And they spoke to him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.…
It sometimes happens that a good man has to go alone to heaven: God's election has separated him from the midst of an ungodly family. But though grace does not run in the blood, yet it frequently happens that God, by means of one of a household, draws the rest to Himself. Bunyan, in the first part of his "Pilgrim's Progress," describes Christian as a lonely traveller. The second part, however, exhibits family piety, and many a gentle spirit has found it sweeter than the former. It is most natural and proper that your desire for the salvation of others should, first of all, rest upon your own families. If charity begins at home, so, assuredly, piety will. Let Abraham's prayer be for Ishmael, let Hannah pray for Samuel, let Andrew first find his brother Simon, and Eunice train her Timothy. Observe —
I. A WHOLE HOUSEHOLD HEARING THE WORD. If we are to have household conversion there must be a household hearing of the Word.
1. Now many fathers never hear the Word of God, because they regard the Sabbath as a day of laziness.
2. The mothers must hear the Word as well as the fathers. Many of them do, but many are detained at home with the children. Now it is the duty of every father, if he does not keep a servant, to take his turn with the wife and let her have her fair share of opportunity for hearing the gospel.
3. Then the children also must be thought of. We desire to see them converted as children. There is no need that they should wait until they are grown up, and have run into sin. Let the little ones be brought to hear the gospel. Let it be said of you, as of "Judah, who stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children."
4. Then there are the servants. You cannot honestly pray God to save your household unless you give the whole household an opportunity of being saved.
II. A WHOLE HOUSEHOLD BELIEVING (ver. 34).
1. They were new hearers, and yet they all believed. Is it not a sad fact that many of my old hearers have not believed? Oh! the responsibilities that are heaped up upon gospel-hardened sinners!
2. They were most unlikely hearers. In the society and associations of a jail there was very little that could be likely to improve the mother, to benefit the children, or elevate the servants. Yet how often are the most unlikely persons led to the Saviour. How true is it still of many who are outwardly religious, that "the publicans and harlots enter into the kingdom of heaven before them." This is an encouragement to you who work in the slums of this vast city.
3. Yet they were converted, there and then. I do not know how long Paul's sermon was; he was a wise man, and I should not think he would preach a long sermon in the dead of the night, just after an earthquake. As the lightning flash can split the oak from its loftiest bough to the earth in a second, so the ever blessed lightning of God's Spirit can cleave the heart of man in a moment.
4. It is said particularly of them all that "they believed." Was that the only thing? Could it not be said that they all prayed? I daresay it could, and many other good things; but then faith was at the root of them all.
5. Though converted suddenly, all of them were, nevertheless, very hearty converts. They were quick to do all that in them lay for the apostle, and for the good cause. It is delightful to meet your hearty Christian, who, when he gave his heart to Jesus, meant it, and devoted his whole body, soul, and spirit to the good Lord who had bought him with His blood.
III. A WHOLE HOUSEHOLD BAPTIZED.
1. "He" was baptized — the jailer. Then "all his" followed.
2. This was done straightway. There was not one who wished to have it put off till he had tried himself a little. In those days no one had any scruple or objection to obey. No minister has any right to refuse to baptize any person who professes faith in Jesus Christ, unless there be some glaring fact to cast doubt upon the candidate's sincerity.
IV. A WHOLE HOUSEHOLD AT WORK FOR GOD. They all did something. The father called for a light, the servants bring the torches. Here is work for himself, and for gentle hands to do: to wash out the grit that had come there through their lying on their backs on the dungeon floor, and to mollify and bind up their wounds. There was suitable occupation for the mother and for the servants, for they set meat before the holy men. The kitchen was sanctified to supply the needs of the ministers of Christ. Even our children when they are saved can do something for the Master. The little hand that drops its halfpence into the offering-box, out of love to Jesus, is accepted of the Lord. The young child trying to tell its brother or sister of the dear Saviour who has loved it is a true missionary of the Cross.
V. A FAMILY ALL REJOICING.
1. If the family had been left a fortune they would have rejoiced, but they had found more than all the world's wealth at once in finding a Saviour, therefore were they glad.
2. Though their joy sprang mainly from their believing, it also arose from their being baptized, for the Ethiopian, after he was baptized, "went on his way rejoicing." "In keeping His commandments there is great reward."
3. They rejoiced, no doubt, because they had an opportunity of serving the Church in waiting upon the apostle. They felt glad to think that Paul was at their table. And Christian people are never so happy as when they are busy for Jesus.
4. I have no doubt that their joy was permanent. There would not be any quarrelling in that house now, no disobedient children, no short-tempered father, no fretful mother, no purloining servants, no eye servers. Conclusion: That household is now in glory. With some of you the father is in heaven, and the mother is on the road, but the children! With others, your little ones have gone before you, and your grandsire is also in glory; but, ah! husband and wife, your faces are turned towards the ways of sin. There will be broken households around the throne, and if it could mar their joy — if anything could — it would be the thought that a son or husband is absent while the wife and mother sing the endless song. This is the last question, "Will my family be there?" Will yours be there?
(C. H. Spurgeon.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.