Excerpt: What Christians Believe about the Bible

The following is an excerpt from What Christians Believe about the Bible by Don Thorsen and Keith Reeves.
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Christians have long praised the people in the town of Beroea for their study of the Bible. According to the book of Acts, the apostle Paul preached the gospel of Jesus Christ to many in Jewish synagogues throughout the Roman Empire. Some were receptive to Paul’s preaching; others were not. However, the Jews in Beroea were distinguished for their receptivity to the gospel and for their eager examination of “the Scriptures”—the sacred writings of the Bible. Acts 17:11 says, “These Jews were more receptive than those in Thessalonica, for they welcomed the message very eagerly and examined the scriptures every day to see whether these things were so.” The Beroeans were receptive both spiritually and intellectually to the gospel that Paul proclaimed to them.

The Beroeans were not willing to believe Paul based solely on his authority. They knew that clever, charismatic speakers can be misleading, especially those who are from out of town. The Beroeans also knew the Jewish Scriptures (which became the Hebrew Bible, or Old Testament); they based their knowledge of God and salvation on them. If they were to welcome Paul’s gospel, then it needed to be investigated in light of truth that God had already revealed to them. The book of Acts does not specify the particular Scriptures the Beroeans studied. In fact, neither the canon of the Jewish Scriptures nor the Christian Scriptures (New Testament) had yet been established. But Scriptures were widely available to the Jewish synagogues, and the Beroeans faithfully studied them in order to discern the truth of the gospel Paul preached.

Not only did the Beroeans investigate the Scriptures, but they also did it on a daily basis. The Beroeans’ determination as much as their spirituality has been praised by Christians. Both the quantity and quality of their investigation of the Scriptures have been a motivation, as well as a role model, for those who seek truth about God, salvation, and other matters pertaining to the Christian life. We begin this book with reference to the Beroeans because we think that they remain exemplars for the kind of Bible study that we encourage people to undertake.

In a sense, we are all students of the Bible who read, reflect, and sometimes meditate on what it says. As students, we should do our best to understand, embody, and apply its teachings. Like the Beroeans, we should focus on both how we study the Bible and our commitment to that task.

©2012 by Don Thorsen and Keith Reeves. Published by Baker Academic. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.

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