Salvation of the Philippian Jailer
The Salvation of the Philippian Jailor
A. Paul and Silas were stripped, beaten and cast in stocks into prison at Philippi without trial. Paul
later described this as being “shamefully entreated” (1TH 2:2).
1. Though their treatment was shameful, they had no reason to be ashamed for it. 1PE 4:16.
2. True Christianity may well mean such suffering. PHIL 1:29; 2TI 3:12.
B. Instead of fretting about their treatment, Paul and Silas prayed and praised God.
v.25 c/w JOB 35:10; PSA 42:7-8.
C. God honored their praises by arising for them. v.26 c/w 2CH 20:22.
D. The jailor feared for his life with good cause. v.27 c/w ACT 12:19.
E. What follows is a beautiful account of temporal salvation that God's elect acquire through faith.
1. The jailor said, “...what must I DO to be saved?” (v. 30).
2. Paul & Silas replied, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ...” (v. 31).
3. Believing is obviously something that one does, i.e., it is work---the keeping of a
commandment. 1JO 3:23.
a. Work: Something that is or was done; what a person does or did.
b. The jailor asked what to do, and he was told to believe.
c. Conclusion: belief is a work. c/w HEB 4:6-11; 1TH 1:3.
d. Men are not saved from death in trespasses and sins to regeneration unto eternal life
(1) Believing on the Lord Jesus Christ is a commandment. 1JO 3:23.
(2) The keeping of a commandment of God is an act which is accounted “our
righteousness.” DEU 6:25.
(3) Righteousness which we do is clearly a work. TIT 3:5.
4. The common interpretation of this passage is that the jailor was asking for a formula
whereby he could procure eternal life and righteousness. Then Paul and Silas provided him
a. Since preaching the gospel is an act of obedience (MAR 16:15 c/w ACT 10:42),
and believing on Jesus Christ is an act of obedience (1JO 3:23; ROM 10:15-16),
then righteousness would come by the obedience of three, not one.
ROM 5:19 c/w HEB 1:3.
b. The common interpretation of ACT 16:30-31 puts the power of eternal life into the
hands of the preacher and the hearer, but that power is only in Jesus Christ's hands!
(1) The common interpretation maintains that Jesus Christ died for all mankind,
of whom some go to heaven and others to hell.
(2) The difference why one man ends up in heaven instead of hell is not because
of what Jesus Christ did for him, since Christ did the same thing for the
person in hell.
(3) In fact, this system affirms that Jesus Christ did not actually save ANYONE
from hell by His bloodshed and death on the cross. He only made such a
salvation a possibility.
(4) According to this system, it is the will of the sinner that actually makes the
difference between hell and heaven. The sinner's free will is the savior, not
Christ, since Christ did the same thing for the man in hell as for the man in
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c. The common interpretation would make God's election of sinners unto eternal life
and their regeneration the effect of the sinner's will. But Scripture plainly teaches
that the sinner's will is not what produces these things. ROM 9:16; JOH 1:12-13.
d. If ACT 16:30-31 is setting forth a formula for acquiring eternal life and
righteousness, then the eternal salvation of the jailor's household was by proxy!
They would be saved by the faith of someone else.
e. Even if ACT 16:31 is treating of eternal salvation, it does not necessarily establish
a cause/effect relationship whereby the eternal salvation is the effect of the sinner's
(1) If ACT 16:31 is setting forth a cause/effect formula, similar logic would
demand that texts like MAT 25:34-40; JOH 5:28-29; ROM 2:6-7;
HEB 5:9 must be teaching eternal salvation on the basis of good works. But
see ROM 4:6; EPH 2:9; TIT 3:5.
(2) ACT 16:31, at most, could only be declaring the certainty of eternal life that
accrues to believers, the same as could be said of those who do good!
5. If the jailor could believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, he:
a. was more than a natural man only. 1CO 2:14.
b. had the Holy Ghost. 1CO 12:3.
c. was a son of God. ROM 8:14.
d. was born (again) of God. 1JO 5:1.
e. was justified in God's eyes. ACT 13:39; ROM 1:17.
f. had eternal life. JOH 5:24.
6. There are numerous salvations from God (other than eternal salvation).
PSA 44:4; 34:4, 6; 2SAM 22:3.
a. Believing the gospel of Christ can save God's children from:
(1) ignorance and chastening. LUK 12:48.
(2) deception. EPH 4:11-14.
(3) do-it-yourself righteousness. ROM 10:1-3.
(4) fear of death. HEB 2:15.
(5) an untoward generation. ACT 2:40.
(6) the power and pollution of sin. ROM 6:9-11.
b. Believing the gospel of Christ can save God's children to:
(1) assurance of eternal life. 1JO 5:1, 13.
(2) fellowship with God. 1JO 1:3.
(3) fellowship with like believers. ACT 2:40-42.
(4) rest in Christ's mercies and promises. MAT 11:28-30.
(5) fullness of joy and peace. 1JO 1:4 c/w ROM 15:13.
(6) REAL religion! JOH 4:23-24.
7. Consider what believing on the Lord Jesus Christ did for the Philippian jailor.
a. He was on the verge of suicide before the gospel, but afterwards was rejoicing in
Christ in peace. c/w PSA 55:16-18.
b. Death no longer was a terror to him. HEB 2:15.
c. Faith had turned his weakness to strength. HEB 11:34 c/w NEH 8:10.
d. He had called upon the name of the Lord and received deliverance. ROM 10:13.
e. Consider the jailor's experience in the light of ISA 65:1.
8. The account of the Philippian jailor's salvation is an example of gospel conversion and
a. He was obviously already a regenerate child of God, as proven by his ability to
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believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.
b. He had already been called inwardly by the quickening voice of Christ writing a
new law in his heart. JOH 5:25 c/w 1PE 5:10; HEB 8:10.
c. His condition, though, was like Lazarus whom Christ raised from the dead
(JOH 11:43-44): alive, but still bound in the wrappings of the old nature, needing
someone to set him free and help him to see.
d. With Paul and Silas' preaching, the jailor was called outwardly to the liberated life
of faith and light. 2TI 1:10.
e. He is living proof that Christ is especially a Savior to them that believe. 1TI 4:10.