Honorable Investigation

The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. 11 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. 12 Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was proclaimed by Paul at Berea also, they came there too, agitating and stirring up the crowds. 14 Then the brothers immediately sent Paul off on his way to the sea, but Silas and Timothy remained there. 15 Those who conducted Paul brought him as far as Athens, and after receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him as soon as possible, they departed. – Acts 17:10-15

One of the many blossoms growing in the Saxony Switzerland national park.

One of the many blossoms growing in the Saxony Switzerland national park. August 2017

The brilliant comedian and movie actor W. C. Fields led an unrestrained showbiz life displaying a fondness for alcohol and mistresses. He was not known as a religious man, but as his death approached he began to peruse the Bible. When a friend asked him about this behavior he humorously explained that he was, “looking for loopholes.”

That is decidedly not the case of the Berean Jews who heard the message of Paul and Silas and set out to determine if what he said was true by studying the Scriptures. They were “more noble” than the people from Thessalonica. It seems all the Thessalonian Jews wanted to do was to discredit Paul and Silas and the message centered in Jesus of Nazareth. He was nothing but a trouble-maker in their minds. Anything they could do to get rid of these two was fair game. They investigated things in order to discredit, not to find truth. They used Scripture to find justification for their preconceived notions, not to shape their hearts and consciences. 

The Jews from Berea were a different sort of investigators. They knew that the claims that Paul and Silas were making were turn-the-world-upside-down claims. They realized that if Jesus was the messiah, the Son of God, the Savior of the world, he would change their world. So much was at stake. Was this really true? How to determine this? Study the Old Testament Scriptures.

Study the Old Testament with a Holy-Spirit-opened-heart and you will discover some profound truths. You will see that nothing worked that the Jewish people tried in their walk with God and efforts to be his people. God walking with Adam and Even in the cool of the day didn’t work. God speaking to them through his one prophet, Moses, didn’t work. God delivering his people to the Promised Land didn’t work. God raising up kings for them didn’t work. God providing prophets to call his people back didn’t work. By that I mean that though these things may have worked for a brief time; there was no lasting effect. They killed the prophets. They crowned evil and corrupt kings. They ate the forbidden fruit. With one exception: Abraham, who believed in the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness” (cf. Genesis 15:6).

Believing in God, and studying the Word will lead us to the “author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despising its shame and sat down at the right hand of God” (Hebrews 12:2). Reading the Word in order to center our hearts and minds in the truth is an honorable pursuit. We must not be to quick to shake our heads at W. C. Fields before we make certain that we don’t read Scripture in order to find our favorite hobby horse, and confirm our own narrow (or overly-broad) beliefs. God’s word is the only fully-reliable rule and norm for faith and life. We act honorably when we look to Scripture to inform our faith and let God’s word shape our hearts and minds, bringing us to Jesus and honoring him as we should.

1 comment
  1. What a contrast! Those who are looking for what is wrong or even “arrogantly usable” (Thessalonicans) versus those who were looking with honesty for what was good and right (Bereans) …
    – people have not changed over the centuries and are not likely to change without your last statement coming to fruition, “We act honorably when we look to Scripture to inform our faith and let God’s word shape our hearts and minds, bringing us to Jesus and honoring him as we should.” Love this framework for change. Thank you for this message!

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