Bruce Collins, Evangelist

The personal website of Bruce Collins

For He was a Good Man



Then tidings of these things came unto the ears of the church which was in Jerusalem: and they sent forth Barnabas, that he should go as far as Antioch. Who, when he came, and had seen the grace of God, was glad, and exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they would cleave unto the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith: and much people was added unto the Lord. (Acts 11:22-24 KJV)

Paul and Barnabas

Many men had a part in the establishment of what we call Christianity today.  We know that there were twelve apostles of which one was a traitor.  Of the other eleven, Peter, James and John seem to be prominent.  When we come to the Acts of the Apostles, we see Peter and Paul taking the lead in spreading the Gospel.  Peter was used to convince the Jews that the Gospel was for the Gentiles as well as for the Jews, but Paul was the instrument that God used to spread the Gospel to the Gentiles (or non-Jews).  But one other man was prominent in the early church and that was Barnabas.  He was named Joses and was surnamed Barnabas by the apostles. Barnabas means son of consolation.  See Acts 4:36.  As the son of consolation, he provided comfort and encouragement.  He refreshed the hearts of those around him.


This seems to be born out in his life as he sold land that he had and gave the money to the apostles to use as it was needed in the early New Testament church.  Obviously, he was living out the principles found in the Sermon on Mount.  He was laying up his treasure in heaven rather than on this earth. 


He vouched for Paul when Paul tried to join himself to the church at Jerusalem. (See Acts 9:27).  He sought for Paul who had gone to Tarsus because of persecution and brought him to the Antioch church in Syria where he could be publicly used of the Lord.  Barnabas went with Paul on a humanitarian journey that was designed to care for the poor in Jerusalem and he went with Paul on his first missionary journey.  But Paul and Barnabas had a fight.  And it had to do with showing compassion to Mark who had turned back during their first missionary journey.  Barnabas, true to form as an encourager, wanted Mark to go with them on their second missionary journey.  Paul didn’t.  There are a lot of commentators who seem to know the reasoning behind the disagreement but all we really know is that Mark had turned back the first time when he went with Paul and Barnabas.  Many commentators point out that the story from this point on deals with Paul and not with Barnabas and so Barnabas must have been wrong.  They say he was likely showing favoritism to Mark who may have been his nephew. 


My Take

I think it was in God’s plan to use Paul without Barnabas for whatever reason.  But I personally would rather be known as a Barnabas than as a Paul.  Barnabas had stood with Paul and helped him every step of the way in his early ministry and in his first missionary journey.  What Christian would have trusted Paul at Jerusalem after he had tried to destroy Christians if Barnabas hadn’t stood by Him and commended Him.  Paul was confrontational and “stood for the truth.”  Barnabas was a nice balance to Paul.  He tried to encourage those that others didn’t trust.  I don’t know who was right and who was wrong, but I would rather be a Barnabas than a Paul.  To be perfectly honest however, I probably have played the role of Paul in personal relationships more than I have played the role of Barnabas.


Patching Up Relationships

One reason I think that Barnabas was probably right to encourage Mark in his service to the Lord when Paul wouldn’t is because Paul realizes that he needs him when he is in prison in 2nd Timothy.  In 2 Timothy 4:11 Paul tells Timothy, "Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry (2Timothy 4:11)."  Apparently, the relationship between Paul and Mark got patched up.  I wonder if Paul got his relationship with Barnabas patched up.  It seems to me that Paul could have deferred to Barnabas’ judgment in view of the encouragement he had been to Paul.  However, the dissension between the two was likely used of God to spread the Gospel more widely.  If the early church had not been persecuted, the Christians would likely have all stayed at Jerusalem rather than being scattered.  That scattering of the early Christians seems to have been the cause of the Gospel spreading to new communities. Act 8:4 says, “Therefore they that were scattered abroad went everywhere preaching the word."


But I would still rather be a son of consolation than a son of confrontation.  I would rather be a Barnabas than a Paul. . 


Bruce Collins


Meditation for the week of July 1, 2018

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