THE CONVERSION OF THE JAILOR

(Acts 16:25-40.) 

THE story of the imprisonment of Paul and Silas. 
At midnight they pray and sing praises unto God. 
What would we have done under such circumstances? 
No doubt some of us would have gotten discouraged 
and renounced Christianity altogether. But the apos- 
tles walked by faith, and not by sight. 

The earthquake. The prison doors opened. The 
jailor is awakened; rushes out in the night to see 
what has caused the commotion; finds the prison doors 
wide open; and starts to kill himself, thinking his 
prisoners have escaped, and that he will be subject 
to the punishment of the Roman law and the prejudice 
of the people. But Paul stays his hand in the act. 
He secures a light and brings them out of the prison. 
Then he asks the supreme question: "What must I do 
to be saved?" 

No doubt he had previously heard of their message, 
as they had practically preached to the entire city. 
After their miraculous deliverance, he looks upon them 
as gods, and regards the message as divine. 

Paul's answer to the question (v. 31). The jailor 
knew very little about Jesus Christ. He was a heathen; 
and, being such, he must first believe. So, in order that 
he may believe, Paul and Silas speak the word of the 
Lord to him and his entire household (v. 32). Faith 
comes by hearing the word of God (Rom. 10: 17). 

What was the result of the sermon? Did they re- 
pent? Evidently so, because they were ready to be 
baptized the same hour of the night. Faith and re- 
pentance are always demonstrated by a spirit of obedi- 
ence. 

They believed the message. After taking Paul and 
Silas, and washing their stripes, he and his entire 
household were baptized. They did not stop to quib- 
ble about the necessity of the matter • they did not stop 
to ask parents, friends, preachers or priests. They 
went the same hour of the night (v. 33). This matter 
of salvation was too important to them to be delayed 
a single moment longer than necessary. How often, 
to-day, we are compelled to plead with people to get 
them to see the necessity of this positive command. 
Evidently Paul included the command in his message; 
and the jailor and his household were ready to obey 
at once. 

This baptism did not take place in the house. Why ? 
Because baptism is immersion, and immersion is not 
done in a private dwelling except in cases of extreme 
emergency. There was a river near Philippi (v. 13). 
Perhaps the little assembly went down to the river. 
And there the father and mother and entire family 
were buried with their Lord in baptism and resurrected 
to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4). What a glo- 
rious scene! 

After the baptism, the entire company returned to 
the house for a season of fellowship and rejoicing. 
They set meat before the apostles. And the jailor and 
his entire household rejoiced (v. 34). No wonder they 
rejoiced. They had God's word that their sins would 
be blotted out upon their compliance with the terms 
of pardon (Acts 2: 38). They were willing to take God 
at His word. The evidence of the word of God is 
higher than any other evidence that could be given 
to man. 

Some cite us to this conversion in an attempt to 
prove infant sprinkling. However, we see at once that 
those who were baptized, previously believed ; and after 
they were baptized, they rejoiced. This excludes un- 
knowing infants, who could neither believe nor rejoice. 
We recall numerous instances in which entire house- 
holds have been baptized, that did not contain a single 
infant. 

Will you not believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, turn 
to God, and be baptized even this very night? Now 
is the accepted time. Do not put this matter off a 
moment longer. Manifest that spirit of obedience that 
was manifested in the story of the Philippian jailor. 
Although faith is the first thing necessary to conver- 
sion, faith alone will not suffice; full obedience to the 
gospel is necessary to salvation. Will you not obey 
all the commands of the gospel and be saved by the 
blood of Jesus Christ, which was shed for the remis- 
sion of your sins?