“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 17:11).
THE PROPHETS IN ISRAEL HAD PREDICTED THE COMING OF A MESSIAH. This Messiah or Christ (literally, “Anointed One”) would reign over a kingdom superior to any of the kingdoms of mankind (Daniel 2:44). But Jesus of Nazareth was not the only individual in the first century (or even later) to claim to be the Messiah. Messianic pretenders were a dime a dozen, as we might say. So how could a person know? How could one be sure?
When Paul came as a former Jewish rabbi and spoke in the synagogue at Berea, he proclaimed that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah, the very One who had been predicted in the Jewish Scriptures. Paul was an eyewitness that Jesus had been resurrected (Acts 9:1–9), and Paul could perform miracles to verify his claims (2 Corinthians 12:12). But to their credit, the Berean Jews knew that the ultimate test of Jesus’ messiahship was scriptural in nature: if this Jesus truly was the person the Hebrew prophets had spoken of, then everything about Jesus would interlock with what had been said about the Messiah in the prophecies themselves.
So listening respectfully to Paul’s claims, they were “examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.” In the final analysis, that is the test every religious teaching has to pass. Does this teaching match up with what God is known to have revealed in the past? God does not contradict Himself, and any new revelation has to be consistent with what we know God has already said. (The shocking story in 1 Kings 13 makes this point very dramatically.)
Fortunately, there is an abundance of Jewish Scripture against which Jesus can be measured (Psalm 16 & 22; Isaiah 53; Micah 5:2; etc.) — and there is no detail of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection that does not match up. For His part, Jesus was willing to be tested against the Scriptures, and He even upbraided those who had not done this. “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (Luke 24:25,26).
“In the Old Testament the new lies hidden, in the New Testament the old is laid open” (Augustine of Hippo).