Acts 17:10-15 Checking Out the Preacher

10 As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.

13 But when the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, some of them went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. 14 The believers immediately sent Paul to the coast, but Silasand Timothy stayed at Berea. 15 Those who escorted Paul brought him to Athens and then left with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.

Checking Out the Preacher

I, like many people, am more than a little insecure.  I feel a little like an impostor sometimes because I lack confidence.  So, when someone contradicts me or checks that what I am saying is true, I can get a little defensive.  However, the problem is with me and my insecurity rather than with the ones who are verifying what I have to say.  We are all held to an accountability to God and his word.  The Bible is accepted by many Christians as the bedrock of how we know things.  It is special revelation to the masses which reveals to us all the nature of God and his story throughout time and eternity.  If a preacher speaks words that do not conform to the pattern of the Bible, the preacher is to be dismissed not scripture.  Although it doesn’t always feel great to submit to scrutiny, I want those who hear me preach to look at scripture for themselves and verify that what I am telling them is true.

The Bereans in the passage above are famous for not taking Paul on face value.  They searched the Bible to verify what they had been told.  Many of us are much more lazy with our preachers today.  We accept or dismiss them based on how we feel or what we think we know, rather than checking out our disagreement to see how it stands up to the Bible.

Good preaching should be a gateway to good Bible study.  It should whet the appetite.  I am frustrated sometimes when a preacher communicates their three points in such a way that it communicates that they have done all of the hard work so that we don’t have to.  It is akin to saying that they have a relationship with Jesus on our behalf and they have us covered.  The invitation is to a relationship with God through deeper communication.  Whilst we pray and sing to God our own thoughts and requests, God reveals his deep thoughts and requests to us primarily through scripture.  Searching the scriptures is like looking searchingly into a lover’s eyes rather than skimming a telephone directory for a correct phone number.  The difference between those who are diligent and those who are flippant is one of character.  According to the passage, those who search the scriptures when they hear a preacher are of noble character.  They do not look to undermine the preacher through their study.  In this case they verify that the speaker is true.  In other words, they can rejoice because they have found a brother who is in harmony with God.

Prayer

May we be ever diligent in looking through the Bible to see whether what we have been told is correct.  May we be humble and secure enough to be glad when people search the Bible to see if what we are communicating is true.  In all of our efforts may we end up with more harmony in the body of Christ and with You.

Questions

  1. What reception did Paul receive in Berea?
  2. In the passage, what denotes a noble character?
  3. What did the people find when they searched scripture?
  4. How do you verify if someone is communicating truth to you?
  5. How do people in your church respond to the preaching?
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About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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