Crisis at Corinth over Resurrection & Baptism for the Dead

Pod Prep 11-25-16
Crisis at Corinth, False Doctrines


Paul tells them they are to be criticized for allowing such a bogus doctrine (There is no resurrection of the dead) to even be considered. This entire discussion is in the resurrection chapter I Cor. 15. Paul writes in I Cor. 15:12 if Christ is risen then how can you even consider a teaching that there is no resurrection? How can you allow it! He explains that if no resurrection exists, then all is lost, see vs. 13 and 17.

Why The Odd Doctrine Of Baptizing For The Dead?

Peter describes the inspired wisdom of the Apostle Paul and how in all his epistles he writes some things that are hard to understand. Peter then describes why some misunderstand Paul. They are unlearned and unstable in their understanding of scriptures which, at this point would have consisted of only the Old Testament. Many were unstable in the young Corinthian Church and some people are still scripturally unstable in our day. Note II Peter 3:15-16.
We will look at one verse that is easily misunderstood because it is hard to understand. I Cor. 15:29. You can easily misunderstand this verse to say that Paul is encouraging them to get baptized for the dead. Some believe that they can be baptized for their unsaved, deceased relatives and friends and achieve salvation for them. Some focus on family trees and genealogy to facilitate this doctrine of baptizing for their dead ancestors.


The Bible is best revealed to us if we keep two principles upper most in our minds.
1. First as in any text, understand the meaning of the overall context. What is the basic message of this text? One particular sentence should not override or contradict the entire meaning of that section or chapter of the text. This is not a logical way to write any epistle. It is probable that we misunderstand the verse that seems contradictory. God is a God of order not contradictions.
2. No small part of the Bible will undercut or contradict the plain, obvious doctrines of the Bible when correctly understood. The clear portions and well established doctrines are not contradicted by one, vague or confusing verse. We must assume that we are not clearly reading and interpreting the verse. This is most likely because of a lack of background knowledge on how they used the language and or a poor translation of it.
The most logical meaning of vs 29 is ‘What should they do which are baptized for the HOPE of the dead if the dead rise not at all’. He then is says that if no resurrection, why bother with all our work. See vs 30-32. Further note Col 3:1-4.
Think about the ramifications of believing we can save relatives that are passed away by our getting baptized for them. They have not repented or developed a relationship with Christ in which he helps them to overcome. God will give everyone a chance for salvation in the final day of judgement the great white throne period. Note Rev 20:11-12. The world does not know that this is not the only period for salvation and that God is NOT calling everyone now. Thereby they are vulnerable to these false ideas. If a person cannot save himself without Christ he surely cannot save others. See Eph. 2:8. And note Phil 2:12. Jesus saves us but we have our part to play in the relationship. See Matt 7:23 and 25:13. Each person must develop a personal faith and relationship with Christ themselves.
Paul could also be referring to deceased church members that were baptized and whose testimony was persuasive in leading others to salvation. Paul is asking why they bothered to do all that they did and get baptized, if there is no resurrection. History tells of Christians that died so bravely that they converted others. We brethren hope to be with God and Christ in the next moment of our consciousness so death’s hold on us is not so frightening. Christians also will help the dead when we are in the Kingdom so get baptized.


Some Corinthians doubted the nature and power of the resurrection. It is like becoming Superman but with a spiritual mind and body. One is indestructible. See I Cor. 15:52-54. All this happens at the Last Trump announcing the conquering return of Jesus the Messiah. Baptism is necessary first for one to be resurrected. Thus Paul is showing the importance of baptism and the resurrection. The resurrection and our conversion and baptism leads to glory forever.

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