Is “REST IN PEACE” prayer for the dead biblical? Clerics speak

The phrase “Rest in Peace” is one of the most misused phrases in the world. The phrase is used not only by believers even unbelievers across the globe whenever someone died. Meanwhile, majority of those who use the phrase never knew the genesis of it and whether it is biblical or not.

Some ministers of God in Christ Apostolic Church speaks to CAC NEWS on the topic. Their opinion are captured below:

DCC Superintendent, CAC Somolu Olaleye DCC, Pastor J. O. Akinyomi

My personal opinion is that I can't say "Rest in peace” for the dead. Biblically it is wrong, neither the prayer which Bible condemned nor greeting which Bible says we must not say to the dead.
I can only pray for the family left behind. No prayer or greeting for the dead.

Minister-in-Charge, CAC Latona English Assembly (Anointing Chapel Osogbo), Pastor E. O. Olowookere

To argue for or against the opinion if it is biblical enough to pray for the dead especially with the “Rest In Peace” prayer, I will like to begin with the historical usage of this term commonly written in the acronym RIP.

According to a research made, the acronym R.I.P., though containing the same initial letters as the phrase “Rest in Peace”, originates from a Latin phrase with the same meaning: requiescat in pace, “may (the deceased person) rest in peace.” The Latin phrase began appearing on Christian gravestones in the 8th century and was widespread on Christian grave markers by the 18th century. In this early use, rest in peace (as requiescat in pace) was a prayer or wish that the soul of the deceased would find eternal peace in Heaven. Catholic burial services in particular still incorporate the original Latin requiescat in pace in this way.

Furthermore, it is more common today to find Rest in Peace or R.I.P. on gravestones and in funeral services than its Latin parent. The acronym R.I.P. appeared first in 1613 as an abbreviation for requiescat in pace, then in 1681 for rest in peace.

The phrase rest in peace and the acronym R.I.P. have migrated into secular use over the centuries, given Christianity’s extensive influence on secular Western culture. In funeral settings, rest in peace has a solemn tone appropriate to the occasion. Outside of burial ceremonies and gravestones, rest in peace has come to be used in obituaries and online to signify respect and well wishes for a beloved figure who died. The hashtag “#RIP” is commonly appended to social-media posts in which fans mourn the passing of public or private figures they admired while also celebrating their lives and impact.

Rest in peace has also developed more lighthearted, humorous extensions. On social media in the 21st century, it is more often used in the form of RIP for the metaphorical deaths of such things as cancelled television shows or apps and celebrity breakups. (
The early Christian culture, however, was drawn from mainly the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ and partly from Judaism influence. Thus many of the New Testament themes can be traced to the roots. In the Old Testament, a befitting burial is given to most especially aged departed ones. But in no wise will you found prayers made for the dead. Because there is no repentance in the grave, but the belief is that whatever a man does when living will determined his lots in the afterlife (Eccl. 9:10). In the same vein, the New Testament adjudged that judgment is inevitable after death (Heb. 9:27).

If the early Christians could not be praying for the dead, because they also reject the act of praying to the dead (a necromancy), it is against the will of God and the Israelites were sternly warned against such a practice (Lev. 19:28; Deut. 14:1). God specifically mentioned the prohibition of consulting a necromancer in Deuteronomy 18:11 and in verse 12 we are informed why God drove the Canaanites out of the land and thus warned Israel not to repeat such sins.

Nevertheless, as I have earlier mentioned, the practice praying for the dead in the Christian church does not originated with the early Christians but was adopted by the Catholics and since then the naïve ones among the Protestant church gullibly fell for the practice once protested against by the reformers like Luther and Calvin.

Although, it is now popular to hear or see people saying or writing RIP as a prayer for the departed ones, yet in the liturgy of Christ Apostolic Church you can never see a reference to any prayer for the dead but messages which the bereaved families could deduced in the funeral service for their own preparation. Thus we could only pray for the family are loved ones the deceased left behind.
As I conclude, I opined that it is an heresy to pray for the dead even with the RIP tradition, because none of our prayers can change the reality awaiting the deceased in the afterlife. If any man failed to be found in the Prince of Peace (Jesus Christ) in this life, no amount of prayers will qualify him when he would not be chanced to make amendment. You can only condole with the family or loved ones left behind and give them word of encouragement base on the promise of the Lord Jesus Christ for those who believes in Him (the Owner of life).
Thank you.

District Superintendent, CAC Peaceland District,  Odi-Olowo D.C.C,  Lagos, Pastor F.A. Oke

What does the Bible say about praying for the dead?

Rest In Peace for the dead:

It's the world system not from the bible. There is no need to respect the dead or say RIP because once man dies his body decomposes similar to animals but his soul faces judgement.
Hebrews 9:27; Isaiah 8:19; Eccl. 9:5; LK 16:19-31; Matthew 25:31-46; E

Question: "What does the Bible say about praying for the dead?"

Praying for the dead is not a biblical concept. Our prayers have no bearing on someone once he or she has died. The reality is that, at the point of death, one’s eternal destiny is confirmed. Either he is saved through faith in Christ and is in heaven where he is experiencing rest and joy in God’s presence, or he is in torment in hell. The story of the rich man and Lazarus the beggar provides us with a vivid illustration of this truth. Jesus plainly used this story to teach that after death the unrighteous are eternally separated from God, that they remember their rejection of the gospel, that they are in torment, and that their condition cannot be remedied (Luke 16:19-31).

Often, people who have lost a loved one are encouraged to pray for those who have passed away and for their families. Of course, we should pray for those grieving, but for the dead, NO!  No one should ever believe that someone may be able to pray for him, thereby effecting some kind of favorable outcome, after he has died. The Bible teaches that the eternal state of mankind is determined by our actions during our lives on earth. “The soul who sins is the one who will die. . . . The righteousness of the righteous man will be credited to him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against him” (Ezekiel 18:20).

The writer to the Hebrews tells us, “Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Here we understand that no change in one’s spiritual condition can be made following his death—either by himself or through the efforts of others. If it is useless to pray for the living, who are committing “a sin that leads to death” (1 John 5:16), i.e., continual sin without seeking God’s forgiveness, how could prayer for those who are already dead benefit them, since there is no post-mortem plan of salvation?

The point is that each of us has but one life, and we are responsible for how we live that life. Others may influence our choices, but ultimately we must give an account for the choices we make. Once life is over, there are no more choices to be made; we have no choice but to face judgment. The prayers of others may express their desires, but they won’t change the outcome. The time to pray for a person is while he or she lives and there is still the possibility of his or her heart, attitudes, and behavior being changed (Romans 2:3-9).

It is natural to have a desire to pray in times of pain, suffering, and loss of loved ones and friends, but we know the boundaries of valid prayer as revealed in the Bible. The Bible is the only official prayer manual, and it teaches that prayers for the dead are futile. Yet we find the practice of praying for the dead observed in certain areas of “Christendom.” Roman Catholic theology, for example, allows for prayers both to the dead and on behalf of them. But even Catholic authorities admit that there is no explicit authorization for prayers on behalf of the dead in the sixty-six books of canonical Scripture. Instead, they appeal to the Apocrypha (2 Maccabees 12:45), church tradition, the decree of the Council of Trent, etc., to defend the practice.

The Bible teaches that those who have yielded to the Savior’s will (Hebrews 5:8-9) enter directly and immediately into the presence of the Lord after death (Luke 23:43; Philippians 1:23; 2 Corinthians 5:6, 8). What need, then, do they have for the prayers of people on the earth? While we sympathize with those who have lost dear ones, we must bear in mind that “now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). While the context refers to the gospel age as a whole, the verse is fitting for any individual who is unprepared to face the inevitable—death and the judgment that follows (Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:26; Hebrews 9:27). Death is final, and after that, no amount of praying will avail a person of the salvation he has rejected in life.

Does the Bible condone praying for the dead?

There are three ways this question usually comes up but two will be discussed. The first is related to the Catholic belief in Purgatory. The second refers to a misunderstanding of Jesus' proclamation in Sheol between His death and resurrection. The third is more personal and more ambiguous.

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that some Christ-followers who have died will spend time in a holding place, Purgatory, before they can enter heaven. These are people who died having committed venial sins that were not sufficiently atoned for. Roman Catholics are encouraged to pray for those in Purgatory so that their suffering will be eased and their time shortened. Since Purgatory does not actually exist, it is foolish to pray for anyone affiliated with it.

The second case is when a believer prays that an unbeliever who has died will accept Christ in the afterlife. Unfortunately, this is not possible. People do not receive a second chance to repent after they have died. If they did, the rich man in Luke 16:19-31 would have asked forgiveness for himself, not his brothers. And Hebrews 9:27 agrees, saying, "just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment." But 1 Peter 3:18-19 adds confusion to the argument. It says that between the crucifixion and the resurrection, Jesus "proclaimed to the spirits in prison." The prison in question is generally regarded to be the holding place for demons who sinned so egregiously God removed them from earth. The word translated "preach" means to herald a message. Jesus announced that He had conquered Satan and his forces, but He did not offer life to people who had already died rejecting Him.

So, the Bible tells us there is no Purgatory and there is no second chance at salvation after death; it follows that it is useless to pray for the dead as related to these topics.


  1. As much as i Love the statement of the pastor that took us through research in the artist let. Kudos to him. Ill like to ask. The phrase "Rest in Peace" is a prayer for the dead or a Statement at the deceased place. Because all prayer is a statement but not all statement are Prayer.

    And again giving A last respect i dont think is wrong. If not we wont even attend d burial ceremony in the first place so its a kind of respect

    Think on this.

  2. Who told you Purgatory does not exist? Do you not know that we must all present ourselves before the Judgment Seat of Christ and have our works tested by fire? Do you not know that whoever's works are burned up shall suffer loss, yet be saved through fire? Do you not know that nothing unclean can enter Heaven? Do you not know that the Jews in Christ's day prayed for the dead, and Christ never spoke against the practice? He was quick to call out error, but He never said anything against praying for the dead.

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