In the seventeenth chapter of the book of Acts, we read of the apostle Paul’s work in the Grecian city of Thessalonica. As was Paul’s usual pattern upon arriving in a Gentile city, he went first to the Jewish synagogue and attempted to teach the gospel to the Jews. There he “reasoned with them (the Jews) out of the scriptures… (the Jewish scriptures) Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ…” (Acts 17:2-3). Paul was unable to convert many Jews there because of a certain element, within the synagogue, that refused to hear and understand the gospel and subsequently stirred up trouble causing Paul to flee that city.
Next we read how Paul went to Berea, some fifty miles to the southwest of Thessalonica, and entered the synagogue there (verse 10). Unlike Thessalonica, here he found a ready audience, one that was willing to listen and was open to the gospel. Why were the Bereans more open to the Gospel than the Thessalonians? The Bible says, “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” (Acts 17:11).
Luke records, by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that the Bereans were more noble. The word “noble” here literally refers to those who were of the highest social order – the nobility. However, in Acts 17:11 it is used figuratively. They had a noble character, an open and ready mindset. They were like the “good ground” in Jesus’ “Parable of the Soils” in Luke 8:4-15. Verse 15 of that passage says, “But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience.” Their hearts were honest and good. Therefore, they received the Word with readiness of mind. That they “received” the gospel meant they listened to it. That they received it with “readiness of mind” meant that they were willing, even eager to accept it. They were open enough to the gospel that they would, at the very least, withhold judgment on it until they could give it a careful and thorough examination.
How did they go about examining it? They SEARCHED THE SCRIPTURES to see if Paul’s teachings were correct. Jesus challenged certain men to “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.” (John 5:39). Paul had been preaching the Gospel from the Old Testament scriptures. The Bereans studied the scriptures every day to verify he was teaching the TRUTH even as the Law of Moses demanded in Deuteronomy 18:22. The result of this noble searching of the scriptures was that “many of them (the Jews) believed…” (Acts.17:12). (Compare this with Acts 17:4 “some (few) of them believed…”).
What is the application for us today? We should all be like the Bereans in at least two ways. One, let us each have a “noble” mind; one that is willing to heed the Gospel and to change our lives to conform with it’s teaching. Two, let us like the Bereans, search the scriptures daily! (2 Timothy 2:15). In doing so, we will not be fooled by those who come preaching a perverted gospel (Galatians 1:6-7). I challenge you therefore, like the apostle John said in 1 John 4:1 “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” In other words, any time some one claims to preach the gospel, do not listen to his words unless they can be supported by God’s All Authoritative Word with a “thus saith the Lord!”