Reprise: Be a Berean

Studying the text is not just a “me” thing.

Paul didn’t have a bound Bible like ours today with all 66 books of the Bible. But he did have what we call the Old Testament. He preached Christ from the Old Testament. Being in their synagogue, he probably used their copy of the text. Although we do not know what text he used, the point here draws out the Gospel Paul preached derived from the OT text. The Bereans had the same OT text to see if this was true. [1]

 

“Be a Berean.” This command references the Bereans response to the Gospel message they heard when Paul and Silas preached to them in the synagogue of the Jews. The Jews in the synagogue heard the message and responded by going away and studying Scripture. “Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). When we issue this command to people, we are asking them to be discerning about what they hear and make sure the teaching is inline with Scripture. But there is more at play here needing to be seen.

Wrong Usage

Unfortunately some people now use this verse to explain a personal interpretation shared by no one else. A person will dig in and say, “I’m being a Berean. This is what Scripture says.” At this point, the Berean verse has become a self-justifying excuse for error. This would be a wrong application to this verse. Many say this passage is descriptive, not prescriptive meaning we cannot derive from it a practice. This may be true, but even if it is prescriptive, the context will not allow for a personal interpretation.

Key Word

There is a key word needing emphasis in Acts 17:11, “they.” Reread the passage and note who did the examining? “They received the word with great eagerness.” This was not one individual going back to his own closet to examine the text. This was the synagogue of the Jews looking at it together.

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