The Philippian Jailer and His Household
As some may know, I am in agreement with those who believe that the Holy Scriptures teach that BAPTISM is essential to our salvation; that it is a necessary step in becoming a Christian; in receiving God's gracious salvation.
Saved By Faith Alone?
Quite some time ago, I posted an entry - Why Immerse? - briefly presenting the scriptural case favoring the need of immersion for salvation.
But for many, regardless of scriptural evidence, baptism in water as an essential in salvation seems a hard pill to swallow. Many objections to this teaching are therefore offered and I was reminded of one of the more common ones just a few days ago.
Recently a friend and genuinely sincere man asked me about Paul being in prison and how the Bible "says that his entire family was saved and later that day they were baptized." (His words.) He wanted to know how this didn't show that people are saved by faith prior to being immersed.
He was, of course, referring to the Acts, chapter 16 account of the Phillipian Jailer and his household - an example popularly believed to "prove" salvation by faith alone.
But a closer look is in order. Here is the passage itself, quoted from the 1977 New American Standard translation:
ACTS 16:30-34 - AND HE BROUGHT THEM OUT AND SAID, "SIRS, WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?" SO THEY SAID, "BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST, AND YOU WILL BE SAVED, YOU AND YOUR HOUSEHOLD." THEN THEY SPOKE THE WORD OF THE LORD TO HIM AND TO ALL WHO WERE IN HIS HOUSE. AND HE TOOK THEM THE SAME HOUR OF THE NIGHT AND WASHED THEIR STRIPES. AND IMMEDIATELY HE AND ALL HIS FAMILY WERE BAPTIZED. NOW WHEN HE HAD BROUGHT THEM INTO HIS HOUSE, HE SET FOOD BEFORE THEM; AND HE REJOICED, HAVING BELIEVED IN GOD WITH ALL HIS HOUSEHOLD.
The basic facts of the account are identical in the 1901 American Standard, a later edition of the New American Standard, the King James, the New King James and the New International Version. And they should be identical in ALL genuine translations. Notice the following:
- In verse 30, the Jailer asked for instructions on how to be saved.
- The answer given - Vs. 31 - was "BELIEVE IN THE LORD JESUS CHRIST". But it is important to continue reading.
- Vs. 32 - this is important - states that Paul then "SPOKE THE WORD OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST TO ALL WHO WERE IN THE HOUSE". This was necessary. Otherwise they'd have had no idea what "believing in the Lord Jesus Christ" meant. Therefore, THE INSTRUCTIONS GIVEN TO THE JAILER ON HOW TO BE SAVED WERE BEGUN IN VERSE 31 BUT CONTINUED THROUGH VERSE 32.
- In Vs. 33, we see that the jailer tended to their wounds (a demonstration of his repentance - also a necessary part of salvation). Then HE AND HIS ENTIRE HOUSEHOLD WERE BAPTIZED. This was done, apparently, in response to the instructions the jailer and his household had received; beginning in verse 31 and continuing through verse 32. We see a very similar example in Acts 8:35-36, where Phillip "preached Jesus" to an Ethiopian treasurer, who then - in response - requested baptism. (Why, unless baptism was included in the preaching of Jesus?)
- Verse 34 states that he and all his household rejoiced, having believed. But this rejoicing came after they were baptized! And so was their salvation.