1 Then they traveled through Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 As usual, Paul went to the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and showing that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead: “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah.” 4 Then some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, including a great number of God-fearing Greeks, as well as a number of the leading women.
5 But the Jews became jealous, and they brought together some scoundrels from the marketplace, formed a mob, and started a riot in the city. Attacking Jason’s house, they searched for them to bring them out to the public assembly. 6 When they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some of the brothers before the city officials, shouting, “These men who have turned the world upside down have come here too, 7 and Jason has received them as guests! They are all acting contrary to Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king—Jesus!” 8 The Jews stirred up the crowd and the city officials who heard these things. 9 So taking a security bond from Jason and the others, they released them.
10 As soon as it was night, the brothers sent Paul and Silas off to Berea. On arrival, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 The people here were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, since they welcomed the message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 Consequently, many of them believed, including a number of the prominent Greek women as well as men. 13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica found out that God’s message had been proclaimed by Paul at Berea, they came there too, agitating and disturbing the crowds. 14 Then the brothers immediately sent Paul away to go to the sea, but Silas and Timothy stayed on there. 15 Those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving instructions for Silas and Timothy to come to him as quickly as possible, they departed.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
“This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah.”…The people here were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, since they welcomed the message with eagerness and examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. — Acts 17:3, 11
I grew up a Berean Christian…well sort of. The church I attended throughout my childhood where I trusted in Christ for the first time, and eventually was called into the ministry is named Berea First Baptist Church. That church still stands today and will always have a special place in my heart. My prayer for my ‘home church’ is that they would continually live up to their namesake and search the Scriptures daily.
In today’s passage we see the group of people who did just that. The people of Berea, Acts 17:11 tells us, diligently searched the Scriptures to see if what Paul and Silas were preaching was indeed from God. Notice verse three, where Luke tells us that Paul from the Scriptures attempted to persuade the Jews in Thessalonica that Jesus was indeed their Messiah. We should not overlook the significance of what Paul was doing here. If we are not careful, we will view the Christian faith as something new in God’s plan of redemption. On the surface, it may seem so, but a closer examination of the Apostles’ teaching and even the teachings of Jesus Himself, reveal an ancient plan of redemption that culminated in the person and work of Christ.
For Paul, this should have been plainly evident to the Jews, who were anxiously awaiting a messiah. And indeed, this passage tells us some did believe. But sadly, many rejected the truth of Jesus, to their own detriment. But this was not so in Berea. The Berean Christians listened to Paul, measured what he said against the Old Testament Scriptures, and they believed.
This should speak to us in two ways. First, we should do as John instructs us in his first letter: “test the spirits to determine if they are from God.” (1 John 4:1-2) Every Christian book we consume, every sermon we hear, and every devotional we read should be able to stand up to the scrutiny of the Word of God. If at any point it directly contradicts God’s revealed truth, we should reject it. Secondly, it should encourage us to diligently search the Scriptures on our own time, not just in formal religious gatherings like worship services or small groups. Personal Bible study is equally as important as corporate gatherings and we should be diligent in our attention to both.
The example of the Bereans, mentioned only briefly in Acts, is an enduring testimony to the power of the Word of God to change lives. In their conduct we are both inspired and warned. Inspired to believe the truths of God and warned to guard against any falsehood. Seek today to live your life as a Berean Christian, trusting in the Spirit of God to empower you to discern His glorious Truth in light of the overwhelming deception you face each day.
- Can you think of a time when you had to be a Berean? Did some teaching you heard or book you read seem to contradict the Word of God? Did you study the Scriptures to determine the reliability of what you heard?
- In light of verse 3, what can we learn about the importance of the Old Testament in the life of a Christian? (see Luke 24:13-27)
- How can you encourage others to test all things in light of Scripture? We are bombarded with messages every day that contradict the clear teaching of the Word of God? Are you preparing those within your sphere of influence (children, friends, co-workers) to know what they believe and why they believe it? (see 1 Peter 3:15)