Whole Households

‘He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”
They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptised.
’ Acts 16:30-33

God wants the gospel to touch whole households.  

The jailer knew he would be executed in a painful way for losing prisoners, so he was ready to commit suicide. Faced with a dramatic miracle, he moves quickly from fear of the Roman Army to fear of the God who does miracles: “What must I do to be saved?”

Saved. It is a powerful word. Western Christians often think just of eternal life in the future, being saved from death and the consequences of sin. But salvation in the Bible is so much more - wholeness, health, peace, safety, security … these are some of the ideas implied in the word. And the Kingdom is both here among us and coming. So as we pray and trust we see many aspects of eternal life here and now, even though the fulness is for the future.

Paul is quick to reply, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved!”

Believe. Another rich word. We so easily think of believing as … well, just thinking! We assume that if we agree with something in our minds then we believe it. But the response Jesus calls for is to follow, obey and get to know Him. Believing in Jesus is acting on the basis of a relationship with Him in the Spirit. “I am the way, the truth and the life,” He said: truth is not a set of ideas, concepts or words but a Person!

“You will be saved—you and your household!”  

Household. In those days it was common to have relatives from the extended family living under the same roof, either to contribute to the family business or for shelter because they could not support themselves. A household like the jailer’s would also include one or more slaves. We might think of a person’s household as their “sphere of influence” or social network.

Paul was following Jesus’ instructions in Luke 10, no doubt because all Christians in the early years did so. Perhaps that is why Paul did not use his Roman citizenship to avoid arrest in the first place. We will never know but maybe he and Silas discerned through prayer and prophecy that this was to reach a “person of peace” and through him another social network in the city.

They explain the gospel and all in the household want to become disciples. So they are baptised almost straight away: we should not delay baptism when people are ready to respond to Jesus. Baptism in water is an important foundation and has spiritual effect beyond being a sign of repentance and faith. At around the same time we can safely assume they were also filled with the Spirit as God responded to their faith.

God loves whole communities and whole households. Who is in my sphere of influence? Am I enabling them to hear the gospel? Who are the people of peace around us who will open up their spheres of influence?

- Chris Horton

Inward prayer: Lord, give me a revelation of the richness of Your salvation for me today.

Outward prayer: Lord, help me to reach whole households in my sphere of influence. May I have opportunities even today to share the gospel.

1 Comment

Tomi - September 23rd, 2021 at 11:27am

Amen to the prayers.

Thanks Chris for the insightful write-up