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STUDIES IN ACTS      Studies in Acts

5. BARNABAS - a good man

"He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith" (Acts 11:24).

Joseph (Barnabas) is the type of reliable Christian that churches are built on. He had the grace and spiritual flexibility to take a second place in the Lord's work.

Consider the person
Joseph was a Levite from the island of Cyprus. He joined the church at Jerusalem and, with other Christians, sold his property and gave its proceeds to the apostles for God's work. The name the apostles gave him indicates his character and ministry – Barnabas, Son of Encouragement (Acts 4:32-36). The first example of his helpful ministry is seen in his recognition of Saul's conversion and his introduction to the apostles (Acts 9:26-27).

Study the Scriptures
Luke paints quite a full picture of Barnabas in the Acts. Study these points in their context. When the Jerusalem church sought to help the new work in Antioch they sent Barnabas, who was eminently qualified to encourage the new Christians and help the church (Acts 11:19-24). Notice that although Barnabas had a successful ministry, he co-opted Saul to help him in the work. Together they brought a famine relief gift to Jerusalem (11:25-30). Their missionary journey took them to Cyprus and Asia Minor (Acts 13:1-14:28). At first Barnabas was team leader, but later Saul took pre-eminence as Paul. Study Acts 13:2,7,43,50. Although Barnabas was prepared to give way to Paul's leadership he was not a yes-man. The contention involving his nephew, John Mark, shows another side of his character (Acts 15:36-41). His decision to give Mark a second chance proved to be right. Paul sought his fellowship when he faced martyrdom at the end of his life (2 Tim.4:11).

Ask questions

1. Luke describes Barnabas as 'a good man'. What do you understand by this?

2. What importance does God place on character? Scriptures like Rom.8:28-29 indicate God's concern for Christ-likeness.

3. Discuss the ministry of encouragement or exhortation (see Rom.12:6-8).

4. What does Acts teach about giving to God's work?

Apply some thoughts

1. Compare the ministries of Paul and Barnabas and Peter and John. Does this pairing reflect the fact that Jesus sent his disciples out in twos? (See Lk.10:1; 19:29; 22:8.)

2. Consider how partnerships could work in your church, for example, in prayer (prayer partners), evangelism (door-to-door work) and social care (visitation).

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Copyright 2008 Vernon Ralphs

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