Two More Cities

Friday: Our Need to Study the Scriptures Daily

Acts 17:1-15 In this week’s studies we see how to establish an effective and faithful ministry.
Our Need to Study the Scriptures Daily

In yesterday’s study we began a look at the first two chapters of 1 Thessalonians, in which Paul reflects on what happened in Thessalonica as the result of his preaching. Let’s look at two more points. 

4. They became models themselves. Having imitated Paul, these new Christians then became models themselves, not only to one another but “to all the believers” round about (1 Thess. 1:7). Their faith and way of life became known everywhere. 

5. The church at Thessalonica became a missionary church. Finally, as a result of all those things, the church at Thessalonica became a center through which the Gospel “rang out” everywhere (1 Thess. 1:8); that is, they became missionaries. That is what we need today. We need churches in the major cities of America which have received the Scriptures as the very Word of God, in which individuals are trying to imitate Jesus Christ and have a strong missionary vision from which the Gospel therefore spreads to others. 

Because of the trouble in Thessalonica, Paul and Silas left the city by night and made their way to Berea. Thus we come to the second of these two examples of city ministry. 

Of all the stories from Acts that I was taught in my childhood, the one I have most remembered over the years is about the Bereans. It was that “these were more noble than those in Thessalonica” (KJV) because they studied the Scriptures daily to see whether what Paul had been teaching them was so. The sentence is translated differently in the New International Version: “the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (v. 11). 

Three things are said of them. First, they received the message eagerly; second, they examined the Scriptures; third, they examined the Scriptures daily. 

When it says that they received the message with great eagerness, it does not mean that they were naive and simply believed everything they heard. It means that, unlike those in some of the other cities, these people were open to the Gospel and had not prejudged it. In other cities the people tended to regard the Gospel as something to be rejected out-of-hand, just because it was new. The Bereans did not do that. They said, “This sounds good. We’d like to hear more about it.” 

Then, having heard the Good News, they went to the Scriptures themselves to see if the things Paul was teaching really were in them. 

Moreover, they did it daily—not just on Sunday mornings for an hour, but daily—because these teachings were matters of life and death. They wanted to spend all their available time studying them. There are preachers who want people to accept what they say just because they say it. They do not want to be challenged. Good preachers want a congregation that hears the Word, receives it eagerly, and then goes to the Scriptures daily to see if what is being taught is really true. 

What were the results? They are in verse 12: “Many of the Jews believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men” (v. 12). That means that in Berea, as in Thessalonica (and Philippi before that), a church was established which grew strong and itself eventually sent missionaries to other places. We need that everywhere today. 

I have already mentioned that Luke stayed behind in Philippi. Here we find that Paul’s company is reduced still further. Silas and Timothy stayed on at Berea. 

We know the reasons. The early churches needed leaders to strengthen them. That is why Paul allowed his co-workers to stay on. But if we look at it from a human point of view, it seems that what Paul was doing was dividing what was already a pitifully small force. Paul was setting out to overturn the entire Roman world with just four workers. And what does he do? He leaves Luke in Philippi, Silas and Timothy in Berea, and then he goes on by himself to Athens. Later they rejoin him, but after that he will dispatch them again. Timothy will go to Thessalonica and Silas somewhere else. What an inadequate force! Yet what a revolution as men and women everywhere—Jews and Greeks, young and old, slaves and free—were led to Jesus as their Savior.

Study Questions
  1. What happened as a result of Paul’s ministry in Thessalonica?
  2. How did the Bereans respond to Paul’s teaching?

Reflection: Can you think of any churches or geographical areas that, having first heard the Gospel and gotten established, the church or area went on to send out missionaries of its own?

Application: Take notes during the sermon, and return to the Scriptures in the coming week to see if what you heard is true.

Prayer: Pray for your church and its various ministries, that they will be faithful to the Scriptures and effective in their outreach.

For Further Study: Download for free and listen to James Boice’s message, “The Purpose of the Scriptures.” (Discount will be applied at checkout.)

For Further Study: James Boice’s complete series on the book of Acts is available in paperback, and the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals is offering it at 25% off the regular price.

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