Journal Acts 17 (all references are from the ESV; changes in punctuation are mine)
Scripture: “And Paul went in (as was his custom), and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures—explaining and proving it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead… Acts 17:2-3a
The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so… Acts 17:10-11
Now while Paul was waiting for them at Athens, his spirit was provoked within him as he saw that the city was full of idols. So, he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the devout persons, and in the marketplace every day with those who happened to be there.” Acts 17:16-17
Observation: Here the Scriptures show a tactic of Paul: He reasoned. The brothers of Berea showed a related thought process: They were eager to hear but verified what was being said.
The common denominator? They were thinkers.
Analysis: A person pursues what they value.
Simple enough explanation. As a Christian, what then about being a Christian, do I value? What is it about being a Christian do I find significant?
More importantly, what is it that Jesus wants me to value, and then, how do I get there? These questions are what comes to mind reading this chapter and especially these 3 passages.
A key word to consider: Reasoned (or reasoning) as in the act of persuasive discussion.
Paul had a custom to “reason” in the local Synagogue. He did this in Thessalonica to explain why Jesus had to die and rise again. After being run out of town, they went to Berea, where those guys listened to Paul and Silas eagerly, but went off to reason and study among themselves to consider if it was true. Last example was Athens: Paul, looking around, saw idols, idols, everywhere and was provoked (incited, triggered) and then—went to the synagogue and reasoned for 3 consecutive Saturday’s.
There is something that I have to consider for myself: Do I regularly talk about the Scriptures? Do I ask questions? Do I think about this position or that and try to see if it is so (like the Bereans)? Outside of the Core doctrines (like faith in the Atoning work of Christ), do I wonder if I got it right? And if I am convinced that I got it right, how and why and could I convince (persuade with sound reasoning) someone else?
I wonder if “studying to show myself approved, rightly handling the Word of Truth” is more that just stuffing memorized verses between my ears? Is it also moving away from “reason(ing) like a child (c. 1 Cor 13:11)” and walking into reasoning like an adult? A disciple growing in maturity, or not?
Paul told Timothy this: “But as for you, continued in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been ACQUAINTED with the sacred writings (which are able to make you wise for salvation). All scripture is breathed out by God and profitable (advantageous, beneficial, valuable) for:
- Correction, and,
- Training in righteousness,
That the mand of God may be complete—equipped for every good work.” (2 Tim 3:14-17)
Stuffing information into my skull, doesn’t make me wise, it makes me taught, learned, just like someone out of high school. I have to press in being trained if I am going to be complete in Christ.
Prayer: Father, hear my prayer and change, make wide my heart towards You. “I want to do what you want me to—no empty words, no white lies, no token prayers, no compromise.” (Keith Green). Sometimes the best prayer comes from other saints gone before.
Cause revival. Heal this land.