In Acts 11:19ff we read about the church in Antioch. We are not certain of the timeline of these events but it is probably because of the precedent set in Acts 10 it is probably following the conversion of the first Gentiles. In Acts 11 the Gospel is taken to Antioch by displaced Christians with much success. Once again we see that in Acts God uses persecution to grow the church. What was meant for harm is turned into good.
The church in Jerusalem heard about all that was happening in Antioch and sent Barnabas to find out more. Just as Peter had seen evidence of God working in Cornelius and his family, Barnabas sees the evidence of the grace of God among these converts and he, being true to his name, encourages them. Then Barnabas did some equipping. He decided not to nurture these new Christians to maturity all by himself. He knew the perfect person for the job who was also living in Turkey, not too far away. He left Antioch and went to Tarsus to find Saul. He had to put this ministry on hold and took the time and energy to equip someone else in the process. Acts 11:26 says that Barnabas brought Saul back with him to Antioch and for one year they taught about Jesus Christ.
Barnabas did something crucial to Christian ministry. He saw a task and he decided not to go it alone. He got Saul and brought him along. He encouraged him and gave him an opportunity to minister to the Christians in Antioch. Barnabas knew there was teaching to be done. He knew of a man who was skilled and trained to teach. He put the pieces together and both the Christians Antioch and Saul of Tarsus grew because of it. Every Saul needs his Barnabas. He needs that person who encourages and provides opportunity. He needs that person to walk alongside him and help him help others. Some of us are Barnabi (is that Barnabas plural?) and some are Sauls and we need to get together to use our strengths and plug each other in to the places we are most effective. We do not need to have the attitude that we can do this on our own. It starts with a need. It continues with a resistance to meeting all the needs on our own. It culminates in opening the door of opportunity for someone else to minister to others through their strengths. Barnabas or Saul…which one are you and how can you help the other?
This really is encouraging, Matt! Makes me think of the words of Jesus…
…whoever is least among you all is the greatest.
Awesome!! I am really trying to get our church to take spiritual gifts tests together, and get to know each other better and what our gifts are and how we work as a team. I think it’s awesome to think of Christians working together like Paul & Barnabas did.