NT Tuesday: Be A Good Berean

Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Acts 17:11 ESV

You may have heard the expression “be a good Berean” — but what exactly does this mean? To answer this we must look at the story of Paul and his travels throughout the ancient world proclaiming the Lord Jesus Christ.

As Acts chapter 17 begins we find Paul traveling on what would come to be known as his second missionary journey. Paul and his traveling companion Silas arrived in the city of Thessalonica (Acts 17:1), and in keeping with their pattern of ministry they went to the local synagogue to demonstrate from the Scriptures that Jesus Christ was in fact the long promised Jewish Messiah. (Acts 17:2-3). Their ministry was fruitful as ‘some of them were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a great many of the devout Greeks and not a few of the leading women.’ Acts 17:4.

Because some had turned to Christ, the local Jewish leaders grew jealous and instigated a riot against the Christians (Acts 17:5). The rioters violently attacked the believers– falsely accusing them of acting against the decrees of Caesar (Acts 17:6-7).

That night the believers in Thessalonica sent Paul and Silas to the nearby town of Berea. Once again, upon arriving at the city they went to the Jewish synagogue and boldly declared Jesus Christ as the Messiah (Acts 17:10). As was the case in Thessalonica, their ministry was once again fruitful as many believed (Acts 17:12).

However there was something different about the Jews in Berea for which the Scriptures commend them. We are told that they were ‘more noble’ than their counterparts in Thessalonica. What was the difference? What made them ‘more noble’?

We are clearly told what that difference was in Acts 17:11 ESV. The Bereans:

  • received the word – they listened to what Paul and Silas were saying.
  • with all eagernessthere was a difference in their attitude— they received what Paul and Silas were teaching with eagerness.
  • examining the Scriptures – they examined the Scriptures. This clearly implies more than just reading God’s Word. The original Greek word used here means to ‘to scrutinize, investigate, interrogate, discern or search’. This is how the Bereans approached God’s Word…they went considerably deeper that a cursory reading— they actually interrogated the Scriptures.
  • daily – ’nuff said. This was not something that happened just once… this was the Bereans’ daily habit. This was their modus operandi, their pattern of living, it was how they ‘rolled’– they interrogated God’s Word DAILY.
  • to see if these things were so. – the Bereans had a goal. They had an objective in their interrogation of God’s Word… they wanted to know if Paul and Silias’ teachings were true. The Bible, God’s Word, was their standard– it was their measuring stick. They determined what was true by what God’s Word said and by nothing else.

So what is meant by the phrase ‘be a good Berean’? It means to follow the example set by Bereans. To judge everything by the sole standard of God’s Word, the Bible, with a good attitude on a daily basis to determine if it is so.

Because of the Berean’s noble approach to Paul and Silias’ teaching it is no surprise that ‘many of them therefore believed’.

Be a good Berean!

One more thought: if you happen to go to a church, or associate with some group, where you are discouraged from judging their teachings with God’s Word then you should leave that group! If you are ever told that you are not capable of understanding the Bible yourself… or you have not had the proper training to understand… or that you need their teachers or their literature to know what the truth is, you should leave that group immediately. A true teacher of God’s Word would never feel threatened if their students compared their teachings with God’s Word. In fact, a true teacher of God’s Word will welcome and even encourage you to challenge their teachings with God’s Word. After all, THAT is EXACTLY what the Bereans did and they were called ‘more noble.’

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