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A Contextual Mistake

A contextual mistake


A closer look at believing on the Lord Jesus Christ



A text without a context is just a pretext.

A text without a context is just a pretext.  What does that mean?  If you look at a text and don’t view it in its entirety, you have a good chance of taking it out of context.  This happens many times when someone studies the Bible.  They may have a doctrine they want to show biblical support for and take a scripture out of context to fit their doctrine.  Another way to miss the context of the Bible is to read one scripture and fail to find the contextual meaning behind it.

In the most important doctrine, that of salvation, many can make an error in how they interpret Acts 16:30 – 31.  In doing this they make a doctrine of belief alone as a basis for salvation.


Acts 16:30-31

And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.


Reading Acts 16:30-31, it appears all that is required to be saved is believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.  How can you argue this? 

It is clear as clear can be.  Or is it? 


People use this scripture as the foundation of their salvation message.  All you must do to be saved is “believe”.  Nothing more, nothing less, it is as simple as that.  However, if true, they must say the Bible contradicts itself.  Here is why.


In Acts 2, we find Peter preaching to the onlookers after the outpouring of God’s Spirit.  At the end of the discourse we find the onlookers ask a most important question to Peter and the Apostles:


Acts 2:36 – 37

Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?


These Jews on the day of Pentecost asked the same question to Peter and the Apostles that the jailer did in Acts 16. 

What must we do to get right with God? 


Acts 2:38

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.


Why does Peter give an answer of “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” when Paul says “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved”

This appears to be a contradiction and an error in the Bible.


Acts 2:39 - 41

For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.


Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

The ones who readily accepted the preaching of Peter were baptized, not just a belief.  Again, this contradicts what Paul preached in Acts 16.

In looking at Acts 10 we find Peter preaching again, this time to the Gentiles.  While he is preaching, God’s Spirit falls on the Gentiles:


Acts 10:44 – 48

While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.


After they receive the Holy Ghost, the Jews (circumcision) were astonished that the Gentiles received the same promise that they had (Acts 2) with the infilling of the Holy Ghost.  Peter then said, who can deny them to be baptized?  Why didn’t he mention just believe and they would be saved?  Again, it appears Peter is preaching other than what Paul preached in Acts 16.

Even Paul, who preached you just had to believe, apparently preached a different message after Acts 16.   Let’s look at Acts 19:


Acts 19:1

And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,


Paul comes across disciples.  What is his first question to them?


Acts 19:2

He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.


Paul, seeing they took the first step towards Jesus by believing, asked, had they received God’s Spirit.  Their response was they hadn’t heard of it.


Acts 19:3

And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism.


Paul follows that up with a question in regards to their baptism. To which we find they are John the Baptists Disciples.


Acts 19:4

Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.


This coincides with Acts 16 as Paul says to believe on Jesus Christ.  If we were to stop here it appears that he preaches the same.  However, when we read on, we find Paul preached more.


Acts 19:5-7

When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

And all the men were about twelve.


As you continue to read, you see that Paul didn’t stop at believing, but rather baptized them in the name of Jesus and prayed for them and they received the Holy Ghost. 


In Acts 19, Paul preached the same message that Peter preached.  Repentance, water baptism and the infilling of God’s Spirit.

Why did he only tell the jailer he must believe?

If the Bible contains no contradictions, then why are we seeing contradictions?  Peter and Paul preached one message in Acts 2 and 19, but Paul contradicted it in Acts 16?

Remember, if you don’t understand something in its context, you will probably take it out of context.  This is where eavesdropping is so damaging.  You might here a section of a conversation and build off of that something that is completely inaccurate.  I’m sure we can all think back to a time we heard a portion of a conversation and thought one thing, when in reality it was taken out of context.

The same is true with scripture.  In not understanding the entire context of a scripture, we can easily take it out of context.  For example:


Luke 14:26

If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.


In looking at Luke 14:26, we find that we must “hate” our parents, siblings, children, even our own lives to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Have you ever attended a service where they teach hating your family, even your own self, in order to follow Jesus? 

NO!  Rather, they teach love as God taught love.  Yet, this is what we should teach if we interpret Luke 14:26 the same as some do Acts 16:30-31.

Let’s look again at Acts 16 in the full context:


Acts 16:30 - 31

And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved?

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.


If you were to stop reading, yes, it does appear all you must do is believe.  Remember, if you stopped reading in Luke, you would need to have a lot of hate in your life to follow Jesus.


Acts 16:32

And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house.


As we continue to read, we find that they taught them the word of the Lord in more length.


Acts 16:33

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


After more instruction, we find Paul baptized them.  They didn’t simply believe.

In interpreting Acts 16:30-31 as just a simple belief in Jesus Christ, you must then explain why Peter and even Paul himself, preached repentance, water baptism in Jesus name and the infilling of God’s Spirit to others.

However, taking Acts 16 in context, we find that they preached the same message as they preached in Acts 2, 8, 10, and 19.  That is: belief, repentance, water baptism in Jesus name and the infilling of the Holy Ghost.

The salvation message that we find in the book of Acts is one of believing (relying on) Jesus Christ for salvation through repentance, water baptism in Jesus name and the infilling of God’s Spirit.

  April 2021  
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