Baptism for the dead

The subject of baptism for the dead has led to some very strange doctrine.  The text under consideration is I Corinthians 15:29

1Co 15:29 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?
 (NASB)

Notice that the verse ends with the question about why people would be baptized for dead people.  This has led to people actually being baptized on behalf of others thinking that this verse was suggesting that this was common behavior among the early Christians.  A closer examination of the text actually shows us that the words "for them" have been added by the translators.  Consider Young's literal translation:

1Co 15:29 Seeing what shall they do who are baptized for the dead, if the dead do not rise at all? why also are they baptized for the dead?
 (YLT)

The word "dead" in this verse comes from a word that means a corpse.  As Christians, we do not get baptized for a dead corpse, but for a risen savior.  This fits with the context of the rest of the chapter.  Consider vs 17-19

1Co 15:17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins.
 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished.
 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied.
 20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.
 (NASB)

Thus vs 29 is a rhetorical question meaning, what is the point of being baptized for Christ if He is dead.  If He is still dead, then our faith and the baptism that follows our faith is pointless.  Why be baptized for Christ if He is dead?  Of course, we know He is alive and that is what we are testifying as we display our faith in baptism.

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