Who was Barnabas?
- Son of Encouragement
- An Apostle in the Earlier Church - To the Gentiles, just like Paul
- Seeker of the Rejected
- Giver of Self and Possessions
- Passionate for People's Prosperity (Spiritually, Physically, Financially)
- Prone to a fault to avoid conflict...
- Passionate to the point of conflict to protect and help another grow.
Introduction to Barnabas:
Barnabas is one of the more interesting side characters the New Testament. He often overlooked because he is always seen as he interacts with the other Apostles, primarily Peter and Paul. However, Barnabas is an interesting character in and of himself. As I took to study him, there was much more written about him than I had before realized.
Barnabas has been believed by some to have been the rich young man that came to Jesus and was told to "sell what you have give to the poor, and follow Me..." (Matt 19:21, Luke 18:22, and Mark 10:21) A few interesting articles were written to that affect, (Harry W, and Latter Rain were two I found in a quick search).
From the bible we can learn much about him. His name was Joses/Joseph and was renamed by the Apostles much the same way Simon was renamed Peter - The Rock (Hebrew: Petros)(Greek/Aramaic: Cephas) by Jesus. The Apostles renamed Joseph: Barnabas (Son of Encouragement). Indeed he was, his whole story, throughout the NT reveals a man who's core calling and passion in life is to develop others. He nearly fades into the background, despite the prominence of his name in Acts, because he's always found in conjunction with what he was doing with or for someone else.
He started a giving spree in the the early church that caused a spirit of one-ness to take over the church. No-one lacked because of his giving. His giving was so notorious that one couple tried to copy it to gain fame, but also lied in the process about what they were doing. The very thing that promoted Barnabas killed that couple, because they did it in the wrong spirit. He was the living example of "Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God and He will exalt you in due time." (1 Peter 5:6)
When his time among the Apostles has become complete he joined Paul and his calling was, like Paul, to the gentiles where as the Apostles (Peter, James, and John) were called to the Jews. Barnabas and Paul were both separated out as Apostles later, debunking the weird idea that only those original 11/12 could be Apostles.
Acts 4:36And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus...Acts 432 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. 34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. 36 And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, 37 having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet.Galatians 2:9...and when James, Cephas (Peter), and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that had been given to me, they gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship, that we should go to the Gentiles and they to the circumcised (Jews).Acts 13:2As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the Holy Spirit said, "Now separate to Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."Acts 14:14But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this...
Barnabas was the Son of Encouragement. He was always encouraging people. He was also passionate about his belief. He was so passionate about people and helping them achieve the God given gifting inside of them, that he would fight for them.
Protector, Encourager, Developer, and Cousin to Mark
Barnabas was the one to push past the opinions of the church people and brought Saul/Paul to the Apostles. It was the testimony of Paul, through the words of Barnabas that brought him to be accepted as genuine among the Christians. Barnabas was the one who fought with Paul to take John-Mark (Barnabas' Cousin). Paul was ready to leave him behind because he'd already abandoned them once, but GRACE and MERCY work through Barnabas in amazing ways.
He is always ready to extend another chance to the person who needs it. It was through this type of constant encouragement and working with Mark that Paul, years later, stated that Mark was useful to him in the ministry. Later, Mark went on to write one of the four Gospels in our NT today. That means that Mark who was quick to abandon the Apostles in a hard time when he was young, later became so able to hear from the Holy Spirit that his writing was Canonized as The Word of God.
He was so passionate about the GRACE of God that he and Paul challenged the Jewish Christians who came, in Acts 15, to try to put the gentiles under the law again. He took the debate all they way to the Peter, James, and John.
Acts 15:2Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them...Acts 15:39Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus...2 Timothy 4:11(Paul says) Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.
Seeker of the Lost, Hurting, and/or Rejected
Barnabas not only encouraged others development, but he sought out Saul/Paul. Barnabas type encouragement seeks out the lost, hurting, and/or rejected to strengthen them and bring them up. It may be said that without Barnabas we would not have Paul, 3/4 of the NT, or the Gospel of Mark. At least, he had a major hand in the process and shares in the rewards of it.
Acts 11:25Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul.Acts 9:27But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. And he declared to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.Acts 12:25And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem when they had fulfilled their ministry, and they also took with them John whose surname was Mark.Acts 15:39Then the contention became so sharp that they parted from one another. And so Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus;Colossians 4:10Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, with Mark the cousin of Barnabas (about whom you received instructions: if he comes to you, welcome him),
When a Strength becomes a weakness:
Following Peter to Hypocrisy
He was so proned to encouragement that he was always trying to avoid conflict. When his passion was strong enough he would fight for what's right. He split with the Jews over forcing the Law onto the gentiles, he split with Paul over his cousin Mark. But he loved people, and didn't want conflict, it wasn't his primary characteristic.
So when Peter has led the group in hypocrisy by eating at separate tables from the Gentile Christians when a certain group of Jewish Christians who still wanted the law would come to visit, Barnabas got caught up in the activity because he didn't want to cause a stir.
Galatians 2:13And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.
Barnabas was indeed an interesting Character to study. This is, of course, nothing more than a high level overview. There are so many things I read that I didn't cover here. Maybe he would make an interesting book, or long study.
He was a giver, to the point that he started a giving spree. He was encourager to the point it became his name. He embodied Grace and Mercy. He was a seeker of the rejected. He had a ministry of reconciliation. He someone who we need to look at.
I call you empowered 2 prosper with good success!
Darrell G. Wolfe
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