The first mention of this beloved and faithful believer is in Acts 4:36-37 which reads, “Now Joseph, a Levite of Cyprian birth, who was also called Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), and who owned a tract of land, sold it and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (NASB). The Spirit of God introduces Barnabas as a GENEROUS man. Moved by the love of Christ he was willing to sell everything he had and hand the money over to the apostles so they could distribute it to anyone who had need. This “giving spirit” characterized him throughout his life. We also learn that the apostles renamed him. Why did they do that? I have no doubt that his new name, Barnabas, expressed the role God had given him to fulfill in the church. We are told it means “Son of Encouragement” and we would like to go over scriptures to show that HE LIVED UP TO HIS NAME.

The second mention of Barnabas is in Acts 9:27, “But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.” In this chapter we have the conversion of Saul of Tarsus and we learn in verse 26 that when Saul came to Jerusalem the disciples there “were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple.” But Barnabas, true to his name, ENCOURAGED the believers there to receive him by testifying of Saul’s faithfulness in Damascus.

The next reference is in Acts 11:22, “Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch.” News had spread to Jerusalem that a great number of souls had been saved in the city of Antioch and their response to this news was, “Let’s send Barnabas to them.” Why Barnabas? Because they knew that these new believers needed ENCOURAGEMENT and Barnabas was just the man to ENCOURAGE them. Verse 23 tells us, “When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord” (NKJV). Barnabas was a true pastor; he had a heart for the sheep of Christ and knew that they needed to be encouraged to “continue with the Lord.” Wherever Barnabas went he consistently ENCOURAGED souls. In Acts 13:43 he, along with the apostle Paul, “persuaded them to continue in the grace of God.” In Acts 14:21 we see him in Lystra, Iconium and Antioch, and what is he doing? Verse 22 supplies the answer, for he was “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith” (NASB). Oh, how we need more men like Barnabas today! Men who are have the desire to see new converts grow spiritually and to CONTINUE IN THE FAITH! Let us pray that the Lord will raise up such men to ENCOURAGE the saints!

In Acts 13:2 we read, “As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them.” Here we see the Holy Spirit calling Barnabas and Saul to carry the gospel throughout the Roman Empire. Details of their many labors are given in chapters 13 and 14. So, in addition to being a “shepherd of the sheep,” Barnabas also had a heart to win the lost to Christ. But as we have already seen by quoting from these chapters, as soon as souls turned to Christ Barnabas was right there to ENCOURAGE THEM TO CONTINUE WITH THE LORD.

We will end on a sad yet encouraging note. We learn from Acts 15:36-39 that Paul and Barnabas had a falling out. Paul suggested they go on another missionary trip and in verse 37 we see that “Barnabas was determined to take John, whose surname was Mark.” The trouble is Mark had gone on their first trip and had lost heart and returned home, so Paul “thought it not good to take him with them.” They split up and we see in verses 39-40 that “Barnabus took Mark, and sailed to Cyprus,” and “Paul chose Silas.” Was Barnabas right or Paul? We may not be able to say with any certainty, but we do know that Mark “stayed the course” this time and went on to write the gospel that bears his name. And at the end of Paul’s life he wrote to Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:11, “Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.” Mark did indeed prove to be faithful AND profitable and I believe it was Barnabas’s willingness to “give him another chance” that made the difference. So, even though it is sad that Barnabas and Paul went their separate ways, Barnabas continued to “live up to his name” by ENCOURAGING Mark to “continue with the Lord” and the Lord was pleased to use his encouragement by making a true servant out of Mark.  (182.4)  (DO)