The Philippian jailer asked the question that was burning in his heart, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” Some have interpreted his question in terms of being saved from punishment, but that is not the case. Since no prisoners had escaped, he faced no punishment from his superiors. And why ask two prisoners such a question? The jailer’s question expressed the deep longing of his heart to be right with God. Having undoubtedly heard the testimony of the demon-possessed girl (v. 17), either in person or from others, he believed Paul and Silas had the answer.
To the jailer’s simple and direct question the missionaries gave an equally simple and direct answer: “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you shall be saved.” Unlike the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18–23), his heart was ready; nothing stood in his way.
The truth that salvation is wholly by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ permeates the Scriptures. “There is salvation in no one else,” according to Acts 4:12, “for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men, by which we must be saved.” That glorious truth was at the heart of apostolic preaching (see also Acts 2:38–39; 5:14; 8:12; 10:43; 11:17, 21; 13:12, 38–39, 48; 14:1; 15:11; 17:12; 18:8). Jesus Himself declared, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me” (John 14:6). It is also the constant theme of the epistles (cf. Rom. 3:20–25; 5:1; 1 Cor. 6:11; Gal. 2:16; 3:24; Eph. 2:8–9; 2 Tim. 3:15; Titus 3:7).
To believe in the Lord Jesus means first to believe He is who He claimed to be. The apostle John wrote, “These have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). Second, it means to believe in what He did. Paul succinctly summarized the work of Christ in 1 Corinthians 15:3–4:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures...