As a derivative of the word for judge, discern expresses the careful study of a question, and is often used in a judicial hearing.
After discerning if Jesus was guilty, Pilate’s response to the Chief Priest and rulers of Israel was that he found no fault in Christ, whom they accused of misleading the people. Not only did he find no blame, but also Herod sent Him back to Pilate for Christ had done nothing worthy of death, Luke 23:13-15. Before the rulers and elders, Peter calls them out for having Christ put to death because he and John were being examined concerning a good deed done to a helpless man, Acts 4:8-10. After killing James and seeing that it pleased the Jewish leaders, Herod locks up Peter so he can continue putting the disciples to death after the days of Unleavened Bread were over, Acts 12:2-3. However, God sent a messenger during the night to release Peter from prison. In the morning, when the guards found that Peter was not in the prison, they were examined and put to death for failing to secure their prisoner, Acts 12:19.
Outside of a judicial setting, discern is used concerning what a person is speaking or how they are acting. The Jews of Berea were high-born, unlike those of Thessalonica. Therefore, they were able to examine the Scripture concerning what Paul was stating to them about the Christ, for they could afford personal copies of the scrolls. As a result of their access to Scripture, many believed what Paul was proclaiming, Acts 17:11. When it comes to discerning the things of the Spirit, they cannot be examined by those who are carnal, for the fleshly mind is not subject […]