Read verses 29-34
Q: What does “those…who are baptized for the dead” refer to?
A: To be sure, these verses are among the most feverishly debated among scholars. But if we examine them in conjunction with the whole of Paul’s teachings and resist the temptation to lift out this one verse in isolation from everything else Paul has taught, it most likely refers to replenishing the ranks of the Church. In other words, if there is no resurrection from the dead, why baptize new people into the faith to take the place of those who have died?
Q: Why would baptism be a very powerful illustration of the entire work of salvation?
A: Baptism symbolized death, burial, and resurrection. It has no meaning if there is no resurrection from the dead.
Q: First Paul challenges if the Corinthians’ practices of the faith are in vain, but then how does he follow this up?
A: With whether his own efforts were in vain.
Q: And if there is no resurrection, what does Paul conclude should have happened on everyone’s part?
A: They should have continued living unchanged, unregenerate lives, enjoying all the sinful pleasures of this world.
Q: How does Paul basically summarize these arguments?
A: He concludes with a kind of, “Shame on you!” A Christian faith without fully embracing the Resurrection is, in reality, no faith at all, and lacks plain, common sense.
Application: The Gospel is not a message about simply living a good life or becoming a good person; it is a total replacement both for this life and the one to come.
The death and burial, resurrection, and future coming kingdom of Christ are not actually separate doctrines. From God’s point of view they combine together to comprise the whole Gospel message. When Believers attempt to separate them from each other they place the work of salvation at risk. The Cross, the Resurrection, and the Millennial Kingdom are actually a single, inseparable work in the life of every Believer.