Barnabas: Son of Encouragement


Every group needs an “encourager” because everyone needs encouragement at one time or another. However, the value of encouragement is often missed because it tends to be private rather than public. In fact, people most need encouragement when they feel most alone. A man named Joseph was such an encourager that he earned the nickname “Son of Encouragement,” or Barnabas, from the Jerusalem Christians.

Barnabas was drawn to people he could encourage, and he was a great help to those around him. It is delightful that wherever Barnabas encouraged Christians, non-Christians flocked to become believers.

Barnabas’s actions were crucial to the early church. In a way, we can thank him for most of the New Testament. God used his relationship with Paul at one point and with Mark at another to keep these two men going when either might have failed. Barnabas did wonders with encouragement!

When Paul arrived in Jerusalem for the first time following his conversion, the local Christians were understandably reluctant to welcome him. They thought his story was a trick to capture more Christians. Only Barnabas proved willing to risk his life to meet with Paul and then convince the others that their former enemy was now a vibrant believer on Jesus. We can only wonder what might have happened to Paul without Barnabas.

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It was Barnabas who encouraged Mark to go with him and Paul to Antioch. Mark joined them on their first missionary journey but decided during the trip to return home. Later, Barnabas wanted to invite Mark to join them for another journey, but Paul would not agree. As a result, the partners went separate ways, Barnabas with Mark and Paul with Silas. This actually doubled the missionary effort, Barnabas’s patient encouragement was confirmed by Mark’s eventual effective ministry. Paul and Mark were later reunited in missionary efforts.

As Barnabas’s life shows, we are rarely in a situation where there isn’t someone we can encourage. Our tendency, however, is to criticize instead. It may be important at times tom point out someone’s shortcomings, but before we have the right to do this, we must build that person’s trust through encouragement. Are you prepared to encourage those with whom you come in contact today?

Strengths and Accomplishments

  • One of the first to sell possessions to help the Christians in Jerusalem
  • First to travel with Paul as a missionary team
  • Was an encourager, as his nickname shows, and thus one of the most quietly influential people in the early days of Christianity
  • Called an apostle, although not one of the original 12.

Weakness and Mistake

  • With Peter, temporarily stayed aloof from Gentile believers until Paul corrected him

Lessons From His Life

  • Encouragement is one of the most effective ways to help
  • Sooner or later, true obedience to God will involve risk
  • There is always someone who needs encouragement 

Vital Statistics for Barnabas

  • Where: Cyprus, Jerusalem, Antioch
  • Occupations: Missionary, teacher
  • Relatives: Aunt: Mary, Cousin: John Mark
  • Contemporaries: Peter, Silas, Paul, Herod Agrippa 1

Key Verses for Barnabas

“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. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord” (Acts 11:23, 24).

Barnabas’s story is told in Acts 4:36, 37; 9:27 – 15:39. He is also mentioned in 1 Corinthians 9:6; Galatians 2:1, 9, 13; Colossians 4:10.

Scripture Study Resources

ESV Study BibleStudy Bibles give you a deeper understanding of God’s Word with tools for life application like commentary, maps, charts, concordance, and study notes. Search our popular translations- NIV, ESV, NKJV, KJV and more!

Believer’s Bible Commentary: Second Edition – A Bible commentary is a written, systematic series of explanations and interpretations of Scripture. Commentaries often analyze or expound on individual books of the Bible, chapter by chapter and verse by verse. Some commentary works provide analysis of the whole of Scripture.

The New Strong’s Expanded Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible – The best concordance for word study! This exclusive new edition of a legendary classic puts generations of biblical research at your fingertips. A valuable tool for pastors, teachers, and students of the Bible. 

Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words – This classic word study resource allows you to study the meaning of biblical words in the original languages without spending years learning Greek or Hebrew. A great resource for students, seasoned pastors, and anyone who enjoys biblical word studies–even if they have little to no formal training in Hebrew or Greek.

Halley’s Bible Handbook – The beloved and classic Bible companion has been thoroughly updated, while retaining its time-honored features and Dr. Halley’s highly personal style, to offer even greater clarity, insight, and usefulness.

Click here to print or download the scripture character study “Barnabas: Son of Encouragement


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