Sid Womack

How Did People Become Christians in the First Century?

Who is a Christian? How do I become one? Let's look at all of the instances of conversion in the book of Acts and see how people became Christians in the first century.







Confess Jesus as Lord?

Be baptized?


Acts 2: 37-47

v. 37

v.37, 41


baptized in Jesus' name, v. 38

Acts 2: 38

v. 47

Simon in Acts 8: 9-24


Acts 8: 13



Acts 8: 13


The Ethopian Eunuch in Acts 8: 26-40

Acts 8: 35

8: 37


8: 37

8: 38

"rejoicing", 8: 39

Saul-Acts 9: 1-19; Acts 22:1-16

Acts 22: 7; 15

Acts 22:14 "know His will"

Proclaimed Jesus--9: 20-21

"calling on His name" Acts 22: 16

22: 16

"proclaimed Christ" 9: 20

Cornelius--Acts 10, especially v. 44-48

Acts 10: 33, 44

"received" 10: 47


Acts 10: 48 "in the name of the Lord Jesus"

Acts 10: 47, 48


Lydia--Acts 16: 13-15

Acts 16: 13, 14

16: 14 "Gave heed"



Acts 16: 15


Philippian Jailor--Acts 16: 25-34

Acts 16: 32

16: 31, 32

"Washed their stripes" 16: 33


Acts 16: 33

16: 34 "rejoiced"

12 Ephesian men of Acts 19:1-7 Acts 19:5 Acts 19:4 "baptism of repentance" v. 4 Baptized in the name of Jesus, Acts 19:5 Acts 19: 5 Acts 19: 6 -received Holy Spirit

From looking at the instances of conversion in the New Testament, five steps to salvation become apparent--hear, believe in Jesus, repent, confess Jesus as Lord, be baptized. Occasionally the passages about repentance and confession are not explicit in every case. But the case for belief followed by baptism is 100%. The Acts 2 account at Pentecost and the conversion of the Ethiopian in Acts 8: 25-39 solidify the sequence that is reflected in the table above. Only after baptism was anyone said to be saved (Acts 2: 41; 47). Being added to the church occurred simultaneously with baptism (Acts 2: 41, 47) , believers being added by God, not by the will of man.

The New Testament says other things about faith or belief--that it is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11: 6), that the "just shall live by faith" (Romans 1: 17), and that faith comes only by hearing (Romans 10: 17). Because faith can only come by hearing the word of God, Simon of Acts 8: 13 must have heard the Gospel or he would not have believed it. Repentance was evident in that the Philippian jailor in Acts 16: 33 took Paul and Silas and washed their stripes, doing as much repenting as he was able to, although the word "repent" is not in the passage. Confession is sometimes implied by the fact that people were baptized in the name of Jesus (Acts 2: 38). Confession is one of the elements of God's plan of salvation that saves (Romans 10: 9, 10; Matthew 10: 32, 33). Baptism is immersion, being covered completely with water, like a burial (Romans 6: 3-6). The person who has not been baptized has not put on Christ (Galatians 3: 27). Irrefutably baptism saves (I Peter 3: 21). Christ commanded that all who would follow Him must be baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28: 18-20). The conversion process, sometimes called the Plan of Salvation, is the beginning of one's walk with Christ. It is only the beginning and not the end. We are to continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3: 18).

Salvation is not by any one thing alone. It is not by faith alone (James 2: 24), works alone (Ephesians 2: 8-10), grace alone (Romans 6: 1- 23), by confession of Jesus' name alone (Matthew 7: 21- 23), or by completing the plan of salvation alone (Simon the Sorcerer, Acs 8: 9-24). The word combinations "hearing only [or alone]," "works alone," "grace alone," "confession alone," and "baptism alone" are not found in the New Testament. The only place where the word combination "faith only" or "faith alone" is found is James 2: 24, which says that justification is by works and not faith only. God's magnificent plan for saving man is not one-dimensional. Man should stop trying to over-analyze what God has done and simply obey His commands.

The Judgement will be the most important evaluation you will ever have--period. Not just the most important in your adolescent life, or in your twenties, or even in your whole life on earth. The judgement will be a decision about eternity. This decision has to be gotten right.

We hope that by visiting this web page, you have been blessed.

Sid Womack

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