The Conversion of the Jailor
By: Jon O’Keefe

When one looks at the book of Acts it seems to this writer, to be amazing how people can read the book and not see the church and it's TRUE identity. There are certainly many great things from the text of Acts 16:23-34 [the jailor] that one can learn.

One of the first things one can learn is found in verses 24-25. The "inner prison" is today what we would consider "maximum security". In the darkest part of prison Paul and Silas were able to pray and sing songs of praises unto God. In I Corinthians 10:13 Paul told those in Corinth, "There hath no temptation taken you but such as common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." God is not going to give us any special treatment in the sense that He would give us any special treatment or keep us from doing things that any human would. For one there is "no respect of persons with God" (Romans 2:11). One other thing to remember where God is concerned is that we are His elect (Colossians 3:12). God would not take us from this earth just as we would be about to commit the "ultimate" sin, that is simply Calvinistic in nature and God is certainly not a "Calvinistic" God. But what about the "conversion" of the Jailor?

In verse 30, the jailor asks the "all" important question, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?" First of all the jailor must have heard Paul and Silas. J.W. McGarvey in his commentary on Acts had this to say, "As soon as the jailer could collect his senses he remembered that the speaker who had called to him had been preaching salvation in the name of the God of Israel, and he instantly perceived that the earthquake, the opening of the doors, and the unlocking of the fetters were connected with him, and were the work of his God." Certainly the jailor realized that because all the prisoners, or at least Paul and Silas were still there, there had to be something going on. In fact verse 31 implies, that jailor had heard the gospel being preached, and what Paul told him [the jailor] was, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. . ." Everyone knows that the first step in the gospel plan of salvation is to "Hear" (Romans 10:17). They hear in verse 32 "And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house."

Paul then must have preached more unto the jailor and his family. Paul certainly would have had to preach unto the jailor and his family about "repentance and confession" and lest we not forget baptism (Acts 2:38, Romans 10:10, and John 3:1-5). Two things can certainly be seen from this text. One, what happens when the word of God is preached powerfully. Two, what happens when someone that hears the word of God powerfully proclaimed (they are baptized). It seems the jailor and his family were as the people on the day of Pentecost "…they were pricked in their heart. . ." (Acts 2:37). This certainly shows the power of the gospel in that when one hears the gospel, that is not a Christian, and they are "pricked" in their hearts they know immediately what they need to do.

This brings us to the verse where the jailor took Paul and Silas and washed their stripes. Certainly this is from where they had been beaten [verse 23]. This verse also shows how the gospel can change a person. From verse 24, "Who, having received such a charge, THRUST them into the inner prison", to verse 33, ". . .and washed their stripes. . ." Looking at the word at the word "thrust" gives us a great idea of what kind of person the jailor was. The word "thrust" literally means, "with force and effort". Which to one would indicate not a caring people on the part of the one doing the "thrusting." To wash their strips would show compassion on the part of the one doing the washing. Then the jailor and his family were "baptized". One can view other scripture to see that they would be baptized for "the remission of sins" (Acts 2:38). One also can view from other scriptures that they would have to go "into" the water (Acts 8:38). Then one can understand that to be "baptized" one has to be in the water. Therefore, one cannot be poured or sprinkled. The scriptures clearly tell us that we must be baptized, which means to be "fully immersed, dipped or plunged into the water."

In verse 34, to wrap up the text of the conversion of the jailor, one may notice the partaking of great Christian fellowship. The text that includes the "conversion" of the jailor is one that certainly needs to be studied for the different aspects of the conversion in the book of Acts are important to our Christian walk and to our teaching of others.

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