Monthly Archives: August 2018


There was a time in the early church when Barnabas held greater influence than the apostle Paul (cf. Acts 13:1,2). Some time before Saul of Tarsus was immersed into Christ, Barnabas was already expending a great amount of his own financial resources assisting needy saints (Acts 4:36,37) and he had a close relationship to the apostles (Acts 4:36; 9:27). Paul’s reputation as a persecuter and a blasphemer of Christ had preceded him and Christians were reluctant to accept him, thinking he was, perhaps, feigning his conversion to gain an advantage (Acts 9:26). Even after his conversion, up until the first evangelistic tour, when their names are mentioned together, Barnabas is always mentioned first.

After Paul and Barnabas returned from delivering aid to the poor saints in Judea, the Holy Spirit instructed the church at Antioch that Barnabas and Saul were presently to be used in the special work for which He had called them (Acts 13:2). Saul had been called to be an apostle by the Lord at his conversion and was told he would be sent to the Gentiles (Acts 9:15,16; Gal. 2:7,8). When Barnabas was called for this task, we do not know, just as we do not know when or where Barnabas was converted to Christ. Was Barnabas one of the original disciples of Christ (Acts 1:15), was he converted on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41) or was he among the five thousand men who believed (Acts 4:4)? We do not know. But we do know he was separated by the Lord very early on to take the gospel to the Gentiles along with the apostle Paul.

Immediately after the establishment of the church, when Jews from distant lands were converted by the preaching of the apostles (Acts 2:5-11), instead of immediately returning to their own countries, many of them apparently continued in Jerusalem with the apostles and the rest of the church. In order to help support these brethren, some sold their property and gave the money to the apostles to distribute to every man as he had need (Acts 4:35). Barnabas was one of those who supported brethren in need in this way and the Holy Spirit saw fit to make particular note of his contributions (Acts 4:36).

Barnabas was not his birth name. His real name was Joses (or Joseph). It was the apostles who called him Barnabas, which literally meant “son of prophecy” or, by extension, “son of consolation” (Acts 4:36; cf. Acts 15:32). His preaching, along with others’, produced many converts in Antioch (Acts 11:24) and he is listed first among the prophets and teachers in the church there (Acts 13:1). When the the apostles had heard that there was a great response to the teaching of the gospel in the regions of Cyprus, Cyrene and Antioch, they chose Barnabas to organize the work, even though Paul had already been called by the Lord (Acts 11:22). It was Barnabas who, after he had seen the work in Antioch, sought out Saul in Tarsus to assist him in that vital work (Acts 11:25,26).

Barnabas’ reputation among the apostles is further seen in the fact that it was Barnabas that brought Saul of Tarsus to the apostles after his conversion. He was able to convince them that the Lord had, indeed, appeared unto Saul and that he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus (Acts 9:27). Some have surmised that Barnabas and Saul had known each other prior to their connection in Christ. They had a close relationship and both truly seemed to admire the other.

It was during their first evangelistic tour that Barnabas begins to recede into the background. In Paphos, Sergius Paul, the deputy or proconsul of the country, called for Barnabas and Saul to hear the word of God. But Elymas the sorcerer withstood them, seeking to turn away the deputy from the faith” (Acts 13:8). Saul then stepped up and struck Elymas the sorcerer blind as a punishment for his opposition to the gospel (Acts 13:8-11). It is during this time that Saul begins to be called Paul (Acts 13:9). It seems also as though Paul begins to take the lead because the group is now called “Paul and his company” (Acts 13:13). Further, it is no longer “Barnabas and Saul” but “Paul and Barnabas” (Acts 13:43).

Some time later, when Paul and Barnabas were at Antioch, Peter visited and was eating with the Gentiles until certain came from James in Jerusalem. Then Peter, fearing them of the circumcision, “withdrew and separated himself” (Gal. 2:12). Paul observed that Barnabas “also was carried away with their dissimulation” (Gal. 2:13). Paul then had to confront Peter to his face before them all, including Barnabas (Gal. 2:14). This all happened after the conference in Jerusalem in which it was determined by the Holy Spirit that the Gentiles need not be circumcised (Acts 15:28, 29).

After some days had passed, Paul purposed to go and visit the brethren to whom he and Barnabas had preached on their first evangelistic tour (Acts 15:36). Barnabas wanted to take with them John Mark, but Paul thought it not good because John Mark, who had begun with them on their first tour, left the work prematurely (Acts 13:13), making him untrustworthy. Because of this sharp disagreement, the two men parted ways. Barnabas and Mark went to Cyprus and Paul and Silas, whom the brethren recommended, went through Syria and Cilicia, confirming the churches (Acts 15:41). Later, Paul would acknowledge Barnabas’ wisdom when he told Timothy “Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry” (II Tim. 4:11).

Eric L. Padgett


The apostles were left awestruck! All they could do was to keep gazing up into the clouds in amazement. Jesus had only moments before been standing with them and giving them instructions to be His witnesses unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:7,8). That, in and of itself was marvelous for just a little over a month before He had been crucified and raised from the dead. Now, on this last day, after having shown Himself alive by many infallible proofs for forty days and having spoken with them during that time, “while they beheld, He was taken up; and a cloud received Him out of their sight” (Acts 1:9). Jesus literally ascended up into the air and a glory cloud enveloped Him as He disappeared from view!

While they continued to gaze into heaven with astonishment, two angels brought them back to earth. “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven” (Acts 1:11). In effect, they were saying: Don’t just stand here with your mouths hanging open, there is work to be done. “This same Jesus which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). The message: He is coming again! Now work!

The truly amazing thing about this event is the change which took place in these men. Immediately after Jesus’ arrest, “all the disciples forsook Him and fled” (Matt. 25:56). Peter, who had said “though all men should be offended because of Thee, yet will I never be offended” (Matt. 26:33), and “Though I should die with Thee, yet will I not deny Thee” (Matt. 26:35) denied the Lord that same night a little over a month ago! After Jesus had been crucified, the apostles apparently hid behind closed doors for fear of the Jews (John 20:19). They were a group of men cowering in fear behind locked doors. Some witnesses.

However, after Jesus’ ascension back into Heaven, the apostles went back to Jerusalem and waited for the promise of the Father of which Jesus had spoken (Acts 1:4-8; John 14:26; 16:13). On the day of Pentecost, these men, who before had cowered in fear of persecution and death, now, after receiving the promised baptism of the Holy Ghost, boldly and publicly proclaimed Jesus openly! “Ye men of Israel, hear these words,” they said to the multitude that had gathered:

Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it (Acts 2:22-24).

Later, Peter and John openly entered the temple (Acts 3:1) and healed a man who was lame from his mother’s womb (Acts 3:2-10). Peter then told them that “ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses” (Acts 3:14,15). What boldness (cf. Acts 4:29,31)!

These were strong words. Powerful words! These words laid the responsibility for the death of the Messiah squarely at the feet of the “men of Israel” (Acts 2:22). Forty days ago neither Peter nor John nor any of the other apostles would have dared speak such words privately, much less publicly (cf. Matt. 15:12). Now, however, you could not keep these men from openly speaking what they knew to be true. When the council dragged Peter and John in for questioning after a night in a cell (Acts 4:1-5), they charged and threatened them that they never again speak at all or teach in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:17,18). Peter’s response: “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:19,20).

These men were changed men. What made the difference? They did not take a Dale Carnegie course on how to sharpen social skills and improve relationships. The High priest and their kindred said it best when they “saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13). Undoubtedly their reception of the Holy Spirit endowed them with extra courage but their years with the Lord had ultimately prepared them for this occasion. When we spend time with the Lord in His word, we become changed men and women (Eph. 4:22-24; Col. 3:10; II Cor. 3:18).

Eric L. Padgett