November 21 (Daily reading: Acts 13-14) The Holy Spirit instructed the church at Antioch to send out Barnabas and Saul as missionaries (13:2). We met Barnabas in Acts 4:36. His name was Joseph, but the apostles called him Barnabas, “Son of Encouragement.” He began by encouraging the church with his financial resources. He encouraged Saul, speaking up for him when the others did not trust him (9:27). We owe Barnabas a great debt for his encouragement of Saul, who wrote about one-third of the New Testament. The apostles sent Barnabas to Antioch when many people became believers there. He arrived, and “he began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord.” Because of his encouragement, “considerable numbers were brought to the Lord” (11:23-24). The Holy Spirit led Barnabas to ask Saul to assist him; he knew that the church and Saul needed each other. They together had a fruitful ministry there, “And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch” (Ac. 11:26).
Barnabas and Saul, “also called Paul” (13:9), left Antioch as missionaries, taking John Mark with them. At one point, they retraced their steps, “strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith” (Ac. 14:22). Barnabas personified encouragement! When it was time for a second journey, Barnabas wanted John Mark to again go with them, but Paul disagreed because Mark had deserted them during their first tour. Paul took Silas and Barnabas stuck with Mark. We again owe a debt to Barnabas for his encouragement of Mark since Mark wrote the first gospel! Paul later wrote Timothy from prison: “Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry” (2 Tim. 4:11, NIV). This should inspire us to be encouragers. We never know how God will use our words or actions to encourage someone in the service of Jesus Christ!
– Al Gary