First we learned that finding God’s will is not a matter of finding the dot at the center of the circle of his moral will, rather it is a matter of growing in wisdom and maturity such that we are equipped to make wise choices. Then we learned from Miriam how to handle resentment in church. In this last talk, we’ll learn from Barnabas. While Miriam was more focused on getting glory than on doing good, Barnabas was more focused on doing good than on getting glory and in the process he changed the world.
- We meet Barnabas when Luke singles out Barnabas for his generous gift.
- Barnabas was a Jew born on the Island of Cyprus. As a Levite, he had no inherited land in Israel.
- To own land on Cypress would be like owning a city block in Manhattan.
- Barnabas alone opened his home and his heart to the friendless Saul/Paul.
- There is a sense in which there would be no Paul without Barnabas.
- Paul’s ministry in Jerusalem is short-lived as he creates too much trouble so he returns to Tarsus (Acts 9:28-31).
- When the Gentiles start coming to faith in large numbers in Antioch, the leaders in Jerusalem send Barnabas to evaluate the situation.
- Presumably Barnabas had passed away when Luke wrote this tribute in Acts 11:24.
- Barnabas decides the growing church needs help and he tracks down Paul and brings him to Antioch.
- Barnabas once more set aside his own ambition to encourage another in the use of his gifts.
- When famine strikes, the christian in Antioch send a contribution to the Christians in Judea in care of Barnabas & Paul (Acts 11:27-30).
- When Barnabas and Paul return to Antioch, they bring John Mark with them (Acts 12:25).
- Barnabas and Paul set on their first missionary journey bringing John Mark with them (Acts 13:1-5).
- For the first time, Paul’s name appears first and will remain first for the remainder of Acts.
- Barnabas recognized Paul’s gift and stepped aside to let Paul flourish.
Paul & Barnabas finished their journey and return home to find some men from Judea trying to yoke these new converts to the Law (Acts 15:1-2). They want all these new Gentile converts to become Jews. It was probably during this time that the incident in Galatians occurred.
- When these “law-abiding” citizens came to Antioch to visit the church, Peter is afraid and joins in their hypocrisy and even Barnabas is carried away. Notice that he says “even Barnabas”.
- The issue of Gentile believers keeping the law was debated in Jerusalem, but in time was resolved in favor of grace.
- After a brief respite, Paul proposes a second journey, but this time Barnabas stays behind.
- Barnabas insisted that Mark get another chance, just as he had insisted that Paul himself get a chance in Jerusalem and in Antioch.
- Paul argued vigorously against bringing John Mark. The disagreement turned into an impasse that only separation could resolve.
- Paul chose a new associate, Silas, and went back to the Asia Minor and on to Europe.
- Barnabas took Mark under his wing and sailed off to Cyprus and passes from the story.
- Barnabas gave up his chance for fame to help others become great. Silas went down in history as Paul’s companion.
- However, Paul later changes his mind about John Mark (2 Timothy 4:11).
- John Mark later came to Rome as Paul’s associate. After Paul’s martyrdom he became Peter’s colleague, co-authored with Peter the Gospel that bears Mark’s name.
- After the separation from Paul the biblical references to Barnabas cease, but tradition says he continued in his quiet way to encourage others until some years later when he was martyred in his home town of Salamis.
People come and go and most of their achievements are forgotten. But the good that Barnabas did went on forever — he nurtured the ministries of both the Apostle Paul and John Mark. We have Barnabas — someone who looked for good and not glory — to thank for giving us Paul & Mark.