What does RIP mean? In Latin, it stands for Requiescat in Pace, or in English, “Rest in peace.” The phrase was engraved on most tombstones during the 18th century, used prominently by the Roman Catholic church, but also by Anglicans, Lutherans, and Methodists.
However, you can go all the way back to the second century and find some variation of the phrase. Early Christian graves have been found to contain the inscription Dormit in pace, meaning, “He sleeps in peace.” In today’s popular culture, RIP has become a platitude statement of farewell for one who has died.
Given its association with Catholic tradition and its usage in secular culture, some have argued Christians shouldn’t say “rest in peace.” But there’s no harm in it. One might use it as an open door to share the gospel. Peace for the dead is only for those who died in faith, knowing Christ the Lord. Romans 5:1 says “Justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
For those who died without faith in Jesus, there is no peace, no forgiveness for their sins, but the wrath of God remains on them. Isaiah 57:21 says, “There is no peace for the wicked.” Romans 2:6 says God will render to each one according to his own works. Hebrews 9:27 says, “It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment.”
You have this moment to repent of your sins and put faith in Christ. He is our rest and our peace, now and forever, when we understand the text.
“And I heard a voice from heaven saying, ‘Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.’ ‘Blessed indeed,’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!'” Revelation 14:13