Commentary on Acts 16.33

By Bob Myhan

33And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized.

Whether the jailer had given them the stripes, as some suppose, or not, he had done nothing to relieve their affliction. As a matter of fact, he had added to it by subjecting them to conditions that were conducive to disease as well as discomfort. To demonstrate a penitent attitude toward his sins against them, he did what he could to relieve the pain and suffering to which they had been subjected. That he did this in the wee hours of the morning is also indicative of godly sorrow. In addition, “he and all his family” did not wait until daylight but “were baptized” “the same hour of the night.”

Many today will be baptized at their earliest convenience. Those who were convicted by the preaching of the apostles and evangelists in the first century, however, were baptized at the earliest inconvenience.

It is difficult to understand how so many today can fail to see, not just the importance but the necessity of being baptized. Thinking it to be the first public act of a saint, rather than the last public act of a sinner, they put it off. But no one put it off in the first century, when the apostles and others were preaching its true import. Let us review some of the many statements Luke had already recorded about water baptism prior to this event.  

Peter said to them, "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2.38)

But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done. (Acts 8.12-13)

 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized. (Acts 9.17-18)

"Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?" And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days. (Acts 10.47-48)

Now a certain woman named Lydia heard us. She was a seller of purple from the city of Thyatira, who worshiped God. The Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul. And when she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, "If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay." So she persuaded us. (Acts 16.14-15)

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. Acts 16.31-33)

Jesus Himself, in the Great Commission, commanded,

"Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16.15-16)

Jesus had previously told a Jewish ruler,

"Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." Nicodemus said to Him, "How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?" Jesus answered, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3.3-5)

It should be noted that, if water baptism has nothing to do with being born of water, the new birth is not so much as alluded to in the book of Acts. But, if one is born of water and the Spirit when he is baptized “in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,” the new birth is mentioned quite frequently. Some insist that, if water baptism is indispensable to being “born of water and the Spirit,” then Holy Spirit baptism must be also. But this is not the case for there is but “one baptism,” just as there is but “one hope of your Lord, one God….” (Eph. 4.4-6) If water baptism is not the one baptism, why is water baptism performed by nearly all religious bodies that claim to follow the Bible?

(To be continued)

A Study of the Holy Spirit (Part 33)

By Bob Myhan

Those who maintain that there is no distinction between inspiration and revelation should take note of the fact that the apostles were writing from their own experiences. Matthew and John, for example, had witnessed many, if not most, of the things about which they wrote. Was John a witness of Jesus being “in the beginning with God”? Undoubtedly not. Nor was he a witness to the creation. But he himself writes,

And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20.30-31)

Had all of His disciples witnessed all of those signs? Most likely not but they could collectively testify of having seen them. (Acts 10.38-39)

But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." (Acts 4.19-20)

Moreover I will be careful to ensure that you always have a reminder of these things after my decease. For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. (2 Peter 1.15-18)

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life-- the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us-- that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1.1-3)

The Holy Spirit did not have to reveal to them that which they had seen and heard but neither did He leave them to their own faculties in speaking and writing about those things. Rather, “they were moved by the Holy Spirit” when they spoke and wrote of them to make sure that their memories did not fail them.

(To be continued)