The Noble Bereans
info This commentary was written by a volunteer for our Bible translation project. It’s not an official view of our project; we are not a religious denomination and we do not establish doctrine. These commentaries reflect a variety of views and some disagree with each other.
The words of Acts 17:11 are often quoted to show why Christians should follow along in their Bibles as its verses are being read by others in Church. And while this is an excellent practice, the actual reason for their ‘examining the Scriptures’ is often overlooked or glossed over.
Notice what Luke wrote:
‘Now, these people were nobler than those in Thessalonica, because they eagerly welcomed the Word and examined the Scriptures every day to make sure that the things [they were being told] were true (Greek: ei echoi tauta houtos, or, if were these so).’
It’s an unfortunate fact that while we are often told to ‘examine the scriptures every day,’ we are seldom reminded that the reason for this is to make sure that the things we are being taught are true!
Many religious leaders demand blind acceptance of their teachings, and they don’t like anyone who questions or doubts them!
It is vital for true Christians to check to make sure that a teacher, preacher, magazine, or book is properly applying the Scriptures. Questioning should never be avoided. Far too often, religious leaders quote Bible verses out of context. They fail to consider the circumstances under which these things were written, and the result is always wrong interpretations.
Is this acceptable to God? Well, at Romans 3:7-8, it seems that some Christians were being dishonest in some way, but thinking it was alright because they were –somehow– thinking it was helping them to serve God. But Paul said:
‘...they’re proving that some of us are saying,
Let’s do bad things so that good things can happen.
And this is why such a condemnation is so well deserved!’
It has long been said that ‘the Bible is a fiddle on which you can play any old tune.’
However, this really isn’t true. When the context of any verse is fully considered, the Bible is harmonious, with a single theme and purpose.
Yes, you can get the Bible to ‘say’ almost anything if you quote verses out of their context. Unfortunately, many sincere Christians will quote scriptures that don’t really apply, just to make a point. Then if the hearers don’t fact-check the context, they start believing things that are wrong.
Can this be excused? Hardly. Today, everyone has easy access to the Bible. We simply choose not to examine what it really says, preferring to trust others to tell us what to believe.
So after reading religious literature, or listening to an interesting speaker, each of us should ask: ‘Do I just remember what was said, or do I also remember the scriptures that prove what was said?’
If we can only quote what others say or write, we have missed the point, because we really don’t know if it’s true.
Few modern Christians are like those noble people in the synagogue at Berea. Almost all Christian groups require their members to accept their doctrines without question or disagreement. Even their ‘scriptural’ arguments for or against different teachings come prepackaged in religious magazines, books, tracts, and brochures to keep members from thinking or doing any personal research. Personal Bible research, or questioning accepted doctrines, can even result in condemnation!
In this Bible translation, volunteers have tried to avoid translating key scriptures for use on a stand-alone basis to substantiate doctrines (as other Bibles often do). Instead, we have attempted to fit all the verses into their context so they all flow together (as good translators should do).
Obviously this makes the 2001 Translation unpopular with people who only use the Bible for certain proof-texts, and don’t wish to read the Bible as a whole. Sorry, but our goal is to reach the hearts of people like those in Berea.
That’s why most of our ‘conclusions’ in these commentaries are just suggestions; open to discussion and revision. We’re not infallible, because we are Bible translators and researchers, not a religion.
For more information, see the commentary, What Is Truth?