Before They Were Missionaries: Part I-Barnabas

In Acts 13 we find Paul and Barnabas sent out of the church of Antioch as missionaries.  They would be the first “sent out” missionaries recorded in the scriptures.  The next few chapters reveal the amazing work of God as these men go from city to city preaching the gospel. People are saved and lives are transformed.  What an awesome story, but what were Paul and Barnabas doing before Acts 13?  I ask this because it is important.  I have met many young men who were raring to get to work for the Lord, and sometimes were probably too anxious to get there.  So here are some things to consider:

  • Giving

In Acts 4:36-37 we find that Barnabas is one of the people who sell parcels of land, and he gives the money to the work of the ministry.  He is unselfish and generous.  Are you generous with the money God has given you?  Do you want people to give to you but you pinch pennies when it comes to giving to others?  Acts 20:35 “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”  II Corinthians 9:8 “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work:” Be a giver.  Let your life be characterized by generosity, and charity.

  •  Helping Others

Back in Acts 4:36 again we see that the apostles had given Barnabas his nickname.  His real name was Joses, but they gave him the surname Barnabas meaning “The Son of Consolation”  Often nicknames are given to people because of some attribute that is prevalent in their character.  When I worked in construction we had a guy there nicknamed Pepé. He thought it was because he was a happy, exciting, hyper kind of person.  It wasn’t.  It was because he didn’t shower regularly and he didn’t brush his teeth.  When he walked by it was as if the cartoon skunk, Pepé le Pew had come strolling through killing all the flowers.  Barnabas had received his nickname evidently because he was always consoling people.  It seemed every time they turned around they saw Barnabas being a blessing to someone, helping them out, and giving encouragement.  We have a few clear examples of this in Acts. In Acts 9, when Saul comes to Jerusalem after his 3d small people - cooperationconversion, everyone is scared of him. It was Barnabas that brought him to the Apostles, assuring everyone that Saul was a changed man.  In Acts 15, Paul and Barnabas were getting ready to head out on a missions trip but they had an argument.  Barnabas wanted to take his nephew, John Mark along with them.  Mark had gone with them previously and had quit halfway through the trip.  Paul didn’t want to take a quitter with him, but Barnabas did.  Barnabas would take Mark with him, and a few years later Paul would write that Mark was “profitable to me for the ministry.”  Mark may have given up had Barnabas not been there to keep encouraging him to give his life and his all in service to Christ.  Are you being a help and a blessing to others?  Do you help others with their burdens?

  • Others have confidence in you.

The Apostles had confidence in this man.  He was a man that had proven himself capable in the ministry, and had won the confidence of others.  We have already seen how he brings Saul to the Apostles, and when Barnabas supported Saul, that was all the Apostles needed to know. Also in Acts 11, when word comes to the Apostles about the great multitudes that are believing in the surrounding regions, it is Barnabas that they send to out to go as far as Antioch to investigate these reports.  The Apostles laid great weight by this man’s character, work, and word.  Do other people have confidence in you?  Do you live your life in such a way that when you set out in the ministry people have confidence in what God will do through your life because they have already seen what he has done through you and in you?  I remember a friend of mine back home who had announced his calling to preach.  I was older than he was so I went off to college before him.  I came back home for a visit and went over to his house to see him.  His pastor had spoken to me already and he had told me this young man wanted to go to Bible college but was not ready.  I sat down with my friend and tried to counsel him to wait a year, serving in his church and learning under his pastor.  He would not listen to me.  He came to Bible college, and within one semester had wrecked his testimony.  He is out of the ministry today.  His pastor had doubts about his commitment and his maturity, but my friend moved without the confidence of others and ruined his life.  If others do not have faith in you then you need to stop and evaluate yourself.


Barnabas didn’t jump into ministry in Acts 13.  He didn’t become a man of character in Acts 13.  He didn’t start helping others and giving in Acts 13.  He had a back story.  He was all these things before he was a missionary.

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