Borea is only 60 miles west of Thessalonica. Today there is only one thing that remains there from Paul’s day, the steps which led to the bema seat. The bema seat was a platform where judgments and rewards in legal matters and athletic competitions were given out. It is believed that Paul spoke to the Boreans from this spot. The steps are now enclosed in a large monument erected to honor Paul and the Boreans who listened intently and checked out his proclamation diligently. It is important to understand the role the Scriptures play here. They not only were the basis for Paul’s preaching, but they were also the key to the Boreans’ belief. The claims Paul made were affirmed by the Scriptures themselves. It could be said that Paul’s claims were not his own, but actually those of the Scriptures.
What objections would these honorable Borean scholars have with Paul’s claims? The Jews of Paul’s day would be certain that Jesus could not have been the Messiah because He was crucified. To them a crucified man was equal to being cursed by God. In response to this Paul probably introduced passages like Isaiah 53 to his audience. Through Isaiah's words they could see how Jesus' death had fulfilled prophecies about the Messiah and their search was rewarded with faith. It is interesting to note that Paul didn’t use a fancy program or the art and literature of his day to explain or “update” the message of Scripture. He had now Power Point montages, video bumpers, or high-tec presentation to draw in his audience. He took the Scripture as they were, presented them from his heart and look at the impact! Not only did those noble-minded Jews believe, but Acts also notes that prominent Borean Greeks also believed. Those little steps in Borea stand as a testimony to the power of God’s word.
Paul was also true to his convictions. Instead of going into hiding in Borea (which he easily could have done since he’d been encouraged to flee Thessalonica in order to save his life), we find Paul in the local synagogue eager to present the Gospel once again. In these actions we see Paul’s confession of Romans 1:16, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek” (NAS) in full bloom. His first concern was always to bring the Gospel to the Jews, so at every stop you will find him in the synagogue doing what any rabbi does best, studying the Scriptures. But he did not forget or shun the Gentiles. Whether they were “God-fearers” who attended the synagogue or folks doing business in the market place, Paul never failed to share the Gospel with them as well.
Paul had a boldness that is rare. Nothing stopped him. When I visited Borea and stood on those ancient steps where Paul once argued in defense of the Crucified Savior, I was in awe of his fortitude and painfully aware of my own timidity. I know Paul was a man with faults like everyone else. But in his own way, Paul was one-of-a-kind, a unique man with a boldness that God used to reach a broad spectrum of people. God sees me no differently than Paul. He has given me my own uniqueness and in His hands, I too can effect a change in another’s life. While some churches may enjoy a concert style approach to worship these days and others still rely on a traditional “3 hymns and out” mode, when all is said and done, it’s the Word that truly effects change in the hearts and minds of people- believers and seekers alike. Like Paul, I do not need to rely on my own strength, but that of the Scriptures. They speak for themselves.
Ann LeFevre, M. Div.
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