Baptized for the Dead?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

 

Mike,

What did Paul mean by this very puzzling statement?

1Co 15:29-30 Else what shall they do that are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them? Why do we also stand in jeopardy every hour?

God has truly revealed so much truth to me through 1 Corinthians 15:22-28, yet when I get to verse 29, I’m immediately confused. What did Paul mean by this? I have learned that true baptism is dying to self in Christ and walking in newness of the life of Christ (I hope I got that right) – regardless, I know the spiritual truth of baptism is not about water.

I would appreciate your inputs. Thanks.

Your brother,

S____

Hi S____,

Thank you for your question about this verse of scripture.

You ask:

What did Paul mean by this very puzzling statement?

1Co 15:29 Else what shall they do that are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?
1Co 15:30 Why do we also stand in jeopardy every hour?

Christ and His apostles used the word ‘dead’ in a far more inclusive way than our natural man does or the society of our natural man.

Here is who Christ and Paul include when they are speaking of “the dead”:

Mat 8:21 And another of the disciples said unto him, Lord, suffer me first to go and bury my father.
Mat 8:22 But Jesus saith unto him, Follow me; and leave the dead to bury their own dead. (ASV)

That is “the dead” being spoken of when the apostle Paul poses the question:

1Co 15:29 Else what shall they do that are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?
1Co 15:30 Why do we also stand in jeopardy every hour?

“The dead” means for the person being baptized. It is not referring to someone who has already died. Paul was simply posing the question ‘Why be baptized for the hope of the dead if the dead rise not at all?’ It is the apostle Paul himself who uses the phrase ‘the dead’ in this way, and it is he who tells us that the cleansing of baptism is accomplished, not by literal water, but “by the Word”.

1Ti 5:6 But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.

Eph 2:1 And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins;

Eph 2:5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)

Col 2:13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;

Eph 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it [His church] with the washing of water by the word,

The words ‘they’ and ‘them’ are not in the Greek in 1Co 15:29. So the question Paul is actually posing is ‘What shall they do that are baptized for the hope of the dead?’ Notice carefully the words which are inserted in 1Co 15:29 when we display Strong’s numbers:

1Co 15:29 ElseG1893 whatG5101 shall they doG4160 which are baptizedG907 forG5228 theG3588 dead,G3498 ifG1487 the deadG3498 riseG1453 notG3756 at all?G3654 whyG5101 are they thenG2532 baptizedG907 forG5228 theG3588 dead?G3498

The words in the King James Version, “are they then”, are all taken from one Greek word, ‘kai’, to which Strong has assigned the number G2532. That Greek word ‘kai’ should have been translated with the single English word ‘then’ instead of the English phrase, “are they then”.

Here is another verse with that same Greek word, ‘kai, G2532’:

Mat 16:22 ThenG2532 PeterG4074 tookG4355 him,G846 and beganG756 to rebukeG2008 him,G846 saying,G3004 Be it farG2436 from thee,G4671 Lord:G2962 thisG5124 shall notG3364 beG2071 unto thee.G4671

“Then G2532 Peter…”. Why is this not translated as “are they then” as in 1Co 15:29? A better question is why are the words “are they” inserted in 1Co 15:29?

I do not know what version you are using, but the words ‘they’ and ‘them’ are not in the Greek, and Paul certainly was not referring to being baptized for people who had already died.

On the other hand, it is not adding one word to the question Paul is posing here to translate this verse as asking ‘why then be baptized for the hope of the dead if the dead rise not at all?’ That is the thought found in all of these verses:

Rom 5:2 By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Rom 8:24 For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?

Gal 5:5 For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

Eph 1:18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,

Eph 4:4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling;

Col 1:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

Tit 1:2 In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began;

Tit 3:7 That being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

It is not adding to the word of God to insert the words ‘hope of’ to that verse, rather than inserting the words “are they”. The words “hope of” clarifies the point being made, and aligns that verse with “the sum of God’s word” instead of muddying the waters and giving rise to the false unscriptural doctrine of being baptized for the dead. This gross mistranslation serves to demonstrate the importance of the principle found in this verse of God’s Word:

Psa 119:160 The sum of thy word is truth; And every one of thy righteous ordinances endureth for ever. [“Sum”, not ‘some’] (ASV)

Your brother in Christ,

Mike

Other related posts