I'm confused about the conversion of the jailer (and his household) in Acts 16. The man asked them what he must do to be saved, to which he was told by Paul and Silas, "Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household." At what point was the jailer saved? Realizing that this should seem rather clear, I find it confusing. He and his household were presented with the gospel and then baptized, but were they saved at the point of belief or at the point of immersion? Have you heard people argue that all that is needed to be saved is simply to believe in Jesus? - Silla Mosley

Sure, lots of people think belief--not repentance or baptism--is all that is required in order to be saved. I have addressed this in the book Shining Like Stars (check out the baptism studies available at www.ipibooks.com).

We must realize who the Philippian jailer was: a Roman with (presumably) no prior knowledge of Christianity. It is the middle of the night. There has been an earthquake and it seemed the prisoners had escaped. Under Roman law, it would have been his life for their (see Acts 12:19). Time may be short. The situation is urgent.

Please notice the sequence in these passages:
* He is told that Jesus is the answer. He will need to put his faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31).
* Then he is presented with the word of God -- which he had not heard before (Acts 16:32).
* He is baptized (Acts 16:33).

Would it have been possible for this man to be saved before he had heard the gospel message? Of course not. He would not have known what he was believing in! In other words, he was not ready to be saved after verse 31.

After he understands the gospel, he does not delay. Even though it is the middle of the night, he is baptized! (This would certainly be highly unusual in most denominations, where baptism is not considered to be necessary for salvation at all.)

I believe his sins were washed away in baptism, not only because this is what the book of Acts teaches (see 22:16 and 2:38, e.g.), but also because of the urgency with which the jailer wanted to embrace Christ.

Perhaps he was addressed with the same words spoken to Saul of Tarsus when he was ready to become a Christian: "And now, what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name."

Interestingly, when I preached on Acts 16 in Philippi (in the first century outdoor Roman theater!), few in the audience argued with this interpretation. The conspicuous exception: the preacher who followed me. He explained to us all that Acts 2:38 (repentance and baptism) only applied to the Jews; Gentiles, he claimed, were saved by "faith alone," which he believed was Paul's teaching.

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