Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is one of the most significant events of the Christian faith.
Today, many are of Christian heritage and it is normal to believe in the resurrection of the dead, but before Christ’s resurrection, this belief in the resurrection of the dead was not even held by many Jews. And so, in fact, the first Christians simply preached a message of “eternal life,” that death had been overcome by Christ.
To those who believe, the resurrection of the dead is a reason to hope, but also a reason to fear, because, without resurrection, none of us face judgment.
The Apostle Paul defended the resurrection with these words:
“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? And why do we stand in jeopardy every hour?” (1 Corinthians 15:29-30)
What Paul meant was that the Church certainly believed there is a resurrection of the dead. They were very afraid that someone’s soul could not resurrect, if for some reason, they were able not baptize. Quite possibly a person may have received the Holy Spirit, but because of an unexpected death, even martyrdom, they did not have the chance to baptize for the washing away of their sins. The Church apparently baptized on their behalf, hoping that God would recognize the washing away of sins, so that the person’s soul could resurrect on the last day. The great fear of the early Church shows us that they did not believe that faith alone, was enough to ensure salvation. They recognized that baptism was necessary for the washing away of sins.