Commentary on Acts 17.10-13

By Bob Myhan

10Then the brethren immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea. When they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

It is necessary to point out that Paul and Silas are not running but that the brethren are seeing to it that the two get to safety outside the city, while the two are obviously concerned about the safety of the brethren. A similar occurrence took place when the plot against Paul by the Hellenists in Jerusalem was discovered, as was noticed in last week’s Faith Builder. On that occasion they sent him to Tarsus of Cilicia which was his home town. On this occasion they sent him to Berea.

“This city lies about sixty miles south-west of Thessalonica. It contains, at the present day, a population of fifteen or twenty thousand, and was, doubtless, still more populous then. Here again the apostles find a synagogue, and make it the starting point of their labors.” (J. W. McGarvey: A Commentary on Acts of Apostles, with a Revised Version of the Text.)

11These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

It must be pointed out the comparison here is between the Jews in the two respective cities. It was the Jews in Berea who “were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica.” Those who had obeyed the gospel in either city were no more fair-minded than those who obeyed the gospel in the other. The fair-mindedness was manifested in their having “received the word with all readiness” (that is, readiness to believe if the scriptures warranted belief) and “searched the scriptures daily” to see if they warranted belief of the proposition that Jesus is the Son of God. This is what any honest, open-minded person would do. But it is not what the Jews in Thessalonica (for the most part) did, for Luke says only that “some of them were persuaded” (v. 4).

12Therefore many of them believed, and also not a few of the Greeks, prominent women as well as men.

When fair-minded people have heard the gospel, “received it with all readiness” and have “searched the scriptures daily to find out” if the things therein are true, they believe. At least many of them do. No one from the first century to the twenty-first century has ever believed not having heard (or at least read) the gospel.

 Now Thomas, called the Twin, one of the twelve, was not with them when Jesus came. The other disciples therefore said to him, "We have seen the Lord." So he said to them, "Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe." And after eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace to you!" Then He said to Thomas, "Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing. And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!" Jesus said to him, "Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." (John 20.24-29)

Jesus had earlier prayed

 "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” (John 17.20-21)

Thomas and the other disciples believed that Jesus was both Lord and God because they had seen Him after His resurrection. They were able to walk by faith and by sight; but Jesus pronounces a blessing on those who believe without having seen Him, and this would be everyone who has come to believe on Him through the word of those who had seen Him.

13 But when the Jews from Thessalonica learned that the word of God was preached by Paul at Berea, they came there also and stirred up the crowds.

Not having been satisfied with Paul and Silas leaving their city, the Jews of Thessalonica, having heard that the evangelists have stopped in Berea to preach the gospel there, traveled the sixty miles to stir up the crowds against them. This is indicative of their envy and hatred for the gospel and gospel preachers. It is because of this attitude that the church was “spoken against everywhere” (Acts 28.22).

(To be continued)

A Study of the Holy Spirit (Part 38)

By Bob Myhan

The fruit of the Spirit is not just love but also “joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law” (Gal. 5.22-23). Paul writes that there is no law against such because of the Judaizing teachers who were binding the keeping of the Law on the Gentile Christians. If they would simply allow the Holy Spirit to bear His fruit within their lives, they would not have to be concerned about violating the Law.

The Holy Spirit produces fruit in our lives through or by means of the word of God, which He revealed to us. But He will produce no fruit in our lives if we do not apply ourselves to the bearing of fruit. And Jesus certainly holds us responsible for a lack of fruit borne in our lives.

"I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples.” (John 15.1-8)

The second piece of “the fruit of the Spirit” is joy. “The Christian’s joy is a ‘serenity of spirit that overcomes circumstance’ (Roberson 33), a state of mind that has resulted from peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ, and which confidently trusts in him as the source of one’s triumph (2 Cor. 2.14; Phil. 4.13). Paul’s admonition is, ‘Rejoice in the Lord’ (3.1; 4.4, 10).” (Walton Weaver: Truth Commentary on Philippians and Colossians, p. 12). Therefore, no matter what our particular circumstances in life at any time, so long as we are at “peace with God through the Lord Jesus Christ,” we should have that “serenity of spirit that overcomes circumstance” and know that we can trust Him, in all our adversity, to see us through. Thus, no matter what is happening around us, we are to be rejoicing through it all for the reason that we are at peace with God (Phil. 3.1; 4.4; 1 Thess. 5.16; Col. 1.9-11). The Holy Spirit produces this joy by giving us these commands.

(To be continued)