1 Kings 18:1-19; Acts 11:19-30; Psalms 135:13-21; Proverbs 28:25-26
NT: “Now those who had been scattered as a result of the persecution that started because of Stephen made their way as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the Greeks also, proclaiming the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord. News about them reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to travel as far as Antioch. When he arrived and saw the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged all of them to remain true to the Lord with devoted hearts, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And large numbers of people were added to the Lord. Then he went to Tarsus to search for Saul, and when he found him he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught large numbers. The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch.” (Acts 11:19-26 CSB)
According to early tradition, Barnabas was a pupil of Gamaliel, as was Saul (Paul); and even attempted to convince Saul to follow Jesus before Saul’s encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus. After Saul was converted and began preaching the Gospel of Jesus and following the Way, he was run out of Damascus and tried to join the Disciples in Jerusalem. The Disciples would not allow Saul to join them because they didn’t believe that he had truly converted. They were afraid of him. It was Barnabas who believed Saul, presented him to the Disciples, and vouched for Saul’s genuine conversion. Soon after, Saul’s life became threatened in Jerusalem as well, so the church leaders sent him away to Tarsus. Barnabas was familiar with the Lord’s assignment for Saul – that Jesus was going to use Saul to bring the gospel message to the gentiles. So when an opportunity arose to disciple a community of converted gentiles in Antioch, Barnabas went to get Saul instead of taking on the responsibility on his own. Barnabas was a man who believed in the work of the Holy Spirit in others and lived to see other people released in their gifts – often to the detriment of his own platform and notoriety. So often, the people that are elevated in ministry are the people that are after their own notoriety… the people that are more concerned with promoting their own brand than believing in the call and potential in other people. I admire Barnabas‘ selflessness. We often focus on the impact that Paul made on the world, but Paul would not have had the impact he had were it not for Barnabas who encouraged and equipped Paul to become all that God had destined for him. It is so rare to encounter people like Barnabas… and so often times, they go unnoticed – quietly working behind the scenes and rarely getting recognition or attention. Being a Barnabas is not glamorous, but it is glorious. Lord, help me to be Barnabas to those in my sphere of influence.