Often I hear Christians talking about different Bible characters that they look forward to meeting in heaven. Names often spoken are Paul, Peter, John from the New Testament or King David, Elijah or Jeremiah from the Old Testament.
For me, my hero from the Bible is Barnabas. I can’t wait to meet him.
We first meet Barnabas in Acts 4 where we are told his real name is Joseph. But the apostles nicknamed him Barnabas “Son of Encouragement.”
And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
I love that thought. To be a person that so encourages others that he becomes known not by his real name but by the nickname of “The Encourager.” That has been my prayer – that I would be someone who encourages, builds up, strengthens others.
The next time we meet Barnabas the gospel has been received in Antioch. When news of the new group of Christians there reached the church in Jerusalem, they sent Barnabas to meet with the Christians there. And there again he encouraged.
News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.
We see Barnabas having success in the work at Antioch. So what did he do? He headed off to Tarsus to find Saul (who became known as Paul, the writer of much of the New Testament).
Barnabas had been Saul’s friend when he first became a Christian. The church at Jerusalem was afraid of Saul because they knew how he had persecuted the Christians. But Barnabas, stepped in and told them Saul was a new man.
When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.
Barnabas brought Paul back to Antioch where the two of them worked together sharing the gospel with the new church there. For a while the story mentions “Barnabas and Paul.” Then later it becomes “Paul and Barnabas.” God had clearly called Paul to bring the gospel to the Gentiles. But I find it interesting that it was Barnabas that helped Paul step up and fulfill the call of God on his life.
Later when the two of them began their second missionary trip, the young man John Mark wanted to go with them. Paul refused to take John Mark with them because he had left them halfway through their first missionary journey. Paul was not willing to give him a second chance. But Barnabas was an encourager. He separated from Paul and took John Mark with him while Paul chose Silas and began his second missionary journey.
Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the believers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.” Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, but Paul chose Silas and left,
Interesting, in Paul’s later writings he mentions John Mark as being a helper in his ministry even saying in 2 Timothy 4:11:
Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.
Some Bible scholars believe John Mark was the one who wrote the Gospel of Mark. Our story of the good news might have been incomplete without the encouragement of Barnabas.
My prayer is that I would be like Barnabas and be an encouragement to everyone I meet.
Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. 1 Thesssalonians 5:11
You all can line up to meet the great men and women in the Bible. Me – I’ll be looking for Barnabas. I want to tell him thanks for the great example he left us.