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.