Household Baptism

Many, in an effort to justify their doctrinal practice of infant baptism, have run to passages which mention entire households being baptized (Acts 10; Acts 16; 1 Corinthians 1) and have inferred from these passages that infant baptism is indeed Biblical.  The question however is, should such inferences be made?

Specific Passages

First, let us examine Acts 11:13-14 cf. 10:24-48.  (a) Nothing is said in this entire context concerning infants.  How could anyone rationally draw the conclusion that infants were present?  Where is the evidence?  We must draw only such conclusions that are warranted by the evidence.  (b) Those present were present “to hear all things commanded” (10:33) Does this sound as if it includes infants? Do they listen to commands? (c)  The Holy Spirit fell upon all of them which heard, and they spoke in tongues and magnify God (10:44-46; 11:15).  Do infants speak in tongues and magnify God?  (d) It was those on whom the Holy Spirit had fallen, who were commanded to be baptized (10:47-48).  Can an infant receive and obey a command? Nothing here sounds like infants were included. Nothing here implies that they were.

Second, let us examine Acts 16:15. (a) Where is the implication that infants were baptized? Is there anything said concerning such in the text? (b) Brother Wayne Jackson correctly points out, “The word ‘OIKOS‘ frequently denotes a person’s servants’…” The Greek term for ‘household’ is ‘OIKOS‘ which technically can denote one’s entire property… to read something into ‘household’ that is not mentioned is wholly unwarranted. One could as easily prove that Lydia’s cat was baptized as he could that her babies were immersed” (Fourth Annual Denton Lectureship, Studies in Acts, p. 383). It is argued by some that the text only that Lydia’s heart was opened. This is true but there is no passage which explicitly or implicitly speaks of baptism of non-believers. “Household” does not imply infants. Households may believe (Acts 18:8).

Third, let us examine Acts 16:30-33.  (a) One must assume without evidence that infants are included, for there is not one thing said of such in the context.  (b) They listen to words preached (16: 32).  (c) They not only heard, but also, they seem to have believed (16:34).  This does not sound like infants. However, I would caution that this is a difficult passage. A.T. Robertson comments on the words “with all his household” saying “It is in an amphibolous position and can be taken either with ‘ rejoiced’ or ‘having believed’ coming between them” ( (d)  They rejoiced (16:34).

Fourth, let us examine 1 Corinthians 1:16. (a) Again, notice the absence to any reference to infants. [Remember that Crispus’ household believed (1 Corinthians 1:14 cf. Acts 18:8)]. (b) At the close of the book (16:15), we are told that those of this house “devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints.”  Does that sound like a reference to infants?   How can an infant minister to the saints?

This is all the household passages.  Not one warrants the deduction that infants should be baptized.

Baptism is for…

1. Those who believe (Acts 8:12; 8:36-37) and confess (Acts 8:36-37). Never do we read in the New Testament of one being baptized without belief.

2. Those who repent (Acts 2:38; 3:19 cf. Matthew 3:1-8).  Can an infant do this? Do they need to do this? Jesus said of little children, “of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 19:14).

3. Those who have been taught about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ (Acts 8:12).  This does not sound like infants.

If you were “baptized” in a wrong way which does not harmonize with the scriptures, then get yourself properly baptized, and for the right reasons. If you worry that things were not done Biblically, do not take a chance on your soul.

About Bryan Hodge

I am a minister and missionary to numerous countries around the world.
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