(Baptizing Households?) Bible Question
“In our monthly men’s prayer meetings some questions have come up. We agree that each person is responsible for his own salvation. But several verses of Scriptures speaks of one being baptized, and their households (Acts 16:31), seemingly without their households having to do anything to receive salvation. Please explain.”
First, look at the Scripture and context. Paul and Silas were in prison. An earthquake opened the prison and they were freed. The jailer brought them out and. . .
“he said, ‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?’ They said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house. And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household.And he brought them into his house and set food before them, and rejoiced greatly, having believed in God with his whole household.”
– Acts 16:30 – 34 (New American Standard Bible)
Notice some points in this reading. This man wanted to be saved. So “they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house”. Who did they teach? The jailer and his household. Who was baptized? The jailer and his household. Who believed? Again, it was the jailer and his household.
All those who were baptized first heard the gospel, believed and then were baptized. This passage definitely says that. If other passages are considered (with other baptisms), they will show the exact same thing.
Jesus said, “. . . preach the gospel to all creation. He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved. . .” (Mark 16: 15, 16). That has not changed, and it will not change. To assume that some were saved without having to make any response to the Lord’s teaching is to ignore and oppose the plain statements of Scripture. Thanks for your question.