Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. Acts 17:11 NASB
Examining the Scriptures – Are you Berean? Ah, you say, “But of course. I make sure that what I believe is supported by the Scriptures.” But that’s not quite what the question asks, is it? You see, the Bereans had a different Scriptures than yours. They only had the Tanakh. So for the Bereans, if what Paul was saying wasn’t found in the Tanakh, then it wasn’t true. So let me ask again. “Are you Berean?” Have you confirmed that everything you believe and everything you hear and are taught is fully supported by the Torah, the Prophets and the Writings?
How about these gems? One-time baptism for the remission of sin? Where do you find the Scriptural justification for the idea in the Tanakh? Human sacrifice for forgiveness? Same question. Where is it in the “Scriptures”? The replacement of circumcision with a spiritual attitude of the heart? Or how about the necessity of asking Jesus to be your personal savior? Where is that in the Tanakh? Have the instructions for living given by God to Moses been replaced? Where does it say that? Is the Church the new Israel? Where? Has God changed His mind about Israel? Show me those verses. Did Paul preach the necessity of conversion to Christianity? Where would the Bereans find that? The Trinity? Could you defend this doctrine from the Tanakh alone?
The Greek verb is anakrino. It means, “to judge before.” In other words, thorough examination before determination. If you want to know what is true, you have to work at it, carefully, meticulously, diligently, rigorously. Repeating someone else’s thought isn’t sufficient.
You see the problem. If those who heard Paul’s message based their examination of its truth on what they knew in the Tanakh, we should be able to do the same. Paul didn’t appeal to the Gospels or the letters in order to justify his claims. He appealed to Scripture and the onlyScripture he had was what Christians call the “Old Testament.” That means we should be able to defend what we believe from this document alone. If our beliefs depend on statements in the “new” Testament and could not be justified without the material from the “new” Testament, then we are importing ideas that Paul could not and would not have used. And that means we have a religion that wasn’t like his.
So maybe we have to be Berean and start rethinking where our ideas really come from. Maybe we need to ask about one-time baptism or circumcision or the sinner’s prayer or communion every Sunday, or even Sunday itself. Maybe we just haven’t been Berean enough and we’ve ended up with a religion we were taught rather than a faith we discovered.