Acts 16:33 KJV

And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

It is said the jailer together with his family were all baptized that very midnight.Seeing it was midnight and there was no pool mentioned in the prison complex where Paul was incarcerated how could the whole family be baptized without anyone noticing it if they had to go out

Is there a possibility that a different baptism was administered here?

  • No need for a pool in the prison complex as the earthquake had affected the very foundations, Paul & Silas were outside the cells, the jail-keeper had come out and after a bit they went back to his house. A bit of moonlight might have aided their way to the nearest river or pool unaffected by the earthquake, though lanterns could have sufficed. Anyway, why would they not want anyone to notice the baptisms? They weren't doing this in a corner, just as earthquakes don't happen surreptitiously!
    – Anne
    Commented Feb 2, 2023 at 16:08

4 Answers 4


Note the comments of Gill on Acts 16:33 -

and was baptized, he and all his, straightway; by immersion, that being the only way in which baptism was administered, or can be, so as to be called a baptism: and which might be administered, either in the pool, which Grotius supposes to have been in the prison; or in the river near the city, where the oratory was, Acts 16:13 and it is no unreasonable thought to suppose, that they might go out of the prison thither, and administer the ordinance, and return to the prison again before morning unobserved by any; and after that, enter into the jailer's house and be refreshed, as in the following verse; and as this instance does not at all help the cause of sprinkling, so neither the baptism of infants; for as the jailer's family were baptized as well as he, so they had the word of the Lord spoken to them as well as he, and believed as well as he, and rejoiced as he did; all which cannot be said of infants; and besides, it must be proved that he had infants in his house, and that these were taken out of their beds in the middle of the night, and baptized by Paul, ere the instance can be thought to be of any service to infant baptism.

I also note that Philippi was coastal city with good water supply so any of these very local bodies of water would have been sufficient for regular baptism, ie, submersion..


This question would not be necessary if the Greek word "baptizo" had been properly translated, rather than transliterated from the Greek. It means to be dipped, submerged, immersed. Every time the Anglicized word "baptism" appears in the English translations, you need to think "immersion".

Strong's Gr. 907 "baptizo", to dip, sink. Thayer's Gr. Lexicon, II. "...an immersion in water, performed as a sign of the removal of sin, and administered to those who, impelled by a desire for salvation, sought admission to the benefits of the Messiah's kingdom;..." Source: Biblehub

Sprinkling was never a thought in their minds.

  • Thank you for the insight on the word "baptizo". It seems to be a verb but does not specific an object. If take it literally, we may add water as the object. But what if it meant spiritually? The moment of receiving the Holy Spirit, may feel like a body and mind refreshment after a shower or a bath. Commented Feb 5, 2023 at 15:40
  • Water was definitely the article / object used for the immersion, else there would not have been the need to deny it as a simple washing of the flesh. The prophesy of the Holy Spirit being poured forth upon that generation was from Joel 2, & that was not an automatic result of immersion / baptism. See my answer at the previous question here: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/53850/…. See also my posts at my blog for Testing The Spirits - Parts Va, b, & c. Speaking the words of the Holy Spirit was not a bodily...
    – Gina
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 3:57
  • ...possession, but a knowing. The 1st century AD disciples were given that knowledge directly & miraculously. Today we know His word by studying it. The more we know, the more we have the Holy Spirit through His word. Link to posts begins here: shreddingtheveil.org/2022/07/12/…
    – Gina
    Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 4:00
  • I like your insight and I would invite you to answer my question posted hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/81262/… Commented Feb 6, 2023 at 14:54

Let's review a few Scenarios

Scenario 1

In Acts 8, Peter and John went to Samaria, baptised those people who had accepted the word of God, it reads:

15 When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit,

16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.

The baptism didn't mention water, but the Holy Spirit.

Scenario 2

In his speech Peter defended the baptism of the Gentiles, the family of Cornelius, Acts 11:15-16 read:

15 “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning.

16 Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’

The baptism didn't mention water, but the Holy Spirit.

Scenario 3

In Acts 19, when Paul was in Ephesus, he had a dialogue with some disciples, it reads;

2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?”

They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.”

3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?”. “John’s baptism,” they replied.

4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.”

5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

The baptism didn't mention water, but the Holy Spirit.


Now, "What kind of baptism was administered in Acts 16:33?"

It was the baptism with the Holy Spirit. Whether water involved was secondary. But if water involved was no surprise, as the jailer's did get water, when we read

33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized.

Immersion in water was unlikely, as it was said the jailer's household got baptized before Paul and Silas was brought into the jailer's house.

34 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.

  • Regarding your scenario 1: If receiving Holy Spirit came after baptism, then baptism was not receiving Holy Spirit. If baptism was not receiving Holy Spirit then it must be water baptism. So::16 water baptism and :17 receiving Holy Spirit.
    – C. Stroud
    Commented Feb 2, 2023 at 23:24
  • @C.Stroud - Acts 11:16 worth a thought. Jesus told Peter "John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit". If receiving Holy Spirit is not a baptism, then what is the meaning of "baptized with the Holy Spirit"? If someone claimed to have baptized with the Holy Spirit, did he need to be baptized with water? Or either baptized with water or the Holy Spirit, the other one is not called a baptism? Commented Feb 3, 2023 at 3:07
  • Baptism in the NT has always referred to both water and the spirit. Water baptism was a sacrament, an outward ceremony that symbolised the inward baptism by the Spirit. So in any specific text, it's quite possible for baptism to refer to the water or spirit (or both). That becomes a question of case by case interpretation. Commented Feb 5, 2023 at 9:05
  • @PeterKirkpatrick - I agree with you. It has to determine by the whole narrative. There is an argument to be discussed, for example, the Samaritan baptized in water but hadn't received the Holy Spirit, Peter and John came, put their hands on their head and they received the Holy Spirit. Can we call this a baptism? Acts had a few account mentioned "received the Holy Spirit" but does not have the word "baptize" except Acts 11:16. Commented Feb 5, 2023 at 15:26
  • @PeterKirkpatrick - In the account of the Samaritans, baptism not always involve water and the spirit at the same time. Should this applicable to today's baptism? As we were told we will receive the spirit at time of our baptism with water. Commented Feb 5, 2023 at 15:31

From Act 16:30

"Sirs , what must I do to be saved?"

The jailer wanted to be saved.

Acts 16:33

"And he took them the same hour of the night and washed their wounds; and he was baptised at once..".

I don't think the jailer would have happily washed their wounds if he was still unsure or unsatisfied about his desire to be saved. Surely his heart was in fellowship with Paul and Silas as he washed their wounds. i.e. the Holy Spirit was dwelling in him as he cared for them.

Washing was a result of the jailer's changed life, and then came another outward sign of his inner change-water baptism. The inner work of the Holy Spirit comes first and later water baptism is an outward sign of the inner work.

This assessment of the sitation is parallel to Acts 10:45 and 10:47-

  1. Firstly "the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out" [baptised in the Spirit].

  2. and after "Can anyone withhold water for baptizing" [water baptism].

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