As we continued our study of Acts at Grace Fellowship, we spent some time today focusing on a man named Barnabas. His given name was Joseph, but he was called Barnabas, which we are told means “son of encouragement.”
Here’s what we can learn about this man named Barnabas as we read through Acts:
Barnabas was an encourager.
Even without the nickname, his encouraging spirit is seen throughout the book of Acts.
Barnabas was generous and cared about his fellow believers.
In Acts 5, Barnabas sells a piece of property and brings all the proceeds to the Apostles to be used to help with the needy in the church. His care for those in need was more than lip service.
Barnabas was trustworthy.
The apostles trusted Barnabas’ judgment that Saul was not hostile, and they trusted his judgment in discerning what God was doing in the city of Antioch. They also trusted Barnabas enough to send him out as a missionary.
Barnabas had a good reputation.
In Acts 11, he is referred to as “a good man.” This doesn’t mean he never sinned. It means that he lived an admirable life – that he had a good character.
Barnabas was full of faith.
Barnabas was known for his faith. His trust in Jesus was evident to all. In every time and every place, Barnabas’ faith was in the “on” position.
Barnabas was a willing servant.
Our greatest ability for the kingdom is our availability. Barnabas was always available when the Lord called. His eyes and his heart were wide open looking for opportunities God might send His way.
Barnabas was humble.
As you read through the book Acts, you may notice a shift. Barnabas and Saul go out as a missionary team, but Luke lists Barnabas’ name first – Barnabas and Saul. After chapter 13, it shifts. Barnabas is listed second. In spite of this, we see no jealousy or rivalry between them. Barnabas’ humility allows him to rejoice with the advancement of others.
Barnabas had a heart for the weak and the rejected.
We see this first with Saul and later with John Mark. John Mark was Barnabas’ cousin who had joined their missionary team early on but who had run home to mama. Paul didn’t want him to go with them on their next journey, but Barnabas insisted. It ended up with Paul and Barnabas amicably parting ways – Paul teaming up with Silas and Barnabas taking along John Mark.
To Barnabas, this young believer was worth the investment, in spite of his failure. He chose to take a chance and take John Mark under his wing. Was it worth it? You make the call. Consider what Paul (yes, that Saul) wrote toward the end of his life – Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry (2 Timothy 4:11). Yep, that Mark is John Mark.
Barnabas was full of the Holy Spirit. His life was guided and controlled by the Spirit of God. Barnabas allowed the Holy Spirit to do His work in and through Him. The Spirit’s fruit was on full display in his’ life.
Barnabas is a man whose life is worthy of our study and our emulation. Maybe Paul had Barnabas in mind when he wrote – encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. (1 Thessalonians 5:14)