Acts 4:32-37, "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. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. 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, And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. 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, Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet."
Real Name Joses- Apostle surnamed him Barnabas- which means "the son of consolation." Consolation-definition: a comforter, and encourager, solace. Also translated into the English: exhortation. This was an earned name. It was a name given by the Apostles to Joses that he had earned by his example. Thus, the first thing we learn about Barnabas is that as a believer he exhorted, encouraged and comforted others. Everlasting consolation and good hope is given to us by the Father through His grace (2 Thessalonians 2:16), therefore Barnabas was very Christ-like in being the "Son of Consolation." Barnabas was a Levite. He as a Jew of the tribe of Levi. Barnabas was from Cyprus. Cyprus is a country that is actually an Island. It is the closest Island to Israel. It is about 250 miles from Jerusalem. Barnabas was a land owner. He sold his land, and brought the money to the apostles so they could use it to make distribution to those who were in need. This is a picture of perfection. (See Matthew 19:21). It is often excruciating for people to live who are poor and never have enough to meet their needs. It is a great comfort when someone comes along and gives to their needs. It is consoling. That is one reason why Barnabas was the "son of consolation."
II. Barnabas Befriends Paul (Saul) - COURAGE
In Acts 9:1-22 we read of the conversion of Saul to Christ. After Saul preached and proved that Jesus was Christ he was opposed by Jewry. Let's pick up the story there:
Acts 9:23-28, "And after that many days were fulfilled, the Jews took counsel to kill him: But their laying await was known of Saul. And they watched the gates day and night to kill him. Then the disciples took him by night, and let him down by the wall in a basket. And when Saul was come to Jerusalem, he assayed to join himself to the disciples: but they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus. And he was with them coming in and going out at Jerusalem."
The disciples at Jerusalem didn't believe Saul was a disciple. He had persecuted the church and had consented unto the death of Stephen. He had hailed men and women who were believers and imprisoned them and persecuted them to the death. Now he was saved and immediately started preaching Christ. Speculation was that he couldn't be trusted. The believers were afraid. When Saul escaped Damascus and finally ended up in Jerusalem, Barnabas took him and brought to the apostles. Barnabas had already earned the trust of the apostles. When he presented Saul to them he was received and continued with them going in and out at Jerusalem. Barnabas shared Saul's conversion testimony with the Apostles and told them of the great work Saul was doing.
Do you know of a believer who needs to be accepted in the church? Why not befriend him or her, no matter what others may think of them. This is what Barnabas did for Saul. Thank God he did.
III. Barnabas Visits Antioch - CHRISTIAN
As time went on in Barnabas life, after a period of silence, Saul (Paul) left Jerusalem and dwelt at Tarsus. Barnabas stayed in Jerusalem. The church at Jerusalem heard about a great revival at Antioch, (Acts 11:19-21). Let's pick up the story from here:
Acts 11:22-26, "Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch."
By now Barnabas had become one of the great men at Jerusalem. When the church heard of the great revival in Antioch, they sent Barnabas to check it out. Antioch is in the country of Syria, about 300 miles directly north of Jerusalem. Of course, Jerusalem was now a part of Syria, Israel being in captivity. Barnabas began to labor alone at Antioch among the church. When he got to Antioch, he had "seen the grace of God" upon the church there. Would to God that His grace was visible and obvious upon every church, but it is not. Many fail of the grace of God (Hebrews 12:15), and thus they are powerless.
Churches need the grace of God if they are going to make it, 2 Corinthians 8:1, "Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia;" God's grace is bestowed upon churches. Would you pray right now for your church, and often, for the Lord to bestow His grace upon your church? Hebrews 4:16 promises, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." May what Barnabas saw at Antioch be seen of your church.
Barnabas then encouraged the church at Antioch to cleave to the Lords with purpose of heart. The Christian life must be done on purpose. It does not just happen by chance. Regarding salvation, the Lord cleaves to us, (John 10:27-30). Regarding the Christian life, we must cleave to Him! (Job 13:15; Romans 12:9).
Barnabas is further described to us in this story:
A. A Good Man. We saw under point 1 that part of his goodness was doing good to others. Consoling them. Giving money to the needy brethren.
B. Full of the Holy Ghost. Very few people in the scriptures are described this way.
1. Jesus - Luke 4:1
2. The Deacons at Jerusalem - Acts 6:3
3. Stephen - Acts 6:5; 7:55
4. Barnabas - 11:24
C. Full of Faith. Barnabas and Stephen are the only ones in the Bible said to be full of faith. These observations do not mean that others weren't, just that these definitely were.
D. Much People were Added to the Lord. The Result of Barnabas' life and ministry were that many were added to the Lord through his gospel preaching and soul-winning. This is a great goal for any man to have. Barnabas then leaves Antioch for a short time to seek Saul. Saul had ended up living in Tarsus. Tarsus was Saul's hometown, (Acts 9:11; 21:39; 22:3), and birthplace. Tarsus was about 100 miles from Antioch. Perhaps Barnabas knew he needed help and that Saul was the man to help him build up the saints at Antioch. When Barnabas found Saul he brought him back to Antioch to the work. We do not know what Saul was doing back in his hometown of Tarsus. There have been many suggestions here that are presumptive. We should not make some suggestions. It does appear though that Barnabas led Saul through the early years of his Christian life. (As we saw also under point II). Thank God for friends like Barnabas who lead us to the work! What was their work? Barnabas and Saul spent a whole year teaching the assembled church the word of God. A one-year Bible Conference! Result: Disciples were called Christians for the first time ever in history at Antioch. The Biblical succession of things then is this: We are believers first, disciples (students of Christ and His words) second, Christians last. The word Christian means "one like Christ, a little Christ." It is probably the most misused word in the world. The thing to note is: Barnabas produced Christians.
IV. Barnabas takes Relief to the Poor in Judaea- CONFIDENCE
Acts 11:27-30, "And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch. And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of Claudius Caesar. Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto the brethren which dwelt in Judaea: Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul."
Some preachers from the church at Jerusalem traveled northward to Antioch to visit the church there. Barnabas and Saul were still at Antioch. Soon we will see that they had become members and servants in that church. These preachers were prophets. They had the God given gift of predicting the future. One of the prophets, Agabus, signified that there would be a great dearth throughout the land soon. It came to pass. Saints at Jerusalem were already quite poor as we saw under point one. This would make it almost unbearable. It is interesting how the church at Jerusalem now came to the church at Antioch where the Son of Consolation, Barnabas, was now serving. The disciples at Antioch, every one of them according to their ability first determined, then gave, then sent it to Jerusalem. Each believer should give benevolence as they are able. This is done through the church at times or in secret, Matthew 6:1-4 says, "Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himselfshall reward thee openly."
After the collection was made, they put it into the hands of Barnabas and Saul who delivered it to the elders in Jerusalem 300 miles away. How would you like that responsibility? If this trip was made on foot, it may have taken 10 days. The church at Antioch must have had CONFIDENCE in Barnabas and Saul. They were faithful men.
There were others in the Bible like them. Here's some Examples:
- During the days of Jehoida the Priest. 878 B.C. 2 Kings 12:15, "Moreover they reckoned not with the men, into whose hand they delivered the money to be bestowed on workmen: for they dealt faithfully."
- During the days of Josiah the King. 641 B.C. 2 Kings 22:7, "Howbeit there was no reckoning made with them of the money that was delivered into their hand, because they dealt faithfully."
- Nehemiah's Integrity. Nehemiah 5:15, "But the former governors that had been before me were chargeable unto the people, and had taken of them bread and wine, beside forty shekels of silver; yea, even their servants bare rule over the people: but so did not I, because of the fear of God."
How unlike the ungodly testimony regarding Judas Iscariot- John 12:4-6, "Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein." Judas didn't car for the poor, but Barnabas and Saul did. Saul (Paul) would later write in 2 Corinthians 7:2, "Receive us; we have wronged no man, we have corrupted no man, we have defrauded no man."
Are you faithful with your money, or the money of others that is entrusted to You? Are you a man of honesty and integrity? You should be. God is watching you. How you handle money is a Divine test of whether God will give you the true riches or not. Consider the question of our Lord in Luke 16:11, "If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches?" Better be faithful and be a man whom others can have confidence in! Otherwise you will be a pain to all around you. Proverbs 25:19, "Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint."
V. Barnabas Stays at Jerusalem- COMPLETION
Acts 12:24, "But the word of God grew and multiplied. And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark."
Barnabas and Saul, as we last saw, came to Jerusalem (Acts 11:30) with the offering from the Christians at Antioch for the relief of the poor. They stayed there in Jerusalem through all the events of Acts 12. Therefore they were witnesses in Jerusalem to at least these three events.
A. The Martyrdom of James the Brother of John.
Persecution of the church. Acts 12:1-2, "Now about that time Herod the king stretched forth his hands to vex certain of the church. And he killed James the brother of John with the sword."
B. The imprisonment and miraculous deliverance of Peter from Jail by the churches' prayers.
Prayers of the church. Acts 12:3-19, "And because he saw it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to take Peter also. Then were the days of unleavened bread. And when he had apprehended him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four quaternions of soldiers to keep him; intending after Easter to bring him forth to the people. Peter therefore was kept in prison: but prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him. And when Herod would have brought him forth, the same night Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains: and the keepers before the door kept the prison. And, behold, the angel of the Lord came upon him, and a light shined in the prison: and he smote Peter on the side, and raised him up, saying, Arise up quickly. And his chains fell off from his hands. And the angel said unto him, Gird thyself, and bind on thy sandals. And so he did. And he saith unto him, Cast thy garment about thee, and follow me. And he went out, and followed him; and wist not that it was true which was done by the angel; but thought he saw a vision. When they were past the first and the second ward, they came unto the iron gate that leadeth unto the city; which opened to them of his own accord: and they went out, and passed on through one street; and forthwith the angel departed from him. And when Peter was come to himself, he said, Now I know of a surety, that the Lord hath sent his angel, and hath delivered me out of the hand of Herod, and from all the expectation of the people of the Jews. 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. And as Peter knocked at the door of the gate, a damsel came to hearken, named Rhoda. And when she knew Peter's voice, she opened not the gate for gladness, but ran in, and told how Peter stood before the gate. And they said unto her, Thou art mad. But she constantly affirmed that it was even so. Then said they, It is his angel. But Peter continued knocking: and when they had opened the door, and saw him, they were astonished. But he, beckoning unto them with the hand to hold their peace, declared unto them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, Go shew these things unto James, and to the brethren. And he departed, and went into another place. Now as soon as it was day, there was no small stir among the soldiers, what was become of Peter. And when Herod had sought for him, and found him not, he examined the keepers, and commanded that they should be put to death. And he went down from Judaea to Caesarea, and there abode.
It could very well be that Barnabas and Saul were in that gathering who prayed for Peter. (Acts 12:5,12). Maybe this helped to increase the faith of both men in prayer. Saul certainly learned to pray when he was imprisoned later in Acts 16:25.
C. The Death of Herod because of his pride.
Prideful Destruction of the king. Acts 12:20-23, "And Herod was highly displeased with them of Tyre and Sidon: but they came with one accord to him, and, having made Blastus the king's chamberlain their friend, desired peace; because their country was nourished by the king's country. And upon a set day Herod, arrayed in royal apparel, sat upon his throne, and made an oration unto them. And the people gave a shout, saying, It is the voice of a god, and not of a man. And immediately the angel of the Lord smote him, because he gave not God the glory: and he was eaten of worms, and gave up the ghost."
It was after these three events of persecution, prayer and pride that a reviving came. "But the word of God grew and multiplied." v24. Persecution has always had a good effect on the church. It makes us pray, takes care of situations and brings revival. Then it is said that Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, 300 miles north again to Antioch, but they left Jerusalem "when they had fulfilled their ministry." That's COMPLETION! They got the job done.
When they went back to Antioch, they took with them John, whose surname was Mark. Mark was one of Barnabas' relatives. Colossians 4:10, "Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;" Mark would be a failure in the ministry at first, and cause a major problem in Barnabas' life; but would later be a profitable man in the ministry. Most believe that he would write the gospel of Mark. Mark's mothers name was Mary. (Acts 12:12).
VI. Barnabas Ordained to the Ministry- CALLED
Acts 13:1-3, "Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away."
We see by the text that Barnabas ended up joining himself to the Church at Antioch, 300 miles to the north of the Church at Jerusalem, his first church. Sometimes several churches are a part of a person's life in Christ. This needs to be according to the will of God, not the result of "church-hopping." We don't know how long Barnabas was in the Church at Antioch with Saul (Paul), but we know they served as prophets and teachers. The church must have a balance of preaching and teaching. Preaching often mobilizes and motivates the troops to do right and live right. Teaching educates the troops how to do right and live right. The Lord had raised up 5 men who were used in this church to do preaching and teaching:
There was a diversity in the church. There is not supposed to be such a thing as a "White Church" or a "Black Church" or a "Messianic Church" etc. The church is supposed to receive every believer no matter what they are. It should be noted that Barnabas was a minister in a local church before being called into the ministry. Verse 2 says, "As they ministered..." It was while Barnabas was busy for God faithfully serving Him that God called him. Fasting was a part of their ministering, before (v2) and during their ordination (v3). In the midst of their ministering and fasting... then... the Holy Spirit called Barnabas and Saul for "the work whereunto I have called them."
To find the concealed will of God for your life, you must first be faithfully doing the Revealed will of God. Don't wait around for a call, get busy and listen for a call. It should be noted that just as real as Barnabas and Saul were called to missions work, Simeon, Manaen and Lucius were not. They stayed in the church at Antioch and kept faithfully serving God. Not everyone is called to leave a church. Some are to stay in it the rest of their lives and work for God.
After the call, the church laid hands on them ordaining them to their ministry. Actually the laying on of hands is just the churches approval publicly of those whom God has already approved. This should not be done suddenly. 1 Timothy 5:22, "Lay hands suddenly on no man, neither be partaker of other men's sins: keep thyself pure." Nobody should be in a hurry to be ordained, nor should the church ordain people. It is a sin. It could destroy someone also. 1 Timothy 3:6, "Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil." Some historians believe that Barnabas and Saul were in this Church at Antioch for 10 years before they were ordained.
Then the church sent them away , v3, but more important, so did the Holy Spirit. Verse 4a says, "So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost..." many a man has destroyed his life who wasn't sent by the Church and by the Holy Ghost, but by his own will.
VII. Barnabas Mission Trip with Paul and Mark- CONFLICT & CONVERSIONS
Acts 13:4-12, "So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto Seleucia; and from thence they sailed to Cyprus. And when they were at Salamis, they preached the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews: and they had also John to their minister. And when they had gone through the isle unto Paphos, they found a certain sorcerer, a false prophet, a Jew, whose name was Bar-jesus: Which was with the deputy of the country, Sergius Paulus, a prudent man; who called for Barnabas and Saul, and desired to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer for so is his name by interpretation withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith. Then Saul, who also is called Paul, filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, And said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand. Then the deputy, when he saw what was done, believed, being astonished at the doctrine of the Lord."
Barnabas and Saul after their ordination were sent out by the Holy Ghost. They went to Seleucia and then to Cyprus. Barnabas was from Cyprus, (Acts 4:36). They then sailed to Salamis. All this time they preached the Word of God in the Synagogues of the Jews. John Mark accompanied Barnabas and Saul as a minister to them. When they reached the Island of Paphos we see their personal work for Jesus. They meet two characters. One named Bar-Jesus, also named Elymas who gives them conflict. The other is Sergius Paulus, a prudent man, who desired to hear the word of God. He gets converted. Elymas is described as a sorcerer, a false prophet who withstood Barnabas and Saul. He sought to turn the deputy, Sergius Paulus, away from the faith. Paul, filled with the Holy Ghost, declared of Elymas: He was full of subtilty, mischief and a child of the devil. He was an enemy of all righteousness who constantly perverted the right ways of the Lord. Barnabas faced opposition and conflict in his missionary work and soul-winning efforts. Paul's pronouncement against Elymas led to Elymas being blind for a season, the judgement of God. Sergius Paulus, on the other hand was a good man, but still lost. He is described as a deputy of the country. A deputy was the representative of the highest officer of the land. He as a prudent man- very wise in his business affairs. He called for the men of God because he was seeking the Lord. He had a desire to hear the Word of God. As a result of his seeking, there was a conversion. Elymas suffered the judgement of God, but Sergius Paulus received the grace of God, believing in the Lord.
We need to realize that like Barnabas, our ministries and soul-winning will be opposed by some and received by others. Some people are full of the devil other are full of desire. There will be conflicts and conversions.
VIII. Barnabas' work with Paul in Antioch of Pisidia-CONTINUANCE
Barnabas continues to travel with Paul and John Mark. These travels are documented in Acts 13:13-14. They left Paphos and went to Perga in a region called Pamphylia. It was here that John Mark departed from them and went back to Jerusalem. In other words, he went home. This would later cause a great contention between Barnabas and Paul. When they left Perga, they came to Antioch in the region of Pisidia, where our next story takes place. This is not to be confused with the Antioch that is in Syria where their home church was. Here Paul preached. The record of the sermon is in Acts 13:15-41. Then we see Barnabas work with Paul at Antioch in Pisidia. Acts 13:42-43, "And when the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. Now when the congregation was broken up, many of the Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God." Barnabas and Paul were ministering to the Jews in the synagogue of Antioch. Gentiles, of course, were not let in there. When the Jews were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles asked that they might be able to hear the same words preached to them the next Sabbath. This meeting in the synagogue of the Jews gained some converts it appears. When the congregation broke up to go home, some stayed back. Jews and religious proselytes. A proselyte was a person who embraced Judaism and converted wholly to it. These Jews and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas.
It is not wrong to follow spiritual leaders:
The word followers means to be "imitators." Barnabas and Paul continued to speak to them. They persuaded them to continue in the Grace of God. God's grace does not end at salvation, it begins there. In the scriptures there are references to Saving Grace, Living Grace and Dying Grace. We are to practice all three. Grace means "enablings, resources, power." It is the resources of God, the enabling of God and the power of God available to us in every experience or need. Hebrews 4:16, "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."
IX. Barnabas and Paul met with the Gentiles at Antioch of Pisidia- MORE CONFLICT AND CONVERSIONS
Acts 13:44-52, "And the next sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming. Then Paul and Barnabas waxed bold, and said, It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles. For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth. And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed. And the word of the Lord was published throughout all the region. But the Jews stirred up the devout and honourable women, and the chief men of the city, and raised persecution against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts. But they shook off the dust of their feet against them, and came unto Iconium. And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost."
During the week between Barnabas and Paul's meeting with the Jews in the synagogue and the Gentiles the next Sabbath, apparently word really got around. When the next Sabbath came it says "almost the whole city together to hear the word of God." Barnabas and Paul maybe spent the week promoting the meeting.
When the Jews saw the large numbers listening to these men of God they were filled with envy. Envy is a wicked sin. Envy is rooted in pride and is a strong feeling of ill will at another's good fortune because one wishes it had been his. It is dislike for a person who has what one has. The Bible excoriates envy:
Proverbs 14:30, "A sound heart is the life of the flesh: but envy the rottenness of the bones."
Proverbs 27:4, "Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy?"
Matthew 17:18, "And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour."
Mark 15:10, "For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy."
Acts 7:9, "And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt: but God was with him,"
Acts 17:5, "But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people."
Romans 1:29, "Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,"
1 Timothy 6:4, "He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,"
Titus 3:3, "For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another."
Romans 13:13, "Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying."
1 Corinthians 3:3, "For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?"
Galatians 5:19-21, "Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God."
Galatians 5:26, "Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another."
James 3:14-16, "But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work."
The envy of the Jews caused conflict with Barnabas and Paul. We should not be envious if other churches increase in numbers or become much larger than ours. Instead we should thank God for it! The Jews contradicted and blasphemed the message of Barnabas and Paul. Sometimes the enemies of Christ attack the messenger. Sometimes the message. Here it was the message. Barnabas and Paul didn't become faint, but became bold. In one of the most significant events in human history, Barnabas and Paul turned their ministry to the gentiles. This was in God's divine plan for their life as well as His commandment for them. When the Gentiles heard this they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. Many believed and were saved. This great conflict again led to many converts. These converts then led to more conflict. The Jews stirred up the devout and honorable women against Barnabas and Paul. These high-society and distinguished women opposed the ministry of Barnabas and Paul. Now the persecution was not against the message, but against the messengers. Aided by the chief men of the city they expelled Barnabas and Paul out of their coasts. Sometimes men of God face opposition from men, sometimes from women. Sometimes it is severe. As they left Antioch in Pisidia they shook off the dust of their feet against them. This is symbolic of leaving them to the judgement of God and is obedience to the words of our Lord:
Matthew 10:14-15, "And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city."
Mark 6:11, "And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear you, when ye depart thence, shake off the dust under your feet for a testimony against them. Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city."
Luke 9:5, "And whosoever will not receive you, when ye go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet for a testimony against them."
Luke 10:11, "Even the very dust of your city, which cleaveth on us, we do wipe off against you: notwithstanding be ye sure of this, that the kingdom of God is come nigh unto you."
They left Antioch in Pisidia and came to Iconium. It is stated that through conflict and conversions, the disciples were filled with Joy and with the Holy Ghost. If believers today would quit fighting with each other, and start fighting together for the gospel their would be much more joy in the churches today.
X. Barnabas and Paul's Ministry at Iconium - MORE CONFLICT AND CONVERSION AGAIN.
Acts 14:1-7, "And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the Jews, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the Jews and also of the Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles, and made their minds evil affected against the brethren. Long time therefore abode they speaking boldly in the Lord, which gave testimony unto the word of his grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done by their hands. But the multitude of the city was divided: and part held with the Jews, and part with the apostles. And when there was an assault made both of the Gentiles, and also of the Jews with their rulers, to use them despitefully, and to stone them, They were ware of it, and fled unto Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and unto the region that lieth round about: And there they preached the gospel."
Every where Barnabas and Paul went it was either Revival or Riot and usually both. Here there is a great Revival. Multitudes both of Jews and Greeks believed, v1. Unbelievers got mad and turned against their ministry, v2. Barnabas stayed there a long time though, despite the opposition and spoke boldly in the Lord, v3. The city became divided over Christ and the gospel. Jesus once said, Matthew 10:34-35, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law." Here a whole city is divided, v4.
Don't be deceived by those who teach that Christ came to bring unity to all people. Unbelieving Jews and Gentiles finally assaulted God's messengers after opposing the message. They intended to stone Barnabas and Paul. Barnabas and Paul heard of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe and the region around those cities. They didn't quit or get timid, but preached the gospel there, v5-7. These same opposers would catch up with Barnabas and Paul at Lystra and stone Paul, almost killing him.
XI. Barnabas and Paul Misunderstood at Lystra. CONSTERNATION.
Acts 14:8-18, "And there sat a certain man at Lystra, impotent in his feet, being a cripple from his mother's womb, who never had walked: The same heard Paul speak: who stedfastly beholding him, and perceiving that he had faith to be healed, Said with a loud voice, Stand upright on thy feet. And he leaped and walked. And when the people saw what Paul had done, they lifted up their voices, saying in the speech of Lycaonia, The gods are come down to us in the likeness of men. And they called Barnabas, Jupiter; and Paul, Mercurius, because he was the chief speaker. Then the priest of Jupiter, which was before their city, brought oxen and garlands unto the gates, and would have done sacrifice with the people. Which when the apostles, Barnabas and Paul, heard of, they rent their clothes, and ran in among the people, crying out, And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein: Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways. Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness. And with these sayings scarce restrained they the people, that they had not done sacrifice unto them."
Because of the healing of a crippled man, Barnabas and Paul are revered by the superstitious people of Lystra as gods. It is interesting to note that Barnabas was called Jupiter. Jupiter was the greatest god in Greek mythology. He must have made quite an impression on these people for them to call him Jupiter. Even the priest of Jupiter brought oxen and garlands and was going to sacrifice to Barnabas and Paul. This caused great consternation to Barnabas and Paul who rent their clothes and ran in among the people and just barely stopped them. They preached that they should turn from this vanity to the living God (Repentance). Paul was called mercurius because he was the chief speaker, but Jupiter was greater than Mercurius in Greek mythology. Mercurious was a lesser god who delivered messages to other gods for Jupiter. This indicates that Barnabas was probably considered the one in charge of this missionary journey and that Paul was under his wing in training.
XII. End of the Missionary Journey. CONFIRMATION.
Acts 14:19-28, "And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead. Howbeit, as the disciples stood round about him, he rose up, and came into the city: and the next day he departed with Barnabas to Derbe. And when they had preached the gospel to that city, and had taught many, they returned again to Lystra, and to Iconium, and Antioch, Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed. And after they had passed throughout Pisidia, they came to Pamphylia. And when they had preached the word in Perga, they went down into Attalia: And thence sailed to Antioch, from whence they had been recommended to the grace of God for the work which they fulfilled. And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. And there they abode long time with the disciples."
Protestant churches often have Confirmation classes. They get this practice from v22 - "Confirming the souls of the disciples..." Their missionary journey ends after going from Lystra to Derbe, back to Lystra, to Iconium, Antioch, Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga, Attalia and then to Antioch. They preached the gospel, taught many, confirmed the souls of the disciples (gave them assurance), exhorted them to continue in the faith, ordained elders, fulfilled their work. When they returned to the church at Antioch they rehearsed all that God had done with them. This is still the practice of missionaries today. They then stayed with the disciples at Antioch for a long time.
XIII. Barnabas Fights for the Purity of the Gospel at Jerusalem. CONTENDING.
Acts 15:1-21, "And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they. Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day."
The believer is to "earnestly contend for the faith" (Jude 1:3). This is especially true regarding salvation. This is what Barnabas did with Paul. Very valiantly they had "no small dissension and disputation" with certain men which came to Antioch from Judaea teaching that circumcision must be added to grace for salvation, v1,2. As a result of their contending with these men it was decided that a group should go down to Jerusalem to discuss this doctrine with the apostles and elders at Jerusalem. This included Barnabas and Paul, v2. The Church helped them on this trip, v3. As they went through towns and villages, they declared the conversion of the gentiles. There was great joy. Arriving at Jerusalem, Barnabas and Paul reported to the Church at Jerusalem all that God had done with them, v4. WITH is the important word. 1 Corinthians 3:9 says, "For we are labourers together with God: ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building." Some Pharisees who had gotten saved, still couldn't give up the law and promoted circumcision and keeping the law even among the gentile believers, v5. These Pharisees were saved, but doctrinally wrong. The apostles and elders came together to discuss this matter as reasonable men, v6, but ended up in much disputing - v7a. Sounds like typical men. Peter's discourse follows, v7-11. He concludes that we are saved by grace. Barnabas and Paul report, v12. They declare what God had done through them as they worked among the gentiles. Miracles and wonders! Would to God He would work with us and we would work with Him and see miracles and wonders! James discourse, v13-21. He advises that gentile converts not be troubled with the law. He admonishes that the gentiles be written to and that in writing they be told to abstain from pollutions of idols, from fornication, from things strangled and from blood. They are told these things in writing, not because they should keep these parts of the law, but to not offend others, because there are followers of the law in every city. They needed to be a good testimony. The same is true today. It may be okay to do certain things, but if it would offend one and keep them from coming to Christ, we should abstain from those activities.
Paul taught in 1 Corinthians 9:18-23, "What is my reward then? Verily that, when I preach the gospel, I may make the gospel of Christ without charge, that I abuse not my power in the gospel. For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; To them that are without law, as without law, being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ, that I might gain them that are without law. To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you."
Our behavior should not offend the lost, as the elders were concerned about in this story, but it should not offend the saved. The entire chapter of Romans 14 should be studied out here. Let's look at a few excerpts from that chapter:
Romans 14:13, "Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way."
Romans 14:15, "But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died."
Romans 14:20-21, "For meat destroy not the work of God. All things indeed are pure; but it is evil for that man who eateth with offence. It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak."
Another similar text is the 8th chapter of 1 Corinthians. Here are a few highlights from it:
1 Corinthians 8:7, "Howbeit there is not in every man that knowledge: for some with conscience of the idol unto this hour eat it as a thing offered unto an idol; and their conscience being weak is defiled."
1 Corinthians 8:9-13, "But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol's temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; And through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend."
XIV. Barnabas Heads Back to Antioch with the Good News- CONSOLING AND CONTINUING.
Acts 15:22-35, "Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barnabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation. And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them. And after they had tarried there a space, they were let go in peace from the brethren unto the apostles. Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still. Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also."
The Churches had become quite unsettled over the false doctrine of some Pharisees which had become believers. They taught that even Gentiles needed to be circumcised and keep the law. A council was held in Jerusalem. It was determined, as we saw, that this was all wrong. That we are saved solely through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, by Faith in Him.
The Church at Antioch was probably anxiously waiting for word from Jerusalem on this issue. The Church at Jerusalem sent chosen men of their company to Antioch with Barnabas and Paul. Their names were Judas and Silas, v22. Their mission was to bring in writing the counsel of the elders at the Church at Jerusalem regarding this issue, to settle the matter. This they did and the matter was settled.
In the letter sent, Barnabas and Paul are called "beloved." The Church should love dearly the missionary. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, "And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. And be at peace among yourselves." Barnabas and Paul are also called "men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." v26. When the letter was read in Antioch, "they rejoiced for the consolation." v31. It is consoling to hear sound doctrine and to hear that you are right. False doctrine can unsettle someone, especially when it comes from other religions "leaders," in this case converted Pharisees. Judas and Silas, who were prophets in the Church at Jerusalem, v32, confirmed what was written by their preaching. After some time, Judas returned to Jerusalem, but Silas stayed at Antioch. Silas would become Paul's partner on his 2nd and 3rd missionary trips. Paul and Barnabas stayed at Antioch preaching the word of the Lord with many others also. The Scripture says they "continued." v35.
XV. Barnabas Falls Out of Fellowship with Paul- CONTENTION.
Acts 15:36-41, "And some days after Paul said unto Barnabas, Let us go again and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they do. And Barnabas determined to take with them John, whose surname was Mark. But Paul thought not good to take him with them, who departed from them from Pamphylia, and went not with them to the work. And the contention was so sharp between them, that they departed asunder one from the other: and so Barnabas took Mark, and sailed unto Cyprus; And Paul chose Silas, and departed, being recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God. And he went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches."
As great of a man as Barnabas was, the best of men are men at best. The last mention of Barnabas in the book of Acts is here in this story. It is a sad on indeed. He seems to fall out of fellowship with not only Paul, but also the church, if you read the story carefully. After days of preaching and teaching at the Church in Antioch, Paul decides it is time to set out on their 2nd missionary trip. He fully intends to do it again with Barnabas, v36. The idea was to follow up on the brethren in every city they had preached in and see how they were doing. Barnabas was determined to take John Mark with them. John Mark was his nephew. Colossians 4:10, "Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;" Paul didn't think that was a good idea. They had taken John Mark with them before, but he left the ministry and probably caused some difficulties: Acts 12:25, "And Barnabas and Saul returned from Jerusalem, when they had fulfilled their ministry, and took with them John, whose surname was Mark." Acts 13:13, "Now when Paul and his company loosed from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia: and John departing from them returned to Jerusalem."
The contention between these two great men, Paul and Barnabas, was so sharp that this great team was split up and they are never known to have walked together again. Where does contention come from? Proverbs 13:10 says, "Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom." Yes, one or both of these men had the sin of pride in them. It appears that it was Barnabas, for Paul took Silas with him and was "recommended by the brethren unto the grace of God and they went through Silicia and Syria confirming the Churches." These statements are not made of Barnabas. It only says of him that he took Mark and Sailed to Cyprus. This is a sad way to end our history of Barnabas. We must remember that the older we get in the Lord, the higher our standing becomes in the Church, the more works we accomplish for God - the greater our temptation to pride will be. Then pride leads to contentions with others. Barnabas must have done some good after this, though nothing is mentioned of him. Certainly Mark, whom he took with him became a great man of God. Consider these three accomplishments:
1. Mark wrote the gospel of Mark.
2. Mark was a blessing to Peter and other Churches - 1 Peter 5:13, "The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, saluteth you; and so doth Marcus my son."
3. Though Paul took Silas with him, and didn't want Mark to go with him, later Mark became a great help to Paul. Philemon 1:24, "Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers." Colossians 4:10, "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 Timothy 4:11, "Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry."
Paul must have eventually given Mark another chance. Barnabas also gave his nephew another chance. Let's be like them. Quitters can become Giants for God, if we'll give them another chance. So Barnabas influenced many, but the most prominent of his successes were Paul and Mark. Thank God for Barnabas!
XVI. One Other Fault- COMPROMISE.
Somewhere in his ministry, Barnabas fell for a moment, concerning some spiritual truth. He went with the crowd for a moment, rather than sticking with the truth. Let's read:
Galatians 2:1-13, "Then fourteen years after I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and took Titus with me also. And I went up by revelation, and communicated unto them that gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to them which were of reputation, lest by any means I should run, or had run, in vain. But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised: And that because of false brethren unawares brought in, who came in privily to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, that they might bring us into bondage: To whom we gave place by subjection, no, not for an hour; that the truth of the gospel might continue with you. But of these who seemed to be somewhat, whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man's person: for they who seemed [to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles: And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision. Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do. But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation."
In v13, it says that Barnabas was carried away with their dissimulation. That means hypocrisy. He became like the crowd he was in for convenience sake, rather than standing for the truth's sake.
Barnabas must be considered one of the great early leaders of the New testament Church in the first century. Paul clearly taught that his standing was so high in the Church that Barnabas didn't have to work.
1 Corinthians 9:6-9, "Or I only and Barnabas, have not we power to forbear working? Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock? Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also? For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?"