Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown
Else—if there be no resurrection.
what shall they do?—How wretched is their lot!
they . . . which are baptized for the dead—third person; a class distinct from that in which the apostle places himself, "we" (I Corinthians 15:30); first person. ALFORD thinks there is an allusion to a practice at Corinth of baptizing a living person in behalf of a friend who died unbaptized; thus Paul, without giving the least sanction to the practice, uses an AD hominem argument from it against its practicers, some of whom, though using it, denied the resurrection: "What account can they give of their practice; why are they at the trouble of it, if the dead rise not?" [So Jesus used an AD hominem argument, Matthew 12:27]. But if so, it is strange there is no direct censure of it. Some Marcionites adopted the practice at a later period, probably from taking this passage, as ALFORD does; but, generally, it was unknown in the Church. BENGEL translates, "over (immediately upon) the dead," that is, who will be gathered to the dead immediately after baptism. Compare Job 17:1, "the graves are ready for me." The price they get for their trouble is, that they should be gathered to the dead for ever (I Corinthians 15:13, I Corinthians 15:16). Many in the ancient Church put off baptism till near death. This seems the better view; though there may have been some rites of symbolical baptism at Corinth, now unknown, perhaps grounded on Jesus' words (Matthew 20:22-23), which Paul here alludes to. The best punctuation is, "If the dead rise not at all, why are they then baptized for them" (so the oldest manuscripts read the last words, instead of "for the dead")?
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