“And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea, who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness-of-mind and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”

Acts 17:10-11

How great the rejoicing when our Seed finds lodging in good soil.
Berea was only around 45 miles west of Thessalonica. Both were located at the northwestern end of what is now known as the Aegean Sea. One (Thessalonica) was the chief seaport city of Macedonia (modern-day Greece) and named after the daughter of Phillip II, who was also Alexander the Great’s sister. It was also the most populous city of Macedonia.

But what a difference between those two cities with regards to Paul’s reception!
In both places Paul, “as his manner was” (v.2), went into the local synagogue and began preaching the Gospel. His message was the same. His method was the same. But notice the difference: Those in Berea “were more noble (Grk. ‘eugenes’—‘generous, gracious, open, civil, etc.’) than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind (Grk. ‘prothumia’—‘receptiveness, open-mindedness, willingness to hear, etc.’).”

Any who’ve ever tried to share the Gospel know well the difference (and reaction) between those who are closed-minded and those who are open-minded. One is resistant; the other is receptive. One wants to argue; the other wants to accept and apply. One is caustic; the other is cordial.

Just as the “sower who went forth to sow discovered four different types of soil and four different kinds of responses” (Mt. 13:3-9), so will we encounter various responses amongst those to whom we share the Gospel. That’s why we shouldn’t be discouraged or dismayed when some react negatively to what we say—for there will be others who’ll be delighted to hear God’s Word and enjoy “searching the Scriptures daily.” Hallelujah!!

We know Paul met with success in Thessalonica even though the Jewish rabble-rousers hassled him there and in Berea (vv.5-8, 13). Before long, there’d be a thriving church there to whom he’d later write two encouraging, instructive letters. Interestingly, there’s no mention of a church being established in Berea, despite their receptivity, although we would hope one did come about as a result of their time there.

Regardless, we should always be “ready to give an answer of the Hope that rests within us with meekness and fear” (I Pet. 3:15), for we’ll never know whose hearts will be receptive and whose hearts resistant. Always remember: Our responsibility is being faithful in sowing the Seed (the Gospel); it’s God’s responsibility to “bring the increase” (I Cor. 3:7). Amen and amen.

August 25, 2011