“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” (Acts 9:27).
Pastor Burk Parsons writes, “He (Paul) was a man who didn’t feel the need to pound his chest and defend himself as the great apostle Paul; rather, he buffeted his body to gain an invisible crown so that he could present it to the Lord (1 Cor. 9:26). He was a man willing to be considered a fool for Christ (1 Cor. 1:27), and he was a man who wanted to be identified, first and foremost, as one graciously called to be an apostle who was a bondservant of Christ. Just as he boldly proclaimed the doctrine of justification by faith alone because of the imputed righteousness of Christ alone, so he lived and breathed the simple phrase that he wrote on nearly every page of every epistle: “in Christ.” Paul was a real man, and one of the greatest men of all time, not because he lived for his own greatness and glory but because he lived humbly before the face of God, coram Deo, for the glory of God.”
Barnabas, who was also known as Joseph, was one of the early converts to Christianity in Jerusalem. Barnabas, which means Son of Encouragement, probably earned his new name through his effective preaching and teaching. It may also have been earned by his encouragement to those who were initially rejected by the early church. Such an individual was Saul.
A native of Cyprus, Barnabas was a Jew of the Diaspora. His priestly family background gave him a special interest in Jerusalem (Acts 4:36). He probably came to live in the Holy City. It is possible that he may even have become acquainted with Jesus in Jerusalem, but his conversion to Christianity probably resulted from the apostles’ preaching soon after the resurrection of Christ.
Barnabas first appeared as a property owner named Joseph in the book of Acts. He sold a field and gave the money to the Christian community (Acts 4:36–37). When persecution of Hellenistic Christians broke out in Jerusalem, Barnabas remained in the city though others of similar background fled (8:1–8; 11:19–22). His good reputation in Jerusalem may have influenced the apostles to select him as Paul’s companion for missionary work. Luke, the writer of Acts said of Barnabas, “He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith” (11:24).
Barnabas’ displayed his goodness, fullness of the Holy Spirit and his faith in bringing Saul to the apostles in Jerusalem. Barnabas knew of Saul’s experience encountering the Lord Jesus on the Damascus Road. He shared the truth of Saul’s conversion to the apostles. He also relayed to them how Saul boldly preached the Gospel while in Damascus.
Barnabas affirmed the validity of Saul’s conversion. He did so when no one else would. What an encouragement that must have been for Saul.
Who do you know who is a son or daughter of encouragement to those who are within the church and who could easily fall through the cracks? Encourage these encouragers today by letting them know how much you appreciated their ministry.
Soli deo Gloria!