PRAYER FOR THE DEAD
T. Pierce Brown & Jimmy E. Ashburn
The following questions have been asked. (1) Is it necessary to pray for the dead and offer favorite foods of the dead one? (2) As a Christian are we allowed to eat the food from the offering?
We are only concerned in ourWorldBibleSchoolstudies with giving what the Bible teaches on any subject. The Bible gives no instructions about praying for the dead! All Bible teaching would indicate that when a person dies, his destiny is sealed. Mt.16:27says that we will be rewarded according to our works. Romans 2:6 and 1 Cor. 3:8 teaches the same principle. 2 Cor. 5:10 makes it even clearer that one is to be judged according to the deeds done in the body, not according to what someone may pray about him after he is dead. No one can find in the Bible any hint of “offering favorite foods of the dead one” for whatever purpose that might be done. To whom they would be offered is not made clear, but the Bible makes clear that God neither desires nor accepts that which he has not authorized.
Luke 16:19-31 gives the example of two men who die and discusses their fates. There is no indication that prayer or anything else can alter the fate of either man. In fact, the rich man, who would be desirous of prayer if it were beneficial to the dead, is concerned only for his living relatives. I believe that is because he realized that his fate was already sealed and that his relatives were headed for the same fate. So, his concern was for those who could be helped (the living).
Regarding the second question, a Christian is allowed to eat any kind of food he pleases, as long as it is not done in a context that would cause a weak brother to stumble. If one is concerned about a Bible answer to this question, a careful reading of 1 Cor. 8:4-12 should answer that question. One is even allowed to eat meat that is offered to an idol. But, if he does so in such a situation and it leads someone to think he is involved in paying homage to an idol, or that he believes in such, he sins against God. He also sins if he causes a weak brother who does not know any better to stumble. This is the reason Acts15:29says to abstain from such.