Vol. 8, No. 1
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According to Acts Chapter Seventeen and verses one through four, Paul and Silas taught the Thessalonians. The only problem is that the people rejected the teachings and turned into an angry mob that wanted to arrest Paul and Silas (Acts 17:5-9). They escaped, traveled to Berea and taught the Word of God where it was well received.
The Bereans were different from the Thessalonians in that they were "more noble" (Acts 17:11). According to verse five, the Thessalonians were "moved with envy." The people were angry with Paul and Silas because they taught the Word of God. The angry mob attacked Jason's house, where Paul and Silas stayed during their visit, for the purpose of taking Paul and Silas to court (Acts 17:6-7). The Bereans, on the other hand, "received the word with all readiness of mind" (Acts 17:11). In this verse, the Greek word for "received" means to accept, or take (Biblesoft's). The Greek word for "readiness of mind" indicates a willing mind (Biblesoft's). The people of Berea attentively listened to the teaching of Paul and Silas because they were willing and ready to learn.
The Bereans were also more noble than the Thessalonians because they "searched the scriptures daily" (Acts 17:11). The Greek word for "searched" implies investigation (Biblesoft's). In our text, the term "scriptures" is used in verses two and eleven. Both times, the Greek word is graphe, which makes reference to the holy Writ (Biblesoft's). The term "holy Writ" refers to the Old Testament writings (Barnes'). The Bereans were nobler because they investigated the Old Testament.
Verse eleven of our text gives us the reason we are to search the Scriptures, to see "whether those things were so." "Those things" refer back to the teaching of Paul and Silas. The Bereans were testing the doctrine that Paul and Silas brought, comparing it to what is found in the Scriptures.
John 5:39 also illustrates the benefit of searching the Scriptures: "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." The word translated "search" in this passage gives a meaning of a diligent or anxious search (Barnes'). The word "scriptures" refers to "the writings or books of the Old Testament, for those were all the books of revelation that they then possessed" (Barnes'). The secret to eternal life is found within the messianic prophecies that were being fulfilled before their very eyes. The Jews of the time searched the Scriptures "because they recognized that these contain the secret of eternal life" (Wycliffe). By searching the Scriptures, one can discover the answer to eternal life.
Second Timothy 2:15 also gives reason as to why we need to search the Scriptures: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." The Greek word for "study" means to make earnest effort (Biblesoft's). This definition indicates searching the Scriptures. The verse sets forth the reason to search the Scriptures as "rightly dividing the word of truth." The Greek word for "rightly dividing" is a compound word that means to dissect correctly (Biblesoft's). We are commanded to study so that we can correctly distinguish the truth from a lie. We are to study the Bible so we can know whether a doctrine comes from God or from man.
The result of searching the Scriptures is set forth in Acts 17:12: "Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few." The first word in this verse is "therefore." It has been said that when you see the word "therefore," you should look to see "what it is there for." This word also indicates a conclusion. The previous verse states that the Bereans searched the Scriptures daily. The conclusion, set forth in verse twelve, is that they believed. The latter phrase of verse twelve indicates that a large number of both men and women believed. The Bereans believed the teaching of Paul and Silas because they searched the Scriptures.
Another result from searching the Scriptures is recorded in Romans 15:4. The text there says that the Scriptures give us hope. The Greek word for "hope" means confidence. This word can also refer to faith. By searching the Scriptures, we gain a better confidence, or faith, in the Scriptures as well as God and Jesus.
Second Timothy 3:16-17 also shows the result of diligent Bible study: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works." According to the passage, study is profitable in that it is advantageous (Biblesoft's). Study is profitable for "doctrine." The Greek word for "doctrine" means learning (Biblesoft's). Searching the Scriptures will edify. Study is profitable for "reproof." The Greek word for "reproof" means refutation of error (Biblesoft's). Searching the Scriptures will enable us to refute error. Study is profitable for "correction." The Greek word for correction means reformation (Biblesoft's). Searching the Scriptures will reform the unbeliever. Study is profitable for "instruction in righteousness." This phrase indicates an education by disciplinary action leading one towards justification (Biblesoft's). Searching the Scriptures will educate the nonbeliever and justify the lost to God (Galatians 2:16-20). Searching the Scriptures is advantageous because it will edify, enable us to refute error, reform and educate the unbeliever, and lead us towards justification.
The word "scripture" in Second Timothy 3:16 is the same Greek word as used in Acts 17:2, 11. Here, it refers not only to the Old Testament writings, but also to the New Testament writings. Some of the New Testament books were not even written, and those that were complete were not necessarily available to the early Christians. The charge was actually directed to Timothy, a preacher, but applies to all Christians. They were to study the available books of the Bible, Old and New Testaments. We are to do the same today.
Based on examples and commands, we too have the obligation to search the Scriptures. Doing so will give us a sense of nobility, like the Bereans. We will also be giving earnest effort to correctly dissect the Word of God. Those who search the Scriptures will believe, have faith, gain hope. The advantage, or profit, will be edification and knowledge.
Barnes' Notes. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 1997.
Biblesoft's New Exhaustive Strong's Numbers and Concordance with Expanded Greek-Hebrew Dictionary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft and International Bible Translators, 1994.