Encouraging Others

Key Verse: “Who, when he [Barnabas] came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.”
—Acts 11:23, 24

Selected Scriptures:
Acts 4:33-37; 9:26, 27; 11:19-30; 15:36-40

THE EARLY CHURCH received much persecution at the hands of their kinsmen, Israel. The prejudice and oppression was very severe and they pooled their resources to survive, sharing what they had. At this time the Lord touched the heart of a Levite, named Joses (whose name was later changed to Barnabas, meaning ‘son of consolation’), living on the island of Cyprus, who possessed property. He sold the property and came to Jerusalem and laid the money at the apostles’ feet. (Acts 4:36,37) This was the Lord’s way of bringing Barnabas to Jerusalem where he was needed.

About a year and a half later, the Apostle Paul was converted. He was intercepted on his way to Damascus to place brethren of the Early Church into prison. He was baptized and went to Arabia where he received instruction from the Lord, and then returned to Damascus. He left Damascus when his life was threatened and went to Jerusalem. The apostles did not receive him, fearing him, and didn’t believe he was a disciple of Christ. It was Barnabas who learned Paul’s story, took him to the apostles and told them of Paul’s conversion. Paul was then accepted by them and worked with the church until his life was threatened again, and he was sent to his home in Tarsus.

Meanwhile, the persecution of the Early Church continued and caused many to leave and go to their countries of origin. The Gospel message was now being preached to others outside of Judea; but only to the Jews. (Acts 11:19) Gentile Greeks heard the message in Antioch and a great number believed and became members of the Early Church. The news of what happened in Antioch reached the apostles in Jerusalem. They decided to investigate, and sent Barnabas to confirm what they had heard. Their selection of Barnabas was good, his being an older, mature Christian who had lived among the Gentiles for years on Cyprus. Barnabas ‘was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith,’ and ‘much people was added unto the Lord.’—vs. 24

Barnabas knew that the Apostle Paul had been selected by the Lord to be the Apostle to the Gentiles. He went to Tarsus to find Paul and they both came back to Antioch and established a congregation, organizing it and becoming elders along with three other brethren.

It was the Antioch congregation that financed Paul’s first missionary journey together with Barnabas and John Mark. Later, Paul and Barnabas planned a second journey, in particular to deliver a letter dealing with the items of the Law to be observed by the Gentile brethren, but they disagreed about taking John Mark. Mark had left them on their first journey and Paul refused to take him on this second trip. The contention between them was so sharp that they parted, Barnabas taking Mark and going to Cyprus, while Paul took Silas and went to Tarsus and Galatia. This split did not cause lasting hard feelings because Paul mentioned his association with Barnabas several times in his later epistles. He also commended John Mark for his usefulness to him.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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