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Bereans

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Bereans were the inhabitants of the ancient city of Berea, also known in the Bible as Beroea and now known as Veria.

Biblical context

According to the Book of Acts, Chapter 17 verse 11, Paul of Tarsus and Silas preached at Berea, and the inhabitants "... received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.[1]", and many of them believed.

Historical context

Many churches and ministries, predominantly evangelical Protestant in the USA, that have an emphasis on the primacy of scripture, have adopted the name Berean in allusion to this account. The Catholic Diocese of Lincoln describes one particular affiliation, the Berean Church, as comprising about 60 independent U.S. congregations of similar beliefs with features in common with Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians. Their central emphasis on scriptural authority, sola scriptura, puts their beliefs in particular conflict with Roman Catholicism as well as Eastern Orthodoxy.

Historically, the Bereans (also called Beroeans, Barclayans or Barclayites) were a Protestant sect following former Scottish Presbyterian minister John Barclay (1734-1798). Founded in Edinburgh in 1773, the Berean Church followed a modified form of Calvinism. It had congregations in Scotland, London and Bristol, but mainly merged with the Congregationalists after Barclay's death.

Some groups among the Bible Student movement also adopted the name, such as the Berean Bible Students and the Berean Bible Institute.

A new Protestant Christian group began in the 1850s in the United States under the tutelage of Dr. John Thomas. The name "Christadelphian" was chosen as it is believed that those who believe and obey the Commandments of Christ and the Bible as the inspired word of God, are "Brethren in Christ". The original group split, with one group continuing with the name "The Christadelphians" and the second group adding the word "Berean" to become the "Berean Christadelphians". The word "Berean" was chosen to reflect the words in Acts 17, "These (Berea) 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." Christadelphians, and Berean Christadelphians believe in the promises given to Abraham, Isaac, and David concerning the Kingdom of God. They deny the Doctrine of the Trinity, a central tenet of orthodox Christianity, and this refusal to recognize the triune nature of God has resulted in a major impasse between the Christadelphians/Berean Christadelphians and the Protestant, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox Churches.

References

  1. Acts 17:11 King James Bible

This entry incorporates text from the public domain Easton's Bible Dictionary, originally published in 1897.

  • "Bereans" and "John Barclay" in Livingstone, E. A., ed. (2006). The Concise Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church. London: Oxford University Press. ISBN 019861442X. 

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