Baptism of the Dead

I Cor. 15:29 - 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?

I.    A false notion of the interpretation of this verse. 

A.     There is a religious group in the United States that believes that salvation is obtainable to people are have already died.  The way salvation is granted unto these dead people is for a living person to be baptized in their place.  This religious group will search diligently through genealogical records to try to put all families together.  They erroneously use this passage out of context to prove their false doctrine that people that are physically dead and buried can be saved and united with their families for all eternity by a living person being baptized for them.

B.     Before a person can believe that a living person can be baptized to bring salvation to a person who is physically dead, they must believe that baptism is able to save.  Baptism doesn’t save.  Jesus saves.  And Jesus keeps all that are saved.  Our sins are washed away by the pure blood of Jesus Christ.  Our sins are not washed away with water.

C.     I have a notion this question is much clearer to the early church and not so clear to us because Paul didn’t explain what he meant.  There is no doubt in my mind that the Corinthian church clearly understood what Paul meant by the baptism of the dead.  There is no record they ever asked a question about the baptism of the dead.  Today, however, many people have changed what baptism represented.  In the days of the New Testament, baptism represented being dead to the world, and alive unto God and His precious promises.  The speech we make at baptism says nothing about being dead to the world.  (Upon your profession of faith in Jesus Christ and by the authority invested in me by Independence Baptist Church, I now baptize you, my {brother or sister} in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.)


II.    The real interpretation of I Cor. 15:29 -

A.     The word dead means: one that has breathed his last, lifeless, deceased, departed, one whose soul is in heaven or hell, destitute of life, without life, inanimate.

B.     The word “dead” has to do with:

1.       Spiritually dead - that is, lost.  (Physically alive.)  (Eph. 2:1 - dead in trespasses and sins.)

2.       Physically dead - that is the body has no life and the spirit doesn’t live there anymore.

3.       Dead to the world - This person is saved, yet they still live in this corrupted body in a corrupted world.

4.       The second death - both spiritually and physically dead - Rev. 20:14 - And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.


III.    Before sin - Gen. 2:17 - Thou shalt surely die.  (spiritual death and physical death)

A.     Man was alive spiritually and physically.

1.       This is not like he is after he's saved for in that day (before sin) Adam had no knowledge or remembrance of any personal sins.

2.       He was not a sinner at all.  He did not have a tendency to sin. He was incapable of any sin except the sin of disobedience to God.

B.     He was alive physically.

1.       Nothing had ever died so Adam had no experimental knowledge of death.

2.       Adam was not facing a physical death. (or any sickness.)

3.       There was no dread or fear upon Adam for any evil thing at all.


IV.    After sin - Adam and Eve are plunged into the great blackness of eternal damnation.  Adam and his wife died spiritually when they disobeyed God, and they will die physically in the process of time.

A.     Spiritually - Eph. 2:1-3 - They are totally dead unto God and cannot understand spiritual things as they did before they sinned.

1.       Rom. 3:10-18 - They do not do good.

2.       Gen. 3:7,8 - They do not seek after God, rather hide from Him.

3.       They do not seek the righteousness of God to cover their sins, but rather sewed fig leaves together for aprons to cover their nakedness.

B.     Physically - Adam and Eve are now sinners continually, because they are dead in trespasses and sins.  They can not do anything right.  Their first sin was the worse sin, causing all the other sins.

1.       Gen. 3:9,10 - They hide from God because of their sins.

2.       Gen. 3:12,13 - They both blamed somebody else for their sins.

3.       Their wickedness would grow worse except for God's intervention.

4.       These sins caused the body to grow old and slowly weaken until death occurs.


V.    At salvation, the believer receives spiritual life, but physically is still under the penalty of death.  Our condition when we are saved.

A.     Spiritually.

1.       We are justified by God so that it appears as if we had never sinned. 

2.       I John 3:9,10 - Our spirits do not sin.

B.     Physically.

1.       Col. 3:1-3 - Set our affections on heavenly things because our life is hid with Christ in God. 

2.       These physical bodies continues to sin and desire to sin, but there is a hatred of sin not formerly experienced. 

3.       Rom. 6:1-18 - Baptism shows we are dead to sin, alive unto God.

4.       Gal. 2:19-21 - Since we are dead, we live by the faith of Jesus Christ.

C.     The Corinthians were scripturally baptized.

1.       The four points of scriptural baptism is:

a.       Proper candidate.

b.       Proper motive.

c.       Proper authority.

d.       Proper method.

2.       The Corinthians were baptized as a proper candidate because they recognized they were dead to Christ in the sins and wickedness of this world, repented by the grace of God, and were granted eternal life. 

3.       After salvation, they are dead to this world, but alive unto God, having the indwelling Holy Spirit and are able to understand spiritual doctrines they could not understand before salvation. 

4.       Baptism shows death to this world, raised to newness of life, and looking forward to the resurrection of the body, when our salvation will be complete.