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Bible and Glasses

After being bombarded by an angry mob of dissenters in Thessalonica, Paul came across something quite unique in the neighboring city of Berea: a noble-minded people. Acts 17:11 states, “Now these…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.” The word used for “noble” in the Greek is composed of two words. Eu meaning good, well, and Genus meaning family, race. To be noble was to be one who was descended from a good family, even of high rank. However, in Acts 17:11, the word is not referring to those of a noble bloodline, but rather, in the metaphorical sense of noble-mindedness.

The second way in which the people of Berea are described is that they “received the word with all eagerness.” In short, the Greek word for “received” means “to readily accept with great favor.” And this was done with alacrity, meaning a spirited enthusiasm. So, they were excited about it, even exuberant! They eagerly and with great joy accepted the offer of the Gospel.

But…..they did not do so blindly, nor did they simply take Paul’s word for it. According to Philippians 3:4-6, Galatians 1:11-17, 2 Corinthians 11-12 Paul was not just anyone. He was well versed in the Scriptures being a Pharisee of Pharisees. He was raised in an environment of learning the Torah. He ate, drank, and slept the Torah. It was everything to him!! His experiences are countless, some extremely painful and some simply beyond amazing. He had seen the Lord Jesus (1 Corinthians 9:1) and spent time with Jesus, one on one, as Jesus taught him from the Scriptures (Galatians 1:12). Furthermore, Paul was one of the Apostles. Though he called himself the least of the Apostles, he nonetheless was an Apostle (1 Corinthians 15:9). But, the Bereans did not care about his credentials nor his name nor his experiences. Why, he could have come from heaven itself, and they would not have thought anything of it!!

No, the Bereans did not take Paul’s word for it. They “examined” the Scriptures. The Greek word for “examine” is anakrino which is composed of two words fused together. Ana can mean “on or upon” and is emphatic and intensive. Krino means “to judge.” Thus, the two words put together mean, “To distinguish or separate through intense investigation (krino) by looking through the particulars (ana).” Indeed, this word has everything to do with preliminary judicial actions of examination in cases pending a trial. And this type of inquiry is not just for the sake of questioning, but is done in order to come to an accurate conclusion. This is what made the Bereans stand apart as noble-minded.

2 Timothy 2:15 reads, “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” An even better way to put this would be, “Diligently make every effort to stand approved (as metal in fire) to God, an unashamed workman, rightly, accurately and skillfully handling the word of truth.” The skillful handling of the Bible comes from the Greek word meaning “to cut straight.” It is imperative that the word of God be accurately interpreted, or else we do violence to the text, and cause harm to the listener as well as ourselves.

Is it easy to skillfully handle the word of God? No! That’s why there are so many still drinking the milk of the word. The author of Hebrews speaks to his listeners as those who still needed the milk of the word but who should have been able to eat the meat of the word (Hebrews 5). Yet again, the Apostle Paul says the same thing to the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3. The Corinthians should have been ready for meat, but they still needed milk!!! So what does it mean to be a Christian still living on milk? Hebrews 5:13-14 explains, “…Everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.” To be “unskilled” is to be “inexperienced” in the Bible. Thus, the milk fed Christians are not “skillfully, accurately handling the word of truth,” as 2 Timothy 2:15 teaches, nor are they “intensely thoroughly investigating” the Scriptures daily as the Bereans. Because of this, the Christians living on milk cannot “discern clearly” what is good or evil because they do not know what God’s word says about it!

As new creations in Christ, Christians have been given the Holy Spirit that we might understand the Bible which is the inspired word of God (2 Timothy 3:16a), even the mystery of God that has been revealed in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 2:6-10). The Bible can only be “spiritually discerned” by those who are “spiritual” (1 Corinthians 2:12-16). The word for “discern(ed)” is anakrino which was also used of the Bereans, and has everything to do with “examining thoroughly for the sake of coming to an accurate conclusion.” Near the word anakrino is the word pneumatikos, which means that along with this intense examination one needs the “assistance of the Holy Spirit” in order to fully understand. However, “fleshly” believers who are “inexperienced” and living on the milk of the word cannot and are not able to “discern” it (1 Corinthians 3:1).

In conclusion, no matter what a minister’s credentials, no matter what a reverend’s title, no matter what big name is teaching or prophesying in the name of the Lord, as Christians we are to be like the Bereans who with the help of the Holy Spirit investigated the Scriptures daily to see if what Paul said was really true. It is time to “skillfully interpret” the word of God that we might be unashamed workers (2 Timothy 2:15), who use the Scripture accurately for the sake of “teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work,” 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Let’s be like the Bereans! Let’s get equipped!