December 1st 2009

Good Ol’ Barnabas!

“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….”
Acts 4:36-37 (NKJV)

My great hero of the New Testament is Barnabas. He wasn’t an Apostle; he wasn’t around to witness personally all the things that happened to Jesus Christ during His three-and-a-half year ministry—at least as far as we know. But he was among those who were converted immediately following Peter’s first sermon in Acts 4.

Barnabas wasn’t even his name, more of a nick-name, since it means “son of encouragement.” His real name was Joses, a form of the popular Jewish name of the time, Joseph. But what a title to be given! And given him by the Apostles. I think we draw from that that Joses was unique. Of all the converts that came to Christ through those heady days following the Pentecost tongues of fire manifestation and the beginning of the church ministry, he was head and shoulders above anyone in the encouraging stakes.

Although, as we shall see another time, Paul and Barnabas fell out, Paul never forgot the example of his erstwhile colleague and mentor, The Son of Encouragement.

We find Paul later tells Christians that it is their duty to encourage one another, which is what Barnabas was so famous for. To the Thessalonians he says: “Therefore comfort [margin: encourage] each other and edify one another [margin: build one another up], just as you also are doing” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).

If there is one thing that this world needs from Christians, it is the Barnabas effect. We don’t really need to be preached against, or buffeted by correction, or to be railed against over our many sinful ways. No, we human beings always respond best when we are encouraged. Here is a good lesson for all us Christians in the evangelical frame of mind, because Baranabas was successful in bringing many to Christ through his example.

Most merciful Father, thank you for people like good ol’ Barnabas. Thank you for recording the essentials of his life and ministry so that we can learn from his example also the better to be similar examples to others as to what a Christian should be. Thank you for encouraging us (because Jesus is the real Barnabas), in our daily walk with you. No condemnation, just constant encouragement. Thank you, wonderful Father! In Jesus’ name we pray.

Study by John Stettaford 

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