Example of Study Principles from Acts 17:11

Acts 17:11  “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.”

Context:  Paul and his companions are traveling through Europe on the Second Missionary Journey.  A church was established in Thessalonica, but there was great opposition from those who did not believe the Gospel.  The new Believers sent Paul away to Berea.  There he went into the synagogue and taught from the Old Testament explaining the Gospel.  Many believed.  However, unbelieving Jews from Thessalonica followed Paul and raised fierce opposition in Berea.  Again, the new Believers sent Paul away to Athens.

Key Words/Phrases:  More Noble; Received; With all readiness of mind; Searched; Whether those things were so.

“More noble”  This is a single word in the Greek language (in which the New Testament was written). It is a superlative adjective, meaning that it expresses a quality of character that is emphasized as being more than expected, or higher than others.  These were “more noble”.This is written about the people of Berea because of their conduct and attitude regarding the Old Testament that they heard Paul teach.  They are “more noble” in this instance, and it does not mean that in every area of life they were more noble.    

“Received”   There was a reception, or an acceptance of what was being taught that was different from what they had received, or accepted, prior to this. They were hearing God’s Word, the Holy Spirit illuminating them to the Truth.

See 1 Thessalonians 2:13

“With all readiness of mind”   Here we see a thoroughness with which the people were listening to the word being taught.  They had all readiness, that is, they were fully engaged in listening and considering.  They had a thorough readiness of mind, meaning that they eagerly and diligently listened and considered what they were hearing.  They were learning with great desire.

They had heard the Old Testament taught many times throughout their lives, in the synagogues and in their homes.  Their lives were filled with hearing the word.  This time, however, it was different.  The truth of the Old Testament, being about the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Messiah, was being brought to them, and the Holy Spirit was illuminating them.

“Searched”  Here we find that they not only heard, but they made diligent examination of what was being taught.  They went to the Old Testament to see if what Paul said was true.  This is a word in the Greek that means a discernment, a serious judgment of mind.  They spent time considering what they heard, and did not simply accept it as true because it was interesting or new.  Notice, they searched the scriptures, they did not search their feelings or consult other written works.

They realized that this truth, these truths, were life transforming.  They were not willing to give themselves over to the teaching unless they knew it to be true for themselves.

The Holy Spirit is not offended when people seriously examine His Word.

“Whether those things were so”   This is a very interesting phrase in the Greek.  It means that they wanted to be sure that they could fully possess what they were hearing.  They were searching to make sure that it was as taught, not some other teaching that was not clear.  They wanted to compare what they heard with the Old Testament, and with what they had been taught before.

The Holy Spirit is not offended when people seriously examine His Word.

Truth(s) taught:  What truth, or truths, are being taught here by the Holy Spirit through Luke as the writer?  I believe there are several we can readily recognize:

 1. God’s written word is authoritative, and the Old Testament is about the Lord Jesus Christ.  

2. The Holy Spirit illumines people when the Word is properly taught.  He calls, trains, and empowers people to be teachers of His Word. This does not make these people superior, nor those who listen inferior. It is simply what the Lord God had chosen as His plan to teach His Word.  

 3. People need to be eager to listen, giving diligence to learning.

 4. Study is required to prove what is taught, that it is actually true.  Study is neither quick nor easy, but takes time and regular effort.  

 5. The written Word is not to be trifled with.

 6. Transformation is the outcome, as seen in 17:12.

Application:  A number of applications can be seen, but there is one that is above all others.  The question each person must ask from this passage is, “What priority does the written Word have in my daily life?”  A second question would be, “Does the Holy Spirit honor me by calling me ‘more noble?’”  These are two questions not be taken lightly or answered quickly.

Searching the Scriptures is more than having a devotional time each morning or evening, more than listening to a sermon each week, or attending a bible study.  These are certainly positive and can be beneficial.  However, they do not answer the question.

Is the written Word being diligently studied on a regular basis, and is it transforming you?

There are a few wider applications of this question that are also important:  “What priority does my church give the written Word?  My pastorChurch leaders“Worship”

God’s written Word, the Scriptures, are ours for a reason.  Let us be diligent, discerning, eager to learn and be transformed.  May God bless you as you study His blessed Word.

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