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Summary: This sermon examines Barnabas's character as an encourager, his generosity, and his obedience to God and challenges God's people to emulate him.

Barnabas—Little Man, Big Deeds

Series: Acts

Chuck Sligh

January 25, 2015

NOTE: A PowerPoint presentation of this sermon is available upon request by emailing me at chucksligh@hotmail.com.

TEXT: Acts 4:31-37 – “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. 32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. 33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. 34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35 And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. 36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, 37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.”


History books are filled with the deeds and accomplishments of mighty kings and generals and scholars and discoverers who made history. These are the ones we usually read about in the history books.

But some great things have happened that might NOT have happened were it not for some unknown, obscure person about whom we hear little about thereafter.

Illus. – During the first winter of the Massachusetts Bay Colony’s settlement at Plymouth, the Pilgrims were in bad shape. They had no food, and they didn't know how to hunt; they seemed doomed. Had it not been for an Indian named Squanto—who taught them how to hunt and fish and raise crops in the spring—the Pilgrims might never have survived! They did—because of an Indian about whom we never hear anything again. History records all the great things that happened with the colonists after that, but the story of Squanto is pretty much just a footnote of history.

Likewise, throughout the Bible, certain GIANTS of men and women stand out as uniquely used by the Lord, and their names and deeds are recorded in the Bible’s Hall of Fame. If you’ve been around church for any time at all, you’d recognize their names—like Abraham, Moses, Esther, Ruth, David, Jeremiah, Elijah, Daniel, Mary, Peter, James, and Paul.

But there’s a second tier of notables that we usually don’t pay too much attention to. Timothy, Silas, Dorcas, Aquilla and Priscilla come immediately to mind. Often they seem to be footnotes to the story of the great men and women we’re told about in the Bible.

But like Squanto, the biblical story would not have unfolded as it did but for the deeds of these people whom we might call “second team players.”

One of them is mentioned in our text by the name of BARNABAS. Barnabas’s name is sprinkled throughout the book of Acts, but he’s always on the second team. Yet his contribution was great and valued both by the Paul and by the early church. He had some traits in his life that certainly are worthy of emulation.

Let’s look at our text and see what a blessing Barnabas was…

I. LET’S FIRST EXAMINE BARNABAS THE MAN – Verse 36 – “And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus.”

His given name was Joses, but the Apostles had renamed him “Barnabas,” which means “son of exhortation,” or “son of encouragement.” Apparently he was such an encouragement that they named him after his chief trait. Wow!—What a testimony!…to be known as “son of encouragement!”

The Greek word translated “consolation” in verse 36 can mean encouragement, exhortation, comfort or consolation—any of these, depending on the context. All of these ideas carry the same basic connotation: the idea of coming along someone and motivating them to do right; to inspire hope in the broken-hearted; in essence, to be an ENERGIZER in people’s lives for good and righteousness.

Illus. – Have you ever had the wonderful experience of going out to your car in 10 degree weather, only to find it won’t start? (That’s minus 17 degrees Celsius for our German friends.) You’ve been there: Everything else in the car works fine…except that the “get-up-and-go” for the car has “got-up-and-gone.”

Leaving aside the more serious reasons as to why batteries run down, the short-term solution is usually for another car to come alongside and hook up a set of jumper cables from their strong battery to your weak one. Drawing from the energy and power of the car alongside yours, your car is able to start up again and function normally.

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