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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament


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Berœa (Βέροια, some Manuscripts Βέρροια) was a city of Southern Macedonia, in the district of Emathia (Ptol. iii. 12). It stood on the lower slope of Mt. Bermios (Strabo, vii. Frag. 26), and commanded an extensive view to north, east, and south over the plain of the Axios and the Haliacmon. Its streets and gardens were abundantly watered by rills from an affluent of the latter river. Five miles to the S.E. of the town the Haliacmon broke through the Olympian range to enter the plain. Berœa was about 50 miles S.W. of Thessalonica, 30 miles S. of Pella, and 20 miles W. of the Thermaic Gulf. Its name survives in the modern Verria or Kara-Verria, which is one of the most pleasant towns in Rumili (Leake, Travels in Northern Greece, iii. 290ff.).

To this city St. Paul and Silas withdrew when their converts, solicitous for their safety, sent them away from Thessalonica (Acts 17:10). It was an out-of-the-way town-oppidum devium (Cic. in Pis. xxxvi. [89])-and therefore a suitable place of retreat for the apostles, who continued to hope that the obstacles at Thessalonica would soon be removed and that they would be enabled to return-a hope which was not realized (1 Thessalonians 2:18). Their city of refuge, however, proved a sphere of successful missionary activity. It was large and prosperous enough to have attracted a colony of Jews, whom the historian commends as more noble in spirit (εὐγενέστεροι) than those of Thessalonica, comparatively free from jealousy, less fettered by prejudice, more receptive of new truth. They daily examined the Scriptures (τὰς γραφάς)-especially, no doubt, the passages brought under their notice by the preachers, but not these alone-to find if the strange things taught found confirmation there, with the result that many of them believed (Acts 17:12). Nor were the labours of the apostles confined to the synagogue. It is stated that ‘of the Greeks and of those of honourable estate, men and women in considerable numbers believed’ (Acts 17:12). This is the true rendering of the Greek words (καὶ τῶν Ἑλληνίδων γυναικῶν τῶν εὐσχημόνων καὶ ἀνδρῶν οὐκ ὀλίγοι) rather than that in the Revised Version , ‘also of the Greek women of honourable estate, and of men, not a few.’

St. Paul’s residence in Berœa probably lasted some months (W. M. Ramsay, St. Paul, 1895, p. 234). For the searching of the Scriptures daily (τὸ καθʼ ἡμέραν), for the preaching of the gospel in the city as well as in the synagogue, and the consequent conversion not only of ‘many’ Jews but also of ‘not a few’ Gentiles, a considerable time was required. St. Paul would doubtless be slow to move farther south, and thereby put a longer distance between himself and Thessalonica, where his heart was. At length, however, malicious Jews came all the way from that city to Berœa, and so stirred up the baser passions of the crowds (σαλεύοντες τοὺς ὄχλους), that the Christians thought it advisable to send St. Paul forth ‘to go as far as to the sea’ (not ὡς but ἕως ἐπὶ τὴν θάλασσαν being the true reading in Acts 17:14). That he was the real object of hatred is indicated by the fact that Silas and Timothy could safely remain behind (Acts 17:14). Contrary to his usual practice, the historian does not name the seaport of Berœa, but it was probably from the town of Dium, the great bulwark of the maritime frontier of South Macedonia, that St. Paul and his escort set sail for Athens (Acts 17:15), Sopater, who is mentioned in Acts 20:4 as one of St. Paul’s later associates, was a Berœan. There is a tradition (Ap. Const. vii. 46) that Onesimus was the first bishop of the Church of Berœa.

Literature.-W. Smith, DGRG [Note: GRG Dict. of Greek and Roman Geography.] i. [1856] 393; E. M. Cousinéry, Voyage dans la Macédoine, 1831, i. 57ff.; Conybeare-Howson, Life and Epistles of St. Paul, new ed., 1877, i. 399ff.; T. Lewin, St. Paul3, 1875, i. 235ff.; W. M. Leake, Travels in Northern Greece, 1835, iii. 290ff.

James Strahan.

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Bibliography Information
Hastings, James. Entry for 'Berôa'. Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament. 1906-1918.

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