Reflections From ACTS 17: “WHY DID PAUL PRAISE THE BEREANS?”


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This chapter is a key section in Scripture where we get to peer into how the apostles dealt with non-believers and how the gospel was to be preached.  I’ve written more extensively on Paul’s address to the Greeks on the Areapagus (Vv.16-34) so my attention will be on the Berean Christians (Vv.10-15).

According to Luke’s report, these Bereans were more noble-minded than the believers in Thessalonica because they weren’t bored with the Scriptures but engaged Paul’s message intensely.  They were called “noble-minded” which could mean that their use of reason was being more accurately appropriated according to God’s design.  The reason is that when the word was preached and taught:

“They received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Vv.10-11)

They had an attitude God lauded.  They heard the same message of Christ’s life, suffering and resurrection as the Thessalonians had (Vv.1-4) but what set them apart was “disposition of soul”.

The Bereans teach us several things; first, the word is above the messenger in authority—even Paul the apostle was not above being scrutinized by the Scriptures.  Too often, pastoral leadership abhors their teaching being questioned by hearers not convinced of their theological position(s).  This attitude is cause for many sinful inclinations, the first of which is pride.  We are to question and scrutinize through Scripture what is being taught from the pulpit because the gospel is so precious.  The goal should be to get the gospel right, not blindly submitting to a leader’s ego.

Second, the examination of Scripture and coming to terms takes time and work.  The sluggard in the book of proverbs is abhorred by the LORD God; believers should not emulate him when it comes to the mining of the Biblical text, but rather the one who is incessant in the pursuit of treasure.  We must have eager hearts and minds even as the Bereans demonstrate.

Third, the proof of what Paul was teaching was in the Scriptures concerning what Christ fulfilled, the pinnacle of which was the resurrection.  That is, these believers were convinced of the truth of the gospel through examining the content of what was proclaimed to them.

The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ are the core of gospel preaching.  Remove one historical aspect from it and you end up with a shell, no substance.  My prayer is that our preachers today focus on eternal truths revealed in Scripture, rather than vaporous empty platitudes which don’t bring our sons and daughters into the kingdom.

(SDG)

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