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matthew
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Joined: 2004/4/22
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 1 Cor 15:29

Why does Paul use the baptism of the dead as a support of the resurection? By not condemning the process is he condoning it?


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matthew bauer

 2004/4/29 9:58Profile
rookie
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 Re: 1 Cor 15:29

Paul is talking about Jesus Christ and Him crucified. Those who become disciples of Jesus will follow Him to the cross. The cross of Christ will crucify the old man in us. Meaning that all we hold as truth in terms of self centeredness will be cast out as rubbish. Our reliance on our carnal ways will be brought to our attention by the Holy Spirit. If we follow the Holy Spirit, the washing of the Spirit in our lives will become the baptism of death to our flesh. This baptism into death is on going. It is a process called sanctification. "I affirm, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, [b]I die daily."[/b] 1 Corinthians 15:31. If you are led by the Spirit you will experience this same baptism of death. And it happens daily.

In Christ
Jeff


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Jeff Marshalek

 2004/4/29 10:56Profile
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 Re:

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

Paul is not establishing a religious practice as the Mormons think when they use this verse. Baptism does not bring salvation, but is a public confession and identification with Jesus Christ. What better way to publicly pronounce your faith but to symbolicly go down in death and then be raised again? Paul, as Jeff put it, is defending the resurrection, not instituting a new religious rite. Stanley Horton's commentary on this passage states it this way:

Quote:
Paul further challenges those who deny bodily resrurrection by pointing to a practice that some carried out. Paul does not explain why people were "baptized for the dead." He simply wants them to see that such a baptism, which pictures death and resurrection, is meaningless if there is no resurrection. One suggestion is that certain new converts died before they could be baptized. Their pagan relatives wanted to give them a heathen funeral, but another Christian was baptized in their stead to tell the world that this is what the dead believer would have done. This would be a means of claiming the body for Christian burial. It was probably a short-lived local practice. By the time of John Chrysostom (A.D. 345-407) some were saying Paul meant they were being baptized for themselves because they were dead in sins. Others have taken it to mean a present baptism of trial and suffering.



If Baptism was essential to salvation then we would have expected Paul to have stressed it in his ministry, but 1Cor 1:14-17 states:

"I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name. Yes, I also baptized the household of Stephanas. Besides, I do not know whether I baptized any other. For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel..."

The importance of baptism is not that it brings salvation--because it doesn't--but that it is a public confession of faith in Christ.

In Christ,
Jeremy Hulsey


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Jeremy Hulsey

 2004/4/29 11:23Profile
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 Re:

Matthew posted this in reply:
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My concern is with the language used. He says they are baptized FOR the dead (in all KJV, NIV, and NASB) not a baptism OF death.

I see there being a marked difference.

thanks for your consideration...

matt

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NOTE: when replying to a thread simply click on a reply button to the message that you want to reply to.


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SI Moderator - Greg Gordon

 2004/4/29 12:54Profile
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 Re: baptism for the dead

This is one of the most obscure verses in the New Testament and I could not count the times I have been asked what it means; ‘though it must run into hundreds!

What follows is not intended to be the final word on the matter, but is simply my ‘state of the art’ understanding. First, a couple of observations.

1. Some have suggested that Paul is not necessarily commending the practise but simply using it as an illustration. I find it difficult to imagine Paul using a dubious practice as an argument for such a vital truth.

2. "for the dead" is "uper tOn nekrOn"
"uper" used with the genitive does have the sense of "on behalf of" but "on behalf of" does not necessarily mean "instead of". I can act as your representative without being your substitute. I may act as a representative of my country without acting 'in stead of' my country. Proxy baptism is not known in church history, except as a result of misinterpreting this passage. Baptism as proxies for individuals would be "uper nekrOn", but "uper tOn nekrOn" implies "for the dead" generally and collectively. This is clearly not ‘one for one’ proxy baptism. (This is important in what follows.)

So, on the basis that "baptism for the dead" cannot mean in the stead of individuals who have died, what can it mean?


"the dead" in this sense would have the same sense as "so great a death" of 2 Cor 1:10, ie spiritual death. Spirit Baptism is baptism into "HIS death", where "death made of no effect him who had the power of death, that is, the devil". In other words all water baptism is "baptism for the dead" as a class not as individuals, but with the expectancy of new life, or spiritual resurrection. Baptism is the burial of the Corpse of Sin and a public demonstration of the Resurrection as a New Man. Although it is a personal declaration it is also a corporate expression of the end of the old and the beginning of the new in Christ, in His Body and in the individual. Each individual baptised is a representative of the whole company of the dead; in his individual act the whole truth is being proclaimed. Every baptism is a public burial of the old with a guarantee of the new in resurrection. ". Our water baptism represents our Spirit Baptism into "the death of death", and consequently has the connotation of "from death into life".

All baptism, symbolically is INTO death, symbolising the Spirit Baptism INTO HIS death Rom 6:3. Only dead people are buried, so water baptism symbolises baptism INTO death, but UNTO life Rom 6:4. Water baptism is a public representation of The Resurrection that has followed The Death. In the Church's vocabulary "Death" is not the end, but is a beginning. This is not only true in spiritual terms because the coming of the Spirit (prefigured in water baptism) is the guarantee of the body’s ultimate redemption. Rom 8:11,23.

'we know in part'


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Ron Bailey

 2004/4/29 14:27Profile
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 Re:

"Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints."
Psalm 116:15

In Christ
Jeff


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Jeff Marshalek

 2004/4/29 15:06Profile
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 Re:

Matt had chosen one of the most obscure passages in the NT. There are up to 200 different explanations for this passage, a summary of which is given in K. C. Thompson, “I Corinthians 15,29 and Baptism for the Dead,” [i]Studia Evangelica[/i] 2.1 (TU 87), 647-59. Gordon Fee comments, "when there is such a wide divergence of opinion, no one knows what in fact was going on." This is probably an honest and realistic assessment.

Allowing for other possible interpretations, I favour a less [i]spiritualised[/i] understanding of the phrase "baptized for the dead," especially since the context in view is discussing the [b]bodily[/b] resurrection. I shall cite evangelical exegete Gordon Fee again -

Quote:
The normal reading of the text [1 Cor. 15:29] is that some Corinthians are being baptized, apparently vicariously, in behalf of some people who have already died. It would be fair to add that this reading is such a plain understanding of the Greek text that no one would ever have imagined the various alternatives were it not for the difficulties involved. [i](Gordon Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1989, pp. 763-764)[/i]

If we accept this, then the logical conclusion would be that: "there is a genuine idiosyncrasy in the history of the church, known and practiced by some in the Corinthian community... The point Paul is making in this verse is reasonably clear: what some people in Corinth believed affected how they lived. The doctrine of the resurrection and this baptismal practice are related. Their belief does not have to be true for Paul to make his point. They acted in accord with what they believed." (Rodney J. Decker, Calvin Theological Seminary)

Regardless of how you interpret this verse, it is quite clear that such a practice cannot be found in any other historical document in the NT, in early church history, nor in any orthodox Christian community in the centuries that immediately followed; nor are there parallels or precedents in pagan religion (Fee, 764).


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Sam

 2004/5/10 11:32Profile
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 Re: Proxy Baptism?

Gordon Fee has written The normal reading of the text [1 Cor. 15:29] is that some Corinthians are being baptized, apparently vicariously, in behalf of some people who have already died.

I don't accept the validity of this. For reasons I have stated before but repeat here. I would not put my Greek head-to-head with Gordon Fee if it were not for the fact that my Greek authority is William Wordsworth, one of the greatest Greek scholars of the 19th century.

"for the dead" is "uper tOn nekrOn"

"uper tOn nekrOn" has the sense of 'the dead' as a class rather than as individuals. "uper" used with the genitive does have the sense of "on behalf of" but "on behalf of" does not necessarily mean "instead of". I can act as your representative without being your substitute. I may act as a representative of my country without acting 'in stead of' my country. Proxy baptism is not known in church history, except as a result of misinterpreting this passage. Baptism as proxies for individuals would be "uper nekrOn", but "uper tOn nekrOn" implies "for the dead" generally and collectively. This is clearly not ‘one for one’ proxy baptism.

I know that Fee has a world-wide reputation but I find him a little 'cavalier' in quite a few of his judgments. Just my opinion.


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Ron Bailey

 2004/5/10 15:22Profile
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 Re:

I see 1 Corinthians 15 summarized by the following verses:

"But if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ fromthe dead will also give [b]life to your mortal bodies[/b] through His Spirit who dwells in you." Romans 8:11

'...if by the Spirit you [b]you put to death the deeds of the body,[/b] you will live." Romans 8:13

'...if indeed [b]we suffer with Him[/b], that we may also [b]be glorified together.[/b]" Romans 8:17

Precious is the death of His saints! Those who follow Him will be baptized for the dead. Paul cries out to the Corinthians, "Awake to righteousness, and do not sin; for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame." 1 Corinthians 15:34.

I agree with Philologos' explaination. We are the brotherhood of Christ and Him crucified.

In Christ
Jeff


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Jeff Marshalek

 2004/5/10 15:55Profile
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 Re:

Hi Philologos / Jeff,

As I said, my main point is that there are up to 200 different explanations of this passage according to some, and a summary of some of these can be found in K. C. Thompson, “I Corinthians 15,29 and Baptism for the Dead,” [i]Studia Evangelica[/i] 2.1 (TU 87), 647-59.

Hence, it is fair for Gordon Fee to say that, "when there is such a wide divergence of opinion, [b]no one knows what in fact was going on.[/b]"

The rest is simply a brief explanation of why I favour one of these interpretations. I am quite open to other possibilities; and I certainly respect your input. My Koine Greek is not good enough to discern the more detailed intricacies concerning the phrase [i]baptising for the dead,[/i] it is an area I will strive to improve on. Nevertheless, with such an obscure passage, I think it is best not to be too dogmatic -- I like Philologos' humble admission, "we know in part."

I think we can at least agree that [b]no significant doctrine should be built upon this verse alone, as the Mormons had done.[/b] This point was already emphasised in my previous post (which seems to be overlooked) - [i]"it is quite clear that such a practice [of baptizing in behalf of the dead] cannot be found in any other historical document in the NT, in early church history, nor in any orthodox Christian community in the centuries that immediately followed; nor are there parallels or precedents in pagan religion (Fee, 764)".[/i]

As for the spiritual experiences of being baptised [b]"into death"[/b] and of [b]"dying daily"[/b] in Christ and for Christ, these are experiences that I strongly believe in and by God's grace, experience myself. Experiencing Christ and him crucified is the way of the cross! I just think that these are the subjects of Romans 6-8, not 1 Corinthians 15:29.

Sam


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Sam

 2004/5/11 9:39Profile





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