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When Luke speaks of Jews', Greeks', and Gentiles' conversions, does he refer to men and women only (an adult population), or could his words also include children?

Conversion of Jews and Greeks

1 In Iconium they entered the synagogue of the Jews together, and spoke in such a way that a large number of people believed, both of Jews and of Greeks. 2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the minds of the Gentiles and embittered them against the brothers. (Acts 14:1-2, NASB® 2020)

Conversion of Gentiles

44 The next Sabbath nearly all the city assembled to hear the word of the Lord. 45 But when the Jews saw the crowds, they were filled with jealousy and began contradicting the things spoken by Paul, and were blaspheming. 46 Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly and said, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first. Since you repudiate it and consider yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us,‘I have appointed You as a light to the Gentiles, That You may bring salvation to the end of the earth.’” 48 When the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord; and all who had been appointed to eternal life believed. (Acts 13:44-48, NASB® 2020)

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  • "When Luke speaks". Does he say children anywhere? Inviting speculation isn't a good approach to the text. Perhaps another scripture would be more appropriate for this query. – user48152 Apr 19 at 1:36
  • If you suspect child baptism is a silly idea, maybe ask, 'what is the biblical basis for it' on C SE – user48152 Apr 19 at 1:43
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    What age group are you calling 'children' ? Teens ? Tweens ? Ten year olds ? Infants ? – Nigel J Apr 19 at 5:44
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There were examples of the whole household being saved.

Lydia's household in Act 16:

13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the river, where we expected to find a place of prayer. We sat down and began to speak to the women who had gathered there. 14One of those listening was a woman from the city of Thyatira named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth. She was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message. 15When 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.

The Jailer's household:

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34The 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.

When Luke speaks of Jews', Greeks', and Gentiles' conversions, does he refer to men and women only (an adult population), or could his words also include children?

Luke doesn't make any distinction between adults and children. It is only natural to assume that children are included in both families.

Please note that my answer does not normalize the doctrine of infant baptism.

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  • That was my thought as well. I would also add that the mixed multitude that came out of Egypt were "converts" as well. As many as there were, one can safely assume there were women and children as well. Those gentiles had to agree to follow Torah as much as the Jews did. There was no distinction. I mention this because patterns help to unravel the bible as much as hermeneutics does. – user42370 May 19 at 20:54
  • The jailer's household is not a great example for infant baptism because all those who were baptised also believed. – curiousdannii May 20 at 8:33
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    Perhaps since adult converts were circumcized in the Old Testament, but also infants, you should really be assuming infant baptism is the default/implied, not assuming it's not. And all this is playing along with the game that says we don't know how the early church viewed baptism, which is a strange game to play, since we do. – Sola Gratia May 20 at 17:09
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Were Jewish, Greek, and Gentile converts adults only?

Answer: 1) Yes, and 2) not quite.

Since young children are incapable of understanding repentance, they cannot be converted until they reach an age where they qualify. This is often considered the age of accountability, somewhere around 13 or older.

When the text states that one's entire household was converted, it cannot mean very young children because they possess little or no knowledge of the concepts necessary for salvation.

Previous mention has been made of the salvation attained in both Lydia's household as well as the Philippian jailor's. In both instances, note the central role of baptism, a biblical imperative. These early converts were baptized in their respective households "immediately."

However, it goes without saying that tiny children could never submit to this rite. They have very little concept of right and wrong, let alone good and evil. It should be apparent to all that the specifics pertaining to redemption should be the easiest of all subjects to grasp in Scripture, and that is certainly true. As one preacher on the radio often suggests: "The main things are the plain things, and the plain things are the main things."[1]

Author and commentator, Wayne Jackson of The Christian Courier wrote of such ideas, in this instance the debate over infant and child baptism:

It is suggested [that] baptism was symbolically pictured by circumcision. Colossians 2:11-12 is employed as a proof-text for this position. Since circumcision was for infants, it is contended that baptism is similarly for infants today.

There are several major flaws in this argument: 1) If circumcision typifies baptism, in the sense argued by pedo-baptists, then only males should receive baptism because only males were circumcised; 2) the only analogy between circumcision and baptism, as per Colossians 2:11-12, has to do with the fact that both involved “putting off the flesh.”

Circumcision [literally] severs the flesh. But in baptism, one determines to sever himself from fleshly pursuits. That exhausts the connection between circumcision and baptism. [Finally], since baptism is “for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38), it is not appropriate for infants or young children, because they have no sin (Matt. 18:3; 1 Cor. 14:20) [even if they ever understood what "remission of sins" meant].

No doubt many will argue that we are born sinful. I will not take the time to address that concern in this response.

The takeaway from this discussion is that child conversion is foreign to the New Testament. The redemption of infants and young children was never established either by Christ or His apostles. We must, therefore, conclude that when one speaks of a "conversion," as is the case with Acts 16 and many others:

The converts were all adults (whether younger, or older).

[1] Alistair Begg is the senior pastor of Cleveland's Parkside Church in Ohio.

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