What is baptism of the dead?

Watch the complete sermon here: https://www.bridges.church/messages/the-risen-christ/

Hey, thanks again for sending in questions related to our recent sermons. This last Sunday, of course, we celebrated Easter and the resurrection. We studied what Paul wrote about the resurrection in the 15th chapter of his letter to the Corinthians. And while we didn’t cover this verse in the sermon, there is a mention in one Corinthians 15 that is very peculiar. Verse 29, Paul makes reference to baptizing of the dead, and he says, why do you do this if Christ isn’t raised, if there isn’t going to be a resurrection of the dead?

So the question this week is, what is baptism of the dead? And very simply, nobody knows. So thanks for the question, and we will see you next time. No, I’m just kidding. It is true that nobody knows what in the world that is.

Much ink has been spilled, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t make some observations about why Paul brought it up. Paul’s using this as a rhetorical device to prove that the dead are resurrected. The Corinthians, apparently there was some kind of belief that Christ had rose in bodily form, you know, the first fruits, like we talked about, but they thought that was it, or some of the people in the church thought that was it. Everybody else, you know, doesn’t have a physical resurrection. You just have just, your soul goes to heaven and you live in a spiritual kind of existence forever.

And Paul’s like, no, if Christ is raised, that means there is a resurrection of the dead. Daniel Twelve, like we talked about in the sermon, will happen out there in the future. Everybody else will be raised. You can’t have Christ raised without everybody else raised. If not everybody else is raised, then Christ is not raised.

And he points out an inconsistency in their practice. He says, if there is no resurrection of the dead, then why are you doing this thing that we don’t know what it is? Baptism of the dead. He’s showing them their inconsistency. What they’re doing makes no sense unless there is a resurrection of the dead at the end of time.

And so while we don’t know precisely what it is they were doing, we do know why Paul uses it as a rhetorical device. He’s using their own practices against them to prove to them correct theology. That doesn’t mean that we should be baptizing the dead. We don’t even know what it is, so how could we practice it? It doesn’t mean it was right or wrong to do whatever it is they were doing.

Paul does not speak on that. All we know is he was using this practice as a rhetorical device to prove to them that there really will be a resurrection of the dead at the end of time. So that’s all we can say. Do thanks for the question and for this time, for real. See you next time.