Paul and Silas are on the move. They have gone from a successful ministry in Philippi to a successful ministry in Thessalonica. Each one not without its difficulties, wherever the gospel is preached and people are trusting in Christ and repenting of their sins there are those who become jealous because of their own selfish ambitions. The message of the gospel causes polarization in the areas were it is proclaimed, and the heralds of the gospel are truly hated by the enemies of the truth.
A Complete Investigation of Scripture results in Trust and an Incomplete Investigation breeds Hatred
A Complete Investigation of Scripture results in Trust and an Incomplete Investigation breeds Hatred
10 The brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11 Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. 12 Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men. 13 But when the Jews of Thessalonica found out that the word of God had been proclaimed by Paul in Berea also, they came there as well, agitating and stirring up the crowds. 14 Then immediately the brethren sent Paul out to go as far as the sea; and Silas and Timothy remained there. 15 Now those who escorted Paul brought him as far as Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they left.
The “brethren,” this is the believers who say Paul and Silas now as brothers in Christ, didn’t hand them over to the city authorities but protected them. They hid them from the mob but their ministry in Thessalonica was over and now the brethren have to continue the work. Paul and Silas, Timothy is there too, are sent off by night which in itself is a dangerous time to travel but it was safer then them staying in Thessalonica. Their next stop is a city named Berea, and when they waste no time but go to the synagogue of the Jews to continue in Paul’s custom of examining the Scriptures and providing evidence of Jesus’ suffering and bring raised from the dead.
The people of Berea are compared to those of Thessalonica, Berean’s are said to be noble-minded which the explanation of this is, “they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily.”They didn’t just take Paul’s word for it, they looked into the Scripture themselves. There is wisdom in doing this. Proverbs teaches a lot of wisdom in doing this. The Jewish people, whether national or Hellenistic, were taught the Scriptures all their lives. They have all been waiting on the Messiah but thought Him to be a political and societal King. They have grown up in a works based system, or at least that is what they were taught. Now Paul is teaching them the Scripture points to faith in Christ alone and this is the only way to Salvation. Their entire way of thinking is being turned upside down. Along with this, the Messiah is not just for the Jews but for the Greeks also. This is mind blowing and it is all taught in the Old Testament, and fulfilled in the New.
Being noble-minded the searched for wisdom.
2 To know wisdom and instruction, To discern the sayings of understanding, 3 To receive instruction in wise behavior, Righteousness, justice and equity; 4 To give prudence to the naive, To the youth knowledge and discretion, 5 A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel, 6 To understand a proverb and a figure, The words of the wise and their riddles. 7 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; Fools despise wisdom and instruction.
There eagerness for the Word and truth was like newborn babies longing for milk.
1 Therefore, putting aside all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander, 2 like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation, 3 if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.
There is only one interpretation, then one God intended.
19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
With all this teaching that Paul is doing all of it very new to the ears and mind of the Jews they wanted to see the proof for themselves in the same books Paul is point them too. So they have an eagerness to know and learn, they do this by turning to the Scriptures themselves. They are noble minded, or open minded to the fact the Scriptures teach more then they know. They examine the Scripture, which is a forensic term. It has the idea of investigating, the same sense as a crime scene investigator looks over the crime scene with all the tools at their exposal in order to find the evidence they need to make the best judgment of what happened at the crime scene. When it comes to examining the Scripture in all respects you become a detective, you observe the text, looking at all the words and how they are used and what they mean, pulling the Scripture apart word by word. Then you interpret the text finding its one meaning. There is not multiply interpretation, there is only one and it is what the author originally intended it to mean. Then you apply it to your life. The application will be different to different people and even different to one person at different times in life. Still this is what they are doing. They are picking apart the Scripture to match it up with what Paul is teaching.
These people want to believe what Paul is teaching but they find it very important to test the facts and they do this ‘daily.’ It is possible some wanted to disprove what Paul was saying but for the most part it was just so incredible they wanted to just be sure for themselves the Scripture truly said this. After weighing out the facts, these people collectively had an impartial tolerant desire to know, investigate the Scripture themselves. They were not trying to disprove Paul but were so eager to understand truth they investigated it themselves.
It was their own examination of the Scriptures that lead to their belief. The text says many, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men. So the wealthy Greeks were all studying the Scriptures and found the truth in the Scripture and by doing so were set free from the bondage of sin and even the control of the Jewish priestly sect. Wonderful things happen when people examine the Scripture for themselves well wonderful things happen to those who examine the Scriptures. When you are intently looking for the truth it will be revealed to you. If all you are looking for is your own proof to suit your own needs, you can find it but only by twisting it. It doesn’t take much to spot a phony. What the Berean’s did should be an encouragement and the example for what we should all do, investigate the Scriptures, with impartiality, coming to it with no preconceived notions of what we want it to say but open to what God is saying. There are a lot of charlatans out there, a lot of liers and swindlers and self seeking, self centered and self guided people who use the Bible as a means to control and prey on the Christian’s for the purpose of power, prestige and profit. People are like sheep and false teachers and heretics know this, so we need to be shrewd as serpents and gentle as doves, we also need to be in the Scriptures daily. I have said this many times but it is not new to me, it is not my opinion but Biblical fact.
Timothy is encouraged to continue living by the Word of God.
14 You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.
Paul warns the Colossians against trusting anything and anyone other then Jesus Christ.
6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.
These Bereans wanted facts and when they examined the truth they recieved faith. This faith was due to their trusting in the facts set before them. The facts they examined daily. This faith goes beyond ethnic and economic barriers, this faith points to God and God alone.
The truth set free the Berean’s but the Jews in Thessalonica refused to listen to the truth so they were still bound to their sin and the manifestation of sin here is jealousy which brought on a hatred for the truth and the bearers of it. What is interesting is the Jews of Berea didn’t cause a stir but those of Thessalonica were moved to go to Berea for the purpose of stirring up and agitating the crowds against Paul.
They obviously saw Paul as the protagonist or here in their view the antagonist. It is Paul that proclaimed the truth in Thessalonica and it is Paul who is proclaiming it in Berea and it is Paul who the Jews want out of the way. Probably having the belief if we stop him this will end. But this is not a message originating with Paul but is a message that originated with God Himself so if Paul is taken out it will not stop the message. Still it seems no matter where Paul goes trouble is close behind. For an era without the modern convenience of cell phones, email, Facebook, twitter, Instagram or Snapchat the gospel is spreading and the news about the spreading of the gospel message is also spreading. People are hearing the truth and other people are hearing that they are receiving truth.
13 “But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.
52 “Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge; you yourselves did not enter, and you hindered those who were entering.”
13 For this reason we also constantly thank God that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but for what it really is, the word of God, which also performs its work in you who believe. 14 For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for you also endured the same sufferings at the hands of your own countrymen, even as they did from the Jews, 15 who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men, 16 hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost.
What these Jews hate is not Paul but Luke points it out clearly, it is “the Word of God.” Paul doesn’t strike fear in these men but God’s own Word does. Interesting how different people respond to God and His truth. The Berean’s didn’t believe Paul, they believed God through investigating His Word. The Thessalonians hated Paul as a manifestation of what they truly hated, the truth God’s Word proclaimed. God’s Word is by nature controversial if anyone tells you otherwise, run. God’s Word stirs hearts either toward God or against God. God’s Word points to Christ alone and His sufficient sacrifice for humanity.
18 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 “If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 “Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 “But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. 22 “If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 “He who hates Me hates My Father also.