Bible Studies for Life
Acts 9:26-28, 11:22-26
Acts 9 & 11 – Lean on Me
Approximately 50 years ago in April 1972, a singer/songwriter by the name of Bill Withers wrote, recorded, and released a hit song entitled “Lean on Me.” Unlike many of the songs that were released in 1972, “Lean on me” has stood the test of time and reached at least five generations of music listeners.
In this song, Withers highlights the fact that all of us at some point in life will need someone to offer us support and encouragement along the way. In the same breadth, Withers also challenges the listener to encourage and support others along their journey. To put it simply, he melodiously and musically makes the case that we should not only be consumers of encouragement, but contributors too.
In this song, Withers pens:
“Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on”
I share this song with you today because I believe it would be an excellent modern-day theme or anthem for the minister Barnabas.
Barnabas, for many, isn’t one of the most popular characters in the Bible like Abraham, Sarah, Moses, Hannah, Joshua, Mary, or even David. But his role in biblical history is just as important and significant.
In order to fully understand who Barnabas is and what he was about, it is important to understand a little more about the Book of Acts, the writer Luke, and the Apostle Paul. The book of Acts is:
- a continuation of the Gospel of Luke
- it concentrates on the Acts of the Holy Spirit, and
- it chronicles the birth of the Christian church.
The author Luke is:
- a physician turned Gospel writer
- points out more details of Jesus’ ministry than the other gospel writers, and
- portrays Jesus’ ministry to the marginalized as key part of his divine purpose.
Many would argue that the main character of Acts 9 is the Apostle Paul and they may be right. However, it is imperative to understand that Paul was once named Saul before his life-changing encounter with God. Saul was:
- a bystander in the stoning of Stephen (Acts 7:58)
- brutally put believers in prison (Acts 8:3)
- bullied believers with murderous threats (Acts 9:1), and
- believed persecuting Christians was the right thing to do (Acts 9:2).
However, one day Saul’s whole life changed for the better. Saul met Christ on a Damascus Road (Acts 9:5) and temporarily made blind by Christ for three days (Acts 9:9). Ultimately, he was called by Christ to be a minister of the Gospel (Acts 9:15).
Therefore, by the time we get to the latter part of Acts 9 and Acts 11, some of the scriptural spotlight has shifted from Paul to Barnabas. Below are some encouraging characteristics of Barnabas that we can embrace and employ in our own lives.
In Acts 9:26-28, we learn that:
1. Barnabas ESTABLISHED a relationship with Paul when others wouldn’t. (v.26)
“When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.”
2. Barnabas ENDORSED Paul when he wasn’t accepted by the Apostles. (v.27)
“But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus.”
3. Barnabas sacrificed his credibility so Paul could have an EFFECTIVE ministry. (v.28)
“So, Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord.”
In addition, Acts 11:22-26 teaches us more about Barnabas’ encouraging characteristics. we learn that:
1. Barnabas was an extension of Paul and felt assigned to him. (v.22)
“News of this reached the church in Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch”
2. Barnabas energetically encouraged the church in Antioch. (v.23)
“When he arrived and saw what the grace of God had done, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts.”
3. Barnabas was a great example of a Disciple and many experienced Christ because of him. (v.24)
“He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord.”
4. Barnabas exercised selflessness when he looked for Paul. (v.25-26a)
“Then Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul, 26 and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch.”
5. Barnabas helped to help to enhance and elevate Paul’s ministry. (v.26)
“… and when he found him, he brought him to Antioch. So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people. The disciples were called Christians first at Antioch.”
6. Barnabas earnestly evangelized and helped to expand the Gospel. (26b)
“… So for a whole year Barnabas and Saul met with the church and taught great numbers of people …”