“Otherwise, what will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?” 1 Corinthians 15:29.
So what does “baptism for the dead” mean?
What do you do when you run into a verse that is somewhat obscure?
Here are three things that can help…
- Look at the context of the passage.
- Look at key words in the verse and study their meaning throughout the Bible.
- List possible meanings and, asking for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, select the one that fits best with the context and key words.
In this passage (1 Corinthians 15) Paul is making the point that Jesus Christ really did rise from the dead and because of this fact He will raise from the dead those who die in Him when He returns at His Second Coming.
Here are some possible meanings of this verse.
- Baptism on behalf of the dead.
- Baptism because you were once spiritually dead.
- Baptism so you can be reunited with those who died in Christ when He returns.
- Other possible meanings?
By looking at the context of the passage and the key words in the verse it appears that the third meaning above makes the most sense. Paul is saying that Jesus Christ really did rise from the dead. When He comes again He raises from the sleep of death those who trusted Him at their death and gives them the gift of immortality. If Jesus didn’t really rise from the dead then everything is lost and it would make no sense to be baptized in the hope of being reunited with those who have died in Christ.
The second option is a possibility. But the first option doesn’t fit the context and is contrary to what the Bible teaches about both baptism (you can only decide for yourself to be baptized) and death (the dead don’t know anything and once a person is dead their eternal destiny has already been determined).
The great hope of every believer is the return of Jesus, which will be an incredible day of resurrection, reunion and rejoicing!
If you haven’t been baptized by your own choice but you…
- love Jesus with all your heart
- want to walk in obedience to all Bible truth
- want to unite with His final movement
- want be ready to be reunited with your loved ones who have died in Him when Jesus returns, now is the time to make that decision. Here’s what to do next.