1 Corinthians 15:29 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 15:29, NIV: Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?

1 Corinthians 15:29, ESV: Otherwise, what do people mean by being baptized on behalf of the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized on their behalf?

1 Corinthians 15:29, KJV: 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, NASB: For 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?

1 Corinthians 15:29, NLT: If the dead will not be raised, what point is there in people being baptized for those who are dead? Why do it unless the dead will someday rise again?

1 Corinthians 15:29, CSB: Otherwise what will they do who are being baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, then why are people baptized for them?

What does 1 Corinthians 15:29 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Having concluded an aside about the order and purpose of the end times, Paul now returns to making his initial point. The case he is proving is that Christians will be physically resurrected in the end times, just as Christ was resurrected physically after the crucifixion.

This verse has been interpreted in varying ways by different scholars. The best reading seems to be that Paul is describing the practice of people who do not agree with regular Christian teaching. In that interpretation, his point is to show a disconnect in their thinking: "Why do some people get baptized on behalf of the dead if the dead will never be resurrected?" Apparently, these people believed both that the dead would only ever remain in spirit form and that being baptized on their behalf would help them somehow.

Crucial to interpreting this verse is that Paul is posing this group as an "other:" those who don't follow his teaching, reasoning, or instruction. He uses the Greek term literally meaning "those who" baptize for the dead, rather than his usual terms of "us," or "we." Nothing in any of Paul's writings, or elsewhere in the Bible, suggests there is value in being baptized on behalf of another person, living or dead. The New Testament is clear that individuals are responsible to God for their own sin and their own personal faith in Christ for the forgiveness of that sin.