Summary: Fourth sermon in series focuses on the biblical purpose of serving in ministry.

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Doing Life Together—Part 4

The Barnabas File

One of the first to sell possessions to help the Christians in Jerusalem

First to travel with Paul as a missionary team

One of the most quietly influential people in the early days of Christianity

Called an apostle, although not one of the original 12



When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. [27] But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. Acts 9:26-27 (NIV)

When Saul returned to Jerusalem, he was in a tight spot. His old associates knew all about his defection, and he could expect no friendly welcome from them. On the other hand, the disciples of Jesus, with whom he now wished to join, had not forgotten his campaign of persecution. One can scarcely feel surprise at their suspicion and fear. I’m sure they suspected that this was perhaps a scheme of Saul’s to gain their confidence in order to betray them.

Barnabas, true to his name, took the risk to reach out and encourage Saul. He risked his own neck and his relationship with his friends to build a bridge between Saul and the Christians in Jerusalem. Saul desperately needed a friend and Barnabas stepped up. Barnabas’ laid his reputation with the apostles and other Christians on the line when he gave Saul his bonafides.

Barnabas is sent to Antioch as the representative of the mother-church in Jerusalem. When he gets there his overwhelmed with joy at what he finds. The grace of God was in action, bringing blessing to the local Jews and also to the Gentile population as they had heard and accepted the good news. True to his name, he gave them all the encouragement that he could. Missionaries and converts had started well. The number of converts grew rapidly. Soon the scale of Barnabas’ responsibility was such that he couldn’t discharge his duties single-handedly. He had to find a partner in the ministry.

Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, [26] and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch. Acts 11:25-26 (NIV)

A high school football coach recently asked me to come and speak to his team. The first thing I said to them was, “Thank you for sticking your neck out. Thanks for taking a risk to represent your school and community on the field. It’s much safer to sit in the stands and watch.”


In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul. [2] While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them." [3] So after they had fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them off. Acts 13:1-3 (NIV)

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