Luke and Paul’s missionary team seem to part ways for a while since he again uses the third person when writing about the events in Philippi (Acts 16:22), Thessalonica (Acts 17:1) and Beara (Acts 17:10). Remember that Luke occasionally changes his style from that of a third person observer to a first person participant. In Acts 16:10-17; 20:5-16; 21:1-18; and Acts 27:1–28:16, the author speaks of “we” and “us” in relationship to Paul’s travels. The language implies the author himself traveled with Paul. These “we” sections include the time when Paul was imprisoned at Rome.
Before we get to Acts 17, Paul and Silas travel 100 miles from Philippi to Thessalonica. I sort of wonder what made one city more of a priority than some other city. The first criteria I’d say is it was the leadership of the Holy Spirit. Another criteria was Paul wanted to preach the gospel where it was not already known (Romans 15:20). While in Thessalonica, there was a mob seeking Paul and Silas to do them harm (Acts 17:5, 6) because they had upset the entire world. The believers got Paul out of there and sent him by night to Berea (Acts 17:10).
I read that Mount Olympus could be seen from the foothills of Berea, just 20 miles from the sea. Like Virginia, they had a landscape that went form the mountains to the beach; but the people we more noble than others in the region, which is an excellent standard set for us today (Acts 17:11).
They were willing to receive the message (Acts 17:11): meaning they accepted the offer deliberately and readily, to come and hear what Paul had to say. Many people today do not ever get to the place where they will come and hear or receive the message of Christ. It is truly sad because we have so many opportunities to hear but people choose to ignore Christ’s invitation.
They were ready to receive what Paul had to say (Acts 17:11): with eagerness, meaning a predisposition for learning (according to Strong’s). Let’s make sure we are ready and eager to learn about Christ.
They examined Paul’s message with the light of the Scriptures (Acts 17:11): they did not take his word for it, they did their own research. The word used here means to “ask, question, discern, examine, judge, search” (Strong’s). It is very important that we learn to study the Bible for ourselves. We are a people so used to being spoon-fed the Word of God that we just might starve if it were not for the preacher.
As you research or study the Bible, make sure about the nutritional value of the stuff you read. With the internet full of so much great information, there are plenty of sites that will lead people into inaccurate interpretations of the Bible. Do not accept anyone’s teachings without backing it up with Scripture. Then allow the Bible to make commentary on itself.
These Bereans had the right practices but also the right heart. They did not search the Scripture to find error in Paul’s theology, but to see if what he said measured up to the Bible. They did not want to argue or fact-check the truth of the teacher, but to check what he says to the standard of truth.
The Jews in Thessalonica soon discovered Paul was in Berea and were mean enough to travel fifty miles to stir up the people (Acts 17:13). It seems to me that not much has changed in all these years; some people just love causing God’s leaders grief and stirring up people to set their hearts and minds against them. The word used here is “to rock, topple, shake, stir up” (Strong’s).
Application: How often to do search the Scriptures to make sure that what is being taught is true? Are you in a position to receive God’s Word? Are you familiar enough with the Bible to allow it to bring comfort and healing when the world begins to rock, topple or shake your world? I pray that we all will become as noble as the Bereans, who set such a great example for future generations.