It is seen as a great honor to be a winner of the Nobel Prize, though some recent winners have tainted it in my view. However, I’ve got something better for you to gain: it is not the Nobel Prize, but rather the “noble prize.”
In any endeavor, true success comes when you get to the center of understanding how to do something the proper and best way. Do you desire to live life the right way? Then you need to gain a deep understanding of the manual about what life is all about – God’s Word. It contains all of the big ideas of what life is about – what makes it difficult, and how a relationship with God brings victory over that difficulty. Knowing the Bible is THE big difference-maker in life.
Paul and Silas had to escape from Thessalonica because of the uproar created by the hostile Jewish element in that town. They travel on through a couple of smaller towns before coming to the city of Berea, where again they commence ministry through the synagogue. And we read that there is a marked difference with this particular Jewish group as compared to others encountered in their missionary travels …
Acts 17:10 – As soon as it was night [in Thessalonica], the believers sent Paul and Silas away to Berea. On arriving there, they went to the Jewish synagogue. 11 Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true. 12 As a result, many of them believed, as did also a number of prominent Greek women and many Greek men.
13 But when the Jews in Thessalonica learned that Paul was preaching the word of God at Berea, some of them went there too, agitating the crowds and stirring them up. 14 The believers immediately sent Paul to the coast, but Silas and Timothy stayed at Berea. 15 Those who escorted Paul brought him to Athens and then left with instructions for Silas and Timothy to join him as soon as possible.
So these Jews were said to be more noble of character – the Greek word literally meaning that they were more noble-minded in a desire for deep understanding. As well, they had great eagerness – a word that speaks of energetic zeal and a quick readiness of mind. Man, you put all of that together in the direction of studying God’s Word, you’ve really got something – then or now.
Paul’s preaching would have involved what we know as the Old Testament. Surely he majored on the prophetic Scriptures that anticipated the Messiah, thereby proving that Jesus was the fulfillment of this expectation. Whereas the vast majority of Jews everywhere else were more interested in maintaining old traditions than discovering the fulfillment of truth, this group was committed to gaining truth from the objective source of all truth.
But the same pattern repeats as before. The militant faction from the previous town hears of the next place of missionary activity and follows Paul, Silas and company to that location. There again they agitate (a Greek word that means to move something from side to side) and stir up a crowd of opposition. The focus was particularly on Paul, so he is escorted by some of the faithful brothers to move on, ultimately to Athens as we will study tomorrow. Silas and Timothy are able to stay for a time and do some more work is setting up a church community.
Over the decades of my ministry work I have been occasionally told that I am too academic in approach. I’m recognize a personal weakness in that I am too thin-skinned for leadership and have been too often easily wounded, but this accusation is one that never much bothered me. There is simply no substitute for knowing (and of course, applying) the Word of God. Those who do, they live successful Christian lives. Those who don’t, they struggle to put the pieces together. Be noble!