“Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means ‘son of encouragement’) sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.” – Acts 4:36-37
Barnabas is so well known by his nickname that many believers wouldn’t be able to tell you his real name off the top of their heads. This Joseph was so encouraging that the apostles decided to call him “Barnabas (which means ‘son of encouragement’)”. A characteristic usually needs to stand out quite a bit before it gives cause for a nickname. Considering that this nickname was given by the apostles, it seems to carry even more weight. Barnabas must have been truly encouraging in an authentic and consistent way.
The past two devotions have centered around Acts chapter nine. This one does as well. There are three aspects I would like to focus on regarding Saul’s conversion that illustrate the truth for all of us. They are The Road, Blindness, and Companions.
The first time we see Saul–later Paul–in scripture he is helping to facilitate the stoning of Stephen by watching everyone’s cloaks (Acts 7:57). From there, his zeal for Judaism led him to attack the church.
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. – Colossians 1:9-14
Scripture is filled with thanksgiving for many reasons. One of the primary reasons that a Christian always has something to be thankful for is salvation.
“Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught.” – Luke 1:1-4
Luke took on the role of an investigative journalist. He looked into “everything from the beginning” and spoke with “eyewitnesses” so that he could lay down “an orderly account” for Theophilus and in turn us. That he and now we could “know the certainty of the things [we] have been taught.”
God used Paul to write at least thirteen books in the New Testament. He also completed at least three missionary journeys, planted numerous churches, and discipled many early church leaders. He was a mighty man of God used to impact many for Christ during his lifetime and countless others after through his writing.
He was also a man who struggled with sin. His past was as bad as anyone’s. In Acts 22:4-5 he shares that he “persecuted the followers of this Way to their death, arresting both men and women and throwing them into prison, as the high priest and all the Council can themselves testify. I even obtained letters from them to their associates in Damascus, and went there to bring these people as prisoners to Jerusalem to be punished.”