Can you explain Acts 16:31 “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved-you and your household”?
First, we know that it does NOT mean that one person is saved because of another person’s belief. Scripturally is overwhelmingly clear on that point, which is the primary reason that infant baptism is a futile practice. So we know that simply having a parent, or the head of household, respond to the Gospel, is not sufficient for the salvation of any other individual, family or not.
That leaves us with some options:
First, it could mean that because the head of household believes, the other family members are likely to follow in genuine belief as well, due to their influence. It is a great encouragement for parents to know that their faith will be passed on through the generations and result in the salvation of much, if not all of their family.
Or, it could mean that the entire household will OUTWARDLY respond in the same way even if they are not genuinely converted internally. That culture was much different than ours, so the family would be expected to embrace whatever religion the head of household embraced. This does not mean that each family member was genuinely saved, but they would all go through the motions externally. However, even if this option is true, it still remains that the first option above comes into play.
Finally, it could be that the statement was directed to each family member individually. In other words, maybe it was understood more in this way, “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, and everyone in your family who believes will be saved too.”
It’s important that this verse is not used to teach “salvation by proxy”. The Bible is CLEAR that salvation is an individual response for each person.
Given that, we can be encouraged that the influence and example of any family member who is converted will extend into the entire household.