Excellent Resources for Arminians

Thomas Ralston wrote Elements of Divinity in 1851 and Richard Watson wrote his Theological Institutes in 1857.  Both works are written from a Wesleyan Arminian perspective and contain powerful polemics against Calvinism, as well as strong apologetics for Arminianism.


14 Responses

  1. Thanks for the information on these resources.

  2. Ralston’s “Elements” is a gem and well worth pursuing. I located a used copy online for $10.00. He was evidently a bishop in the Southern Methodist Episcopal church, which sadly has disappeared (or merged into the liberal denomination). His chapter on the subjects of baptism is one of the most powerful defenses of infant baptism (the classic Wesleyan/Arminian position) I have seen. May our Lord be pleased to raise up godly minded, sober and mature men like him for our generation!

  3. David,

    Ralston is certainly a gem. I have not read the entire work, but have read most of the material dealing with Calvinism and Arminianism. I am not that interested in debating the proper mode of Baptism at present (though I presently reject infant Baptism as the correct Biblical model), but I will have to remember to investigate Ralston’s arguments if ever I want to read a solid defense of infant Baptism.

    God Bless,

  4. Ben,

    I hear what you’re saying about not wanting to debate water baptism. I have been on quite a journey on this issue, finally settling in favor of household (including infant) baptism as the most likely biblical practice. Ralston’s chapter was one of the deciding factors in my thinking on this. He points out that Acts 16:34 (part of the account of the Philippian jailer’s conversion) is mistranslated in the KJV (and likely other translations as well). The Greek literally says “he rejoiced over/with all his house, that he was believing in God.” The Greek is very clear that the jailer was the one doing the believing and yet his entire household (including any young children in the home) were all baptized on the basis of his faith. This is very similar to the account of Abraham and the institution of circumcision, which as you know, is said to be the precursor to baptism. As the Scriptures make clear, Christians are the true sons of Abraham and part of the same ongoing covenant of grace with him.

    While I would not make baptism an issue worth contending over, it is noteworthy that the Wesleys and all of their Methodist contemporaries, all of the Reformers, the Waldensians, Tyndale, Hus, Moravians, Arminius, and on and on, all supported and practiced infant baptism. Of course, they all held this was the apostolic practice and was carried forth from the early church times up until their own day. It is an interesting historical study to see when exclusive “believer’s baptism” came into being. A good case can be made that it was an unknown teaching prior to being the rallying cry of the 16th Century Anabaptists, many of whom evidently picked up this concept from Erasmus. And of course, sprinkling or pouring was the primary mode of baptism throughout church history, with only in the last 200 years immersion coming to be propounded by many as the only proper biblical mode.

    In any case, this is a secondary issue that should not divide brethren. But it is a question worth pursuing, if for no other reason than it is important in helping to understand the idea of the covenant overaching the Scriptures, with its support for family solidarity, as well as how we view the standing of our young children before the Lord.

    Grace to you,

  5. David,

    I completely agree that infant baptism vs. believer’s baptism is not an issue to divide over. And I have great respect for Ralston based on his treatment of free will (I have not read much else by him). However, from what you say, his argument on Acts 16:34 is incorrect. While it is true that the Greek refers to the the jailer believing, it also indicates that his household believed, for it says that he believed “with his household”. You can see the same basic thing in the previous verse with regard to baptism. The Greek there indicates that the jailer is the one who was baptized, but then it says “and all his household”, indicating that his household was also baptized. In both verses the jailer is the focus, but the text indicates that his household also believed and also was baptized. Acts 16:34 is actually a strong argument for believer’s baptism.

  6. I don’t want to drag this out, but as long as there’s interest, I’m willing to discuss it.

    I am not a Greek expert by any means and don’t want to portray myself as such. When I first read Ralston’s comments on Acts 16:34, what he wrote seemed plausible but I wanted to confirm it with other sources. Here is a direct quote of Ralston (I encourage you to read the whole chapter–it’s very powerful):

    -The jailer “was baptized, he and all his, straightway.” Yet there is not a word about faith being required of any but the jailer. If it be objected that the apostle spoke the word to “all that were in the house,” and that the jailer “rejoiced, believing in God with all his house,” hence they were all adults, to this we reply, although it be admitted that there were adult members of the “house” who heard the word and “rejoiced, believing in God,” in company with the jailer, yet this does not necessarily exclude infants from being also embraced in the “house,” and being baptized. It is not said that none received baptism, but such as heard, believed, and rejoiced. The record of the baptism is in a separate verse, and simply states that the jailer “was baptized, he and all his, straightway.” Here there is no restriction of baptism to such as believed. Nor is there any proof that all the “house” believed. It cannot be disputed that the phrase translated, “and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house,” might have been more accurately rendered thus, “and he, believing in God, rejoiced with (or over) all his house.” Hence, there is still no proof that all the “house” were adults; but there is explicit testimony that the jailer and all his were baptized. (http://www.imarc.cc/baptize/ralstonbap1.htm)

    I’m sure Ralston was thoroughly versed in the Greek, but his rendering certainly goes against most translations of this passage, so I had to check this out further. I talked to my father, who is not a supporter of infant baptism but does read Greek, and he confirmed Ralston’s position. I then asked a brother who reads Greek and also practices household baptism, and here is his response:

    “The last part of verse 34 literally says:

    he rejoiced with his entire household, he having believed in God

    “The interesting thing in Greek is that participles like the one above (he having believed) are attached to a particular noun in the sentence by their conjugation, so you know exactly who it is that is doing the action of the participle. In English, we don’t have this but have to guess who is being referred to by the participle. The Greek participle here (pepisteukwȧ) is conjugated to attach to the masculine, singular subject of the sentence. That’s the jailer.”

    In other words, this passage (in the original language) very clearly tells us that it was the jailer was the one doing the believing, although his whole house rejoiced with him. It would thus appear that on the basis of his belief, his entire household was baptized. As Ralston indicates, this does not rule out the possibility that others also believed at that time prior to their baptism, but it is very noteworthy that v.34 explicitly states that the jailer was the one “having believed [or believing] in God)” and therefore translations that declare or imply that his whole household were all believing are not at all accurately translating this passage.

    There are of course other accounts of household baptisms in the NT, but this one is the fullest and most striking in terms of what it tells us about apostolic baptismal practice. We in the modern age are so used to thinking in individualistic terms that it is very hard to place ourselves in the mindset of the 1st century, when household solidarity was the norm. For the Jew (and Jewish converts), when the head of a household converted, it was just assumed that the rest of the household would follow course in accepting the new faith and in receiving the mark of the covenant (circcumcision prior to Christ; baptism after). For a Jew to become a Christian and his children be excluded from receiving the sign of membership in the new covenant would be unthinkable and a regression rather than an improvement over the old covenant.

    It’s noteworthy that the question of circcumcision was still being debated for some period of time after the Ascension. The controversy was not “Are children a part of the new covenant” but “Do Gentile converts need to receive circumcision?” There are no accounts in the NT of the children of believers needing to be baptized later in life, but there are several instances where children (even very little ones) are described as already “in the Kingdom” and part of the household of faith.

    This is one of the things that has really bothered me about modern Wesleyan/Arminian theology: We seem to have missed out on the Biblical emphasis on family and children. Although I believe they err in many important respects, our Reformed brethren have done a very good job of emphasizing the criticial importance of the Biblical family unit (the family integrated church movement being a prime example). Although Calvinists are divided over the baptism issue as well, I think those who have maintained the Biblical practice of household (including infant) baptism have a proper base for addressing family integrity and are most consistent in their teaching.

    So I stand with the early church, Wesley, Arminius, Fletcher, the Moravians, Methodists, Episcopalians, and so on, in subscribing to the practice of household baptism. It provides the most coherence in terms of how we view children and sustains family unity in the face of an increasingly fragmented society.

    Grace to you,

  7. David,

    While I am sure Ralston was well versed in Greek, his comments on the rendering of the passage present an unlikely rendering. There is a reason why the vast majority of modern translations translate the passage in such a way that show that the whole household believed, because that is the most accurate rendering of the Greek. The more supposedly more accurate rendering that Ralston gives does not match the most literal translation of the Greek. It’s strange that he suggests that “with his whole household” could mean “over all his house”; Greek lexicons agree on rendering it “with all one’s household” or the like. But even if one granted his unlikely rendering, and referred the “with his whole household” to only rejoicing, it still implies his houseld believed, for at the very least they rejoiced with him because he believed. And we are supposed to think that they did not believe, but rejoiced over the head of the household coming to faith? That makes no sense. Their rejoicing over his newfound faith implies their faith as well. But as I said, modern translations typically agree that “with his whole household” refers at least to the jailer’s action in believing, i.e., that he believed with them, just as the prior verse uses a verb that only speaks of the jailer getting baptized, but makes it clear that the household got baptized too by saying “and all his household”. Do you realize that? In the way you have framed the issue, the verse does not say that his household got baptized? It says that he got baptized. But then it does make it clear that his household got baptized by saying “and all his household”. Similarly, in v. 34 it says that he believed (the verb only applying to him), but makes it clear his household did too by saying “with his whole household”. Let me leave you with a quote from one of the foremost Greek authorities of modern scholarship, the renowned A.T. Robertson, who lays out the meaning of the Greek here, noting that the “with his household” could refer to rejoicing or believing or both, taking “with his whole household” to indicate that his whole household both rejoiced and believed:

    “With all his house (panoikei). Adverb, once in Plato, though usually panoikiâi. In LXX, but here alone in the N.T. It is in an amphibolous position and can be taken either with “rejoiced” (êgalliasato) or “having believed” (pepisteukôs, perfect active participle, permanent belief), coming between them. The whole household (family, warden, slaves) heard the word of God, believed in the Lord Jesus, made confession, were baptized, and rejoiced.”

  8. What’s weird to me is the argument from silence. Ralston makes an issue of what the text “doesn’t say” in order to support his case, but then glosses over what the text doesn’t say concerning whether or not there were any infants in his household. If we cannot know that there were infants in his household, the whole argument seems very weak to me.

    As far as the early church, I just spent some time reading numerous quotes by ante-Nicene fathers, and, as far as the mode of baptism, it was always immersion. In a few quotes it was said that sprinkling could be used as a sort of last resort (if there is not place to do a proper baptism). I also found conflicting accounts of whether or not children should be baptized. In was obviously in dispute even back then (long before the 16th century). What was refreshing was the seeming tolerance for either opinion with regards to children.

    Another interesting point was the fact that the candidate for baptism was nearly always required to pray and fast for a period of time prior to being baptized, hardly something an infant could do.

    I think what we need to realize is that the Bible is written to people who are capable of understanding the word of God and exercising faith. It is not directed towards infants. The Biblical command is to repent (or believe) and be baptized. Since an infant can hardly be expected to repent or believe (nor should they need to in my opinion), then they should not be expected to be baptized either. Just my 2 cents without spending a lot of time investigating the issue.

    God Bless,

  9. Ben,

    Yes, I was thinking of mentioning the argument from silence thing, but I was focusing on the issue of what the verse actually states. IMO, Ralston’s position concerning Acts 16:34 goes from one weak argument to another. First an argument from silence assuming infants were in the household to even raise the text as a prooftext for infant baptism, and then appeal to a possible but less likely translation (referring “with his whole houseghold” to “rejoiced” instead of “believed”) , that even if granted would still suggest that all who were baptized had believed. But when taken in its most natural way with the large majority of translations, it stands as another scriptural witness that baptism is for believers, since it reports that the jailer believed “with his whole household”. Robertson is most likely right that “with his whole household” contextually applies to both rejoicing and believing.

  10. Brethren,

    As we all agree, this is not an issue that need cause division among us, yet it is important enough to discuss with due deliberation.

    I cannot argue for infant baptism based on my knowledge of the Greek as that is not an area of personal expertise, yet I think the Greek is very clear (as I noted previously) that the “believing” going on in v.34 is specifically used in a masculine, singular sense and cannot properly be applied in a plural manner (why most translations do so is a matter of conjecture, although it’s probably fair to say that most of the translators come from a Baptistic perspective or have not carefully considered the original text). Therefore, going solely on the literal reading of the Greek text in v.34, we can conclude with certainty that the jailer was believing at the time of the household baptism (the grammar of the text is clear that all were baptized), but we cannot determine based strictly on the text whether others in his household possessed personal faith upon their baptism. I believe this is Ralston’s main contention, and he is fully aware that the passage (nor other household baptisms in the NT) does not explicitly enumerate infants among those being baptized.

    But to address the argument from silence, can anyone locate an instance of a child of any age being baptized in the NT? I am aware of only instances of adults being baptized. Does this mean that no children of any age (8, 10, 12, etc.) were baptized and that they had to await adulthood to receive baptism? I don’t know of many “believer’s baptism” advocates who make this case, yet there is no explicit scriptural warrant for the practice of baptizing children at any age. But if we have to have explicit Scriptural support for our baptismal practices, then no children at all should be baptized (or to take this to the extreme of some early Anabaptists, baptism should be postponed until age 30 because that’s when Jesus did it!).

    Ralston discusses the issue of the love feast (communion). Nowhere in the Scriptures is it stated that women took part in communion. Can we therefore conclude that woman did not and cannot take part in the meal? The answer is obvious, yet it shows that in the instance of the other of the two ordinances, those who insist that infants are not a proper subject of baptism change their hermeneutical rules and admit to an ordinance those who are not expressly stated to be allowed in the Scriptures.

    Ben, concerning your comments on the Bible not being addressed to young children because they are not capable of believing, I would be careful about this. Please read Matthew 18:6, Matthew 21:15-16 (quoting Psalm 8:2), Luke 1:41, Psalm 22:9 and a host of others explicitly ascribing belief to little children. I would ask you this: If an infant dies, will she be admitted to heaven? If so, on what basis? Can anyone be admitted who has not been regenerated, and can anyone be regenerated apart from saving faith? Fletcher evidently made the case that infants come into the world in a regenerate condition. I would be very careful about dismissing the spirituality of children and their ability (even at a preverbal stage) of having a genurine relationship with the Lord who created them.

    Regarding church history and the subjects and modes of baptism, there is a lot written on this subject, some of it more valid than others. I would refer anyone really interested in delving more into this topic to the works of Joachim Jeremias. I do not endorse everything he wrote, but his discussion of the early Church Fathers on baptism is very revealing.

    Also, for a discussion of the most likely Biblical mode of baptism, take a look at “Twelve Reasons why Immersion is no Baptism” by another 19th century minister:

    The title is a bit provocative but his reasoning is very powerful. I personally have no problem with immersion as an acceptable mode, but find sprinkling or pouring to be more probable as the Biblical practice. In Mark 7:4 we find that when the Pharisees come from the marketplace they wash (literally “baptize themselves”) and practice the washing (literally “baptizing”) of cups, pitchers, copper vessels and couches. We know that the ceremonial cleansing they did was via sprinkling. I think it would be a bit tricky to regularly dunk themselves and their couches! 🙂 (As an aside, I used to be strongly in favor of immersion.)

    Again, the case for household/infant baptism does not rest solely on Acts 16:34, although in my opinion that is a strong factor in its favor. Ralston musters many other sound arguments for this practice. I would seriously urge you to please take a look at his whole chapter (the link is in my previous post), and see if there isn’t a lot more to this than might initially appear.

    This will be my last post on this topic, but I want to thank you both for the courteous discussion. May the Lord grant us all the grace and wisdom to clearly discern and apply His will, not just on this, but in every area of the Christian life.

    Keep your eyes on Jesus!

  11. David,

    I have been focusng on Acts 16:34 because you seemed to cite it as a main argument and because its natural reading is nearly opposite to the way you and Ralston take it. I do not really want to get into a full blown discussion of baptism. So I’ll stick to Acts 16:34. You don’t seem to be addressing what I have actually said about it. Do you realize that the literal Greek does not particularly support your argument? You have not addressed the specifics of what I have said about it, so I would ask you to go back and read my earlier comments. Let me just highlight here that just as “the “believing” going on in v.34 is specifically used in a masculine, singular sense”, so in v. 33 the verb for being baptized is in the masculine singular, referring to the jailer. Do you understand that? You acknowledge that the whole household was baptized. How could that be if the verb is in the masculine singular? Because the text adds “and his whole family”. It is the same basic thing in v. 34. It refers to the jailer believing in the masculine singular and also has a phrase that applies that to his whole household, namely, “with his whole household”. I gave you a quote from one of the most distinguished Greek scholars of the modern era explaining the Greek of the verse, and it does not comport with what you are saying. The reason why most translations refer believing to the jailer’s household along with him is not really a matter of conjecture; translation committees translate as they do because they think it is the most accurate rendering of the Greek. In this case, the most accurate rendering in context refers faith to the jailer with his whole household.

    God bless!

  12. OK, I had really intended not to post again, but your challenge that I have not specifically addressed your argument makes me jump back in. 🙂

    It is said that one’s presuppositions determines one’s conclusions. This is certainly true for all of us, and the challenge is to be willing to lay aside the notions that have been ingrained in us for years (sometimes since infancy) if we are faced with overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Sometimes an idea seems so “self evident” to us that to consider we might be incorrect is nearly impossible.

    In our modern individualistic and feminized culture, the idea that a household would follow the lead of the household head seems rather odd, outdated and even patriarchal. We are taught from our earliest days to think for ourselves and exercise indepence without too much concern for authority. Yet in Bible times, this was not the case. As the head decided, so went the family, at least outwardly if not in actual heart obedience. So just as when a Gentile converted to Judaism, all the males (including infants) of his household were naturally expected to receive the sign of initiation, so it is (the argument goes) that when a household head converted to Christianity, the head (usually a man, but not always, as seen with Lydia) receives the sign of initiation, as do all the members of his household, regardless of age or intellectual capacity.

    But to one who does not think in these terms but has been taught “only those old enough to profess faith can be candidates for baptism,” the idea of household solidarity (and thus household baptism) seems foreign and suspect. Thus it is that A.T. Robertson (no doubt a fine scholar) can conclude, “The whole household (family, warden, slaves) heard the word of God, believed in the Lord Jesus, made confession, were baptized, and rejoiced.” That Robertson’s conclusion is possible is not debated, but that is necessary is very much in question. In fact, I would contend that a close reading of the text cannot bear out every point of his contention.

    No one doubts that the entire household of the jailer was baptized (v.33). There is no ambiguity in the Greek text to make us wonder about that.

    Here is a quote from Gregg Strawbridge, a contemporary advocate of infant baptism, which addresses your point concerning the connection between verses 33 and 34 and the specific language used:
    “In the Philippian Jailer passage (16:31-34) and the Corinthian passage with Crispus (18:8), the Greek texts use singular verbs, not the plural verbs, to describe the action of believing. These texts do not say, the Jailer (or Crispus) “and (kai)” his household “believed” (with a plural verb). This would be one way Luke could have nuanced the text to indicate the equal action of each member in believing. This is something Luke surely would have said if he was seeking to correct the covenantal household concept established in the previous millennia of Biblical history. Instead, these texts teach what any Old Testament believer might have expected: the Jailer, the household head, “rejoiced (singular verb) greatly, with all his house (panoikei, an adverb), having believed (pepisteukos, participle, singular) in God” (16:34, ASV); and Crispus, the household head, “believed (episteusen, verb, singular) in the Lord with (sun) all his household” (18:8). However, observe Luke’s careful language indicating that baptism is administered to each member of the Jailer’s household: “he was baptized, he and (kai) all his household” (16:33).
    (end of quote) http://www.girs.com/library/theology/gs_infbap.html

    Here is another quote similar to Robertson’s. Carefully note the conclusion:
    “The phrase ‘together with his entire household’ is placed at the end
    of the English sentence so that it refers to both the rejoicing and the
    belief. A formal equivalence translation would have ‘and he rejoiced
    greatly with his entire household that he had come to believe in God,’
    but the reference to the entire household being baptized in v. 33
    presumes that all in the household believed.” (end of quote).

    Do you see the interpretive twist placed on the passage? Both Robertson and the quote immediately above assume (presume) that only professing believers are baptized and therefore even though v.34 clearly grammatically has the jailer’s belief in view, somehow his whole household must have believed as well, otherewise they just wouldn’t all have been baptized!

    Our presuppositions determine our conclusions. It we start with the premise that only those old enough to profess faith can be baptized, then any passages with evidence to the contrary will be interpreted in such a way as to make it sound like only older children and adults were baptized, and that infants could never be baptized because by definition they cannot meet the criteria set for receiving baptism.

    I conclude with a lengthy quite from Peter Edwards, a former Baptist pastor who came to embrace paedobaptism after considerable study of the issue. He wrote a very compelling work in 1795 and I am not aware of any Baptists who have successfully refuted it:

    “IV. The historical account of the baptism of households as recorded in the Scripture.

    The instances of this kind are three; the family of Lydia, Acts xvi. 15; the family of the jailer, Acts xvi. 33; and that of Stephanas, 1 Cor. i. 16. The case of the jailer and his family is thus described: “and he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes, and was baptized, he and all his, straightway. And when he had brought them into his house, he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God, with all his house, eegalliasato panoiki pepisteukos to Theo.” He rejoiced domestically, believing in God; i.e. he, believing in God, rejoiced over his family. Now, as the household of the jailer is expressed by the phrase, “all his, or all of his,” it explains the term Oikos, household, or family, which is used in the two other instances: so then, to baptize a man’s household is to baptize all his. This may serve as a pattern of primitive practice—he and all his were baptized. But whether all believed, or were capable of believing, is not said, no mention being made of any one’s faith but his own. And though I do not consider this historic account as having force enough of itself to evince the baptism of infants, yet there are two considerations which give it weight on that side.

    (1.) Its agreement with that practice, in which we are sure infants were included: I mean the practice of Abraham, and the Jews, with respect to circumcision. This agreement may be considered, 1. In the principle which led to the practice. Circumcision was founded on this promise of God, “I will—be a God unto thee, and to thy seed.” Baptism proceeds on this, that the promise is to you and to your children; and in this they are both alike. 2. In the practice itself. When Abraham received circumcision, his household were circumcised with him; so when the jailer was baptized, all his were baptized likewise. Now, when we discern two cases alike in principle and practice, and are sure that infants were included in the one, we then very naturally are led to conclude, that infants must be intended in the other.

    (2.) Its accordance with the hypothesis of infant baptism. Such accounts as these have a favourable aspect on the sentiments of Paedobaptists; because on their plan, provided they were placed in the same circumstances as the apostles were, whose lot it was to preach the gospel where Christ had not been named; cases of a like nature would very frequently occur. Whereas, on the plan of the Baptists, if placed in similar circumstances, though we might hear of various persons baptized on a profession of faith; we should not expect to hear of the baptizing of households; or, that any man, and all his, were baptized straightway. And indeed, the very idea of baptizing households, and of a man, and all his, being baptized at the same time, does so naturally fall in with the views of Paedobaptists, that I am inclined to think it passes with the common people, instead of a hundred arguments. For though they do not reason by mood and figure, neither do they confine themselves to logical accuracy, in any form; yet they have logic enough to see, that the baptizing of a man, and all his, and likewise of this and the other household, is by no means agreeable to the plan, and that it has no resemblance to the practice of the Baptists.

    It is in this way, I consider these accounts of baptizing as having weight in the present inquiry. Here are facts recorded, relative to baptizing; I take these facts, and compare them with the proceedings of different baptizers; and I find they will not agree to one class, but very well with the other: I, therefore, am led to conclude, that that class of baptizers agree best to the primitive practice, to whom these facts will best agree. For, as the practice of the apostles has no affinity with that of the Baptists, it is very reasonable to infer, that their views of the subject could not be the same.” (http://www.biblelighthouse.com/sacraments/baptism-edwards1.htm)

    In conclusion, we agree that the Bible does not explicitly command the baptism of infants. Yet to insist for such a command for this while embracing other practices not explicit in the Scriptures is inconsistent. IMO, the evidence implying the practice of infant baptism is very strong. One final thought: No one doubts that the children under the Abrahamic covenant were included in the community of faith and entitled to the sign thereof. Is it plausible that the New Covenant is less inclusive and now excludes our children? On the contrary, we see that the New Covenant (in actuality I think the same covenant but revealed in the full light of the glorious gospel), the promises and blessings are better, stronger and surer, and that the promise is to us and our children, as was announced on Pentecost (Acts 2:39). Thus Paul can say even to the parent married to an unbeliever, “otherwise your children would be unclean, but now they are holy” (1 Cor. 7:14).

    OK, really this is my last post. I think we may have to agree to disagree, but at least I wanted to try one last time to clarify my position and respond to the concerns you raised in your last post.

    “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood (literally “from infancy”) you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Timothy 3:14-15).



  13. Well David, I hope you respond to this too, because I think there are basic facts about Greek you don’t understand.

    First, it is strange that you went and found an example of a translation that has a bias and states it, and then subsume Robertson under that and accuse him of bias. Can you identify any point of bias in Robertson’s statements? There is none. He gives an objective, factual account of the Greek, the “with his whole household” can grammatically go with either “he rejoiced” or with “he believed”, and then essentially gives his judgment that it goes with both.

    Second, the comments from Strawbridge frankly show an ignorance of Greek on his part. This is a pretty simple Greek issue. When Greek adds more people to the action of a verb by way of “and” or “with” there is no need for the verb to be plural. This is demonstrated in Acts 16:33. Remember, “He was baptized” in v. 33 is as I pointed out masculine singular, not plural. Strawbridge’s comments do not address. Let me paste in what I wrote in my last post and ask you to address this specific point: “Let me just highlight here that just as “the “believing” going on in v.34 is specifically used in a masculine, singular sense”, so in v. 33 the verb for being baptized is in the masculine singular, referring to the jailer. Do you understand that? You acknowledge that the whole household was baptized. How could that be if the verb is in the masculine singular? Because the text adds “and his whole family”. It is the same basic thing in v. 34. It refers to the jailer believing in the masculine singular and also has a phrase that applies that to his whole household, namely, “with his whole household”.

    Now it is undicsputable that the phrase “with his whole household” could refer to either “rejoiced” or “believed”. Because of the context, most scholars think it goes with “believed” or both. That is the most natural way to take it. As I commented in an earlier post, even if it went with “rejoiced”, that still implies faith on the part of the whole household. But again, most scholars rightly recognize that in this context it is more natural to take it with “believed” or “rejoiced” and “believed”. It is truly baffling that Strawbridge cites Acts 18:8 for his position. In that verse there is no question at all that “with all his household” goes with the verb “believed.” There is nothing else for it to go with (unless you want to sauggest the outlandish and potentially blasphemous possibility that it indicates that he believed in the Lord and he believed in his household). There is no question that 18:8 indicates that Crispus believed and his household believed — as the text itself says, “he believed in the Lord with his whole household.” Now Strawbridge notes the use of Greek kai and Greek sun, but does not explain out why he notes the usage. Hopefully he was not trying to suggest that use of kai can indicate others joining in the action of the singular verb but that sun can’t. That would be absurd. Any number of examples can be given of sun indicating other(s) being included in the action of a singular verb. I’ll just give 3 examples so as not to draw this out too much (NASB version for the text):

    Acts 3:4 — But Peter, along with [sun] John, fixed his gaze [singular verb] on him and said, “Look at us!” — here both Peter and John fix their gaze on the man, but a singular verb is used of Peter primarily; the focus is on him even though John also gazed at the man

    Acts 3:8 — With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered [singular verb] the temple with [sun] them, walking and leaping and praising God. — Here the man enters the temple, with a singular verb focusing on him, but “with them” clearly indicates that they (Peter and John) also entered the temple. But I reapeat, only a singular verb is used.
    Acts 5:17 — But the high priest rose up [singular verb], along with [sun] all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy. — once again, a singular verb, here focusing on the action of the high priest in getting up, and then all his associates are included in that action; by saying “with all his associates”, the text indicates that they all got up too. He got up with all his associates, just as Crispus believed with his whole household (Acts 18:8) and the Jailer believed woth his whole household (Acts 16:34).

    Look, this is really a pretty simple issue grammatically. “with his whole household” in Acts 16:34 can go with either “rejoiced” or “believed”. Most scholars think it most natural to take it with “believed” in this context, or even with both. In either case, it indicates that the whole household believed. And this reading is strengthened by Acts 18:8 where it is undeniable that it indicates the whole household believing. It is possible, however thoguh less likely that the phrase is to be restrocted to “rejoiced”. In that case. But as I have said, even then it implies belief (since the household is rejoicing with the jailer because he believed; they rejoice with the joy that he got from believing). I think “with his whole household” in Acts 16:34 is best taken with both “rejoiced” and “believed”. What we get in the verse along wit hthe previous one is the report of a household converting to Christ, they believe and get baptized, led by the head of the household, the jailer.

  14. Excellent comments on baptism, David. My own journey regarding baptism went from acceptance of infant baptism since I was raised in the Reformed Church of America to rejection of it in college when I attended an independent charismatic church, to a re-acceptance of it in seminary. Now I am one of the few left in my denomination that promote it. It is lonely out here.

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