Re: Comments on 1 Corinthians
Here are two patristic references that are pretty clear.
Speaking of 1 Cor 15:29 Tertullian says
Now if some of them are "baptized for the dead" can we not
assume that they have a reason for it? Certainly he [Paul]
is maintaining that they practised this in belief that the
ordinance would be a vicarious baptism and as such be
advantageous to the flesh of others, which they assumed
would be resurrected, for unless this referred to a physical
resurrection there would be no point in carrying out a
- Tertullian, On the Resurrection 48, in PL 2:864
At the beginning of the 5th century Epiphanus says
From Asia and Gaul has reached us the account of a
certain practice, namely that when any die without baptism
among them, they baptize others in their place and in their
name, so that, rising in the resurrection, they will not have
to pay the penalty of having failed to receive baptism, but
rather will become subject to the authority of the Creator of
the World. For this reason this tradition which has reached us
is said to be the very thing to which the Apostle himself refers
when he says, "If the dead rise not at all, what shall they do
who are baptized for the dead?"
- Epiphanius, Against Heresies I,28,6 in PG 41:384
I've lost the reference, but the Marcionites were also
one of the branches of early christianity that practiced
some form of vicarious baptism in behalf of deceased catechumens.
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