(Acts 17:1-15, NKJV) We join the second missionary journey at Thessalonica and Berea. An event happened in each of these cities that speaks to the power of the gospel. Paul’s message at Thessalonica: “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.” As a result, “Some of them were persuaded, and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.” But other Jews, driven by unbelief and jealousy, incited a mob and set the city in an uproar. Their accusation against the missionaries? “These who have turned the world upside down have come here too” (17:3-6). This is as good a compliment to the effectiveness of the gospel as one can imagine! In reality, the world that God created was turned upside down by disobedience and sin, and the gospel of Jesus-Christ has the power to turn things right-side-up!
Looking only at the most recent events before Thessalonica, the gospel had entered Europe at Philippi, a city that demonstrated the power of Rome at that time. Later, when he was a prisoner in Rome, Paul wrote a letter to the church there, calling the brothers and sisters his “joy and crown” (Phil. 4:1). This letter, an “epistle of joy,” has brought comfort and strength to the church of Jesus Christ, and Paul’s testimony has become that of millions of believers: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:13). Truly, the gospel of Christ turns things right-side-up!
We do not have any testimonies from the individual believers at Berea, but there is a collective testimony that is amazing, and one that we should emulate. “Now these people 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” (17:11). I remember a while back an interchange among members of the leadership team of the International Christian Fellowship, in which they were addressing themselves as “Berean Christians.” May this characterize the ICF, both individually and corporately, that we “receive the word with great eagerness” and that we “examine the Scriptures daily!” If, after receiving the word and examining it, we are faithful to preach the word with veracity and boldness, we will share in the ministry of the first Christians: “And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved” (Ac. 2:47).