In the Acts thus far, we have seen a number of conversion stories: the 3000 in Acts 2, the Samaritans and the Ethiopian official in Acts 8, Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9, and Cornelius in chapter 10. In Acts 16, there are two conversion stories: that of Lydia, the wealthy business woman from Thyatira and the jailer responsible for Paul and Silas while in prison.
Having seen all these, an interesting point arises: In the cases of Cornelius, Lydia, and the jailer, the text says that their whole household was baptized. Does that imply the children – even infants – were baptized? Would it be incredulous to believe none of these households contained children or infants and if they did contain them, are these texts proofs for the validity of infant baptism?
Jesus intimates that the candidates for baptism are those who are old enough to be taught and old enough to learn what it means to be a disciple – to learn the teaching of Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20). In Mark Jesus says the candidate for baptism must be mature enough to be a believer (16:15-16). But what about these conversion stories?
In the story of Cornelius, those gathered received the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. If the baptism of the “household” involved children or infants, does that mean that the infants also spoke in tongues? In the case of the Philippian jailer, while the Bible says that “all his family was baptized,” the text also says that all his family came to “believe in God.” Thus, while there may have been children and infants in his household, the story is confined only to those mature enough to become “believers.”
There is no evidence in the first three centuries of Christian history that children were ever baptized. This is a ritual dreamed up later. Baptism is for those old enough to sin, old enough to know better, old enough to be able to take charge of their lives and repent and free enough to make the decision to follow Jesus. Certainly babies and children are not candidates for Christian baptism.