Did Paul allow people to be baptized on behalf of the dead? My answer is no.

1 corinthians 15 29-34

Whole books have been written on verse 29.  The reason being is that is Paul talking about baptism on behalf of the dead.   I will go into these arguments in more detail, but I think this is a problem that is grammatically easy to resolve. The little word Otherwise is seriously important, and my argument is that Paul switches back to those who don’t believe in the resurrection.  Let us follow the logic

Verses 12 – 20 is about those who don’t believe in the resurrection.

Verses 21 – 28 is about those who believe in the resurrection.

Verse 29 switches topic again to those who don’t believe in the resurrection.

That word otherwise is my paraphrase interpretation rather than translation.

From the point of view of those who don’t believe in the resurrection is there any real point to be baptized on behalf of a dead person.  Then verse 30 He switches back to the 1st person plural pronoun we. Let us be clear from this vantage point the argument continues for the resurrection.  This section is pure ethics.  The Apostles ‘we’ are in danger of dying on a daily basis. This was not a problem for Paul because he has the hope of the resurrection.

29 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? 30 Why are we also in danger every hour? 31 I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily. 32 If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, LET US EAT AND DRINK, FOR TOMORROW WE DIE. 33  Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.” 34  Become sober-minded as you ought, and stop sinning; for some have no knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame. 1 Corinthians 15:29-34 NASB

Verse 29

Did Paul allow people to be baptized on behalf of the dead? My answer is no he didn’t.  Having said that though whole books have been written on this verse.    I will first give my view on this first.  Paul is writing in the third person plural.  No where in the verse or before or after the verse did Paul ever say that he agreed with baptism of the dead.   I have to admit though I think that there were Pagan traditions that obviously did believe and do this sort of thing somehow.  Halfway through this section Paul does mention human motives.  So, he is questioning things.  So, to get the meaning could I read … What are the human motives of those who are baptized on behalf of the dead?  What is the motives behind us as Apostles putting our lives in danger?  From Paul’s point of view Paul in Jesus Christ ‘dies daily’ for his beliefs and this is an affirmation.  In verse 32 Paul goes into uncertainties about people’s motives for what they do.  I don’t actually think he fought with wild beasts although it was a Roman thing to see at the gladiator’s ring.  There probably were gladiators that were just down the road from where he stayed because Corinth was a popular Roman resort where lots of soldiers would have retired to.  He goes on to quote, “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die!” Even more uncertainties going on.  Then Paul lets rip and gives the readers a good telling off! (in love) It seems to be the case that some of these believers may have got mixed up with the wrong crowd and were doubting the resurrection of the dead; People mythologizing and who did not know what they were talking about.  I think we see a battle of spiritual ideas going on here.  Christianity being at the forefront of a battle with Paganism. 

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