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Summary: Barnabas means "son of encouragement." He lived his life by this definition. We Christians can learn from God how we too can be a "son of encouragement."

“Are You A Barnabas??”

Text: Acts 11:19-30

6/1/2003

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Dear Friends in Christ. Last week the choir {here} at Pilgrim sang a beautiful song titled “Unsung Heroes. ” You know, as I read the Scripture Lessons for that day it occurred to me that there was an “Unsung Hero of the Faith” in the reading from Acts chapter 11. He’s the apostle named Barnabas. Sadly, most of us don’t know much about him. That’s probably because his name is usually associated with St. Paul. And quite often Barnabas is seen as just a side-kick or an assistant of Paul’s. But that’s an unfair picture of this Christian man who truly followed the example of Jesus Christ. I’d like you to dig into the Scriptures with me and see what we can learn about Barnabas. Because as we do, you’ll see a wonderful Christian who helped spread the Gospel by being a powerful Encourager.

The first place that Barnabas is mentioned is in Acts 4:36-37. Please turn there with me {on page _____} in your Bibles. What’s the very first thing you learn about him? Aha! Joseph was his REAL name. He had received the nickname of Barnabas from the apostles. Let me give you a real quick course in Hebrew names. Whenever you see a Jewish name beginning with “Bar”... that means “son of.” For instance, Peter’s name was originally “Simon, Bar-Jonah.” That is... Simon, Son of Jonah. So how would you translate it if I told you someone’s nickname was “Bar-Smith & Wesson”?? Come on now, you can guess... they’d be a “Son of a gun”!! Okay... bad joke. Anyway, what does Luke tell us the name Barnabas means according to verse 36?? Yes, “Son of Encouragement.” As you will see shortly, this nickname was a very fitting description of Joseph the Levite.

That’s something else you should know about his background. He was a Levite who had become a Christian. In other words, he had been part of the Jewish religious system... and to break away from that was a huge step! Also, please note that Barnabas was originally from the island of Cyprus. He ends up going back to his homeland on a missionary journey with Paul. One other thing. You notice in verse 37 that Barnabas was also a very generous man. He gave freely to the Church.

Okay, next I need you to skip ahead to Acts 9. Remember now... what does the name Barnabas mean?? Well, you’re about to see why that nickname was so fitting for him. The first half of this chapter tells the amazing story of Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. Keep in mind that Paul was an enemy of the Christian Church. He was trying his hardest to wipe it out. But then he had an encounter with Jesus Christ and that changed everything. Suddenly he went from trying to destroy anyone who followed Christ... to preaching boldly that Jesus was the Savior. Well, the Jews didn’t like Paul, the traitor, so they planned to kill him. Paul found out, and the Christians helped him escape safely from Damascus. He ended up going to Jerusalem... where many of the leaders of the Christian Church were located. When Paul tried to meet with them, what did they do?? Look at verse 26. “They were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.” Can you blame them?? They thought it was just a trick. So nobody would have anything to do with Paul.

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