I want to know about 1 corinthians 15:29

No thanks

Hi @antar, thanks for the question.

1 Cor 15:29 is obscure in that it says:

Otherwise what will they do who are being baptised for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, then why are people baptised for them?

Does your comment means that you don’t agree with baptism for the dead? I also wouldn’t agree with baptism for the dead but it’s helpful to consider why it’s not a biblical practice because some groups, like Mormons, use this verse to support the practice of baptism for the dead. My Apologetics Bible notes on this topic says:

they (Mormons) also believe that the dead have additional opportunities for accepting the message of Mormonism and, because baptism is necessary for salvation, living persons are baptised for and on behalf of the deceased in order that the deceased may accept or reject that baptism in the afterlife. Interestingly, this verse does not show Paul practicing, condoning, or commanding baptism for the dead. In fact, he distanced himself from those who are involved in this practice by using words like “they” and “people” rather than “I” or “we”.

Other reasons to not think Paul was suggesting baptism for the dead should be practised:

  • there are no parallel references in the New Testament to clarify it.
  • the context of this passage shows that Paul was in some sort of danger (verse 30), that he faced death every day (verse 31), and metaphorically fought wild beasts in Ephesus (verse 32) showing that apostolic life was high risk. Scholars think that perhaps some believers in Corinth had lost their lives under persecution prior to being baptised so as a one-off, others had been baptised in their place perhaps for pastoral reasons in order to maintain the significance of baptism for all believers. It was not meant to indicate this pattern should be repeated as common practice.
  • the main gist of this passage suggests that Paul was saying baptism of the dead did not make sense where the resurrection of the dead was doubted.
  • the whole first letter to the Corinthians is about Paul correcting erroneous beliefs and practices that had sprung up in the Corinthian church and this is likely another one.
3 Likes

Hi @antar,

As @alison notes, this passage is quite obscure.

I admit I’ve often skipped over this verse because it confuses me, too!

I spent significant time this morning reading through Thiselton’s discussion of this verse in The New International Greek Testament Commentary Series. He discusses this verse over the course of about ten pages, reviewing dozens of interpretations that have been proposed throughout church history.

His preferred interpretation, which was entirely new to me, makes incredible sense. He’s in agreement with how G.G. Findlay understood the verse. Here’s the quote from Findlay:

Paul is referring rather to a much commoner, indeed a normal experience, that the death of Christians leads to the conversion of survivors, who in the first instance ‘for the sake of the dead’ (their beloved dead) and in the hope of reunion, turn to Christ — e.g., when a dying mother wins her son by the appeal ‘Meet me in heaven!’ Such appeals, and their frequent salutary effect, give strong and touching evidence of faith in the resurrection.’

Paul is saying, look, when Christians are dying, they are appealing to their family and friends to trust in Jesus and get baptized. When people respond to this appeal with faith and then get baptized as an act of obedience, they do so in the hope that trusting in Christ means that after death, they will be reunited with their loved ones.

Within the context of Paul’s argument, this interpretation fits in nicely.

First, it means that Paul is referring to a normal human experience. The idea of people getting baptized in the place of those who are already dead is quite strange.

Second, it helps Paul’s argument that baptism indicates that we hope, like Christ was, to be raised to new life after death.

Third, it shows those in Corinth who don’t believe in a resurrection from the dead what they are missing out on. The Christian witness to unbelievers is leading even them to trust in Christ, join the church, and get baptized. How much more important is it for Christians in the church to understand the promise of the resurrection?

I look forward to any reply from you or others with other reflections on this passage.

2 Likes

This makes so much sense! Its the best interpretation I have ever heard on this verse. I have looked into this verse several times before but this interpretation is more satisfying.

2 Likes