Examining Scriptures is to act as a judge to distinguish truth from error for the good of the soul.
Paul and Silas had preached the Word of God under critical and dangerous conditions in Thessalonica, but not in vain (1 Thes. 1:6,7; 2:13). In the synagogue Paul reasoned with the Jews out of the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that Christ had to suffer for sin and be raised to life for justification. This caused some to believe (Acts 17:1-4). However, some were not so persuaded but became envious; they then gathered a mob made up of evil men of the baser sort to set all the city on an uproar through vicious assaults on the citizens, but especially Christians. The preaching troubled the people! But uncontrolled mob demonstrations against these faithful men of God offered no further possibility to preach, so under the darkness of night the brethren sent Paul and Silas to Berea.
Here he enters into the synagogue of the Jews and preaches the gospel of God which many believed -- "they received the word with all readiness of mind" (Acts 17:11). Luke informs us of the superior nobility of the Bereans compared to the Thessalonians, saying they "searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11). Exactly what were they doing when searching the Scriptures? Evidently the Thessalonians did not react in this way to the same message. These at Berea did not resent what they heard but eagerly rushed forward to receive it and to examine it carefully , using all their mental faculties to acquire absolute truth. Their action in examining the Scriptures as the standard of moral and religious truth to ascertain whether they were hearing truth or error from Paul shows their fair-mindedness.
They examined -- a judicial term, meaning "to sift up and down, make careful and exact research as in legal processes" (Robertson, 3/274; "a legal term among the Greeks, denoting the preliminary investigation for gathering evidence for the information of the judges, Acts 25:26" Vine, II/53); thus they with unbiased minds showing no partisan spirit acted as judges ascertaining truth for their souls. Paul's preaching created the kind of disciples that make excellent churches!
The Christian who doesn't study or examine the Scriptures is in dire need. The residual benefits in having the truth are many; the one who doesn't grow in this is described in (Heb. 5:12-14) as dull of hearing and in need for someone to again teach him the first principles of the gospel. Christians must learn that beneficial Bible study is conditional. All hindering factors in one's life must be removed. Peter instructs us, "Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby" (1 Pet. 2:1). James says, to "lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted Word, which is able to save your souls" (Jas. 1:21). So, in developing the will to know and do the truth one must be willing to give up whatever hindering causes that might prevent success, and give the time to examine the Scriptures for victory in this pursuit. Indeed, beneficial Bible study is conditional!
Beneficial Bible Study Is Objective: -- Peter shows the true intent in learning truth is growth. He shows how one receives the truth as a newborn (all families distinctly know the difference between a baby and a newborn one as to his feeding times), "that you may grow thereby" (1 Pet. 2:2). The purpose clause shows what happens when one receives the Word as a newborn. This sort of Bible study is with desire for God's approval (2 Tim. 2:15). This is the highest objective one can possibly have. Studying Scripture creates the will to not sin, "Your Word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You" (Psa. 119:11). The need is great and the hour is late for some of us to become serious in our studies to learn truth through the process of examination. Truth has nothing to fear, and truth will make you free. Paul's prayer for the Ephesian saints was that God would give them the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, that the eyes of their understanding being enlightened so they may know the hope of His calling, the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe (Eph. 1:15-20). What blessings there are for us in the full knowledge of which Paul speaks.
Bible study is enhanced because of the assuring characteristics of the Word of God. We know it lives and is active; it corrects and encouragingly motivates (Heb. 4:12). It abides, and endures forever (1 Pet. 1:13-25). Jesus tells us His Words will by no means pass away (Matt. 24:35), or in any way be invalidated (Jno. 10;35). The word "broken" in this passage means "to annul, subvert; to do away with; to deprive of authority, whether by precept or by act" (Thayer 385). The words of the Lord are pure and inspired of God (Psa. 12: 6; 119:140; 2 Tim. 3:15). Think of the exceeding great and precious and pure Word. Try to mentally list a number of these promises.
Having carefully examined/searched the Scriptures be sure to abound in them (2 Pet. 1:8; 1 Cor. 15;58). Defend the truth at all times (Jude 3; Phil. 1:17), knowing it will be the basis on which we all shall be judged (Jno. 12:48; Rom. 2:16). Don't fall prey to fairy tales and fables, but rather lean on the eternal Word of the Eternal God.
By Earl E. Robertson, in
Biblical Insights, Vol. 5, No. 8, August 2005.
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