Berea

BEREA, BEROEA (bêr-ē'a, Gr. Beroia). A city in SW Macedeonia (Acts.17.10-Acts.17.15; Acts.20.4). Lying at the foot of Mount Bermius, situated on a tributary of the Haliacmon, its origins appear lost in the mists of time. The Berea mentioned by Thucydides in all likelihood refers to another place. It is, however, twice mentioned by Polybius (xxvii:8, xxviii:8). Following the battle of Pynda in 168 b.c., it surrendered to the Romans and was counted in the third of the four divisions of the empire of Alexander the Great. In the NT, Paul and his party visited Berea on the second missionary journey. Here they found some open-minded people who were willing to study the teachings of Paul in the light of the Scripture. This happy situation was disrupted, however, when Jews from Thessalonica arrived, turning the Bereans against the message and forcing Paul to flee to Athens. Silas and Timothy remained there briefly instructing the true believers.


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BEREA bere’a (Βέροια, G1023). A small city in SW Macedonia, dating prob. from the 5th cent. b.c. Situated in the foothills to the S of the Macedonian plain, Berea, though of no particular political or historical consequence, became in NT times one of the most populous centers of Macedonia. The great Ignatian Road, bearing the E-W traffic between Italy and Asia Minor passed it by some m. to the N.

Here Paul and his party found refuge after the stormy events in Thessalonica (Acts 17:10-15; 20:4). They left the hostile city at night. The main road led to Edessa. Paul branched S and came to Berea on the eastern slope of the Olympus range (a few ancient remains mark the place where a pleasant little city stood). It was a long night’s journey to this place of refuge, but it was safe for the time being. The Jewish community was open-minded and prepared to listen and study, uncorrupted by the influences which had stirred the Jews of Thessalonica. Certainly the hostility of the latter city only overtook Paul after he had made good progress in Berea (Acts 17:11-13), gaining adherents in particular among the socially eminent Gr. women. Oddly enough, Cicero, in his fervent speech against Piso, describes how that Rom. governor was so unpopular that he found it wise to slink into Thessalonica by night and then to withdraw from the storm of complaints, which his presence occasioned, to this very town of Berea. It was “off the beaten track” (oppidum devium) says Cicero (In Pis. 36). As seclusion hid the Rom. magistrate, so, briefly, it protected Paul and Silas more than a cent. later. There they met the benediction of understanding, of sincerity, and desire to hear, until the foe again picked up the trail, as indeed they also picked up the trail of the Rom. magistrate. It is curious to find the saint and the sinner in circumstances so parallel.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(Beroia or Berroia):

(1) A town of southwestern Macedonia, in the district of Emathia. It lay at the foot of Mt. Bermius, on a tributary of the Haliacmon, and seems to have been an ancient town, though the date of its foundation is uncertain. A passage in Thucydides (i.61) relating to the year 432 BC probably refers to another place of the same name, but an inscription (Inscr Graec, II, 5, 296i) proves its existence at the end of the 4th century BC, and it is twice mentioned by Polybius (xxvii.8; xxviii.8). After the battle of Pydba in 168 BC Berea was the first city to surrender to Rome and fell in the third of the four regions into which Macedonia was divided (Livy xliv.45; xlv.29). Paul and Silas came to Berea from Thessalonica which they had been forced by an uproar to leave, and preached in the synagogue to the Jews, many of whom believed after a candid examination of the apostolic message in the light of their Scriptures (Ac 17:10,11). A number of "Gr women of honorable estate and of men" also believed, but the advent of a body of hostile Jews from Thessalonica created a disturbance in consequence of which Paul had to leave the city, though Silas and Timothy stayed there for a few days longer (Ac 17:12-15). Perhaps the Sopater of Berea who accompanied Paul to Asia on his last journey to Jerusalem was one of his converts on this visit (Ac 20:4). Berea, which was one of the most populous cities of Macedonia early became a bishopric under the metropolitan of Thessalonica and was itself made a metropolis by Andronicus II (1283-1328): there is a tradition that the first bishop of the church was Onesimus. It played a prominent part in the struggles between the Greeks and the Bulgarians and Serbs, and was finally conquered by the Turks in 1373-74. The town, which still bears among the Greeks its ancient name (pronounced Verria) though called by the Turks Karaferia, possesses but few remains of antiquity with the exception of numerous inscriptions (Leake, Travels in Northern Greece, III, 290 if; Cousinery, Voyage dans la Macedoine, I, 57 ff; Dimitsas, Makedonia in Greek, 57 ff).

Marcus N. Tod

(2) The place where Menelaus the ex-high priest was executed by order of Antiochus Eupator, the victim, according to local custom, being cast from a tower 50 cubits high into a bed of ashes (2 Macc 13:3 ff). It was the ancient city of Chalab, lying about midway between Antioch and Hierapolis. Seleucus Nicator gave it the name Berea. It was a city of importance under the Moslems in the Middle Ages, when the old name again asserted itself, and remains to the present time.

The name "Aleppo" came to us through the Venetian traders in the days before the great overland route to India via Aleppo lost its importance through the discovery of the passage round the Cape. Aleppo is now a city of nearly 130,000 inhabitants. The governor exercises authority over a wide district extending from the Euphrates to the Mediterranean.

(3) (Berea); A place mentioned in 1 Macc 9:4. It may be identical with BEEROTH (which see) in Benjamin, a Hivite town, 8 miles North of Jerusalem, or with the modern Birez-Zait, 1 1/2 miles Northwest of Jifneh.