People Who Were There
Message #10 in a series on New Testament Personalities

Barnabus

Read : Acts 4:32, 36-37; 9:26-27; 11:22-30; 15:36-41

Text : Acts 11:24 (KJV) For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord.

Theme : Barnabus encouraged individual believers, and God greatly used that to build His church.


Introduction:

In our study of New Testament personalities, we now move from those who knew Jesus Christ directly, to those who were instrumental in the birth and growth of His church.

Two such individuals are discussed in our scriptures for today: Saul and Barnabus. We can learn much from studying each of them individually. We can also learn much from studying them together.

QUESTION - What would you say, did Paul and Barnabus have in common?

QUESTION - What would you say was the difference between Paul and Barnabus?

QUESTION - There came a time when the two parted company in disagreement. Before we get into the study this morning, which of the two do you believe was right?

We will learn from out study today, that Barnabus "was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord."

We will learn from out study today that Barnabus encouraged individual believers, and God greatly used that to build His church.


I. Barnabus giving (Acts 4:32, 36-37)

A. A needy church
QUESTION - What do we learn about the early church?

1. Growing (Acts 4:4)

2. Persecuted (Acts 4:5f)

3. United

QUESTION - What was a great evidence of their unity here?

ANSWER - Their sharing of possessions.

QUESTION - What do you think of this sharing? Is it similar to the socialism that is taught by some governments and politicians today?

ANSWER - NO, for this sharing was voluntary.

B. A giving man.
QUESTION - What do we learn of Barnabus from these verses?

1. Generous (vs. 37)

2. An encourager (vs. 36)

- This is a gift of the Spirit (cf. Rom 12:8 (KJV) Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness.

- And a responsibility of pastors (cf. 1 Tim 4:13 (KJV) Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine.

3. A Levite (vs. 36)

4. From Cyprus (vs. 36)

5. Had relatives in Jerusalem

Acts 12:12 (KJV) And when he had considered the thing, he came to the house of Mary the mother of John, whose surname was Mark; where many were gathered together praying.

Col 4:10 (KJV) Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)

II. Barnabus Mediating (Acts 9:26-27)

A. A frightened church (vs. 26)
QUESTION - Was the fear of the church justified? Why?

1. Saul had actively pursued Christians to destroy them. (cf. vss. 1-2)

2. Saul had disappeared from Jerusalem for 3 years (after leaving in search of Christians).

Gal 1:18 (KJV) Then after three years I went up to Jerusalem to see Peter, and abode with him fifteen days.

3. Saul now mysteriously claimed to be a Christian (vs. 26)

B. A mediating friend
QUESTION - What do we learn of Barnabus from this incident?

1. He had courage.

2. He was trusting.

3. He was a risk taker.

QUOTE - "Barnabus apparently was a trusting person who was willing to take a risk in order to enable a young believer to succeed."

QUOTE - "Barnabus was indeed a spiritual risktaker. He was Paul's advocate while others were suspicious."

III. Barnabus Leading (Acts 11:22-30)

A. The church at Antioch.
QUESTION - What do we know of this church?

1. Strategic - "Antioch was a strategic location for the expansion of the faith. A city probably numbering 500,000, it was a prosperous trading center and a melting pot of many nationalities. It was the third largest city in the Roman Empire and the capital of the province of Syria. A strong witness there could eventually expand to the whole empire."

2. Growing

Acts 11:21 (KJV) And the hand of the Lord was with them: and a great number believed, and turned unto the Lord.

3. Needed instruction (rapid growth accentuated need for good teaching).

QUESTION - Why would that be the case? Is it the case today, when we see rapid growth in a church?

B. The chosen leader.
QUESTION - What do we learn of Barnabus from these verses?

1. He preached (vs. 23)

Acts 11:23 (KJV) ... and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord.

- A message of encouragement (exhorted them)

- The need for determination (with purpose of heart)

- The need to live for Jesus (cleave unto the Lord)

2 Tim 4:2 (KJV) Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

2. He practiced what he preached. (vs. 24)

3. He won people to Christ (vs. 24)

2 Tim 4:5 (KJV) But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.

QUOTE - "He strengthened the faith of those who had previously believed and led others to Christ as well."

4. He knew when he needed help. (vs. 25)

IV. Barnabus Contending (Acts 15:36-41)

A. The church was now becoming established.
QUESTION - What do we learn about the church of Jesus Christ from these verses?

1. It was fragile. (vs. 36 - Paul knew that constant encouragement and work was needed to keep the church right.)

2. It was human. (problems existed just like they do today, even amongst the great leaders that existed in that early church.)

B. The leaders were not in agreement.
QUESTION - What do we learn of Barnabus from this passage?

1. He was a man of decision. (vs. 37)

2. He was a risk taker. (vs. 39)

3. His concern was primarily with individuals, not the church as a whole. (vs. 39)

QUESTION - What do we know of Paul from this point on in the Bible?

QUESTION - What do we know of Barnabus from this point on in the Bible? (ANSWER - Nothing. He is never mentioned again.)


Conclusion:

Let's go back now, and revisit the questions we asked in the introduction.

QUESTION - What would you say was the difference between Paul and Barnabus?

ANSWER - Paul was interested in the big picture - world evangelism, the church as a whole. Barnabus saw the individual, and invested his life in them.

QUESTION - When the two parted company in disagreement, which of the two do you believe was right?

ANSWER - They both were. The church needs both. Paul's soul winning zeal was responsible for the spread of the gospel to the known world in his lifetime. And yet, without men like Barnabus, many Christians would have fallen away.

QUESTION - The last thing we know about Barnabus was that he was investing his life into John Mark. Was this a wise choice on his part?

ANSWER - Paul eventually thought so: Col 4:10 (KJV) Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;) 2 Tim 4:11 (KJV) Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry.

Barnabus "was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord."

Barnabus encouraged individual believers, and God greatly used that to build His church.

We need men like Paul, and we also need men like Barnabus. May God continue to provide both to His church, and may we always hold men like Barnabus in esteem.

God help us, like Barnabus, to invest our lives in the individuals around us.


Please direct questions, comments, and submissions to William E. Johnson
Copyright 1997 William E. Johnson.