1 Corinthians 15:29
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
Otherwise, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why then are they baptized for them?

King James Bible
Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

Darby Bible Translation
Since what shall the baptised for the dead do if those that are dead rise not at all? why also are they baptised for them?

World English Bible
Or else what will they do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead aren't raised at all, why then are they baptized for the dead?

Young's Literal Translation
Seeing what shall they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? why also are they baptized for the dead?

1 Corinthians 15:29 Parallel
Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Else what shall they do ... - The apostle here resumes the argument for the resurrection which was interrupted at 1 Corinthians 15:19. He goes on to state further consequences which must follow from the denial of this doctrine, and thence infers that the doctrine must be true. There is, perhaps, no passage of the New Testament in respect to which there has been a greater variety of interpretation than this; and the views of expositors now by no means harmonize in regard to its meaning. It is possible that Paul may here refer to some practice or custom which existed in his time respecting baptism, the knowledge of which is now lost. The various opinions which have been entertained in regard to this passage, together with an examination of them, may be seen in Pool's Synopsis, Rosenmuller, and Bloomfield. It may be not useless just to refer to some of them, that the perplexity of commentators may be seen:

(1) It has been held by some that by "the dead" here is meant the Messiah who was put to death, the plural being used for the singular, meaning "the dead one."

(2) by others, that the word "baptized" here is taken in the sense of washing, cleansing, purifying, as in Matthew 8:4; Hebrews 9:10; and that the sense is, that the dead were carefully washed and purified when buried, with the hope of the resurrection, and, as it were, preparatory to that.

(3) by others, that to be "baptized for the dead" means to be baptized as dead, being baptized into Christ, and buried with him in baptism, and that by their immersion they were regarded as dead.

(4) by others, that the apostle refers to a custom of vicarious baptism, or being baptized for those who were dead, referring to the practice of having some person baptized in the place of one who had died without baptism. This was the opinion of Grotius, Michaelis, Tertullian, and Ambrose. Such was the estimate which was formed, it is supposed, of the importance of baptism, that when one had died without being baptized, some other person was baptized over his dead body in his place. That this custom prevailed in the church after the time of Paul, has been abundantly proved by Grotius, and is generally admitted. But the objections to this interpretation are obvious:

(a) There is no evidence that such a custom prevailed in the time of Paul.

(b) It cannot be believed that Paul would give countenance to a custom so senseless and so contrary to the Scripture, or that he would make it the foundation of a solemn argument.

(c) It does not accord with the strain and purpose of his argument. If this custom had been referred to, his design would have led him to say, "What will become of them for whom others have been baptized? Are we to believe that they have perished?"

(d) It is far more probable that the custom referred to in this opinion arose from an erroneous interpretation of this passage of Scripture, than that it existed in the time of Paul.

(5) there remain two other opinions, both of which are plausible, and one of which is probably the true one. One is, that the word baptized is used here as it is in Matthew 20:22-23; Mark 10:39; Luke 12:50, in the sense of being overwhelmed with calamities, trials, and sufferings; and as meaning that the apostles and others were subjected to great trials on account of the dead, that is, in the hope of the resurrection; or with the expectation that the dead would rise. This is the opinion of Lightfoot, Rosenmuller, Pearce, Homberg, Krause, and of Prof. Robinson (see the Lexicon article Βαπτίζω Baptizō), and has much that is plausible. That the word is thus used to denote a deep sinking into calamities, there can be no doubt. And that the apostles and early Christians subjected themselves, or were subjected to great and overwhelming calamities on account of the hope of the resurrection, is equally clear. This interpretation, also, agrees with the general tenor of the argument; and is an argument for the resurrection. And it implies that this was the full and constant belief of all who endured these trials, that there would be a resurrection of the dead. The argument would be, that they should be slow to adopt an opinion which would imply that all their sufferings were endured for nothing, and that God had supported them in this in vain; that God had plunged them into all these sorrows, and had sustained them in them only to disappoint them. That this view is plausible, and that it suits the strain of remark in the following verses, is evident. But there are objections to it:

(a) It is not the usual and natural meaning of the word "baptize."

(b) A metaphorical use of a word should not be resorted to unless necessary.

(c) The literal meaning of the word here will as well meet the design of the apostle as the metaphorical.

(d) This interpretation does not relieve us from any of the difficulties in regard to the phrase "for the dead;" and,

continued...

1 Corinthians 15:29 Parallel Commentaries

Library
Fourth Sunday after Easter
Text: First Corinthians 15, 35-50. 35 But some one will say, How are the dead raised? and with what manner of body do they come? 36 Thou foolish one, that which thou thyself sowest is not quickened except it die: 37 and that which thou sowest, thou sowest not the body that shall be, but a bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other kind; 38 but God giveth it a body even as it pleased him, and to each seed a body of its own. 39 All flesh is not the same flesh; but there is one flesh of men,
Martin Luther—Epistle Sermons, Vol. II

Small Duties and the Great Hope
'But as touching brotherly love, ye need not that I write unto you; for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another. 10. And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; 11. And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; 12. That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing. 13. But I would not have
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture

The Death of Death
'But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first-fruits of them that slept. 21. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.... 50. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption. 51. Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, 52. In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump, (for the trumpet shall sound;) and the dead shall
Alexander Maclaren—Romans, Corinthians (To II Corinthians, Chap. V)

The Power of the Resurrection
'I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; 4. And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.'--1 COR. xv. 3, 4. Christmas day is probably not the true anniversary of the Nativity, but Easter is certainly that of the Resurrection. The season is appropriate. In the climate of Palestine the first fruits of the harvest were ready at the Passover for presentation in the Temple.
Alexander Maclaren—Romans, Corinthians (To II Corinthians, Chap. V)

Cross References
Matthew 3:6
and they were being baptized by him in the Jordan River, as they confessed their sins.

1 Corinthians 15:28
When all things are subjected to Him, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all.

1 Corinthians 15:30
Why are we also in danger every hour?

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