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Date Posted:16/04/2008 12:32 PMCopy HTML

Fifteen Other Salvation Accounts From Acts

An Examination of Salvation in the Book of Acts

By Drew Dixon


When discussing 'salvation experiences' from the Scriptures, Revivalist groups almost universally focus on a select few accounts from the book of Acts (generally Acts 2, Acts 8, Acts 10 and Acts 19). These selected  texts are then presented by Revivalists in a very specific manner in an endeavour to seek support for their 'all must speak in tongues doctrine'. However, it may surprise some to learn, but there are around 19 salvation related accounts in Acts[1]. The intent of this article, then, is to provide a summary of these numerous accounts in an effort to gain an overall feel for how the author of Acts intended to portray the essence of 'becoming a Christian' as it related to the early church (for further detail on salvation, see the linked article).

The tongues accounts in Acts

First, it is important to note that there is not a single instance in the Scriptures that describes (or even implies) anyone coming to salvation by 'seeking' for the Holy Spirit until they speak in tongues (neither by an individual or group). Throughout Acts, it is also of note that tongues were never mentioned as an experience to be sought. The movent of the Spirit was presented as either a totally sovereign affair, dictated by the will of the Spirit (Acts 2 & 10), or was given though the authority and laying on of hands of the Apostles as in Acts 8 & 19 (no tongues are recorded in Acts 8, and it is unlikely that the revivalist 'unknown tongue' would have produced the response the Scriptures highlight). It should also be noted that the 'sign' at Pentecost was not (and never was) an 'unknown tongue'. The sign was the fact the twelve Apostles, symbolic of the twelve tribes of Israel, spoke in known Gentile languages, declaring the wonderful works of God. This, in combination with the highly symbolic occurrences of wind and fire, were all very significant signs for the Jews of the Dispersion that were present in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost[2]. Unknown tongues would have been a pointless exercise that day, a fact which is supported by Paul's less than favourable treatment of 'unknown tongues as a sign' in his Corinthian discourse. For a more detailed study of these Acts accounts, see the following articles (Summary Acts 2,8,10,19 also Pentecost, Acts 8, Acts 10, Acts 19). 

Salvation throughout Acts

Surprisingly, there are around fifteen other 'salvation accounts' recorded in the book of Acts. If we include the four supposedly 'Pentecostal' accounts that are listed above, there are 19 accounts in total. Out of these 19 accounts, on only three occasions are 'tongues' mentioned, all finding their place in a corporate setting. Of course, none are ever specifically described as an 'unknown tongue'. It should also be noted that, for at least one of the these tongues accounts, salvation is not necessarily the context of the passage[3]

The following list provides a reference to these 15 other accounts, with a brief summary given of the signs associated with each account. As you read through, the developing theme may become obvious.

Acts 2:38-44

Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; 

  • Peter explained that the Holy Ghost was a promise, not a requirement to be sought after
  • Many gladly received his word (which, in its context, was Peters preaching of Christ
  • The 3000 were baptised and were added to the church
  • No signs were associated with the believers
  • Signs were evident, all of which were attributed to and centred on the Apostles

Acts 4:1-4

And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide. Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

  • Christ was preached and his resurrection from the dead
  • About 5000 believed 
  • No signs were associated with the believers

Acts 5:12-14

And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch. And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women).

  • Believers were added to the Lord
  • No signs were associated with the believers
  • Signs were evident, all attributed to the apostles

Acts 8:35-39

Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus. And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

  • Phillip preached Jesus 
  • The eunuch believed on Christ as the Son of God 
  • Upon the eunuch's confession, Phillip baptised him
  • No signs were associated with the eunuch's conversion

Acts 9:3-19, Paul's conversion

The nature, timing and context of Paul's conversion still causes debate within certain groups. From the Revivalist perspective, Paul's conversion is generally accepted to be either at, or subsequent to, the visit by Ananias in Damascus (this was of course my original position). However, this position suffers from exegetical difficulties on several fronts, the least of which is Paul's own testimony on the matter[4]. However, even should one still wish to insist that Paul's conversion was at or after the visit by Ananias, it makes no difference to the intent of this article. Paul was neither commanded to receive the Holy Spirit by Ananias, neither did he 'seek' for him, nor were there any external 'spiritual' manifestations such as tongues recorded as being evident. Paul's outward confirmation of the indwelling Spirit was his baptism. A summary of Paul's conversion could be expressed as follows;

  • Paul was confronted with the reality of Christ on the road to Damascus
  • Paul believed and became a follower of the risen Christ, even addressing him as Lord, all on the road to Damascus
  • Paul's sight was restored, assisted by Ananias
  • Paul was baptised
  • Paul went and preached that Jesus is the Son of God

 Acts 9:32-35

And it came to pass, as Peter passed throughout all quarters, he came down also to the saints which dwelt at Lydda. And there he found a certain man named Aeneas, which had kept his bed eight years, and was sick of the palsy. And Peter said unto him, Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole: arise, and make thy bed. And he arose immediately. And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord.

  • Peter healed Aeneas
  • All at Lydda & Saron 'turned' to the Lord  
  • No signs were associated with these believers

Acts 9:40-42

But Peter put them all forth, and kneeled down, and prayed; and turning him to the body said, Tabitha, arise. And she opened her eyes: and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he gave her his hand, and lifted her up, and when he had called the saints and widows, presented her alive. And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord. 

  • Peter healed Tabitha
  • Many believed in the Lord 
  • No signs were associated with the believers.

Acts 11:20-24

And some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord. Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord

  • The Lord Jesus was preached
  • Because the hand of the Lord was with them, a great number believed and turned to him. 
  • Barnabas exhorted them to cleave unto the Lord. 
  • Much people were added to the Lord 
  • No signs were associated with the believers

Acts 14:1-4

And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren. Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands. But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles.

  • Many of the Jews and Greek believed. 
  • Signs were evident, all attributed to the apostles 
  • No signs were associated with the believers 

Acts 16:13-15

And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us.

  • Lydia listened to Paul's preaching
  • The Lord opened her heart and she believed 
  • Lydia and her household were baptized 
  • She asked if Paul judged her to be faithful, to remain with her 
  • Paul remained. 
  • No signs were associated with the believers 
It should be noted that Lydia said to Paul "If you have judged me to be faithful , stay". Now, from the Revivialist perspective, if Lydia had spoken in tongues at conversion, she simply could (should?) have made appeal to that fact for Paul to base his judgement on, just as Revivalists do when promoting their own 'faithfulness'. Lydia's non-appeal to 'tongues' is obvious due to its absence.

Acts 16:27-34

And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. 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.

  • The prison guard asked what he had to do to be saved 
  • Paul instructed him to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ 
  • Paul and Silas spoke to him the word of the Lord 
  • He and his household were baptised 
  • He rejoiced, believing in God 
  • No signs were associated with the believers 
  • Signs were evident, all attributed to Paul & Silas (the earthquake was to set Paul & Silas free)

Acts 17:2-4

And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few.

  • Paul reasoned and preached Christ and his resurrection 
  • Some believed 
  • No signs were associated with the believers 

Acts 17:10-12

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few.

  • Paul and Silas preached the word 
  • Those hearing searched for confirmation (from the Old Testament presumably) 
  • Many believed 
  • No signs were associated with the believers 

Acts 18:7-8

And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man's house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. 

  • Paul preached to them (presumably Christ, see verse 5)
  • They believed
  • They were baptised
  • No signs were associated with the believers

Acts 19:13-18

Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. And many that believed came, and confessed, and showed their deeds.

  • Paul was known as a preacher of Jesus
  • A demon overcame some vagabond Jews, also declaring Paul's authority. 
  • Because of this, the Lords name was magnified 
  • Many believed 
  • No signs were associated with the believers

Putting it all together

Let us now list out 14 of the above accounts where Acts actually 'details' what the converts 'did'.

1Then they that gladly received his word were baptized And all that believed were together
2Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed
3And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women
4And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God
5And all that dwelt at Lydda and Saron saw him, and turned to the Lord
6And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord
7And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord
8And it came to pass..... that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed
9whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul
10Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house....
he set meat before them, and rejoiced, believing in God with all his house
11And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude
12Therefore many of them believed
13And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized
14And many that believed came, and confessed, and showed their deeds

(In the above summary, I have left out Paul's conversion, as the related text nowhere specifically states Paul's point of believing. However, if one reads Paul's testimonies it is reasonable to infer that Paul saw his own 'point of believing' on the road to Damascus, see Acts 26:19) 

We can see from the numerous accounts, the main point that the author of Acts wished to highlight, was that to be a 'believer' was in essence, the result that occurred at a person's point of conversion. In not one instance in all the individual salvation accounts, is there any record of  the believers manifesting any spiritual gifting, let alone speaking in tongues. The only 'sign', if one were to call it that, was the new believers desire to be baptised. In not one instance did an individual need to go any further than the act of believing in order to be accepted into the Christian community.

At this point it may also be helpful for some to read the article on Belief, which gives an overview of both the gravity and concept of this word.

Of the 15 accounts, the following is also to be noted:-

Extra detail of the event & outcome is given, including any signs to be noted7/15
Baptism of the believers was described6/15
The believers spoke in tongues0/15
Signs / Spiritual manifestations were displayed by the believers0/15
The Holy Spirit was even mentioned1/15*
The Holy Spirit was designated as something that needed to be sought for and received for salvation 0/15

(*twice if one wishes to insist on Paul's conversion as occurring with Ananias. However even this account speaks nothing of an individual seeking for the Spirit and bears no resemblance to the Revivalist practice in these matters)

If one wishes to draw any 'normative' assumptions from the events described in Acts, the only safe assumptions would be as follows:-

Christ was preached, particularly his death and resurrection

People either believed or they did not

Those that believed were often baptised

These people were accepted as fellow Christians

No further 'step' was required

Only those who were professed believers were baptised. This by the way, is not always the case within the Revivalist groups. I have personally heard a number of testimonies wherein people either said they were told they had nothing to lose, so they got baptised, or they didn't really understand what was going on, but they got baptised anyway. Within the RCI, people were often baptised before they spoke in tongues (i.e. before they 'had' the Holy Spirit). This attitude and approach completely misses the point of New Testament baptism and is an error I am sure I was also guilty of over time.


Taking into account the all the Acts events, there are 19 salvation 'type' accounts in total (for arguments sake I have included the Revivalist view that Pentecost was a salvation account, though it was not). Of the 19, only 3 specific groups spoke in tongues, for very specific reasons and in a very specific manner. Of the 15 accounts that I have listed above, where signs are described, they are attributed to the Apostles / original Disciples. Not a single sign is attributed to a 'believer'.

Tongues was never mentioned as a sign to look for regarding salvation or the Spirit, nor was anybody ever told to 'seek' to receive Holy Ghost for salvation. Paul was told that he may be 'filled', and in Ephesus, they were asked if they had received the Spirit, which task the Apostle completed through the laying on of hands).

Where tongues do occur, they are never the sole 'sign'. Pentecost had wind, fire, praise of God and miraculous known languages. Ephesus had accompanying prophecy, while Cornelius also had Praising of God (yes this was one of the signs, see the text). 

Quite simply, the Revivalist picture of unknown tongues as the 'sign' of conversion is completely un-biblical if one wishes to be 'according to the Scriptures' on this topic. 

Of course this does not mean that one cannot speak in tongues at conversion or evidence any other spiritual gifting at that time, however, the Bible nowhere maintains that it is to be sought after as a mandatory evidence or 'sign'. To do so diverts people from the true gospel, and is a diversion that can have disastrous long term effects.

If it is not the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it is not the Gospel, no matter how 'powerful' and individuals experience may or may not be. For further reading on what was the 'Gospel' see the article at the following link .


[1]    When terming an account as one of salvation or conversion, the author of Acts almost universally uses the simple description of the person / people becoming a 'believer in' or 'follower of' Jesus Christ and his Gospel. This becomes very clear when all the accounts in Acts are viewed in total.

[2]    Historically, Pentecost was one of the major feasts of the Jewish religious calendar. During the first century, it was also widely regarded as the anniversary of the giving of the Law at Mount Sinai. Philo Judaeus, a Jewish contemporary of Jesus who lived at Alexandria in North Africa, wrote on the subject five years before the Christian Pentecost. He expressed the rabbinical belief that the Law was intended to be universal in scope, that it was given by God in the languages of all the nations of the world.  Philo also described a number of rather interesting 'manifestations':

"...the heavenly voice sounded forth like the breath through a trumpet...the flame became articulate speech in the language familiar to the audience..."  

Straightway we are confronted with a record (most likely) published before AD 30, expressing the Jewish belief that when God presented His Law (the Old Covenant) to Israel, it was with manifestations of (1) breath or wind, (2) visible flame and (3) gentile languages.

The tradition reported by Philo finds a measure of support in the Mishna, a commentary on Jewish religious tradition and belief:

Rabbi Johanan (died early 3rd century): "...the [one] voice [at Sinai] divided into [seven voices and these into] seventy languages [so that all the nations heard in their own language".

It appears, then, that when the 'Old Covenant' was formally confirmed at Sinai, it was with some decidedly 'Pentecostal' phenomena. That similar manifestations occurred at the confirmation of the New Covenant should not surprise anyone. Just as the original Pentecost was preceded by a pledge in the form of a Passover sacrifice, so it was with the New - the sacrificial type being fulfilled in the atoning death of Jesus Christ at Calvary. Therefore, when we read of the fulfillment of Old Testament types in Acts chapter two, we should do so with a Jewish rather than 21st century Christian perspective. Christians of all genera often fail to do this, to the detriment of developing a biblical theology of the events.

[3]    Viewing the events in both Acts 2 (Pentecost) and Acts 8 (Samaria) in relation to a 'salvation' experience, needs to be cautioned. The giving of the Spirit in the manner described in these two accounts, was done for a very specific purpose, and one that simply cannot be considered 'normative' for a Christian conversion. The disciples relationship with Christ and his declaration of them that their names were 'written in heaven' certainly makes it difficult to see them as 'unsaved'. Christ did not command the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for 'salvation', but rather, till they were endued with power from on high, which would enable them to fulfil their special commission. All four Acts accounts should be viewed in the context of the authors declared intention of his writing of the Acts of the Apostles.

[4]    Paul's own testimonies provide significant insight as to how and when the Apostle saw his own conversion. In both accounts (Acts 22:1-16, Acts 26:12-20), while trying to explain the legitimacy of his conversion and calling, he all together fails to even mention Holy Ghost (this would be an impossibility from the revivalist perspective. Indeed in at least one RCI assembly, people were instructed to testify not just that they received the Holy Spirit, but that  they also spoke in tongues!). Paul's central point in both testimonies was his encounter with the risen Lord on the road to Damascus, and hence, his new direction and appointment in life (Acts 26:16-19). Even when he details the events with Ananias, instead of proclaiming he was 'filled with the Holy Ghost' he highlights the restoration of his sight (Acts 22:12-13). Though the events of Paul's conversion are well detailed, Paul displayed no spiritual manifestations and was not reported to have spoken in tongues at that time. Also, those who would insist that Paul was at that time 'filled with the Spirit' at the hands of Ananias, and hence this was his salvation moment, should exercise some caution as A - God never commanded Ananias to 'fill Paul with the Spirit' (Acts 9:12) and B - The 'filling of the Spirit' is not synonymous with salvation e.g. Acts 4:31 where known believers (including the already 'Spirit filled' and saved disciples), were again filled with the Spirit. This filling resulted not in tongues, but rather a boldness in preaching the Gospel.

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