to others!!! Thanks Dr. White for all you do!

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