I began my preparation for this message by trying to imagine what sort of man this jailer had been.
I would think that he began his wardens career by soldiering first.
He was probably well-acquainted with battle and with blood,
Having killed men and seen some of his friends killed in battle.
But then he was wounded and unable to be the soldier that he once was.
His commanders commended him as a good man, and someone sought for a position where he could still be useful to Rome, but without the hardship of battle.
He was not a general or commander and therefore wasn’t the best political material,
He was perfectly suited for the task and accepted it without reservation,
Promising to make his prison as secure as any in the Roman penal system.
He probably ran this prison as tightly as he had his squad of recruits.
He may not have been specifically commanded to use the stocks on Paul and Silas,
But that was just the way that he was.
Paul would not have baptized him, if there had been any doubt in his mind.
There would have been no point in immersing the man, unless it was as a testimony of his faith in Christ.
When was it – at what point – was this jailer actually born-again?
There is a sense in which he was saved in eternity past.
But when God determined to create man, he also decreed to permit sin.
And when the Father and the Son covenanted together to save some of the sinful children of Adam, this man was included in that decree.
So there is a sense in which he was saved, at least in the plan of God, before man was ever created.
By declaring that sinners are saved when they believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
And yet again, it might be justly argued that he must have been regenerated before he actually believed.
The Spirit of God must move upon the heart before that heart will love or trust the Lord.
So someone might contend that the man was regenerated even before he asked, “What must I do?”
And when exactly was that?
Was it between verses 31 and 32?
And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.”
Could be that he didn’t fully trust Christ until Paul had done a little more teaching AFTER verse 32?
For the sake of this message – just to add one more good point to my sermon –
I’m going to say that this rock-hard jailor, put his trust in Christ immediately after Paul told him to believe.
I think that it is possible that the missionaries had been witnessing to him while he locked them up.
And I think that they were witnessing to the other prisoners after the doors were locked and the lamps were extinguished.
There is a very good likelihood that the jailor heard enough BEFORE the earthquake to be saved DURING the earthquake.
And once again, I believe that there is sufficient evidence here in these few verses to suggest that he really had been touched by the Holy Spirit.
The evidence isn’t conclusive, because no one can look into the heart of another person, and no one can read the mind of God,
But there is ample circumstantial evidence to say that this brutal jailor, was now one of the lambs of the Lord Jesus Christ.
See if you don’t agree with me.
And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.”
As we’ve been saying during Sunday School for the last month or so,
When babies are born into this world, they have one primary thing on their minds: themselves.
If they are too hot or too cold, their condition comes above everyone else.
They either want to be changed or they don’t want to be changed, according to their whims.
Adults are just as selfish and self-centered as babies.
They talk about their personal danger; they talk about Hell; they talk about the wrath of God.
And they convince their lost subjects that for the sake of eternal self-preservation, they must repent of their sins and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
If the question: “what must I do to be saved?” was referring only to escape from the earthquake or even from the wrath of God,
There might not necessarily have been any desire to learn more about the Lord.
But if the man’s heart had truly been regenerated, then we would expect to see him hunger and thirst after Christ.
“And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.”
Immediately this sin-hardened man wanted to learn more about Christ, about salvation, and about his responsibilities as a Christian.
Undoubtedly he had no idea about what he needed to learn and where he should go next.
But he was completely open.
And the missionaries “spake unto him the Word of the Lord.”
They began to show him from the scriptures some of the beautiful intricacies of salvation.
And they shared some of the wonderful details about the life and the death of the Lord Jesus.
They referred to some of the instructions of Christ and urged upon him some of the new responsibilities that he would have as a child of God.
And for some reason or other, the ideas and responsibilities which were so totally foreign to his mind a day earlier were becoming precious and exciting to him.
He was saying and thinking, “Teach me. Teach me. I want more of this.”
It was not enough for this man simply to know that his soul was now safe.
He had an household; he probably had a wife and possibly some children, who had eternal souls too.
And probably he had at least one or two servants under his root as well.
The word “house” in verses 31 & 32 refers to the entire household, which was not confined to blood kin.
He might not have been able to tell his loved ones very much about the Lord Jesus and the nature of salvation.
He could tell them what he had personally experience:
He could describe the conviction of the Holy Spirit.
And he could talk about what had happened in the prisoner’s portion of the jail; how that they had been loosed from their bonds, but that they hadn’t fled.
He could talk about the peace that felt and the weight that was lifted when he trusted Christ
But the theological aspects of salvation were just tiny buds in his brain at this point.
The man’s excitement and enthusiasm must have prepared their hearts for the message of the apostle.
When people are truly born again, they want to share what they possess of Christ with others.
There is a kind of Statute of Limitations law regarding our past sins.
All sin is against God, because all sin is contrary to the declared will of the Lord.
But many sins, while committed against the Lord, are also committed against other human beings.
In a few cases, the human effects of sin can be, and should be corrected.
The Old Testament Law proscribed some laws of restitution in certain cases of sin.
Leviticus 6 says: “And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, If a soul sin, and commit a trespass against the LORD, and lie unto his neighbour in that which was delivered him to keep, or in fellowship, or in a thing taken away by violence, or hath deceived his neighbour; Or have found that which was lost, and lieth concerning it, and sweareth falsely; in any of all these that a man doeth, sinning therein: Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found, or all that about which he hath sworn falsely; he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto him to whom it appertaineth, in the day of his trespass offering.”
Solomon, the wise man, really believed in restitution and reparation:
But if he be found, he shall restore sevenfold; he shall give all the substance of his house.”
The invasion into our personal space that isn’t easily removed.
The natural, sinful man, whose primary interest is in himself, doesn’t care much about correcting the problems and easing the pain that he has caused others.
But when those same natural, sinful men are born again by the grace of God, their find in their hearts a new attitude towards those whom they have hurt.
In the case of this jailor, his heart ached as he thought about the pain that he caused these missionaries.
“And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes.”
Those wounds were undoubtedly giving Paul and Silas fits – they were extremely painful.
And if they weren’t treated, under the circumstances, they were going to become infected.
Basic humanity should have driven this man to undo whatever he and his associates had done.
But there was now much more in his heart than basic humanity; he was a child of God; he was a Christian brother to these men.
But all that he could do was WASH their stripes; he could not REMOVE them.
There is a kind of reverse statute of limitations on such things as this.
He could with all his heart say that he was sorry for the pain that he had caused,
And he could do everything within his power to make God’s missionaries comfortable in the future, but he couldn’t remove the past.
But isn’t the grace of God amazing?.
As far as those aspects of our sins which are against the Lord,
When they are placed on the Saviour, and he has born them away, the Lord doesn’t think of them again.
Every stain and aspect of those sins are gone.
Not only is the pain gone, but so are the wounds and the welts.
Just as it was with the household of Lydia, earlier in this chapter, Protestant writers like to say that this justifies the baptism of babies.
But it does no such thing.
There isn’t a hint of a single baby in this household, and I’ll give a $1,000 to anyone who can find one here.
And when most Protestants refer to sprinkling or pouring water over their subjects and calling it “baptism,” I think that they have an even harder time with that.
As we’ve said hundreds and hundreds of times the Greek word which is transliterated “baptized” in verse 33 can be defined in no other way than IMMERSE, DIP or PLUNGE.
There is no reason to spend any more time on this matter than we already have.
There is no room for compromise, or for any other interpretation or definition, when it comes to baptism.
The man and his family were immersed.
Why was this man and all his household baptized?
Because they wanted to say that they were committed now to Christ Jesus.
They wanted to say that they were beginning to live new lives in Christ.
Whereas they had been dead IN sin, now they were dead TO sin
Whereas Christ had been DEAD TO THEM, now they were ALIVE TO CHRIST.
They were new creatures, as if they were alive from the dead, which in fact was the truth.
And in being baptized, they were risking the kind of treatment that had been laid upon Paul and Silas.
They were willingly risking their lives for the Lord.
People who were willing to do this certainly must have had new lives to risk for the Lord.
I think that there is a very important incidental statement in verse 34:
Luke said that they rejoiced “believing in God.”
“Believing in God” is different from “believing God” although both are important.
It seems to me that in this context “believing in God” implies one of two things:
Or Luke was showing us that this man believed that Jesus Christ was God.
Luke was saying that this man believed that Jesus Christ is divine; he is deity; he is God.
No wonder he and his family were rejoicing.
They were children of God through faith in Jesus Christ.
They were forgiven through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.
They were friends with God through grace.
Hospitality is a Christian grace, and it is later commanded by the Apostle Paul.
There is no doubt in my mind that this man became a child of God.