Sunday May 14, 2023

Acts 16:33

Sunday, 14 May 2023


And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their stripes. And immediately he and all his family were baptized. Acts 16:33


The wording of the verse is more rightly rendered, “And having taken them in that hour of the night, he washed from the wounds, and he was baptized, and all his, immediately.” (CG)


This will be used for the evaluation. In the previous verse, it was noted that Paul and Silas spoke the word of the Lord to the jailor and to all who were in his house. With that complete, it next says, “And having taken them in that hour of the night...”


Remembering that it was “at midnight” that the apostles were singing in the prison when the earthquake occurred, one can assume that this is now between 12:30 and 2:30 depending on how long the intervening events took place. There was absolutely no hesitation in getting from the prison to the house. Even if the jailor lived on the prison premises, he had rushed to the house and excitedly gathered everyone in the house together to hear the news about Jesus.


Only after telling them about the message of salvation, does it next say, “he washed from the wounds.” The word louó is used. It means to bathe the entire person. The meaning is that their bodies were covered in blood from their beating. He didn’t just tend to the wounds, but he cleaned them up from their wounds.


It is a tender act that must be rightly considered. They were met in the prison by the jailor who wanted to know how to be saved. He then brought them to his house and had them tell everyone the good news. After they had told them the good news, he – at the same hour of the night – treated their wounds. It is a kindhearted act of care upon those who only a short time earlier were considered enemies of the people and thus enemies of the state because it was a Roman colony. And yet, he now has called them lords and ministered to them in this fashion. With that, it next says, “and he was baptized, and all his, immediately.”


This is in obedience to the word of the Lord as given in Matthew 28:19 –


“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit...”


There was no delay in administering this rite, but it was conducted, as it says, immediately. Along with obedience to the word of the Lord, there are several other things to consider in what is said. The word translated as baptize signifies to submerge. The literal sense is to dip under the water, coming from baptó, to dye or dip. There is a full covering with the fluid.


Further, the entire household was baptized, but that will require the words of the next verse to fully understand. And more, nothing is said about where they were baptized. What seems likely is that the same place where the family normally took their baths was used for their place of baptism, possibly a public bath house nearby.


Understanding this, and it is speculation, Luke is telling these things for a reason. The jailor had just bathed Paul and Silas from their wounds, meaning, washing the blood off them. It then notes that immediately after this occurred, the next thing that happened was that they were baptized, probably in the same water that had just been used to cleanse Paul and Silas.


If the supposition is correct, and it appears to be so based on Luke’s record, one can see the beautiful exchange that has taken place. Using the same word, louó, just used for washing Paul and Silas, the author of Hebrews says this –


“Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, 21 and having a High Priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed [louó] with pure water.” Hebrews 10:19-22


Paul and Silas had been cleansed from their physical wounds that were received in the administration of their duties as missionaries. That is being set in apposition to the cleansing of the jailor and his household from their deeper wounds of sin and enmity with God. Paul and Silas were cleansed from their own blood; the others were baptized as a sign of being cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. The specific order in which Luke records these events, summed up by the word parachréma, or immediately, appears to be his way of showing us the juxtaposition between the two events.


Life application: If you are being taken into the emergency room for surgery, it may be because your life is in danger. But if you are a Christian, this is only your physical life, which is going to end someday anyway. But those around you may have never heard the word concerning Jesus. They are going to die someday too, but without Jesus, there is no hope for them. So, if you can wait a moment for the surgery, wouldn’t it be the perfect time to say, “Stop for just a minute, I need to tell you about something more important than getting me to the operating table.”


This is basically what has happened in this verse from Acts. Paul and Silas were covered in their own blood and in need of care concerning their wounds. And yet, they first took the time to tell the others what they needed to know so that they could be saved. They gave their audience the true washing with pure water that they needed for their souls to be healed. Only after that did Paul and Silas receive their needed washing for their physical healing.


Let us consider this lesson and pay heed to what we are being told. The most important words of all must be conveyed for others to be saved. May we set our priorities and speak early and often about Jesus!


Glorious God, help us to rightly prioritize our thoughts, placing the important things first. And then, may we act on those things first as well. And the most important thing of all is for us to share the gospel. Give us the wisdom to speak while we can so that those who hear may be saved. To Your glory, we pray. Amen.

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