Acts 17:11
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
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(11) These were more noble than those in Thessalonica.—The word for “noble” (literally, well-born, as in 1Corinthians 1:26) had. like most words of like origin (such, e.g., as the Latin ingenuus), a wide latitude of meaning. Here it stands for the generous, loyal temper which was ideally supposed to characterise those of noble origin. This was the quality which the Apostle and the historian admired in the Berœans. They were not the slaves of prejudice. They were ready to believe in the gospel which St. Paul preached as meeting their spiritual wants; and so they came to the study of the proofs, which the preacher “opened and alleged,” with a temper predisposed to faith. On the other hand, they did not accept their own wishes, or the Apostle’s assertions, as in themselves sufficient grounds of faith. With a quick and clear intelligence they searched the Scriptures daily to see whether they really did speak of a Christ who should suffer and rise again. The Berœan converts have naturally been regarded, especially among those who urge the duty, or claim the right, of private judgment, as a representative instance of the right relations of Reason and Faith, occupying a middle position between credulity and scepticism, to be reproduced, mutatis mutandis, according to the different aspects which each presents in successive ages.

Acts 17:11-14. These were more noble, &c. — Greek, ευγενεστεροι, more ingenuous, or generous; of a more excellent disposition, more open to conviction, as being less blinded by prejudice. To be teachable in the things of God, is true nobleness and generosity of soul. Than those in Thessalonica — The unbelieving Jews there; in that they received the word with all readiness of mind — When it was proved to them from the Scriptures to be the word of God. And searched the Scriptures daily — Using great candour and impartiality in the search; whether these things were so — Namely, the things which Paul preached concerning the sufferings and resurrection of the Messiah. Here we see that receiving the word with readiness, and the most accurate search into the truth, are things well consistent the one with the other. Therefore many of them believed — Finding how exact a correspondence there was between the words of these Christian preachers and those of their own prophets, to which they referred. Also of honourable women — Women of considerable rank; which were Greeks — That is, proselytes, as the word is frequently used by Luke; and of men not a few — Thus a numerous church was gathered in Berea likewise, consisting both of the Jews and of the Gentiles, but especially of the latter. But — An unhappy opposition soon arose, from the malice of their persecutors: for, when the Jews of Thessalonica understood that the word of God was preached at Berea — With such promising success, not content with what they had done to oppose it at home; they came thither also, and stirred up the people — Greek, σαλευοντες τους οχλους, agitating the multitudes, or, raising a storm among them; the expression properly signifying to agitate the sea violently. It admirably illustrates the rage and fury of a seditious multitude. They doubtless represented Paul and his associates as factious and turbulent persons, to whom it was dangerous to give any the least shelter or countenance. The brethren, therefore, anxious for Paul’s safety, sent him away to go as it were to the sea — Or by sea, to some of the southern cities of Greece. It seems they chose to direct him the road which led to the sea, that if he had not an opportunity of embarking, or did not think proper to do it, his malicious enemies might, at least, be discouraged from any further attempt to pursue him, which they might probably have done, if they had known he would have travelled by land. But Silas and Timotheus, whose characters were not so public, or their persons so obnoxious, did not go with him from Berea; but continued there a while longer, to settle the newly-planted church, and to instruct them more fully in the doctrine of the gospel.

17:10-15 The Jews in Berea applied seriously to the study of the word preached unto them. They not only heard Paul preach on the sabbath, but daily searched the Scriptures, and compared what they read with the facts related to them. The doctrine of Christ does not fear inquiry; advocates for his cause desire no more than that people will fully and fairly examine whether things are so or not. Those are truly noble, and likely to be more and more so, who make the Scriptures their rule, and consult them accordingly. May all the hearers of the gospel become like those of Berea, receiving the word with readiness of mind, and searching the Scriptures daily, whether the things preached to them are so.These were more noble - εὐγενέστεροι eugenesteroi. This literally means more noble by birth; descended from more illustrious ancestors. But here the word is used to denote a quality of mind and heart. They were more generous, liberal, and noble in their feelings; more disposed to inquire candidly into the truth of the doctrines advanced by Paul and Silas. It is always proof of a noble, liberal, and ingenuous disposition to be willing to examine into the truth of any doctrine presented. The writer refers here particularly to the Jews.

In that - Because.

They received the word ... - They listened attentively and respectfully to the gospel. They did not reject and spurn it as unworthy of examination. This is the first particular in which they were more noble than those in Thessalonica.

And searched the scriptures - That is, the Old Testament. See the notes on John 5:39. The apostles always affirmed that the doctrines which they maintained respecting the Messiah were in accordance with the Jewish scriptures. The Bereans made diligent and earnest inquiry in respect to this, and were willing to ascertain the truth.

Daily - Not only on the Sabbath, and in the synagogue, but they made it a daily employment. It is evident from this that they had the Scriptures; and this is one proof that Jewish families would, if possible, obtain the oracles of God.

Whether those things were so - Whether the doctrines stated by Paul and Silas were in accordance with the Scriptures. The Old Testament they received as the standard of truth, and whatever could be shown to be in accordance with that, they received. On this verse we may remark:

(1) That it is proof of true nobleness and liberality of mind to be willing to examine the proofs of the truth of religion. What the friends of Christianity have had most cause to lament and regret is, that so many are unwilling to examine its claims; that they spurn it as unworthy of serious thought, and condemn it without hearing.

(2) the Scriptures should be examined daily. If we wish to arrive at the truth, they should be the object of constant study. That man has very little reason to expect that he will grow in knowledge and grace who does not peruse, with candor and with prayer, a portion of the Bible every day.

(3) the constant searching of the Scriptures is the best way to keep the mind from error. He who does not do it daily may expect to "be carried about with every wind of doctrine," and to have no settled opinions.

(4) the preaching of ministers should be examined by the Scriptures. Their doctrines are of no value unless they accord with the Bible. Every preacher should expect his doctrines to be examined in this way, and to be rejected if they are not in accordance with the Word of God. The church, in proportion to its increase in purity and knowledge, will feel this more and more; and it is an indication of advance in piety when people are increasingly disposed to examine everything by the Bible. How immensely important, then, is it that the young should be trained up to diligent habits of searching the Word of God. And how momentous is the obligation of parents, and of Sunday school teachers, to inculcate just views of the interpretation of the Bible, and to form the habits of the rising generation, so that they shall be disposed and enabled to examine every doctrine by the sacred oracles. The purity of the church depends on the extension of the spirit of the nobleminded Bereans, and that spirit is to be extended in a very considerable degree by the instrumentality of Sunday schools.

11. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica—The comparison is between the Jews of the two places; for the triumphs of the Gospel at Thessalonica were mostly among the Gentiles. See on [2041]Ac 17:2-4.

in that they received the word with all readiness of mind—heard it not only without prejudice, but with eager interest, "in an honest and good heart" (Lu 8:17), with sincere desire to be taught aright (see Joh 7:17). Mark the "nobility" ascribed to this state of mind.

searched the scriptures daily whether those things were so—whether the Christian interpretation which the apostle put upon the Old Testament Scriptures was the true one.

The Jews of Berea did excel those of Thessalonica, not so much in birth as in disposition: they were not so prejudiced and obstinate; they patiently heard Paul; they seriously thought upon what he had said, and compared it with the Scriptures. And thus God gave them the preparation of the heart; and they brought their empty vessels. No wonder then that the oil of grace ran into them, and filled them. The Jews call their learned men, the sons of nobles; and according to that expression, these Bereans, that had acted so ingenuously and wisely, were said to be more noble.

Searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so: truth dares abide the test; only false wares need a dark shop to put them off in. The Scriptures only are our infallible rule; for they come from God, 2 Timothy 3:16, who cannot lie, Titus 1:2.

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica,.... That is, the Jews at Berea were more noble than the Jews in Thessalonica, as the Syriac version expresses it; for the comparison is not between the native inhabitants of Berea and Thessalonica, but between the Jews that dwelt in these places: and the one being "more noble" than the other, does not refer to their birth, lineage, and descent, as in 1 Corinthians 1:26 few such were called; and besides, both sorts were Jews, and of the same descent; and as for the proselytes in both places, there were some of the chief and honourable women converted in each: but to their minds, dispositions, and manners; the one were more candid, and ingenuous, and open to conviction and susceptive of the word, than the other; and used the apostles with better manners, with more mildness and gentleness, willing to hear what they had to say, without contradicting and blaspheming, and to examine with patience and candour what they delivered. Not that there is in any man, nor was there in those men naturally a disposition to attend to, and regard the Gospel of Christ; for there is a natural enmity in the minds of men to it, and with them it is folly and nonsense; nor are there any previous dispositions in the minds of men qualifying them for the grace of God; nor is anything of this kind a reason why some, and not others, are called by grace, for all are children of wrath, and none better than others; but this more noble disposition of mind and conduct was owing to the grace of God bestowed upon them; and which showed itself in the following instance:

in that they received the word with all readiness; or "who received", &c. which is a character, not of the Thessalonian Jews, as some think; though it is true of them that they received the word with joy of the Holy Ghost, and not as the word of man, but as the word of God, it coming to them not in word only, but in power, 1 Thessalonians 1:5 but of the Beran Jews, who exceeded them, who showed at once a readiness and eager desire to attend the Gospel, and embrace it. This is to be understood not of the essential word Christ; though as it is true of him, that he is the word, and he is said to be received, and that readily and willingly, so these Bereans did receive him by faith, they believed in him, and made a profession of him; nor of the written word, for that is designed by the Scriptures, which they searched daily, and by which they examined, tried, and judged of the word they received; but of the word spoken by the apostle, the word of truth, the Gospel of salvation: this they received into their understandings, not merely notionally, so as to give their assent to it; but spiritually and experimentally, so as to feel the power, and enjoy the comfort of it, their understandings being opened by the Spirit of God for this purpose; otherwise the Gospel is unknown unto, and rejected by the natural man: they received the love of the truth, or the word of truth into their affections, not with a mere carnal flashy affection, arising from a principle of self-love; but with a spiritual affection of the Holy Ghost, with real solid gladness, it bringing the good news of salvation by Christ to them who saw themselves miserable, and undone: they received it into their hearts, so that it had a place there, and worked effectually in them: they believed it, not with a mere historical faith, but from the heart obeyed this form of doctrine delivered to them; and this they did with all readiness, as an hungry man receives his food, and greedily feeds upon it, or as a man ready to perish receives and lays hold on anything that offers for his safety.

And searched the Scriptures daily whether those things were so: they did not dispute with, and cavil at the apostle, as the Thessalonian Jews first did, Acts 17:2 nor did they receive the word, right or wrong, or with an implicit faith; but they immediately betook themselves to reading and searching the writings of the Old Testament, to see whether the things which the apostle preached, concerning the Messiah, his incarnation, obedience, sufferings, death, and resurrection from the dead, were agreeable to them, or no; determining, if they were not, to reject them, but if they were, to embrace them, as they did; see John 5:39 and this they did continually day after day. They were neither backward to hear and receive the word, nor slothful to examine it.

{5} These were more {d} noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

(5) The Lord sets out in one short period of time, and in one people, different examples of his unsearchable wisdom to cause them to fear him.

(d) He compares the Jews with the Jews.

Acts 17:11. εὐγενέστεροι: only in Luke and Paul in the N.T., so in classics the word is used of noble birth, Luke 19:12, 1 Corinthians 1:26 (Job 1:3), or of nobility of character as here, cf. also its use in 4Ma 3:5; 4Ma 9:23; 4Ma 9:27 (and εὐγενῶς in 2Ma 14:42, and several times in 4 Macc.). We may compare the wide and varying use of the Latin ingenuus in accordance with the context, its meaning here is that the Berœans were far from the strife and envy of the Thessalonian Jews; see Ramsay, Church in the Roman Empire, pp. 154, 160, 163, on the less favourable attitude of Codex Bezæ to the Berœans than the T.R., and critical note; see also above on Acts 13:50.—προθ.: another word only in Luke and Paul, cf. 2 Corinthians 8:11-12; 2 Corinthians 8:19; 2 Corinthians 9:2; not in LXX, but once in Sir 45:23, frequent in classical Greek.—τὸ καθʼ ἡμέραν: indicates that St. Paul made a lengthy stay at Berœa also, cf. Luke 11:3; Luke 19:47, but elsewhere without the article, with the article peculiar to Luke (see Plummer’s note on Luke 11:3). On the frequency of καθʼ ἡμέραν in Luke’s writings see Friedrich, p. 9, and above on Hawkins, Horæ Synopticæ, p. 33. If τό is read, see critical note, it particularises the repetition or constancy of the act.—ἀνακρ.: “examining,” R.V. (the word in St.John 5:39, which A.V. also renders “search,” is ἐρευνάω), cf. 1 Corinthians 10:25; 1 Corinthians 10:27, used elsewhere by St. Luke of a judicial inquiry or investigation, Luke 23:14, Acts 4:9; Acts 12:19; Acts 24:8; Acts 28:18. The word is only found in Luke and Paul, once in LXX, 1 Samuel 20:12, in a general sense, and in Susannah, ver 48, 51, where it is connected with a judicial inquiry, as elsewhere in Luke. In classical Greek used also in the general sense of examining closely, questioning, sifting.—τὰς γραφάς: Blass explains “locos a Paulo allatos,” but although these were ipso facto included, the term can hardly be so limited, cf. Acts 18:24; Acts 18:28, and Lightfoot on Galatians 3:22. “Character verae religionis, quod se dijudicari patitur,” Bengel.—εἰ ἔχοι, Burton, p. 52, cf. Luke 1:29; Luke 3:15. Wendt rightly points out that the positive praise bestowed on the Jews of Berœa tends in itself to contradict the theory that Acts was written to emphasise the unbelief of the Jews, and to contrast their unbelief with Gentile belief.

11. more noble] Applied first to nobility of birth (which is the primary sense of nobilis), the word in its secondary sense implies, as here, nobility of character.

received the word] i.e. the word of God. It was the same teaching which had been given to the Jews in Thessalonica. This we see because the Berœans go to the O. T. Scriptures to examine into the truth of what they hear. Here we have a noteworthy instance of the right of private judgment. Even an Apostle’s word is not to be taken for granted. The noble Berœans were ready to listen, and then diligent to examine into the grounds of what was said.

and searched the scriptures] The word is not the same as in the well-known passage John 5:39. The present verb has more the sense of examining and sifting evidence. It was used in Attic law of the steps taken by the lawyers to see whether an action would lie.

Acts 17:11. Εὐγενέστεροι) more noble than the Jews of Thessalonica. They are truly noble souls, who are easily accessible in Divine things.—ἀνακρίνοντες, searching) A characteristic of the true religion is, that it suffers itself to be examined into, and its claims to be so decided upon. [How wretched are they who exclude others from such searching scrutiny! How happy they who legitimately exercise that very right!—V. g.] Προθυμία καὶ ἀνάκρισις, readiness of mind and accurate scrutiny, well correspond.—ταῦτα, these things) which are expressed in Acts 17:3.

Verse 11. - Now these for these, A.V.; examining for and searched, A.V.; these for those, A.V. Note the immense advantage which the preachers and the hearers had in the previous knowledge of the Scriptures gained by the Beraeans in the synagogue. Note also the mutual light shed by the Old and New Testaments the one upon the other. Acts 17:11Searched

Or examined. See on Luke 23:14.

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