The acronym RIP (or R.I.P.) can be seen carved on tombstones. These words rest in peace are often heard at wakes and funerals. RIP comes from the Latin blessing requiescat in pace (literally, “may he begin to rest in peace”). So we ask is it biblical to say, “Rest in peace”? The expression “rest in peace” is not used in the bible in connection with a person who had died. So, therefore, to say “Rest in peace,” is not biblical.
At the end of the book of Daniel, an angel speaks of Daniel’s death, saying, “You will rest” Daniel 12:13 “As for you, go your way till the end. You will rest, and then at the end of the days you will rise to receive your allotted inheritance.”
And the prophet Isaiah says, Isaiah 57:2 “Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death”.
These two scriptures are the closest the bible comes to the saying behind R.I.P. However, the exact words rest in peace are not used.
For some the thought of death can be disturbing, even frightening, so no doubt because of these emotions people over the years have invented some platitudes in an endeavour to comfort themselves, and others. When someone dies, it is not unusual to often hear unbiblical statements such as “She’s an angel now” and “God needed another angel in heaven”; even hear “They are in a better place,” spoken with no thought or understanding that they may actually be in a worse place. It is not uncommon for even those who have had no time for God to become religious at a funeral. They try to assure themselves and others that, regardless of the deceased’s relationship with God while on earth, he or she is in heaven now. But we must not ignore what Scripture teaches.
The Bible is clear that physical death is not the end Hebrews 9:27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, John 3: 16-18 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. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Jesus taught clearly that there are just two options for everyone and that is: heaven or hell Matthew 10:28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 25:46 “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
He gave a vivid picture of those two options in the event of the rich man and Lazarus, found in. Luke 16:19-31 19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ 25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ” In this account, the rich man, who had given no thought of God during his earthly life, went to hell when he died. Lazarus, who possessed nothing on earth but a pure heart, was taken to paradise. Hell (Hades) is described as a place of torment (verse 23), not a place of rest. According to Scripture, a person who dies without Christ is not “resting in peace” John 3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. Isaiah 57:21 “There is no peace,” says my God, “for the wicked.”
However, death is different for those who know Jesus as their personal Saviour Romans 8:1 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 1 Thessalonians 4:13 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. This reminds us that, while it is natural to grieve for loved ones who have died, we do not need to grieve in the same way for those who have made Jesus Christ as their Personal Saviour as we will see them again. There is hope mixed with the sorrow. The bible at times refers to the dead in Christ as “those who are asleep” I Corinthians 15:20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
The biblical writers used sleep as a metaphor because death for a Christian is only temporary. Paul said that 2 Corinthians 5:8 “to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord”. For those that have accepted Jesus Christ as their Personal Saviour will spend eternity with Him. So, after death Christians do enter a “rest,” and it is “peaceful.”
The problem with saying, “Rest in peace,” (R.I.P.) is that it is taken as a prayer. In Latin, it is literally “May he begin to rest in peace.” Of course, praying for the dead is unbiblical. At the moment of death, a person’s fate is sealed by their decision on earth as whether they accepted or rejected Jesus Christ as the Saviour. The bible never teaches or even suggests that we should pray on behalf of those who have passed away. Saying, “Rest in peace,” writing “RIP,” and other forms of prayers for the dead. This form was rooted in Catholic tradition, not the Word of God.
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