JohnSWilson3 Blog

“…baptized for the dead?”
February 6, 2011, 2:04 pm
Filed under: J First Letter to the Corinthians

This is an amazing verse by Paul to the church in Corinth because just reading the verse makes you wonder what he was talking about since it grammatically is difficult to understand (not that others have difficulty understanding my grammar, lol). The passage is: “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?” Here are my thoughts that I shared with a sister on facebook who was trying to find out about what others thought it meant:

it is a confusing passage like many have stated already as any reading of it shows, in it’s context Paul is arguing that “Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?” 1 Cor. 15:29 then has something to do with a practice of the church and his argument and then in verse 30 and continuing Paul points to his own practice of why they endanger themselves for the gospel. It is my opinion it has something to do with why we practice baptism, it being an example that shows that in Christ our flesh is dead and that we are now alive in Christ, and in fact is our life.

David E. Garland in his commentary (1) on the subject provides many views that some have taken and believes the more biblical view, versus a magical rite, is that the term dead refers to “a metaphor for the condition of believers who receive baptism. The recipients are, in effect, dead bodies when they are baptized. “On behalf of the dead” refers to not a third party but “those who are being baptized.” A paraphrase he gives is: “Otherwise what do those hope to achieve who are baptized for their dying bodies? If completely dead are not raised, why then are they baptized for themselves as corpses?” Think this makes sense. “Baptism assumes death and resurrection. If there is no resurrection of the dead, then baptism becomes a pointless rite that falsely represents something that will not happen. The dead will not rise.”

Think this offers the most reasonable interpretation.

(1) David E. Garland, Baker Exegetical Commentary On The New Testament: 1 Corinthians, Baker Academic: Grand Rapids, 716-719.

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