Bending Bibles and Barbells- “Son of Exhortation”
To have your name changed to Barnabas, Son of Exhortation (comfort-encouragement), due to your actions would be quite the accomplishment. Looking more in depth to the true meaning of exhortation makes this even more incredible; an address or communication emphatically urging someone to do something. So Barnabas, formerly known as Joseph, was emphatically urging others with positive action. He was a large figure in spreading the gospel to the early church. Even more, he was a great influence to the man credited with writing much of the New Testament, Paul the Apostle. His relationship with Paul demonstrates different facets of being an encourager and comforter.
The Book of Acts documents some of Barnabas’s first actions in regards to Paul. Prior to Paul’s conversion he (Paul) was a great persecutor of Christians and actively pursued them so as to bring them to “justice.” Even Jesus asks Paul, “why do you persecute me?” As such, when Paul steps on the scene as a preacher of the gospel the disciples are unsure of his true convictions.
Acts 9:26 When he came to Jerusalem, he was trying to associate with the disciples; but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he was a disciple. 27 But Barnabas took hold of him and brought him to the apostles and described to them how he had seen the Lord on the road, and that He had talked to him, and how at Damascus he had spoken out boldly in the name of Jesus.
However, Barnabas, a man who had already made his true qualities known to the community vouched in assurance of who Paul was. After this Paul was able to move freely in Jerusalem and spread the Word. As Christians, we must be there for believers new and old. Barnabas demonstrated the power in speaking for someone. He was able to change the minds of the disciples. Can you imagine the encouragement that would have been for Paul? Paul was now empowered and on the road to making great change. What if your word alone could do that for someone? Your guarantee for someone else’s character or change of heart puts them and others on a road to greatness. Some sow, some water, and some harvest.
Now, your assertions can create change but so can your presence. This aspect has been a reality in my life. Recently I was able to spend a few hours with a friend that has had a huge impact in my life. However, due to the business that is life we have not been able to hang out in over a year. His visit was work related but his reason for attending was the chance to workout with me. It’s amazing what simple actions can generate such a huge impression. He came to workout with me. God implements meetings like this.
21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord. 22 The news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch. 23 Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord; 24 for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord. 25 And he left for Tarsus to look for Saul; 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers
Think of the encouragement Paul receives again at the hand of Barnabas. Barnabas sees what is happening in Antioch, its growth and need for continued teaching. So he heads out to find Paul and let’s not forget they didn’t just hop in cars or planes. Show up and make your presence known and see how people’s lives are changed. He found Paul so that they could preach together. He knew the Lord would move in their presence. In Matthew 18:20 it states, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” With Barnabas and Paul together they were able to teach “considerable numbers.” Move and others will move with you.
Finally, Barnabas exhibits another side of encouragement, forgiveness. In a previous time we are told that John Mark, a cousin of Barnabas, had been on mission with Barnabas and Paul. However, he left the two and went back to Jerusalem. Obviously Paul was not happy about this as it led to the dissention of Paul and Barnabas as traveling companions. This is huge if you think about what these two had been through. But, what we see outside of Paul and Barnabas is that Barnabas is able to forgive John Mark. Here is the description in Acts 15
36 After some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brethren in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John, called Mark, along with them also. 38 But Paul kept insisting that they should not take him along who had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not gone with them to the work. 39 And there occurred such a sharp disagreement that they separated from one another, and Barnabas took Mark with him and sailed away to Cyprus.
The picture that we see here is that Barnabas gives John Mark a second chance. Both Christians and non-believers can benefit from our second chances. The bible tells us to forgive immediately and way more than just twice. True forgiveness can bring about a massive encouragement that leads to enormous development in someone’s life. It shows someone that they have worth. They are important. It builds faith in an exponential manner. A person of faith demonstrates their faith and in turn increases others faith around them.
Barnabas was this to Paul and many others. Exhort others to be better than they are. Encourage people to keep pressing on. Be a Barnabas.