Searching the Scriptures

“Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with all eagerness, examining the scriptures daily to see if these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, with not a few Greek women of high standing as well as men.”
—Acts 17:11, 12, Revised Standard Version

BEFORE THE APOSTLE Paul reached Berea, he had been in Thessalonica where, according to his custom, he visited a synagogue of the Jews, and on three Sabbaths he reasoned with them from the Scriptures. (Acts 17:2, Wilson’s Emphatic Diaglott) The Greek word in this account, which is translated ‘reasoned’ is dialegomai, meaning ‘a dialog, or discussion.’ The same Greek word appears in various other Scriptures, emphasizing that this method of proclaiming the truth was then in common use.

While the dialog, or discussion method of proclaiming the truth is not now generally used among Christians, it still is an excellent one, because it helps the interested listeners to find answers to their own questions.

It was by reasoning or discussing the Gospel message with his hearers that Paul opened up the Scriptures to them, unfolding that which was hitherto concealed or obscure; “alleging”—laying down the proposition—“that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus … is Christ.”—Acts 17:2,3

Doubtless other important features of the truth were also explained to these devout Jews; but the highlight of Paul’s reasoning seems to have been, “This Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ.” A mob formed by opponents of Paul’s teachings in Thessalonica caused a riot, and forced the brethren to send Paul away.—Acts 17:5-10

The Apostle Paul always went to a synagogoue first in entering a new city, and upon arriving in Berea he lost no time in locating one. Here he found some who were very susceptible to the truth, and “more noble than those in Thessalonica.” (Acts 17:11) The Greek word here translated ‘noble’ seems to suggest persons of noble birth. However, true nobility implies reasonableness, as distinguished from prejudice. Actually, those of so-called ‘noble birth’ are often the least susceptible to the truth.

The Bereans were reasonable—and from this standpoint, truly ‘noble’—for they welcomed the servants of God who drew their attention particularly to the things written, and showed that the Gospel they were proclaiming was the same good news which had been previously expressed by the holy prophets. With all readiness of mind these Bereans began to examine the Scriptures—not merely on the Sabbath days, but daily—to determine how well Paul’s reasonings and arguments were supported by the testimony of the Law and the prophets.

As could be expected, many of the noble Bereans accepted the good tidings. Compared with those of Thessalonica, these Bereans were more generous and noble in their feelings—more disposed to inquire candidly into the teachings being advanced to them. They did not reject and spurn it as unworthy of examination.

It was proper that the Bereans should search the Scriptures to make sure that the teachings of Paul agreed with the inspired record. It is also our obligation now to search the Scriptures, to prove whether the teachings being advanced to us are true or false. We are to “examine all things. Hold fast the good.” (I Thess. 5:21, Diaglott) “To the Law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them.”—Isa. 8:20

The entire testimony of the Scriptures (allowing for interpolations and faulty translations) is harmonious, whether it be communicated by the Law, the prophets, the Lord Jesus, or the apostles. This harmony is one of the proofs of the Divine inspiration of the Bible. The testimony of Jesus and the apostles reveal things new and also confirms the old. Thus the entire Word of God becomes increasingly stimulating the more we study it in sincerity and in truth.

If we are like the noble Bereans we also will zealously and daily search the Scriptures, in the consciousness that the full testimony of the Word is to be our guide. Paul wrote, “All Scripture, Divinely inspired, is indeed profitable for teaching, for conviction, for correction, for that discipline which is in righteousness; so that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly fitted for every good work.”—II Tim. 3:16,17, WED

A knowledge of the truth is essential in order to possess the spirit of the truth. However, one might have much knowledge of the Scriptures, yet be sadly lacking in the spirit of the truth—which is an essential in the Christian walk—it is necessary to come into heart harmony with the truth; into mental accord and cooperation with the Divine will as expressed in the Word of God. This condition can be attained only by first accepting the Lord Jesus as our personal Savior, and then consecrating oneself unreservedly to do God’s will.

In due course the great privilege of proclaiming the true Gospel will come to us, as it has so graciously been revealed. We will find it effective to use much the same method as did the Apostle Paul—the reasoning, or dialog method.

Not many have the opportunity of proclaiming the truth in lecture form from the public platform, but we can all find opportunities to reason with those with whom we come in contact, thus setting forth to them the good news and encouraging them to read the Word and to meditate upon it.

Thus we will prove ourselves to be “an approved workman, irreproachable, rightly treating the Word of truth.”—II Tim. 2:15, WED

Dawn Bible Students Association
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