BARNABAS : ENCOURAGMENT
Acts 11:19-12:25 July 13 2008
Most Jerusalem believe who had been scattered because
of persecution proclaimed the gospel to Jews only (Acts 11:19).
Some , however, shared the gospel with Gentiles in Syrian
Antioch . Many people placed their faith in Christ
(Acts 11:20-21). The Jerusalem church dispatched Barnabas
to evaluate the Situation. He was elated because God’s grace
was evident, and he encouraged the believers to remain
faithful (Acts 11:22-23). The Antioch church grew rapidly; so
Barnabas went to Tarsus, found Paul, and took him to Antioch
Agabus , a prophet from Jerusalem, came to Antioch and
predicted famine was coming. The Antioch believers established
a relief fund for needy believers in Judea and sent Barnabas and
Paul to Jerusalem with the provisions (Acts 11:27-30).
King Herod Agrippa I , ruler of Judea, persecuted the church .
He beheaded the apostle James and imprisoned Peter
(Acts 12:1-5). An angel miraculously freed Peter from prison
(Acts 12:6-10). Peter went to the house of Mary, John Mark’s
Mother. When he finally gained entrance, he told them what had
happened (Acts 12:11-17). Herod discovered Peter had escaped,
had Peter’s guards executed , and traveled to Caesarea
(Acts 12:18-19). There, Herod suffered a horrible death
Yet the gospel continued to flourish (Acts 12:24). After
Barnabas and Paul completed their relief mission, they
continued their ministry (Acts 12:25).
1. Approach New Christians (Acts 11:19-22)
Acts 11:19 Now those who had been scattered by the
persecution in connection with Stephen traveled as far as
Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch, telling the message only to
Jews. 11:20 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. 11:21 The
Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people
believed and turned to the Lord. 11:22 News of this reached
the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas
Phoenicia . A country about 15 miles wide and 120 miles long
stretching along the northeastern Mediterranean coast
(modern Lebanon). Its important cities were Tyre and Sidon.
Cyprus . An island in the northeastern Mediterranean; the home
of Barnabas (Acts 4:36). Antioch . The third city of the Roman
empire (after Rome and Alexandria). It was 15 miles inland
from the northeast corner of the Mediterranean. The first largely
Gentile local church was located here, and it was from this
church that Paul’s three missionary journeys were launched
(Acts 13:1-4; 15:40; 18:23). Cyrene . (Acts 2:10). Greeks. Not
Greek-speaking Jews, but Gentiles. Lord’s hand . (Acte 4:30;
13:11; Luke 1:66). It indicates divine approval and blessing,
sometimes evidenced by signs and wonders (Ex 8:19).
Barnabas . (Acts 4:36; 9:27). Antioch . Acts 11:19). The sending
of Barnabas was apparently in keeping with the Jerusalem
church’s policy of sending leaders to check on new ministries
that came to their attention (Acts 8:14).
2. Affirm Christians (Acts 11:23-24)
Acts 11:23 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. 11:24 He was a good man, full
of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were
brought to the Lord.
Full of the Holy Spirit and Faith . (the description of Stephen
Acts 6:5). They chose Stephen. . . Nicolas . It is significant that
all seven of the men chosen had Greek names. The murmuring
had come from the Greek-speaking segment of the church; so
those elected to care for the work came from their number so
as to represent their interests fairly. Only Stephen and Philip
of the Seven receive further notice (Stephen, Acts 6:8-7:60;
Philip, Acts 8:5-40; 21:8-9). From Antioch , a convert to
Judaism . It is significant that a proselyte was included in
the number and that Luke points out his place of origin as
Antioch, the city to which the gospel was soon to be taken and
which was to become the “headquarters” for the forthcoming
Gentile missionary effort.
3. Help Christians (Acts 11:25-26)
Acts 11:25 Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul,
11:26 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.
Tarsus . (Acts9:11,30 ; 22:3). Whole year . Luke notes definite
periods of time (Acts 18:11; 19:8,10; 24:27; 28:30). Christians .
Whether adopted by believers or invented by enemies as a
term of reproach, it is an apt title for those “belonging to
Christ” (the meaning of the term).
4. Show Concern for Christians (Acts 11:27-30)
Acts 11:27 During this time some prophets came down from
Jerusalem to Antioch. 11:28 One of them, named Agabus,
stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine
would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened
during the reign of Claudius.) 11:29 The disciples, each
according to his ability, decided to provide help for the
brothers living in Judea. 11:30 This they did, sending their
gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
Prophets . The first mention of the gift of prophecy in Acts.
Prophets preach, exhort, explain or, as in this case, foretell
(Acts 13:1; 15:32; 19:6; 21:9-10; Rom 12:6; 1Co 12:10; 13:2,8;
14:3,6,29-37; John 3:2; Zec 1:1; Eph 4:11). Agabus . Later
foretells Paul’s imprisonment (Acts 21:10). In Acts, prophets
are engaged in foretelling (Acts 11:27; 21:9-10) at least as
often as in “forth telling” (Acts 15:32). Elders . First reference
to them in Acts (1Ti 3:1; 5:17). Since the apostles are not
mentioned, they may have been absent from Jerusalem at
Barabas in introduced as a believer who sold land and
gave the proceeds to help needy believers in Jerusalem. His
given name was Joseph, and he was a Jew of the tribe of Levi
and a native of Cyprus(Acts 4:36-37) The apostles nicknamed
him Barnabas ("Son of Encouragement"). He displayed the quality
of encouragement again when he facilitated Paul’s acceptance
by Jerusalem believers (Acts 9:26-28). The Jerusalem church
sent Barnabas to assess the growing Christian work in Antioch.
He affirmed and encouraged the work, went to Tarsus to get
Paul , and involved him in the Antioch ministry (acts 11:22_26).
The Antioch church commissioned Barnabas and Paul for
missions work (Acts 13:1-2). After their first missionary
journey , Barnabas accompanied Paul to Jerusalem to defend
Gentiles’ Becoming believers through faith alone (Acts 15:1-2).
Then the two missionaries went separate ways . Barnabas went
to Cyprus (Acts 15:36-41).
(Galatians 2:13) reveals that once , in deference to the
circumcision party, Barnabas withdrew from fellowship with
Gentile believers. He forever will be known , however , for his
acts of encouragement.