Baptized for the Dead 1 Cor. 15::29 CLICK TITLE OR AUDIO
In 1 Cor. 15:29, “baptized for the dead” is the water baptism of saved people who are “dead with Christ” and who will be raised “like as Christ was raised up from the dead.”
This verse of scripture has been a real problem for some scholars. As a matter of fact, it is the “proof” text for the Mormon Church’s practice of “vicarious baptism.” Mormons hold the doctrine that dead people can receive Jesus Christ in the spirit world and that someone alive on earth can be baptized for them even though they are dead. Through this “vicarious” baptism, the dead person can obtain eternal life. Is that wild, or what?
That’s the fallacy of taking one verse of scripture out of context and building a whole system of doctrine on that one verse. For one thing, there is no truth to the belief that water baptism is essential for salvation. And for another thing, there is no evidence whatsoever that anyone can receive water baptism in the place of another person.
If you know anyone stuck in the Mormon religion, they believe that they must be baptized in water to be saved and they believe that they can be baptized for a dead person and save that dead person’s soul. Don’t take these bicycle riding “missionaries” seriously. They are terribly deceived.
The whole context of 1 Cor. 15 is the visible, literal, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead and the eventual resurrection of our bodies from the dead. Paul deals thoroughly with the evidence of these resurrections:
- The evidence of the scriptures – v. 1-4, Christ arose according to the scriptures.
- The evidence of the eyewitnesses – v. 5-8, there were more than 500.
- The evidence of the preachers – v. 8-12, they preached the death, burial and resurrection.
- The evidence of our salvation – v. 13-19, you’re still lost if Christ didn’t rise.
- The evidence of prophecy – v. 20-28, we will rise and death will be destroyed.
- The evidence of baptism – v. 29, you are raised out of the water after you are immersed.
- The evidence of persecution – v. 30-34, the apostles took a beating for what they believed and preached.
- The evidence of nature – v. 35-49, seed is sown in one body and comes up in another.
Paul shows us, following all of this evidence, that our mortal and corruptible bodies will be changed to match Jesus’ immortal and incorruptible body when we are raised literally, visibly and bodily at the rapture.
Therefore, verse 29, stuck in the middle of this entire chapter on the resurrection, is simply one of the “proofs” that Paul uses to demonstrate the literal resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Here’s how you can tell. When you got saved, you were baptized by the Holy Spirit into the death of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 12:13, Rom. 6:3). You were doctrinally pronounced dead by God, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin,” (Rom. 6:6-7).
And, since Christ arose after his death and burial, you will rise, as well, “For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection. Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him,” (Rom 6:5, 8).
Consequently, when you were baptized in water after you received Jesus, you were lowered into the water to picture your death and burial with Christ. Then you were subsequently raised up out of the water to picture your resurrection with Christ from the dead.
Hence, Paul asks, “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all?” Can you answer that question now? The answer is that if “the dead rise not at all” the preacher should hold the guy in the baptistery under water until he drowns, because he’s never coming up!!
Paul’s second question is easy to answer, too. “Why are they then baptized for the dead?” There’s absolutely no reason for water baptism following salvation if there is no literal, visible, bodily resurrection. The whole operation is utterly meaningless.
Hope this helps,
Pastor Bevans Welder