Who were the Bereans?
The Bereans lived in the Greek city of Berea, also called Beroea, in the time of the Apostle Paul, about AD 50. These people, mentioned in Acts 17, are best known for searching and studying the Bible for themselves and not merely accepting what they were taught.
The noble Bereans
Acts 17:11 NIV, records that the people in Berea “received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” This, he said, made them “of more noble character” than people in other places who just listened but didn’t actually study the Bible carefully for themselves.
Nothing more is known about this church except that later one of the members from Berea named Sopater went with Paul on his 3rd missionary journey (Acts 20:4).
Many churches today name themselves “Berean” because of the example of the Berea believers who “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.”
Where is Berea?
The city’s name today is Veria. It is located in the part of Greece known as Macedonia. Berea has existed since around 400 BC., and there are some indications that people lived in the area as early as 1000 BC. In the time of the Apostle Paul, it was part of the Roman Empire.
Berea was a center of Greek culture and learning. Today the city is a commercial center and the seat of a Church of Greece Metropolitan bishop.
What happened in Berea?
In Acts 17:1-9, Paul and his fellow evangelist Silas started a church in the nearby city of Thessalonica. Some of the people attending the Jewish synagogue in that city didn’t like what Paul was teaching.
The Bible says, “they rounded up some bad characters from the marketplace, formed a mob and started a riot in the city” (Acts 17:5 NIV). So Paul and Silas left and went to Berea, about 50 miles away, where there was also a Jewish synagogue.
When they preached in Berea, they observed that the people there, “examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true” (Acts 17:11 NIV), a way of thinking they had not noticed in other places.
Paul resumed the trip he was on, but he left Timothy and Silas in Berea to continue teaching the new church members (Acts 17:14).
Why are the Bereans important?
The Bereans are important to Christians today because of their attitude and dedication to studying the Scriptures. The Bereans didn’t simply accept each doctrine they were taught but instead studied the Bible for themselves to determine the truth of each doctrine.
Christians today should learn from the Bereans as good role models. Many Christians have not studied the Bible for themselves, but instead, rely only on their pastor for spiritual information. If a person doesn’t study the Bible for themselves, comparing scripture with scripture, how would they know if they are being deceived? How would they know if they are even being taught the truth?
Paul applauded the Bereans for searching the scriptures and Christians would do well to follow their example.
Have you considered studying the Bible for yourself like the Bereans? Here below are several free Bible study courses available online or by print: