How to Be a Berean
We can learn from the Bereans in the authority over men that they recognize in God’s Word. The Bereans “examined the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” What “things”? Paul’s preaching. Even someone like the great Apostle is not over or above the Bible.
On his second missionary journey, Paul made a sudden detour to Berea after the fledgling Christian church in Thessalonica was violently threatened. While Paul’s plan may have been disrupted, his pattern of ministry was not: in Berea he continued his established method of reasoning from the Scriptures in the synagogues with Jews and other God-fearers. There is not a lot told to us about the people of Berea except that they were “more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
Luke clearly admired their enthusiasm for the Word, and Christians for centuries after have admired the same. To this day, it is not odd to find their name adopted by congregations. In my own city, we have a Berean Baptist Church. Colleges have taken on these Berean Jews as their namesake, and settlers in Kentucky hundreds of years ago named their small village Berea—now it’s the fastest-growing city in the state. While we don’t know a whole lot about this group of God-fearers in Berea, we know enough to model ourselves after them in at least three ways.
The Attitude We Have toward the Word
First is in the attitude that we give to Scripture. The Bereans “received the word with all eagerness.” The Greek word here, prothumia, means “readiness of mind.” It doesn’t mean that they were naive, willing to accept anything. But they were leaning in and expecting something great to come from God’s Word. They anticipated that it would speak to them, guide them, and not fail them.
We struggle with that eagerness, don’t we? Often, we approach the Scriptures like a child approaches the spoonful of cough syrup being offered to her. But we should approach the Word with the joy of the psalmist, who said it is “sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb” (Ps. 19:10). The Bereans viewed God’s Word as a great gift. That’s why they “received” it—they took what was given them. They received with a thankful, eager, and expectant attitude because what comes from God’s hand is always good. If we come to God’s Word with eager expectation, we will not treat it flippantly.