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Isn't there biblical basis for baptism for the dead (1 Cor 15:29)?

This passage does not command baptism for the dead nor make any judgment about such practice. Paul asked the question, "Otherwise, 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?" (1 Cor 15:29). His point was not that such practice was necessarily correct, but that such practice demonstrated people’s belief in the resurrection.

Paul could not have endorsed vicarious baptism (the living being baptized on behalf of the dead) because it is against Biblical teaching for several reasons:

  1. Baptism is for the forgiveness of sins (Acts 22:16). Since all have sinned (Rom 3:23), everyone must be baptized for the forgiveness of his own sins (Acts 2:38). No one may be baptized for the forgiveness of another’s sins.
  2. Baptism is not merely a formality or an immersion of the body; it is a spiritual cleansing and salvation of the soul (1Pet 3:21; Heb 9:14). Once a person dies, the soul leaves his body. Baptizing a living person on behalf of the dead cannot in any way save the soul of the dead.
  3. After a person dies, he is to face judgment (Heb 9:27). Those who had failed to believe in the Lord will be condemned (Mk 16:16; Rev 21:8), and every person will be judged according to what he had done (Rev 20:12). So once a person dies, he has to give an account of his disbelief and no one else may receive salvation on behalf of him.

This verse may refer to baptism of family members for the sake of a Christian member who has passed away and had expressed the wish before death that his/her family believe in the Lord Jesus and be baptized.

Publisher: True Jesus Church