Dear Student of the Word,
Since I am taking a week off from writing the Monday Memo, I thought I would send along the next installment of our Acts study. This week we move into Acts 11 and read how Peter had to defend his decision to go visit Cornelius and also defend what the Spirit did by pouring Himself out onto those Gentiles while Peter was preaching to them. This week I wrote in part six of this seven-part installment, which you can download below:
Study Fourteen, Part Six
23 When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
11:23 – It’s also interesting that the apostles chose to send Barnabas. Perhaps they didn’t want to go to the Gentiles themselves or perhaps Barnabas’ ministry style was more needed. Barnabas’ given name was Joseph, but the apostles gave him a nickname that meant “son of encouragement.” And what did Joseph do when he arrived? He encouraged the new believers! That was Joseph’s purpose and he remained true to his purpose no matter where he was or what he was doing.
Barnabas saw the evidence of God’s grace. There is usually tangible evidence when God works. There is peace, growth, and harmony; in short there is what’s known as the fruit of the Spirit when the Spirit is present and allowed to work and rule:
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law (Gal 5:22-24).
If Barnabas came to visit your life, family, work, or church, would he “see” the grace of God and be glad? What can you do to produce evidence of such grace?
11: 24 – Luke inserted this quick endorsement of Barnabas. Was that meant to portray him in a positive way since he and Paul would have a dispute and part ways later in chapter 15? It would be easy to see Paul as the “good guy” and anyone else as off base if there was a dispute. Here we clearly see that Barnabas was a good man, full of the Spirit and faith. We also see that he was instrumental in a number of people coming to know Jesus. The implication here is that God was with Barnabas when he ministered. What would people say about you if you could read their comments?
A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold. (Proverbs 22:1).
Integrity is so crucial for at the end of the day, it’s the only thing you have in business, ministry or family. There is a psalm that sums up integrity as it is lived out in real life:
Lord, who may dwell in your sanctuary? Who may live on your holy hill? He whose walk is blameless and who does what is righteous, who speaks the truth from his heart and has no slander on his tongue, who does his neighbor no wrong and casts no slur on his fellowman, who despises a vile man but honors those who fear the Lord, who keeps his oath even when it hurts, who lends his money without usury and does not accept a bribe against the innocent. He who does these things will never be shaken (Psalm 15:1-5).
Why not study this psalm and do some sort of integrity inventory of your own life? How do you measure up? What would Barnabas say or, more importantly, what would Jesus say to summarize your life in one sentence?
11:25&26 – Barnabas wasn’t finished encouraging. He took off from Antioch and went to Tarsus to seek out Brother Saul. Because he knew that Saul’s purpose was to work with Gentiles, Barnabas came to get him to work in Antioch. It pays to know your purpose and to tell others what that purpose is. When the need for who you are arises, then those people will help open doors for you. Barnabas knew what Paul was created to do and helped him connect with the right opportunity at the right time.
What were you created to do? Have you told others? There is nothing wrong or inappropriate with telling the truth about what you can and cannot do. So let others know who God made you and stop being concerned that you are being proud when you do so.
Do you know the purpose of others? Are you doing all that you can to help them find opportunities to fulfill their purpose? One of the great joys in my life is helping others find their purpose and then find how to fulfill it.
After Saul came to Antioch, he and Barnabas taught the people and helped create a church body, although it wasn’t called the church yet. The believers were first called Christians or “little Christs” in Antioch. This was probably a derisive reference, but it stuck and today is still an explanation for a follower of Jesus.
As always, I welcome your comments to this week's study. For additional Bible studies, check out my website archive, which contains a complete collection of all my verse-by-verse New Testament studies, along with the unpublished volume of The Faith Files.