Here are seven Bible verses about one of my favorite Bible characters, Barnabas.
Acts 4:36 “Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus.”
Maybe you don’t realize that Barnabas was not his real name. His real name was Joseph and he a Levite from Cyprus, but the reason that they called him “Barnabas” was because he was such an encouraging figure. He was more likely to give people the benefit of the doubt than most others would. He was very trusting. Such is the nature of joseph and because of his character, was called the “son of encouragement” or Barnabas.
Acts 9:27 “But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus.”
Living up to his name, Barnabas took the Apostle Paul with him and declared to the church that this man had been converted by God on the Damascus Road. The church needed convincing because “when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple” (Acts 9:26) but Barnabas had seen with his own eyes and heard with his own ears how Paul now preached about Jesus and that He was the long-awaited promised Messiah.
Acts 11:22 “The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch.”
The church must have really trusted Barnabas because they often sent him into different places to check on the church and on one occasion he went to check on what was going on at the church at Antioch but to also look for Paul. When he finally found Paul, he brought him to Antioch to preach the gospel. As a result of Paul’s preaching, many believed.
Acts 11:25-26 “So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.”
Paul was still being referred to as Saul for a time. Saul means “destroyer,” and that’s just what Saul was doing to the church (Acts 8:1-2) before his conversion on the Damascus Road (Acts 8), but later, his name was changed to Paul, which means “small” or in his case, it may have referred to his humility but it could have also represented his size, as church history indicates that Paul was not a big man; in fact, he was very short. Anyway, when they preached the gospel in Antioch for whole year, the very first reference to believers being “Christians” was of those in Antioch.
Acts 13:46 “And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it aside and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we are turning to the Gentiles.”
Sadly, the Jews wouldn’t even believer their own Scriptures which testified about Jesus as being the Messiah and so finally, “the Jews incited the devout women of high standing and the leading men of the city, stirred up persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and drove them out of their district” (Acts 13:5). It is true that the truth sets you free or it makes you really mad and the Jews didn’t want to hear the truth. They were comfortable in their own religious traditions, which had unfortunately had become more important to them than the actual written Word of God.
Acts 15:2 “And after Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and debate with them, Paul and Barnabas and some of the others were appointed to go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and the elders about this question.”
This was a huge debate among the early Christians, which were primarily composed of Jews and the Jews just didn’t want to let go of the Mosaic Law and things such as circumcision, which Jesus came to die and do away with. Some of the Jews were teaching that “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved” (Acts 15:1) but that’s not the biblical gospel that Jesus brought (Mark 1:15) that salvation is through faith alone by grace alone in Christ alone (Acts 4:12) and that no one can be saved by works (Eph 2:8-9).
Acts 15:39-40 “And there arose a sharp disagreement, so that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and departed, having been commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord.”
Even Barnabas and Paul had their disagreements but even that worked out rather well in the end. God can use evil for good (Gen 50:20) and so rather than Paul trusting Mark (John Mark), who wrote the gospel by the same name, Barnabas took Mark with him and went to Cyprus, from where Barnabas was originally from, and Paul chose Silas and instead of one mission trip with four people, there were not two mission with Barnabas and John Mark going one way and Paul going with Silas going another.
I think we need more Barnabas’ in the church today. We need men and women who will encourage one another and trust one another and believe what others say and give them the benefit of the doubt. Barnabas may have been the most trusting man in the New Testament church. How about you? Do you give people the benefit of the doubt or do you assume the worst? Let all who hear this message trust in Christ today (Rom 10:9-13) so that they might receive the gift of eternal life. Today is the day of salvation (2nd Cor 6:2) because none of us have any guarantee that tomorrow may come. We know for sure that after death, then comes the judgment (Heb 9:27).
Article by Jack Wellman
Jack Wellman is Pastor of the Mulvane Brethren Church in Mulvane Kansas. Jack is also the Senior Writer at What Christians Want To Know whose mission is to equip, encourage, and energize Christians and to address questions about the believer’s daily walk with God and the Bible. You can follow Jack on Google Plus or check out his book Teaching Children the Gospel available on Amazon.