Barnabas Seeks Saul to Help with Discipleship

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Discipleship

As a result of Stephen’s martyrdom (8:1-2) the saints were scattered abroad, and some of them ended up in Antioch, the capital of Syria, which was about 300 miles north of Jerusalem (v. 19). As a result many Jews heard the gospel, believed and turned to the Lord (vv. 20-21). When the church in Jerusalem heard about this, they decided to send Barnabas to Antioch to see what was going on (vv. 22-24). It was by the grace of God they sent the man they did. They might have sent someone of a rigid mind who made a god of the Law and was shackled by its rules and regulations; but they sent the man with the biggest heart in the Church. Barnabas had already stood by Paul and sponsored him when all men suspected him (Acts 9:27). Barnabas had already given proof of his Christian love by his generosity to his needy brethren (Acts 4:36-37).

The work in Antioch grew to the point Barnabas needed help; so he went to Tarsus and enlisted Saul (vv. 25-26). Saul (who became known as the apostle Paul) had only been converted about ten years when Barnabas brought him to Antioch. Barnabas was glad when he saw the Gentiles being swept into the fellowship of the Church, but he recognized that someone must be put in charge of this work. This person needed to be a man with a double background, a Jew brought up in the Jewish tradition, but one who could meet the Gentiles on equal terms. What Barnabas did for Saul needs to be practiced in our churches today. We need mature believers who will take time to enlist others and encourage them in their service for the Lord.

Application

We’re good at coming together for food and fellowship, and we enjoy that, but discipleship is more than that. Fellowship takes place with Christians in the church, but discipleship is to take place in the world in which I live and to the people around me.

Acts 11:19-26 (English Standard Version)

Now those who were scattered because of the persecution that arose over Stephen traveled as far as Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except Jews. But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who on coming to Antioch spoke to the Hellenists also, preaching the Lord Jesus. And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord. The report of this came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, for he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. So Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. For a whole year they met with the church and taught a great many people. And in Antioch the disciples were first called Christians.

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