The Philippian Jailer’s Belief

Posted on December 9, 2013

jailerFree-gracers readily point to the salvation of the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:25-40) as a proof text for their easy-believism doctrine. But notice what Acts 16:31-32 says after the jailer trembled and asked how he could be saved:

They said, ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.’ 32 And they spoke the word of the Lord to him together with all who were in his house.

It is foolish to suggest Paul’s mere statement to “believe in Jesus” would have been all Paul said or all the jailer heard. No one is saved apart from hearing the Gospel (Romans 10:13-15), and the mention of Jesus Christ to the jailer would have also included the Person of Jesus Christ and His saving work for sinners. Verse 32 alludes as much when explaining that Paul and Silas “spoke the word of the Lord” to him and his household.

The missionaries’ message would not have been absent the attributes of God, the sinful condition of man and breaking the work of God’s law written to their hearts, and reconciliation by the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Following the Gospel declaration, Paul and Silas would have urged the jailer and his household to repent from their sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. Paul no more would have excluded repentance than he would have excluded “belief” from his very next proclamation in Athens in Acts 17. And clearly the Philippian jailer and his household responded in repentance and faith after hearing the Gospel, for the Scripture testifies in Acts 16:33:

And he took them that very hour of the night and washed their wounds, and immediately he was baptized, he and all his household.

The Philippian jailer’s belief must have been repentant faith. Repentance and faith are both necessary elements of salvation, and both are gifts of God upon regeneration in the heart of the sinner.