The Noble-Minded Bereans
"Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men. But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds. Then immediately the brethren sent Paul away, to go to the sea; but both Silas and Timothy remained there. So those who conducted Paul brought him to Athens; and receiving a command for Silas and Timothy to come to him with all speed, they departed" (Acts 17:10-15).

The brethren in Thessalonica, realizing the physical danger Paul and Silas were in, sent them away secretly by night to Berea. These dedicated evangelists left many cities earlier than they probably would have preferred to due to escalating aggression by the Jews. The wording here implies that the Christians cared more for the physical safety of these godly men than Paul and Silas cared for themselves. Paul and Silas did not resist their urgings to leave, though their purpose in departing was not to avoid persecution so much as it was to maximize their impact for good. To leave a city early and preach the gospel elsewhere was better overall for the church than staying and being killed where resistance was strong (cf. Phil. 1:21-26).

In Berea, Paul and Silas taught in the synagogue and the gospel was received very well. What was the difference? Were they teaching a different message, one that was more palatable and less controversial? No, that wasn't it at all (cf. I Cor. 4:17). When good seed falls on hard or unprepared soil, it is wasted. Likewise with many of those who heard the gospel in Thessalonica. Their hearts were not right to receive God's word. They did not love the truth, but not so with many in Berea! They were fair-minded (i.e., open to considering any message but discriminating between truth and error). The Bereans did not blindly embrace the gospel message, but they investigated its claims. Every day they diligently searched through the Old Testament Scriptures (which they had confidence in) to confirm the statements that were made by the evangelists about Jesus of Nazareth being the Messiah prophesied of old. Like the Psalmist, those in Berea had a wonderful attitude toward God's word - "Oh, how I love Your law! It is my meditation all the day" (Psa. 119:97). Friends, we today need to have this same wonderful attitude toward the Scriptures! If we love God's word, meditate on it continually, and always investigate for ourselves the message any teachers or preachers present that we might properly obey, God will favor us.

Many of those in Berea heard the gospel and believed. In other words, they affirmed faith in Christ, repented of their sins, and were baptized into the Lord's church for forgiveness. There were Greeks who obeyed as well as many prominent men and women. There is hope for anyone who will consider the word of God eagerly, attentively, respectfully, and is willing to diligently search for the truth!

However, once the disobedient Jews from Thessalonica learned of the gospel being embraced by the Bereans, they made the journey to Berea themselves in order to stir up more problems for God's servants. It is sad to see these envious unbelievers so passionate about their wicked work. If they were more noble-minded (like the Bereans), perhaps they would have obeyed the gospel of Christ and made productive use of their time and energy for the Lord!

Immediately, "the brethren" (i.e., those who had "believed"; 17:12) sent Paul away. Evidently his life was in greater danger than the others who remained in Berea a little while longer. Paul was escorted to Athens and he requested that Silas and Timothy join him as soon as possible.