OceanSide church of Christ

 Previous Return to the list of Give An Answer Next 


Faith Only, Acts 16:31

Victor M. Eskew


          Many religious groups teach the doctrine of salvation by faith only.  One of the conversion accounts they use to justify their position is the conversion of the Philippian jailor.  In Acts 16:30, the Roman official asks Paul:  “…what must I do to be saved?”  Acts 16:31 contains Paul’s answer to the question:  “…Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”  When the proponents of faith only teach about this conversion, this is as far as they go in the account.  The often quote this verse, and this verse only.  This verse, they say, proves that all one must do is believe on Jesus Christ in order to be saved.

            By quoting this verse alone, they are not being honest with the text.  Acts 16:32-34 provides much commentary on the words found in Acts 16:31.  Let’s look at what these verses say:  “And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.  And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes, and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.  And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house.”  In verse 31 the jailor was told to believe.  In verse 34 he had completed that command.  Numerous things took place between the two verses:  1) The jailor heard the word of God; 2) He washed the stripes of Paul and Silas, and 3) He was baptized.  All of these things were part of the belief process.  Had he not done these things, it could not have been said that he believed in God.

            The jailor was told to believe because belief is the basis for all of the others steps in the salvation process.  If a man does not believe, he will not repent (Luke 13:3).  If a man does not believe, he will not be baptized (Mark 16:16).  Yes, belief is essential, but not belief only.  The jailor was saved by faith, repentance, and baptism just like the Jews were on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:37-38, 41).