Then after fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and also I took Titus with me . – Galatians 2:1 NKJV
A leader of the early church is a man named Barnabas. He enters the pages of the New Testament in Acts 4:36. He was from the island of Cyprus and became a follower of Jesus. How this happened we are not told. While he moved to Jerusalem, his sold some of his land, giving the proceeds to the early church(Acts 4:36). He was a cousin of Mark (Colossians 4:10).
His name was originally Joses and we are told the apostles gave him the name Barnabas, meaning “son of encouragement.”
It would seem the name fit him as he was first one of the first believers in Jerusalem to welcome Saul, latter called Paul, into the church (Acts 9:27).
Years later, he is sent out by the Jerusalem church leaders to Antioch. In the same passage (Acts 11:22-26), he is described as one “full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.” He made contact again with Paul, bringing him back to Antioch, where he and Paul served the church an entire year. They “taught a great many people” while in Antioch and even effected the church culture so much as there was a change of the name of the followers of Jesus. In Antioch, under the teaching of Paul and Barnabas, for the first time, believers in Jesus were referred to as “Christians.”
He of course accompanied Paul on the first missionary journey and he played a major role in the Jerusalem council of Acts 15.
Barnabas was a man of service. He had a mission – serving His Lord. He was a person who was known for his encouraging nature, quiet leadership and deep devotion to Jesus.
I so want to be like that guy. Known as being an encourager, his name is even changed by church leaders! On the front of mission work, yet known more for the supporting role in the work he did with Paul, Barnabas was a leader the church needed for the time. I think the same type of leader is needed for our church today. A leader known to want to serve people, having the ability to teach and lead others, and known as a source for encouragement.
How about you? Would early church leaders be tempted to change your name? I would be afraid to ask about any name change for me as I am sure my dominate trait is not one of encouragement.
But we need Barnabas’s in our churches. Be an encourager and be devoted to following Jesus – like our friend, Barnabas.
In His Service!