Baptism of the Dead

(Corey Alan Patterson) #1

I have a mormon friend using 1st Corinthians 15:29 to justify his practice of baptism for the dead. Im wondering the context of this one verse- i cant make any sense of it reading the chapter in context.

(SeanO) #2

@Corey The NET Bible notes point out that there are over 200 interpretations of what ‘baptism for the dead’ could have meant, but most likely believers were being baptized as evidence of the faith of other believers who died before having the chance to be baptized. Paul’s point was not to endorse baptism for the dead, but rather to say this: “If you guys don’t believe in a resurrection, why are you baptized for the dead? Why are we tortured and thrown to wild animals? If there is no resurrection let’s just party until we die. But there is a resurrection! Christ was raised and we will all be raised with Him! So stop being ignorant and children of darkness - walk in the light of the risen Jesus!”

Let’s look at Paul’s argument in I Cor 15:

  • how can some of you say there is no resurrection? (15:12)
  • if that is true, then have no hope and even Christ has not been raised - we are hopeless (15:13-19)
  • Christ has indeed been resurrect and by Him we will all experience resurrection in glory (15:20-28)
  • if there is no resurrection, why do you guys baptize the dead and why are we, the apostles, getting persecuted every day to share our faith? I even fought wild beasts in Ephesus - I better have a hope of resurrection!

Paul’s point in referencing baptism for the dead is to convince the Corinthians that they already believe in the resurrection and their actions - baptizing the dead - prove it - along with the apostles’ own persecutions. It is not an endorsement of the practice itself.

I Cor 15:29 - Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?

Hope that is helpful - feel free to ask further questions :slight_smile:

Many suggestions have been offered for the puzzling expression baptized for the dead . There are up to 200 different explanations for the passage; a summary is given by K. C. Thompson, “[I Corinthians 15](javascript:{}),29 and Baptism for the Dead,” Studia Evangelica 2.1 (TU 87), 647-59. The most likely interpretation is that some Corinthians had undergone baptism to bear witness to the faith of fellow believers who had died without experiencing that rite themselves. Paul’s reference to the practice here is neither a recommendation nor a condemnation. He simply uses it as evidence from the lives of the Corinthians themselves to bolster his larger argument, begun in 15:12, that resurrection from the dead is a present reality in Christ and a future reality for them. Whatever they may have proclaimed, the Corinthians’ actions demonstrated that they had hope for a bodily resurrection. NET Bible

(christopher van zyl) #3

@Corey I’ve always wondered about this. The church I grew up in used this verse as evidence for salvation after death. They wouldn’t only be baptized, but the priests would take communion AND be baptized on behalf of the (unbelieving) dead, so that they may have salvation.

So what a great question. And a very informative response @SeanO. That was probably the answer I have been looking for for years now but haven’t been able to understand, yet with the way you layed it out, it made perfect sense to me. So thank you.

(Corey Alan Patterson) #4

I’m truly greatful for your response and I’m more grateful that the living God enlightens the eyes of our heart so that we may seek truth, find answers and have a hunger for righteousness. I do hope to better understand what was written thousands of years ago.

In Christ’s love. Thank you

(SeanO) #5

@c3vanzyl Glad it was helpful :slight_smile: I’m always grateful for the faithful saints that spend their lives studying the Bible and then provide us with these wonderful resources so that we can understand God’s Word better.

(SeanO) #6

@Corey Praise Jesus! Yes, He is faithful to give wisdom to those who ask.