Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. (Acts 17:10-12)
The Berean Spirit
Thessalonica turned out to be a difficult town to preach the good news of Jesus Christ. Paul had only been there only three weeks before envious Jews raised a mob against them attacking the house of a disciple named Jason. The brethren quickly sent Paul and Silas out of the city lest some harm come to them. Arriving in the nearby city of Berea, Paul went into the synagogue where he preached Jesus as the Christ. The difference in his reception in Berea was the attitude of the Jews who wanted to learn more about the scriptures. Paul reasoned with them from the Scriptures the testimony of Jesus of Nazareth and how the Law, Prophets and Psalms showed this Jesus to be the Messiah. Instead of raising a mob to attack them, the Jews in Berea searched the scriptures daily to examine the truth of what Paul and Silas taught. They incited their minds to find the truth.
There is a refreshing spirit in the city of Berea that is the foundation of truth. Raising a mob from envy like the Jews of Thessalonica comes from fear. The teaching of Jesus Christ came from the word of God but the Thessalonian Jews were not interested in what the Scriptures said. They felt threatened by the very teachings they defended in their mob mentality. The Bereans were the opposite. They did not accept what Paul said based on who Paul was or how he said what he said. The Berean spirit was to examine the revealed scriptures comparing what Paul said with what God said. If the words of Paul were found in the word of God then it was truth. Examining the scriptures was the foundation of their belief. If Paul said something that was not from the word of God, they would have challenged him. However, the apostle allowed the scriptures to show the truth as a “thus sayeth the Lord.” What a simple plan.
Truth is found in the word of God. The Lord has always revealed His will to men in various means and ways. Today, we have the completely revealed word of truth contained in the books from Genesis to the Revelation. No other book is needed. All truth is found in the Bible and the Bible alone. So much of what is in the religious world today cannot be found in the Bible. Sadly, many religious people are deluded into believing things they cannot read from the word of God. The Berean spirit is the challenge men put to others for preaching what comes from the Bible. It must be noted the Bereans who were searching the scriptures were not Christians. These devout Jews did not accept what Paul said simply because he said it. Their hearts would only receive the truth as found in the word of God. On the day of Pentecost, three thousand devout Jews obeyed the gospel because they had the Berean spirit. We can do no less.
What is important about the Berean spirit for the Christian is the continual need to examine the scriptures. There was an emphasis on daily searching for truth. They had a thirst for the water of eternal life. New Testament disciples must be learning daily the words of truth or they fail to be a disciple. A disciple is a learner, truth seeker and follower. Truth brings us to Christ the first time and continues to show us the paths of truth and righteousness as a Christian. Knowledge changed our lives to obey the gospel. A continual need of examining the scriptures is needed so that we can grow in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. The Berean spirit must reside in the heart of every Christian who examines the scriptures daily. Believing a preacher because he is a preacher fails the Berean test. Allowing elders to lead without examining the scriptures for the pattern of authority will lead to apostasy. Children of God who do not daily feed on the word of God will die. The Jews of Berea set a pattern we can dare not follow. Life is in the word of God and with the Berean spirit the devil will not have a chance. Search the scriptures daily. Begin today.
We advise all who feel hemmed in by a closed and stifling world to open the Old and New Testaments. They will there find vistas, which will liberate them, and the excellent food of the only true God. (Emmanuel Suhard, The Church Today, 1953)