The famous expression “and all his household” as mentioned in Acts 16:33 about the conversion and baptism of Paul and Silas’s jailer, it is used by Paedobaptists, to defend their theory that infants were included in these family’s baptism, and therefore, hold it as an apostolic practice.
This expression in the book of Acts, it is also used in other parts of the Scriptures:
At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized.
And when she was baptized, and her household,
And I baptized also the household of Stephanas:
He will convey to you a message by which you and all your household will be saved.'
The word translated as “household” in Greek, is Oἶκος, which is related by the context to ‘family’. In other words, these people were baptized themselves, together with all their families, and possibly also slaves and servants and young children. However, this may not have included infants as traditionally is presented.
Another reason that is given by Infant baptizers, is that if Baptism replaces the old circumcision as the entry ritual into the believing community, and this included children, therefore, Baptism should also include infants. As an extension of the parent’s faith.
Firstly, it should be noticed that Circumcision, even when it is the point of entry into the old covenant tribe and was replaced by Baptism; it is still the entry to a totally different Pact, under different conditions.
The Old Covenant was established in basis of the obedience to the Mosaic Law and its 613 commandments; which were given only to the nation of Israel, based on blood lines (Exodus 24:7; Deuteronomy 4:1; 30:16; James 2:10); while the New Covenant is based on faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus on behalf of all humanity, through Grace, and open to anyone who believes and repents (Acts 2:21; 3:20; 16:30-31; Romans 5:18; 10:9-10; Titus 2:11 ).
Even as Baptism is the new door entry into the Covenant of Grace, this is applied to any human being who choses to follow Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, without any consideration of race, nationality, promise, age, sex, civil or economic status; and under no necessity to submit to the Jewish Law as necessity for salvation. It is based on grace, through personal faith and conversion to Jesus of Nazareth. Without this personal faith, salvation is impossible
(Hebrews 7:19; 11:6; Galatians 2:16)
Oἶκος, on the other hand, it implies indeed the whole family unit of the people involved, where this word is mentioned. However, considering the requirement of ‘personal faith’ for salvation, it is understood that this ‘family’ is an expression that automatically excludes anyone who refuses to accept the faith, or it is incapable to understand it.
It is worth to notice, that every single time the expression ‘household’ is used in the NT; it involved a personal conversion and submission of anyone involved in that ‘household’:
And they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house. … And he rejoiced along with his entire household that he had believed in God.
(Acts 16:32, 34)
One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God.
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel,
At Caesarea there was a man named Cornelius, a centurion of what was known as the Italian Cohort, a devout man who feared God with all his household, … For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. … For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God…. For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God.
When they heard these things, they fell silent. And they glorified God, saying, “Then to the Gentiles also God has granted repentance that leads to life.
(Acts 11:1-2, 44, 46, 18)
In the cases of Acts 16:33, the whole house believed the announcement and rejoiced in the Lord.
In Acts 16:15, Lydia was a convert proselyte to the Jewish religion, and obviously her whole family had known of the Law and the Prophets, and that is why they found it easy to accept the Messianic role of Jesus.
In 1Corinthians 1:16, speaking of the baptism of Stephanas’ family, Paul mentions that his mission was not to celebrate baptisms, but to preach conversion, pointing out the necessity of personal faith and conversion over the ritual of baptism, which submits the reason to be of this sacrament to a pre-existing faith.
Finally, in the case of Acts 11:14, it is obvious that all the ‘household’ baptized believed and were filled with the Holy Spirit in the same way as in Pentecost, speaking in tongues, who the suddenly calmed down and praised God for his mercy. They all accepted Jesus.
The article 1252 of the Roman Catholic catechism says:
“The practice of infant Baptism is an immemorial tradition of the Church. There is explicit testimony to this practice from the second century on, and it is quite possible that, from the beginning of the apostolic preaching, when whole "households" received baptism, infants may also have been baptized”
RCC – Art 1252
It clearly explains that Infant baptism was born from Tradition, and that the word ‘household’ “may” mean that also infants were involved but does not ensures it.
The reason is that to consider that infants were involved, based on the Jewish concept of inheritance, is an empty presumption, and totally contrary to the Christian gospel, that demands a personal conversion before any sacrament could be celebrated.
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