Sunday, June 04, 2006

Bereans

In Acts 17:11 we read, “Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”

First, notice the attitude of the people. They “received the message with great eagerness.” They allowed the gospel to be good news to them. This wasn’t seven steps or three principles that they were to apply to their lives.

Second, it is tempting to think of them examining the Scripture individually. They probably did this as a group. As individuals they did not sit in judgment of Paul and his message. They most likely were asking each other, “Do you think this is what the Bible is really saying?”

Third, we must remember that their Bible was the Old Testament and that Paul’s message was the gospel. What they were doing was rereading the Old Testament to see if in fact it did talk about a Messiah who would reconcile man and God, who would defeat the powers that be, who would set the world to rights, who would overcome death and rise in victory. This is a situation very different from a modern Christian congregation hearing a message from its own pastor.

Pastor Rod

“Helping you become the person God created you to be”

6 comments:

nathaniel adam king said...

Your first point is somewhat suspect. How do you know this wasn't seven steps or three principles? I read nothing even addressing how many steps or principles the message they examined was. It simply says that they received the message (whether three steps or not, we do not know) with eagerness.

Your second point is likewise quite assumptuous. The text neither says that they did so collectively nor that they did so individually. Therefore, either posit (collective or individual) is based upon extra-Scriptural information. You would be just as correct in using this passage as justification for individual examination as you would for collective examination. The text promotes neither.

Your third point is also only relavent if (IF!) the modern day message is based upon New Testament Scripture. If the modern day teacher was to teach from the Old Testament and say that these passages (OT) talked about the Messiah (Christ), then the laity of today could be 'berean' about it and examine to see whether the teacher was being correct or not.

I'm quite confused concerning this post. It in no way discredits the examination of the delivered message of today by following the implication of the Beroean people of the New Testament time.

Pastor Rod said...

Adam,

I know what Paul preached to them because of the narrative context. He was proclaiming the gospel. The message they received was The Gospel.

This was a radically new message.

Notice I said that they probably did it as a group. The idea that individuals would go home and get out all their study aids to evaluate the text is a very modern idea that modern people tend to read into the text.

Besides, how many copies of the Old Testament did they have? Probably only one.

Your reaction to my third point leaves out an important fact. We have the New Testament. We have the New Testament writers' interpretation of the Old Testament in a form that we take to be inspired.

I didn't set out to prove that people shouldn't "test the message" (at least not in this post). I was simply trying to show that the common understanding of this passage is misguided.

Rod

Pastor Rod said...

Adam,

This is really quite amusing to me. I'm probably old enough to be your father. And here I'm the one suggesting a non-traditional way to present and understand the truth of Scripture, while you are defending the method used by our great-great grandfathers (but not by their great-great grandfathers).

Rod

nathaniel adam king said...

You'll find me very amusing...I have been told that I am actually an angry old man trapped inside a teenagers body.

I will concede that given the limited copy of Old Testament Scripture then, it is probably unlikely that they each went home individually and proved what was said.

Although, I don't think that even given this concession, that the implication is not still warranted that we can (should) likewise do the same. When someone brings before us their interpretation of the Scripture, we are not to just blindly accept it as truth, there is an obligation to test the spirits, if you will, to see if they are from God or not.

I think John's admonition is quite relevant here, and is very applicable.

1Jo 4:1 Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to determine if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.

Pastor Rod said...

Adam,

But we read our Cartestian individualism into these texts. We are not free-lance critics. This stuff is all to be done in the context of the body.

Rod

nathaniel adam king said...

Did you not agree that there can be interpretation prior to the sermon delivery, and that then the community oriented interpretation (or accepting of interpretation) should occur.

'Cartesian individualism'? That term means nothing to me. It sounds as though you are using it as some manner of profane and disgusting label. I am ignorant of its meaning, therefore, you are really saying to me that we read into the Scripture our green jello ideas.