The Acts of the Apostles makes it clear that Paul's missionary journeys were often full
of hazard and danger. In the second journey he and Silas were smuggled out of
Thessalonica, after the trouble recorded in chapter sixteen. They withdrew to Berea,
some 50 miles to the south-west. This was a city of Southern Macedonia, situated at the
foot of Mount Bernius, which was once large and populous. It was founded probably in
the fifth century B.C. and in New Testament times contained a Jewish colony. As Paul
travelled from place to place he consistently put the chosen people of Israel first, just as
the Lord had done in His earthly ministry (Matt. 15:24), as had also the twelve apostles
according to His commandment (Matt. 10:5,6).
In view of God's plan that the knowledge of Himself and the fulfilment of His
Kingdom should be world-wide and not restricted to any one nation (Isa. 11:9), this is
difficult to understand, till we realize that redeemed Israel was chosen as the Divine
channel to bring this about (Gen. 12:3; 26:4; 28:14; Acts 13:47), and so must have God's
preparation and the gospel first (Acts 3:25,26; 13:46).
It was in this respect that Israel failed so terribly. After God's education of this people
for centuries, they deliberately rejected and crucified their Saviour and King when He
came to them in the flesh. A further opportunity was granted them during the Acts of the
Apostles, God's longsuffering and grace waiting for their response, but wherever Paul
went the Jew opposed and blasphemed (Acts 13:45; 18:6).
But those at Berea were a startling exception :
`And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who
coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. 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 17:10,11).
How refreshing this must have been to Paul and his friend to find a Jewish community
who were willing to listen and test his message fairly by the Old Testament Scriptures!
For it was these Scriptures that formed the foundation of what Paul had to teach them
(Acts 18:28; 28:23).
The Jews of Berea were `more noble' than those at Thessalonica as is evidenced by
their `readiness of mind' to weigh over scripturally what they heard from the apostle. The
word thus translated means `eagerness', literally `a rushing forward', and this gives us the
first necessary mental attitude if we are ever to learn God's Truth. We must show
practically that we are keen to get to know it. God has nothing for indifferent or half-
Secondly we note that these Berean Jews tested all they heard by the one Divine
standard - the Word of God. They `examined' or `searched' what God had written
through the instrumentality of men. This word means `to sift up and down', `to make a
careful and exact research'. Here was no hasty flicking over a few leaves of the