Some of them, however, men from Cyprus and Cyrene, went to Antioch and began to speak to Greeks also, telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus. The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.
News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.
Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.
Acts 11: 20-26
Joseph was Barnabas’ given name. However, Joseph earned the nickname “Son of Encouragement,” or Barnabas, from the Jewish believers in Jerusalem. Everyone needs an encourager in their life. He was also responsible for bringing many new believers to the Lord. I imagine that Jesus told Barnabas “Good Job, Faithful Servant” when they eventually met face-to-face. He is still providing encouragement for us today ~ almost 2,000 years later!
When Paul first went to Jerusalem after his conversion, the disciples were very reluctant to agree to meet with him because of his fierce reputation as a persecutor of believers. They were cynical that he had not changed. Barnabas was the person who risked his own life and convinced the disciples to meet with him (Acts 9:26-27). Barnabas knew that Jesus had total possession of Paul’s heart and soul. What a tremendous act of bravery. Barnabas may not have been a main character in the Bible like Peter and Paul but he sure did have a key role in bringing Christianity to the world. We should strive to model our lives after Barnabas and become encouragers for those around us. Everyone needs a Barnabas!
As outlined in the verses above, Barnabas spent a year with Paul in Antioch. Barnabas went with Paul on his first missionary trip. I often wonder at the energy that Paul and Barnabas had in their mission to spread the Good News. I read a statistic that all of Paul’s mission trips that were recorded in the New Testament (and that’s not all of his trips!) would equal at least 13,400 airline miles often over very rough and hostile terrain ~ and that’s a conservative estimate. If each of us would log just a fraction (a small, tiny fraction) of the miles that Paul did, think of how many lost souls we could reach.