10 About fifty miles from Thessalonica, Berea lay on the eastern slopes of Mt. Vermion in the Olympian mountain range. In a somewhat remote region, Berea was the most significant city of the area, having been capital of one of the four divisions of Macedonia from 167–148 b.c. It evidently had a sizable population in Paul’s day. The journey from Thessalonica began in the nighttime because of the hasty departure. By foot it would have taken about three days.
11–12 On arriving in the town, the witness began, as it had in Thessalonica, in the synagogue. The Jews of Berea, however, were of a different breed. Luke described them as being “more noble” than the Thessalonians. He used a word that originally meant high born but came to have a more general connotation of being open, tolerant, and generous. Nowhere was this more evident than in their willingness to take Paul’s scriptural exposition seriously. They did not accept his word uncritically but did their own examination of the Scriptures to see if they really did point to the death and resurrection of the Messiah as Paul claimed. This was no cursory investigation either, no weekly Sabbath service, as at Thessalonica. They met daily to search the Scriptures. No wonder so many contemporary Bible study groups name themselves “Bereans.” The Berean Jews were a “noble” example. And many of them found out for themselves that Paul’s claims were true and so believed. Many Greeks also believed, not just men but prominent Macedonian women as well. Some of these may have been worshipers of God attached to the synagogue. Some may not have been. One would assume that Paul would not neglect his witness to Gentiles of pagan background even in a situation like Berea, where the synagogue was so unusually open to his message.
13–14 This ideal situation did not last forever. It was soon broken by Jews from Thessalonica who heard of Paul’s successes in Berea. They stirred up “the crowds” in the city against Paul, evidently not the Jews of the city but the general Gentile populace, just as they had done at Thessalonica. Evidently this time the main attack was on Paul, the primary preacher of the word, since Silas and Timothy did not have to leave town with him.
15 Of more significance is the question of when Timothy and Silas joined Paul in Athens. First Thessalonians 3:1 indicates that Paul sent Timothy to Thessalonica from Athens. Paul may have traveled to Athens alone, summoning Timothy and Silas to join him there as soon as possible. They did so, and then Paul dispatched both from Athens, Timothy to Thessalonica and Silas to parts unknown. In any event, Timothy and Silas did finally join Paul in Corinth (Acts 18:5).