Jews, Gentiles, the Book of Acts, and Baptism

A side note from Acts 13:24 which says, “Before the coming of Jesus, John preached repentance and baptism to all the people of Israel.” John’s baptism was specifically for Jews. It was a baptism of repentance to clean up the Holy Land and God’s chosen people for their promised Messiah. That was its purpose.

Once the Messiah came, John the Baptist decreased and left the scene along with his baptism.

Jesus came to save the world. As the New Testament continues we see Gentiles being brought in. This was the big point in Acts 10-11. Gentiles don’t do John’s baptism.

Gentiles are baptized with the Holy Spirit and water baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and in most places in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We can then expect to see Gentiles being baptized to show the broadening of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, no longer an Israel-centric message.

One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a God fearer. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message.  When she and the members of her household were baptized, she invited us to her home. “If you consider me a believer in the Lord,” she said, “come and stay at my house.” And she persuaded us.

Lydia was a Gentile. She is a God-fearer, which is the title given to Gentiles adherents to Judaism in Acts. Lydia believes and is baptized.

Also note the “if you consider me a believer” comment! Just because she was baptized there is no automatic assumption she is saved, she still leaves it up to their discretion. I find that interesting.

Later in Acts 16 Paul and Silas are imprisoned, and earthquake hits and opens the doors, yet all the prisoners remain. The jailer comes trembling, knowing something special is going on with these guys and asks what he can do to be saved.

The response is “believe in the Lord Jesus Christ.” Faith. Faith is always the key issue in salvation.

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 baptized.  The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.

Paul and Silas go to his house and preach to them. They believe and are baptized.

Acts will continue to show the regression of Israel and the progression of Gentiles. This is the fulfillment of their charge to begin at Jerusalem and then go out to the world. Gentiles are coming in, believing, being baptized, and receiving the Holy Spirit.

Salvation is free of any Jewish covenant distinctions and from John’s baptism. The Gospel order has come in and is available to all, both Jews and Gentiles.

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