1 Corinthians 15:29

1 Corinthians 15:29  •  5 min. read  •  grade level: 7
It should be carefully noted that this verse is connected with verse 19, the verses between—from verse 20 to verse 28 —being a parenthesis. “If in this life only,” says the apostle, “we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable,” if there be no resurrection of the dead; and further, he goes on to say, “Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all?” etc. It were folly to take the place of danger and liability to death through persecution (see vv. 30-32) if there be no prospect of resurrection. It is this which gives the key to the difficult expression “baptized for the dead.” Through the perils incident to the confession of Christ in these early days martyrdom was of frequent occurrence. The ranks of the Christians were thus continually thinned; but through the grace of God converts were constantly added, and, in this scripture, they are regarded as filling up the vacant places of those who had departed to be with Christ; and thus, when they entirely went across all this thoughts of that people that they would persecute and destroy them if they were the witnesses of it. They must therefore go forth.
Now, what a character does this simple fact give Egypt or the world! God had no sanctuary there. The thoughts and ways of that land were so opposed to Him that He could not set His name among them. His people must go forth ere they could open His temple or raise His altar, because the very things which Israel would, as it were, sacrifice or crucify, Egypt was wont to worship. (8: 26, 27) Israel must therefore be separated from Egypt before they could hold their feast to the Lord.
And so it was afterward. There was a fence all round the Holy Land, a wall of partition that separated Israel in Canaan from the nations. No stranger could eat the Passover, no uncircumcised one could hold the feast of the Lord. And so is it still. We must worship “in spirit and in truth.” No man can call on God aright but by the Spirit which gives adoption, nor can Jesus Lord but by the Holy Ghost. It is still on the principle of separation that God is to be served or worshipped, as much as when Israel had to go into the wilderness, out of Egypt, to do so, or to distinguish themselves from all the nations by circumcision to do so.
The wall of partition is different, it is true; the place outside the land is not a mere desert, it is true; but the place of service is as distinct as ever it was. “Ye must be born again.” This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent. “To whom coming, as unto a living stone ye also, as living stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood.” Here is the desert, the separated place, the sanctuary of God, within the partition-wall. The Holy Ghost raises it now. Union with Christ forms it; and within that place the abominations of the world are sacrificed now, as the abominations of Egypt were sacrificed in the desert of old. The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life, are to be crucified there, though they are all of the world.
And what was the full feast which Israel held to the Lord when they got out into the desert? Why, it was actually furnished to them by Egypt herself. As soon as they stood on the banks of the Red Sea, they began to hold their feast. They did not wait to reach the mountain. (Exodus 3:12) It is quite true under that mountain they did afterward serve, or do sacrifice, to God. (Exodus 19-40; Leviticus 1-9) But Egypt herself gave them a song before they reached the appointed place. Egypt was bold enough so far to resist them as to follow them into the very jaws of the Red Sea. Her enmity was perfect; but all this ended in giving Israel a song of triumph over Egypt. (Exodus 15) Before they reached the place to which they had been called this joy was theirs. And so with us, beloved. Satan has done his worst, but Jesus, by death and resurrection, has overthrown him. Had not Satan drawn out his chariots and his horses, all the strength and power of his kingdom, to the hill of Calvary, the song which the resurrection puts into our mouth would not have been ours. But it is ours now, and he can never silence it. It has been raised by himself, and he can never silence it; and we too carry the echo of it in our hearts all through the place, till we reach the mountain of the Lord. In this sense Egypt gave Israel that song, in this sense the god of this world gives our hearts this song; for the eater himself yields meat, the strong man himself sweetness.
And, let me add, that what livingly and practically separates us day by day from the world is communion with Jesus. Faith, or the Spirit, or the new nature, is the first great exodus—our first going into the wilderness, out of Egypt, to hold our feast to the Lord, our act of separation from the world; but that place of separation can be maintained daily only by communion with Jesus, through the same Spirit who first drew us out. J. G. B.