Being Baptized For The Dead

“What will they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? Why then are they baptized for the dead?” (I Corinthians 15: 29)
A misunderstanding of this verse has lead to unbiblical practices. Some individuals have themselves baptized on behalf of a deceased person as a proxy for the dead person. Those who do believe baptism to be an essential part of salvation. They obviously also believe a person can be redeemed and released from an intermediate state and enter heaven some time after their death. Neither of these concepts is supported by scripture.

The key to understanding the verse is the little word “for.” It is used in the English text to translate the Greek word huper which can be interpreted “concerning,” or “with reference to.” It does not refer to surrogate baptism meaning “for the benefit of the dead.” When it is so translated it means some individuals are saved as a consequence of the faith and testimony of persons now dead. However, because of the witness of the deceased in his or her lifetime the person still living trust Christ and is baptized. The faithful witness of the one now dead is the causative factor resulting in the living person being saved and baptized.

In context the resurrection is the topic. If there is no resurrection of what value is a profession of faith and baptism?

The resurrection having been shown to be a reality it makes obedience to Christ all the more expedient