What is Household Salvation? Is it Biblical?

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

TThere is a new teaching out there called “Household Salvation.” What is it and is it Biblical?

Lydia’s Heart

There is a new teaching out there called “Household Salvation.” What is it and is it Biblical? Some people quote one of three places in the Scriptures where someone was baptized and “their whole household was saved” and they falsely apply that to anyone who lives in the house is also saved, bringing their entire family into heaven. That is a lie straight from hell. Jesus is the one and only way to be saved (John 14:6; Acts 4:12). One such account they use as a “proof text” is Acts 16:14-16 where God opened Lydia’s heart to understand the gospel and she was saved (v. 14). Just after she believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, “she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us” (Acts 16:15-16).

Saint Paul Writing His Epistles by Valentin de Boulogne (public domain).

Household Salvation

The problem with household salvation is that everyone in Lydia’s household also had to have God open their heart to understand the truth. Then, they had the choice of whether to believe or not. This verse doesn’t say whoever is living in a house of a believer or someone who is saved makes everyone else saved in the house. God will not save someone against their own free will, and Lydia’s salvation could not cover all the household people’s sins. Everyone, individually, had to choose to repent and believe. We can’t be saved if our mom’s heart is opened by God to hear the gospel and she’s saved, and since she’s saved, God will save us too since we live at home. The household was baptized and saved, but each person living there had to know the gospel in order to repent and believe. Their salvation had nothing to do with the house!

The Jailer’s Family

After Paul and Silas were miraculously released from prison, the jailer cared for them, tending their wounds, and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved” (Acts 16:30)? He had just seen the power of God in the earthquake and the prison doors open by themselves. The jailer knew that this must be the work of the true and living God. Then Paul and Silas told the man how he could be saved, but also how his entire household could, saying, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household” (Acts 16:31). They must “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ” and not believe in the household. The household believed because the men shared the gospel and the household believed.  If they believe they “will be saved,” and not, “if they live in the jailer’s house they will be saved.” Can we see how great an error this is in teaching how people to be saved!? Therefore, household salvation is a false and dangerous doctrine because it gives false assurance to people who are living with someone who is a believer.

Sanctified Children

The Apostle Paul does say that believer’s children are sanctified by their parent’s faith, but that doesn’t mean their house did it and it doesn’t say they must have parents who are saved in order for the children to be saved. That is a terrible stretch of the truth and a half-truth is a whole lie. What about where Paul says, “For the unbelieving husband is made holy because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife is made holy because of her husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy” (1 Cor 7:14)? Some quote this verse to prove household salvation is true, but is that what this verse says? No! A believing spouse may be used in the process of conversion by God for an unbelieving spouse, but the children being clean under a Christian parent doesn’t mean they have repented and trusted in Christ. Christian parents are sanctified or set apart by God, but again, every person who has ever lived much choose to believe (John 3:16). Such people who hold to false doctrines take a text out of context to create a pretext and a false one at that!

Children of Abraham

Jesus tried to make it clear that we are not saved by race but by grace. Abraham’s children, the present day religious leaders, thought they had earned their way into heaven simply because they were the children of Abraham. It mattered little to Jesus that they were Abrahams’ children. Jesus must have shocked them by saying to them, “Truly, I say to you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you” (Matt 21:31). Wow! Some of them were even Gentiles. Their entering the kingdom had nothing to do with the household they came from or if they were Gentiles or Abraham’s descendants. Jesus chastised them by saying, “…woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. For you neither enter yourselves nor allow those who would enter to go in” (Matt 23:13). These religious leaders, even being of the lineage of Israel, the children of Abraham, and religious leaders didn’t matter to Christ. That’s because every person born must trust in Christ individually.How To Share The Gospel WIth Family

No Coat Tails

I remember hearing a man once say that his grandma was his biblical hero. She was truly a godly woman and I’m sure she was but he simply believed in what she believed in. It was almost like this: “I believe in God because she believes in God,” but truly no one can enter heaven on their grandmother’s coat tails. Entering heaven is done single file. It is a difficult and narrow path (Matt 7:13-14). It is one at a time and not by groups or by families or by households, no matter how godly they are. In fact, Jesus warned that there would be division in families because of Him, so household salvation does not work. It contradicts Scripture.

Just because someone in the family is saved doesn’t mean everyone who lives there will be! That’s utterly contrary to the gospel where Jesus calls us all to repent and believe (Mark 1:15). If someone cannot tell you the way they were saved or the process of how God brought them to repentance and faith in Christ, then that person might not be saved at all. They might falsely believe that they’re a good person and done enough to go to heaven, but if good people doing good things earn their way to heaven, Jesus died for nothing! Of course, He didn’t. He is the One and only way to the Father (John 6:44).


I pray you have put your trust in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. If that hasn’t happened yet, then you’re in trouble right now. And I would say, in immediate danger. If Jesus Christ came today, read your fate here (Matt 7:21-23). This is the reason why I plead with you as you read this, repent today…right now, and put your trust in Jesus Christ. If not, you will face God’s judgment after death (Heb 9:27) or at Jesus Christ’s appearance (Rev 20:12-15), whichever comes first.

Here is some related reading for you: Choose You This Day. Salvation or Condemnation

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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