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MORE NOBLE


 
 

BIBLE READING

 

ACTS 17

 

When Paul and his companions had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. 2 As was his custom, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that the Messiah had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Messiah,” he said. 4 Some of the Jews were persuaded and joined Paul and Silas, as did a large number of God-fearing Greeks and quite a few prominent women.


5 But other Jews were jealous; so they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city. They rushed to Jason’s house in search of Paul and Silas in order to bring them out to the crowd. 6 But when they did not find them, they dragged Jason and some other believers before the city officials, shouting: “These men who have caused trouble all over the world have now come here, 7 and Jason has welcomed them into his house. They are all defying Caesar’s decrees, saying that there is another king, one called Jesus.” 8 When they heard this, the crowd and the city officials were thrown into turmoil. 9 Then they made Jason and the others post bond and let them go.



10 As soon as it was night, the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.


13 But when the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, some of them went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. 14 The believers immediately sent Paul to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed at Berea. 15 Those who escorted Paul brought him to Athens and then left with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.


16 While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols. 17 So he reasoned in the synagogue with both Jews and God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. 18 A group of Epicurean and Stoic philosophers began to debate with him. Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. 19 Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? 20 You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we would like to know what they mean.”


21 (All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas.)

22 Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “People of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. 23 For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: to an unknown god. So you are ignorant of the very thing you worship—and this is what I am going to proclaim to you.


24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’


29 “Therefore since we are God’s offspring, we should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by human design and skill. 30 In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. 31 For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.”


32 When they heard about the resurrection of the dead, some of them sneered, but others said, “We want to hear you again on this subject.” 33 At that, Paul left the Council. 34 Some of the people became followers of Paul and believed. Among them was Dionysius, a member of the Areopagus, also a woman named Damaris, and a number of others.

 

MORE NOBLE

 

Luke in Acts 17 carefully draws a contrast here between the mob in Thessalonica, whom Paul and his friends encountered in Acts 17:1-9, and these Jews in Berea, who were “more noble.” In what way were they more noble? Well, not only did “they received the message with great eagerness,” but they also “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true”. A noble person is one who has not only an open mind but also a thoughtful heart. A noble person will not accept a teaching as true unless they examine it with the Scriptures.


That is what the Scriptures are for. They are your guide so that we can tell what is true and what is false, what is right and what is wrong. That is why 40 days in the Word is an important discipline for us. That is why we seek to be a Bible-Focused faith community.


And unless we do this, we can become lost in a sea of relativism, that there are no absolutes when it comes to knowledge, truth, and morality. Our culture puts it this way “you do your truth and I will do mine.” The outcomes of this is that we do not know what is right or what is wrong. Our minds become confused and blinded and we can be misled and even manipulated, as the group in Thessalonica manipulated the crowd there, unless you have the nobility to examine things and hold them to test of the Scriptures. That is what these Jews did, and it was a tremendous help. They checked up on the Apostle Paul.


The value of this story to us, and the reason I believe it is included, is so that by this Acts 17 account we might learn the necessity of testing a persons word or ideas. Check whatever you read or hear with what is in the Scriptures. Establish what the Word of God says. That is our authority. I pray for myself, well I pray for all of us that we might be described as of “more noble character because we too, receive the message with great eagerness and examine the Scriptures every day.

 


Thank you for your word, Lord. I ask that you give me a noble heart to study your word and take it and it alone as my guide and my authority. Amen.


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