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Barnabas’ vital role

November 11, 2023

Daily Scripture

Acts 4:36-37, 9:26-28, 11:19-26

Acts 4
36 Joseph, whom the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (that is, “one who encourages”), was a Levite from Cyprus. 37 He owned a field, sold it, brought the money, and placed it in the care and under the authority of the apostles.

Acts 9
26 When Saul arrived in Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him. They didn’t believe he was really a disciple. 27 Then Barnabas brought Saul to the apostles and told them the story about how Saul saw the Lord on the way and that the Lord had spoken to Saul. He also told them about the confidence with which Saul had preached in the name of Jesus in Damascus. 28 After this, Saul moved freely among the disciples in Jerusalem and was speaking with confidence in the name of the Lord.

Acts 11
19 Now those who were scattered as a result of the trouble that occurred because of Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch. They proclaimed the word only to Jews. 20 Among them were some people from Cyprus and Cyrene. They entered Antioch and began to proclaim the good news about the Lord Jesus also to Gentiles. 21 The Lord’s power was with them, and a large number came to believe and turned to the Lord.
22 When the church in Jerusalem heard about this, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw evidence of God’s grace, he was overjoyed and encouraged everyone to remain fully committed to the Lord. 24 Barnabas responded in this way because he was a good man, whom the Holy Spirit had endowed with exceptional faith. A considerable number of people were added to the Lord. 25 Barnabas went to Tarsus in search of Saul. 26 When he found him, he brought him to Antioch. They were there for a whole year, meeting with the church and teaching large numbers of people. It was in Antioch where the disciples were first labeled “Christians.”

Daily Reflection & Prayer

Two days ago, we read about the only time the Bible mentioned Ananias. Another person, mentioned far more than once, played a major role in Paul’s story: Joseph (nicknamed “Barnabas” = one who encourages). The nickname stuck, clearly because it fit the man so well. The apostle Paul brought immense talents and conviction to his mission of preaching Jesus to the Mediterranean world. But it is true to say that “Without Barnabas, Paul might have lived out his days making tents in Tarsus. It was Barnabas who believed in Paul when he first came to Jerusalem. It was Barnabas who introduced him to the apostles. It was Barnabas who found him during the in-between years and brought him to Antioch.” *

  • Acts 9:26-28 said Judean Christians first accepted Paul because they trusted Barnabas, who vouched for Paul’s honesty. How can you be a “Barnabas,” helping others do the ministry work God calls them to? Scholar N. T. Wright told how Barnabas and Paul’s work in Antioch, a diverse city, linked Christ’s disciples to his name: “There the word ‘Christian’ first came into use. It was a nickname… just as ‘Methodist’ was at first a word used by the opponents of Wesley and his friends to sneer at their ‘Methodical’ ways of organizing their Bible study and prayer groups. Like many nicknames, it tells us a lot about the popular perception of what was going on. You would hear every language… in Antioch… but the one you could guarantee to be understood in was… Greek. ‘Christ’… was the Greek word for ‘Messiah,’… ‘God’s anointed king.’ Jesus’ followers were thinking and speaking in such a way that they were called ‘the king’s people,’ ‘Messianists,’ Christians.” ** Are you grateful to be able to bear the name “Christian,” with all it implies?

Lord Jesus, it is because you are “the Christ” (God’s anointed king) that I am a Christ-ian. You are my king, and how I look forward to spending eternity with you. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory

Janelle Gregory serves on the Resurrection staff as Human Resources Lead Director. Janelle finds that her heart is constantly wrestling with the truth that she needs a Savior, and the times when she's at her very best are when she's just too tired to put up a fight.

(Janelle most often writes for us on Thursday. She originally wrote this post in October, 2022.)

Each year, Resurrection hosts a leadership conference called Leadership Institute. It’s an exciting time when church leaders from all over the country gather to learn and connect. As a part of the conference, I’ve had the opportunity to lead breakout sessions specific to Human Resources. A few days before Leadership Institute, we’re provided with a list of participants in our sessions and where they’re from. Four years ago, I was reading the list for the upcoming HR breakout, and I spotted “Scott Smith from Church of the Servant, Oklahoma City, OK.” I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I was!

When I was in high school, I visited my sister in Oklahoma City over the summers. During that time, I attended her church and became very involved in their youth group. That church? Church of the Servant. And who was the Student Ministry Director at the time? Scott Smith. It was an amazing experience! Their youth group was fun and engaging. My faith grew through a Bible study, and I even went on a mission trip with them to Juarez, Mexico. Scott and all of the other staff and volunteer leaders at Church of the Servant had a HUGE impact on my faith.

My involvement in the Servant youth group over those summers not only changed my life, but it impacted many others. You see, my youth group at my home church was on its death bed. It was dull, lifeless, and essentially just a few students who faithfully came. I remember one week it was just me and another student. After I came back from experiencing a vibrant youth group, I went to my local church and said, “I’ve seen what youth group can be. I believe that God wants this for us as well. Think of all of the students we could reach!” With the picture painted, we began to make changes to my home church youth group, and the group went from barely surviving to thriving. This happened because there were people like Scott willing to pour into youth and people at my hometown church who were willing to listen, catch the vision, and invest in students.

Four years ago, at Leadership Institute, I got to tell Scott about the impact his ministry had beyond what he may have ever imagined. In fact, I can think of at least five of us from my home youth group who have gone on to work in a church or ministry. This all happened because Scott was a “Barnabas.” It was because God worked through Scott and his team to empower and encourage others.

© 2024 Resurrection: A United Methodist Church. All Rights Reserved.
Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

* Hamilton, Adam. The Call: The Life and Message of the Apostle Paul (p. 44). Abingdon Press. Kindle Edition.
** N. T. Wright, Acts for Everyone, Part 1: Chapters 1–12. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2008, p. 178.