1 Thes. 2:13: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the Word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the Word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.”
Acts 17:11: “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.”
I had one of those “Aha!” moments when studying God’s Word recently. It has troubled me for years as to why Paul said “these [Bereans] were more noble than those in Thessalonica.” You hear it said often how the Thessalonian church was a model church. They were noble. Based off of 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10, it’s easy to see why we say that. So why were the Bereans more noble than these Thessalonians?
In 1 Thessalonians 2:13, Paul gives thanks to God without ceasing for the Thessalonians. The reason he was so thankful for them here was for their response to the Word, that when they “received the Word of God,” they received it “not as the word of men” but as the Word of God. Paul was deeply grateful that the Thessalonians recognized the true nature of his preaching and teaching.
The message Paul brought to them was a revelation from Christ that was unrevealed in the Old Testament. Paul received a new message, a new gospel directly from Christ, and he relayed it to the Thessalonians who “received” it as God’s Word. In Galatians 1:11,12 Paul says, “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Paul wasn’t taught his gospel by man because his gospel could not be found or be taught to him from the Old Testament Scriptures. His gospel necessitated a revelation from Christ in heaven because it was new. It had been unrevealed in the past, hidden in the mind of God (Eph. 3:9).
Paul, in his missionary journeys, was making known the Word of God by God’s authority, with his words and preaching, without it being found in the written Word of God at that time. Paul was grateful that the Thessalonians not only listened to the message as God’s Word, but that they had swung open their hearts and embraced it warmly as God’s truth. They didn’t believe it was the “word of men,” or just the word of Paul, Silas, Timothy (1 Thes. 1:1), or something they had made up or concocted, but that it was the very Word of God. They believed that the gospel of grace, the revelation of the mystery, and the truth of the Rapture that Paul brought to them was the Word of God, which Paul says was the “truth.”
The two times “received” is mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 2:13 it conveys two different meanings. The first “received” in the Greek primarily means, “to receive and take from another.” It communicates the idea that the Word of God was heard, understood, and grasped. The second word “received” in the Greek goes a step further. It primarily means, “to accept and welcome eagerly.” When we welcome God’s Word, we’re allowing its truth into our hearts. We receive it for ourselves. We make it our own. We believe it, embrace it, welcome it with full approval. We receive it into the inner man and make it a part of our lives, and by this the Word “effectually worketh…in you that believe.”
The Bereans also “received the Word of God.” The word “received” in Acts 17:11 is the word meaning that they accepted and welcomed eagerly the Word of God through Paul. But the reason why the Bereans were “more noble” than those in Thessalonica was because they “searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” They received it, believed it, but then they made sure.
President Ronald Reagan once said, “Trust, but verify.” When Paul spoke of a gospel, a church, a heavenly hope, and a coming of Christ that was unrevealed in the Old Testament Scriptures, the Bereans trusted, but then verified and checked it out for themselves to make sure it was true. This made them “more noble” than the Thessalonians, who just received and trusted. It was noble as well that the Thessalonians trusted the message of Paul, and Paul was thankful for this. But the fact that the Bereans searched the Scriptures daily whether those things were so, made them “more noble.” When we are like the Bereans and verify from Scripture the things we hear and read, then we too are “more noble” in the eyes of God.
To the Reader:
Some of our Two Minutes articles were written many years ago by Pastor C. R. Stam for publication in newspapers. When many of these articles were later compiled in book form, Pastor Stam wrote this word of explanation in the Preface:
"It should be borne in mind that the newspaper column, Two Minutes With the Bible, has now been published for many years, so that local, national and international events are discussed as if they occurred only recently. Rather than rewrite or date such articles, we have left them just as they were when first published. This, we felt, would add to the interest, especially since our readers understand that they first appeared as newspaper articles."
To this we would add that the same is true for the articles written by others that we continue to add, on a regular basis, to the Two Minutes library. We hope that you'll agree that while some of the references in these articles are dated, the spiritual truths taught therein are timeless.