5. BARNABAS - a good man
"He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith" (Acts 11:24).
Joseph (Barnabas) is the type of reliable Christian that churches are
built on. He had the grace and spiritual flexibility to take a second
place in the Lord's work.
Consider the person
Joseph was a Levite from the island of Cyprus. He joined the church at
Jerusalem and, with other Christians, sold his property and gave its
proceeds to the apostles for God's work. The name the apostles gave him
indicates his character and ministry – Barnabas, Son of Encouragement
(Acts 4:32-36). The first example of his helpful ministry is seen in
his recognition of Saul's conversion and his introduction to the
apostles (Acts 9:26-27).
Study the Scriptures
Luke paints quite a full picture of Barnabas in the Acts. Study these
points in their context. When the Jerusalem church sought to help the
new work in Antioch they sent Barnabas, who was eminently qualified to
encourage the new Christians and help the church (Acts 11:19-24).
Notice that although Barnabas had a successful ministry, he co-opted
Saul to help him in the work. Together they brought a famine relief
gift to Jerusalem (11:25-30). Their missionary journey took them to
Cyprus and Asia Minor (Acts 13:1-14:28). At first Barnabas was team
leader, but later Saul took pre-eminence as Paul. Study Acts
13:2,7,43,50. Although Barnabas was prepared to give way to Paul's
leadership he was not a yes-man. The contention involving his nephew,
John Mark, shows another side of his character (Acts 15:36-41). His
decision to give Mark a second chance proved to be right. Paul sought
his fellowship when he faced martyrdom at the end of his life (2
1. Luke describes Barnabas as 'a good man'. What do you
understand by this?
2. What importance does God place on character? Scriptures
like Rom.8:28-29 indicate God's concern for Christ-likeness.
3. Discuss the ministry of encouragement or exhortation (see
4. What does Acts teach about giving to God's work?
Apply some thoughts
1. Compare the ministries of Paul and Barnabas and Peter and
John. Does this pairing reflect the fact that Jesus sent his disciples
out in twos? (See Lk.10:1; 19:29; 22:8.)
2. Consider how partnerships could work in your church, for
example, in prayer (prayer partners), evangelism (door-to-door work)
and social care (visitation).