Please Explain I Corinthians 15:29. What Does the Reference to the Baptism of the Dead Mean?

When we come across a passage within the Bible that is difficult to interpret or seemingly means something that contradicts another plain teaching of scripture, we must look at it through our understanding of the plain teaching of scriptures. Many choose to interpret the difficult passage first and then take perfectly plain scriptures and twist them to fit their interpretation of the difficult passage. Such we must not do, for such is handling the word of God incorrectly. We read in 2 Peter 3:16 the words of Peter who describes some of Paul’s epistles. He says, “As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.” We must make sure that we do not wrest the scriptures to our own destruction.

So with those things in mind, we come to 1 Corinthians 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?” The context of this particular passage is that of Paul’s proving to the Corinthians that the resurrection is going to happen. There were some in that day who were teaching that there was no resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:12). The Sadducees believed this too (Matthew 22:23). Some were teaching that the resurrection had passed (2 Tim.2:18). Paul, however, was teaching that the resurrection was still coming and he used every available means to prove this to those in Corinth. So whatever this phrase means–that is, whatever the phrase “baptism for the dead” means–its significance is that the resurrection is still coming.

This phrase does not mean what those of the Mormon faith believe that it means. Mormons believe that one may be baptized for someone who is dead who was not a Mormon, and that person will then have the opportunity, after death, to accept the gospel. The long and short of this teaching is that you get a second chance to be saved after you die. This doctrine just does not mesh with other clear teaching that is within the scriptures. We read in Hebrews 9:27, “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” In Luke 16:24 we read, that the rich man wanted Lazarus to come cool his tongue. Abraham replied, “And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence” (Luke 16:26). The rich man knew that there was no escape because he then asked that Abraham send someone so that his brothers would escape this place. Jesus said in John 9:4 “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work.” The night when no man can work is after death. There are no more works that a person can do to affect one’s salvation after death. Perhaps a statement made by Isaiah makes this quite plain. He says, “Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back. For the grave cannot praise thee, death can not celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth. The living, the living, he shall praise thee, as I do this day: the father to the children shall make known thy truth” (Isaiah 38:17-19). Isaiah makes it clear that the time for forgiveness of sins is now. The time to be delivered from the pit of corruption is while one is living. Once one has died and is lost, there is no more hope for truth. The living are the ones who have the obligation to make known God’s truth. Paul says, “For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succored thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Corinthians 6:2). Today is the day of the living. Today is the day of salvation.

So what does the phrase “baptism for the dead” mean? To be honest, I am not sure that I know what it means. There have been many different suggestions. Some have suggested that it refers to Christian baptism. These suggest that the phrase “the dead” refers to those who have died to sin and are being made alive in Christ. When they do this, they affirm the resurrection of Christ according to Romans 6:1-11. In this understanding, “the dead” is actually short hand for “the resurrection of the dead.” So that it would be baptism for the resurrection of the dead, i.e. in order to obtain the resurrection of the dead.

Others have suggested that Paul is referring to this group of people who are teaching that there is no resurrection for the dead implying some kind of self-contradiction among their own teaching. In other words, they were teaching that there was no resurrection, but they were practicing “baptism for the dead,” i.e. a vicarious baptism for those who had already died without being baptized. This, however, implied a resurrection because baptism is the form of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Those who hold this view say that Paul is not giving an endorsement to the doctrine, but merely stating that if one believed it, then it would imply that their doctrine of no resurrection is false.

Yet another interpretation states that those who had come to accept Christian baptism did so due to the influence of the faithful dead over the many years prior to their baptism. In this sense, they are being baptized for, that is, on account of, the dead who came before them. So if they were being baptized on account of the dead, then they should recognize that they would one day be raised. Finally, one view says that we have the punctuation wrong in the translation. Instead of reading as we would normally read, this view opts for the reading, “Else what shall they do that are baptized? If the dead are not raised at all, (baptism) is for the dead (spiritually). Why are they then baptized for the dead?” This view sees the phrase “the dead” as referring to people who are spiritually dead and thus baptism has no effect for them. I.E. if there is no resurrection, then baptism doesn’t take us out of death and into life, it just leaves us in a state of spiritual death and does nothing for us. We are merely being baptized to become dead. I don’t believe that I can say for certain that I know what this phrase means. I do know, however, that it does not endorse some type of proxy baptism for those who have died un-repented.

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What Does Delivered Over to Satan Mean?

Would you explain the words “delivered over to Satan” as spoken by Paul of certain men in 1 Corinthians 5:5 and 1 Timothy 1:20?

In 1 Corinthians 5:5 we read, “To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.” In 1 Timothy 1:20 we read, “Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.”

In Romans 6:17, 18 we read, “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.” When one becomes a Christian, there is a transfer of ownership. That ownership is transferred from sin and Satan to righteousness and God. 1 John 3:10 states, “In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.” When one is born into the family of God, one stops being the child of the Devil and starts being the child of God. In Galatians 4:6 we read, “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” When a person becomes a child of God, they are delivered into the care and keeping of their heavenly Father.

But what happens when a Christian leaves the ways of Christ and goes back to their old ways of sinfulness? Are they not delivered back into the clutches of Satan? Do they not return to their old father, Satan? In fact, this is exactly what happens. We read in 2 Peter 2:20-22 “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, the dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” When a child of God chooses to go back to Satan, God honors their free choice and delivers them back over.

Paul’s statement regarding his delivering them to Satan is merely the earthly recognition that this person has chosen not to walk in the ways of Christ and is once again under condemnation unless true repentance can be found in their life. In the case of the man at Corinth, he was engaged in such sin so as to cut himself off from the hope of salvation. Paul tells the church to “deliver him to Satan,” that is, to acknowledge that he has chosen to no longer live the life of the Christian and to withdraw fellowship from him. In the case of Hymenaeus and Alexander, Paul himself delivered those two to Satan for making shipwreck of the faith. They were teaching false doctrine and Paul withdrew fellowship for this reason.

When the church withdraws fellowship from individuals, they state that there is nothing more that we, as the church, can do to help this individual. He or she is now under the ownership of Satan, no longer servants of God, been delivered over from the care of God to the dominion of Satan. The one withdrawn from has been delivered to Satan. The purpose for such action is to get those who are guilty to repent, by cutting them off from the blessings and benefits that they would normally enjoy in fellowship with the church. Additionally, he is cut off from the spiritual blessings that he would have in a right relationship with God. Such knowledge should cause one disciplined to realize the error which he has committed and return to God�s grace by repenting and confessing sin before the church. This then reestablishes the relationship with the church and with God.

The statement, “delivered over to Satan” refers to the final act of disfellowship which the church pronounces upon those who refuse to repent of sin. With such an act, it is acknowledged by the church that this individual no longer serves God, but Satan, and thus is not under the care of God, but the dominion of Satan.

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Is Dating Wrong?

Could you go over the wrongs of dating like Willie (Franklin) did? My boyfriend says it’s stupid. Should I agree?

The information to which the question is referring was heard at the recent youth rally in Springfield at the Kansas Expressway church of Christ. Willie Franklin was the speaker and he had some good things to say regarding dating. I can’t put words into Willie Franklin’s mouth and he is going to be here for our youth rally in August, so I will let him explain his own self in this regard. However, I would like to take the opportunity to share some information from God’s word that certainly would apply to dating. So let’s look at a few things at this time.

Dating as we know it today is a relatively new concept in the history of the world. In ancient times, one’s wife was often taken from his own family. Abraham’s wife, Sarah was his half sister (Genesis 20:12). Jacob’s wives, Rachel and Leah were cousins (Genesis 24:29). Women were also treated as property and the prospective husband sometimes had to earn his wife by working for her or paying a dowry. This is the situation that we see in regard to Jacob (Genesis 21:15-30). The Father of the bride was usually the one to make the decision as to who the girl could be wed and this was also the case in New Testament times as well. We read in 1 Corinthians 7:36-38 that it was the Father’s decision as to whether or not the available daughter could be married. Additionally, there are some instances of marriage in the Bible where the man merely chooses his bride with no indication of the father’s consent such as Cain in Genesis 2:17. Another such example was David and Abigail (1 Samuel 25:39). Still, the decision seems chiefly to be that of the man and not of the woman. So there was not a lot of dating in the times of the Old and New Testaments. Marriages were arranged in advance or the decision was made by the father or the bride-groom and that was it.

In today’s modern dating scene, things are much different. Much of the time, the family is taken out of the equation all together. Men and women who meet each other today usually have not grown up with each other and do not know each other very well. There are some exceptions to this, but those who eventually become husbands and wives don’t start out in life knowing each other and usually their families don’t know each other either. This means that there has to be a period of time for the man to get to know the woman and vice versa. This is usually done today via what is called dating.

The problem with dating today is that the expectation of those who go on dates is to get to know someone intimately, i.e. passionately. This usually involves kissing and hugging, and many worldlings who date often engage in petting and sexual intercourse. Let me make it clear that heavy kissing, close body contact, petting, and sexual intercourse before marriage are sinful. The Bible calls this kind of behavior lasciviousness. The basic meaning behind this word is causing sexual excitement through lack of restraint; it also involves engaging in lewd or lustful behavior. Jesus condemns this in Mark 7:22 as one of the evils that come from the heart. Paul condemns the church at Corinth for practicing this particular sin in 2 Corinthians 12:21. It is listed as one of the works of the flesh in Galatians 5:19. So engaging in heavy kissing (what Willie called “sucking face”) and intimately close body contact is sinful. Of course, petting (that is, hand to genital contact) and having sex before marriage is sinful as well.

Now let me state that there is nothing specifically wrong with hugging and kissing as long as such behavior is done in a chaste way. Romans 16:16 says salute one another with a HOLY kiss. There is a way to kiss that does not arouse sexual desires. There is a way to hug that does not arouse sexual desires. Both men and women know how to do this. It is not a great mystery. If, however, you are kissing and hugging to arouse sexual desire, then you need to put a stop to it if you are not married. Marriage is the proper place for sexual activity. Hebrews 13:4 states, “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” Sexual activity outside of marriage is at best putting oneself in the way of temptation and at worst sinful. Peter writes in 1 Peter 2:11 “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.” Sexual desire is certainly a lust which wars against the soul and as such those who are not married should abstain from it.

Does that mean that you can’t go out on dates? No, but it does mean that you need to set some rules. So here is my advice in this regard: young men and ladies, you should let your date know that you are not interested in him or her as an object of sexual desire. You should tell your date that you have no desire to engage in heavy kissing, close bodily contact, petting or sexual relations. If your date wants to get physical in this regard then you need to instruct him or her that you are ready to go home. If you are dating another Christian, then this should not be a problem. If you are dating a non-Christian, then you as the Christian are going to have to make things clear to your date in this regard. If your date tells you that he or she is not interested in observing such rules, then the bottom line is that person is not worthy of you as a potential mate and you need to find someone who is. If you, as a Christian, can behave appropriately on a date and not engage in sinful behavior, then dating can be fun and rewarding as you get to know other people (hopefully Christians). However, if you engage in activities that stimulate sexual desire, then dating will be a life long regret that you carry with you until the day that you die. I beg you, young people, take heed to these things. I can tell you story after story of men and women who destroyed their lives because they did not respect God’s will in this regard. Don’t do the same to your life. Young men, if you have questions in this regard, talk to any of the married or older men here. Young ladies, if you have questions in this regard, talk to any of the married or older women here. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in this regard. We love you and we don’t want you to have to learn the hard way.

Now, in regard to the question you asked, “My boyfriend says it’s stupid. Should I agree?” I would say that if your boyfriend is only interested in you to satisfy his sexual desires, then he is the one who is stupid. You are NEVER stupid when you obey God. You are wise. So my answer is that you should NOT agree with your boyfriend in this regard. Don’t let your boyfriend push you into doing something that you know is wrong. Your boyfriend is not worth your relationship with God–that comes first.

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