Paul Preaches in Thessalonica
1 Paul and Silas then traveled through the towns of Amphipolis and Apollonia and came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 As was Paul’s custom, he went to the synagogue service, and for three Sabbaths in a row he used the Scriptures to reason with the people. 3 He explained the prophecies and proved that the Messiah must suffer and rise from the dead. He said, “This Jesus I’m telling you about is the Messiah.” 4 Some of the Jews who listened were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, along with many God-fearing Greek men and quite a few prominent women.
5 But some of the Jews were jealous, so they gathered some troublemakers from the marketplace to form a mob and start a riot. They attacked the home of Jason, searching for Paul and Silas so they could drag them out to the crowd. 6 Not finding them there, they dragged out Jason and some of the other believers instead and took them before the city council. “Paul and Silas have caused trouble all over the world,” they shouted, “and now they are here disturbing our city, too. 7 And Jason has welcomed them into his home. They are all guilty of treason against Caesar, for they profess allegiance to another king, named Jesus.”
8 The people of the city, as well as the city council, were thrown into turmoil by these reports. 9 So the officials forced Jason and the other believers to post bond, and then they released them.
Paul and Silas in Berea
10 That very night the believers sent Paul and Silas to Berea. When they arrived there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. 12 As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men.
13 But when some Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God in Berea, they went there and stirred up trouble. 14 The believers acted at once, sending Paul on to the coast, while Silas and Timothy remained behind. 15 Those escorting Paul went with him all the way to Athens; then they returned to Berea with instructions for Silas and Timothy to hurry and join him.
Anyone who has spent any amount of time in an evangelical Christian church will more than likely be familiar with the term 'Berean'. Sunday school classes adopt the term as a name and banner for their classes and individuals seek to follow after the tradition. Yet, what does it really mean to be 'Berean'?
The quick answer is usually the first - and, unfortunately, sometimes the only answer. Most Christians will tell you that to be 'Berean' is to test everything according to the Truth of Scripture. This is indeed true. Yet, further study shows us there is more to the 'Berean' tradition than a dedicated passion for the Truth.
As we see from the text in Acts, Paul and Silas had come to the Bereans from Thessalonica. There, they had experienced quite a bit of turmoil. A group of Jews - whom the text refers to as being "jealous" - brought Paul, Silas, and Jason, whom had opened his home up to the traveling missionaries, before the city council and presented trumped up charges against them. After posting bond, they were released, and they quickly made their way to Berea.
In Berea, they were received quite differently. . . Acts 17:10-12
10 . . . When they arrived there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth. 12 As a result, many Jews believed, as did many of the prominent Greek women and men.
What we see from the text is that the Bereans indeed tested every word Paul and Silas preached against the OT Scriptures. Yet, what stands out to me is their attitude towards Paul's message. The Bereans were "open-minded" and "listened eagerly" to this new message coming from a very unlikely source. They not only opened their minds to this new message, they opened their hearts to the one delivering the message and then diligently searched the Scriptures for the Truth that would either confirm or deny it. They waited to pass judgement on this new message until they had thoroughly investigated it, and they treated the messenger with respect and the kind of love we see exhibited by our Lord, Jesus Christ.
So, it seems to me that to be 'Berean' is not only a call to search the Scriptures for Truth, it is an attitude of humility and respect towards whomever God may send our way. We, the church, need to come together to study the Scriptures, but we must never forget how important our attitude towards each other truly is. When we keep our hearts and minds open to one another, we tend not to be jealous or seek to cause trouble or even make false accusations against our brother or sister in Christ. When we are 'Berean', we not only have a passion for Truth but also a Christ-like love for one another. Often, it is the latter that is missed in the pursuit of Truth.
I pray that we are as passionate in our love for our brethren as we are for the Truth. For Truth without the love of Christ seldom makes an impact.
Grace and Peace to you.