Sjolander Road Fellowship

Declaring the God of Unconditional Love

the noble bereans


As noted before, the practice of proving doctrinal points by referencing isolated scriptures, here and there, is far from conclusive. In that regard, we often hear Acts 17:10-11 quoted as a demonstration of how to determine scriptural truth. In this passage, the people of Berea are said to be noble because they searched the scriptures vigorously as a test of what was so (true). On occasion, Bible expositors give a  text to "prove" their point and then cite the Bereans to add weight to their conclusion, implying that they follow the Bereans' example. The implication is that, as long as some passage can be found to "support" what is claimed, then given Paul's praise of the Bereans, the nobility and truthfulness of the doctrinal supposition is unequivocally established. But is it?

First of all, we can be quite certain that the scriptures searched by the Bereans did not include the New Testament, because it hadn't been written yet. Instead of books sanctioned by the institutional church hundreds of years after Christ, the Bereans had the Old Testament books which bore the sanction of Christ himself, since he quoted from almost all of them. That being noted, how much of the OT scriptures do we think the Bereans had to evaluate before they knew what was so? A verse or two; a couple of chapters? You decide.

By implication the Bereans did not simply take Paul's word for what he taught, but studied for themselves. Is that the way present day expositors would have us learn. Apparently not, because they endlessly tell us what we have to believe, throwing around disconnected passages in support. That hardly sounds like conscientious study and demonstrated proof to me. Additionally, heaven forbid that anyone's personal study reaches a conclusion not approved by church doctrine. Studying may be noble but not if you don't come up with the approved answers and conclusions.

Those who want to claim Berean nobility because of quoting a few verses and then declaring case closed, are making unwarranted assumptions about the Bereans and themselves. If the Bereans evaluated and taught scripture like the average church expositor, then Paul could hardly have held them up as noble examples for all.