Paul and Silas in Berea
10 vThe brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they wwent into the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now these Jews were more noblethan those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, xexamining theScriptures daily to see if these things were so. 12 yMany of them therefore believed, withnot a few Greek zwomen of high standing as well as men. 13 But when the Jews fromThessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, theycame there too, aagitating and stirring up the crowds. 14 Then the brothers bimmediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and cTimothy remained there. 15 dThose who conducted Paul brought him as far as eAthens, and after receiving a command ffor Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed. Acts 17:10-15
“Be Berean.” What does that mean?
If you’re new to Christianity, this will not be a phrase you’ve heard. But if you’re like me, this is a phrase you’ve heard for many, many years. Maybe you get it, maybe you don’t, but here’s what it means. It means DO YOUR HOMEWORK. DON’T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU HEAR WITHOUT CHECKING IT OUT FOR YOURSELF. EVEN IN THE CHURCH.
After Jesus’ ascension into heaven, he left his followers to spread the good news of salvation from sin throughout the whole world (Matthew 28:18-20). One of those followers was Paul and as he went into new territories with this truth about Jesus, he would always go to the Jews first, teaching in their village and town synagogues. After all, the Jews were God’s chosen people, to whom He had given the original covenant of his love and special care, with the understanding that one day He would send a final Deliverer (similar to Moses) to rescue them and all people from their sin. Well, that day had come and Jesus was that Deliverer. So it was now time to let all Jews everywhere know that what they had long awaited had come. There was no media like we have now so the news had to be delivered in person.
So Paul and his good friend, Silas, having just escaped an angry religious mob who didn’t want to hear this good news, came into an area called Berea in northern Greece. But rather than an angry mob, Paul and Silas found these Jews “much more noble” than in the last town. Why? Because rather than operate on their feelings, traditions and customs, they went to the Scriptures to see if Paul and Silas were telling them the truth. For them, that would mean the Old Testament because that’s all they had at that time. The New Testament was being lived and written and had not yet been gathered into a collection.
After “searching the Scriptures to see if these things were so”, the Bereans believed what they were being told.
We would do well to be just like them. Don’t accept or reject anything without first consulting the Scriptures. Some truths and lies can be weeded out immediately because of our firm knowledge of the Scriptures, but some things must be researched before coming to a conclusion.
What about you?
So what about you? What have you been considering lately? We’re living in a culture that is throwing out absolute truth the way you discard a banana peel. This mentality has crept into our churches, too. We major on ‘What do you think this means to you?’ and ‘How does this make you feel?’ more than ‘What is God saying and how should you respond?’
Feelings do NOT dictate truth. Truth is truth no matter if you believe it or not. So if your feelings don’t line up with God’s Truth, a decision-making moment is coming. Somebody is wrong; it’s either you or God’s Word. Will you bring your feelings in line with God’s Truth and authority or will you behave like the angry, petulant mob back in Greece?
My encouragement to you: BE BEREAN.
UPDATE: I found this absolutely astounding just now in reading an article on memorizing scripture by John Piper. I think you will be surprised too.
“One of the reasons Martin Luther came to his great discovery in the Bible of justification by faith alone was that in his early years in the Augustinian monastery he was influenced to love Scripture by Johann Staupitz. Luther devoured the Bible in a day when people earned doctorates in theology without even reading the Bible. Luther said that his fellow professor, Andreas Karlstadt, did not even own a Bible when he earned his doctor of theology degree, nor did he until many years later (Richard Bucher, Martin Luther’s Love for the Bible). Luther knew so much of the Bible from memory that when the Lord opened his eyes to see the truth of justification in Romans 1:17, he said, “Thereupon I ran through the Scriptures from memory,” in order to confirm what he had found.”