“..baptized for the dead?”
“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?”- 1 Corinthians 15:29
There were some confused Christians at Corinth. Some had been led to believe that there was no resurrection of the dead. Many arguments the apostle places before them, showing not only the infallible proofs of His resurrection, but also what it would mean to them if Jesus had not risen. He tells them that preaching would be in vain if Christ is not risen, for what hope is there in a dead king. He reminds them that their faith would be in vain for who could trust the promises of one who claimed to be the Son of God and was now dead. Yes, even the apostles themselves would be found liars for they made the same claims of Christ. Every hope, every promise, every claim of the Christian hinges on the undisputable fact that Jesus conquered death and lives today in the light that no man can approach!
Concerning the ordinance of baptism, there was yet another problem if their error were true. Why baptize in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost if the Son is dead? If the dead do not rise, as some of you are saying, why are your people baptized for Christ if you think He is dead? Since they had all been baptized, this question, undoubtedly, made them stop and think about the purpose of baptism. Baptism is a figure, a picture of the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. When the candidate is laid over into the water, this pictures our Lord’s death as he was taken down from the cross; when they are placed under the water, it represents His burial in the tomb; and when the candidate is brought out of the water, it is a figure of our Lord’s glorious resurrection from the grave. Paul’s question to the confused Corinthians was not only practical, but logical. If Jesus did not rise from the grave, the ordinance of baptism, which they had all observed, was of no use, meaningless.
Today, there are those who refer to themselves as the latter day saints who perform proxy baptisms for their dead relatives. They have taken this scripture out of context and attributed something to an ordinance which was never intended. Yet, we must know, that the true latter day saints believe the same thing about this ordinance as the former day saints: it is the answer of a good conscience towards God, which answer can only be given by that person alone and not by proxy. What ordinance can give life?-Neil Phelan, Jr., Pastor, Harmony Primitive Baptist Church