Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
December 5, 1968

Noble Berea

B. G. Echols

For two thousand years the people of Berea have borne the divine commendation for their nobility which prompted them to "receive the word with all readiness of mind" and "to search the Scriptures daily." Their minds not blinded by prejudice were more willing to receive the truth. Their example has been used in countless sermons and religious articles. The name of the city or its citizens has been given to religious papers, a Calvinistic sect, at least one college and no less than seven towns in this country.

Yet the ancient city is hardly known. Outside of Acts 17:10-15 and 20:4, the city is not mentioned in the Bible. The Encyclopedia Britannica does not mention it. Had Luke not recorded Paul's visit, the ancient Greek city would be unknown to the average person. The city had no other call to fame. Could it be that this lack of sophistication had something to do with the nobility of the people?

The Macedonian city was about fifty miles southwest of Thessalonica on the eastern slope of the Olympian range. While it was near the Via Egnatia, it seems to have been an out of the way city. Perhaps it was this obscurity that caused Paul to go there after having been severely opposed both in Philippi and Thessalonica. As suggested earlier, this obscurity may have played a part in the readiness of the people to listen and study.

One author describes Berea as having "a restful atmosphere with the snowy splendor of Mt. Olympus to grace the horizon a little to the south and a broad plain lined with aqueducts and canals tranquilly stretching before it...The location of the city...breathed an air of serenity..." The modern city of Verria occupies the site today.

In Paul's day the city was sufficiently populous to contain a Jewish synagogue in which many listened to the gospel and believed. The length of Paul's stay is uncertain. He must have remained several days as the Bereans searched the Scriptures "daily." His desire to return to Thessalonica (I Thess. 2:17) suggests that he stayed as long as possible. Perhaps several weeks were spent in Berea. How many converts from the Jews and Gentiles might have been won had not the Jews from Thessalonica come to stir up trouble? It is impossible to over estimate the length to which prejudice will drive the enemies of the truth. Paul's friends felt he should depart, so leaving Silas and Timothy to join him later, Paul left Berea. Whether or not he visited the city again is not known, but it is possible that Berea was included in a later tour of Macedonia (Acts 20:1,2) since a Berean is mentioned as being in the apostle's company (20:4)

Although the young church in Berea soon lost its first teacher, it survived. Silas and Timothy remained a little longer to guide it. Perhaps Sopater later returned to teach and guide the brethren. While the death of the Lord's church in Berea is clouded in antiquity, the nobility of its first members remains to encourage us and perhaps to shame us for our lack of interest in the saving power of God.

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