Barnabas – The Difference ONE Man Can Make

The Unsung Heroes in a Church

Acts 4:33-37

July 30, 2017 AM

Pastor Craig Ledbetter

Bible Baptist Church, Ballincollig, Cork, Ireland


I.       Introduction


A.    I believe the Apostle Paul was THE greatest Christian who has ever lived!


1.      Think about it…

2.      He switched completely from hating and hunting Christians, to loving them, investing in them with all his life, and dying for them!

3.      The last 25 years of his life he travelled well over 10,000 miles by foot and by ship, all across the middle east and then into Europe just so that he could preach and teach pagan and religious people about Jesus the Saviour!

4.      Started dozens and dozens of churches each time he travelled on his missionary journeys

5.      He preached to kings, and sailors; angry mobs and passionate Christians!

6.      He even preached to the roman emperor Caesar Nero just before his death!

7.      He wrote 14 of the books of the New Testament


a.      Paul wrote 1/3rd of the NT

b.      50% of the NT are the Gospels – that is how important THEY are

c.      The remaining 20% was written by Peter, James, John, Jude, and Luke


B.    But the Apostle Paul was NOT who he was by accident, or by nature. It was because of some unsung heroes in his life that greatly influenced and invested in him!

C.    Two unsung heroes in the life of the Apostle Paul who stand out were:


1.      Ananias – in Damascus, who baptized Saul

2.      And Barnabas – in Jerusalem, and later Antioch, who believed in Saul and helped Saul become the great Apostle that we know of so well today!

3.      These heroes greatly invested in his faith and life

4.      And there are probably many in your and my life too!


D.    Without these two men (and even others), Saul of Tarsus would never have become the great man that he later became!

E.    Let’s take a good look at Barnabas…


II.   Lesson


A.    His Name (Acts 4:36)


1.      His Jewish parents had named him Joseph – that’s a good name, famous godly man in the Old Testament

2.      But when he became a follower of Jesus the Messiah after the resurrection, all the Christians called him Barnabas

3.      Bar – nabas: A son of consolation, a man of encouragement, a consoling man, someone who carried you when you can’t walk, a helper. What a great name to have!

4.      So, Barnabas was a name that he got, not from his parents, but because of how he lived

5.      Hmmm. What name do people give YOU?



B.    Barnabas was a good man and a great Christian (Acts 11:24)


1.      He was not just a good man though, but a GREAT follower of Jesus Christ!

2.      Because his life was full of great things! He was Full of THREE things:


a.      Full of faith – just thoroughly believed God

b.      Full of the Holy Ghost – not of the TV, or youtubes, or bad attitudes

c.      Full of concern for others – and his concern was:


1)     First for persecuted believers in Jerusalem – he personally sold his own land

2)     Then for new baby Christians in Antioch (Act 11:22-24)

3)     Then for a discouraged Saul (several times) (Acts 9:26,27; 11:25,26)

4)     Later for a young man named John Mark (Acts 12:25; 15:37, 39)


d.      Those things made Barnabas a GREAT encourager!

e.      And those are things we ALL should want to be full of: Faith, the Holy Spirit, and Concern for others!


3.      You see, Even though he was one of the first missionaries ever (Acts 13:1-3)…

4.      His FIRST calling and greatest gifting was in investing in, and encouraging and building up other believers, transforming them into GREAT Christians!


C.    How Barnabas made Ordinary People into great Christians!


1.      He took chances believing in people


a.      Some see only the spots and the failures and problems and faults in people


1)     Speech impediments – check Moses

2)     Too young, immature – check Timothy

3)     Ignorant and uneducated – check Peter, James and John

4)     Too much baggage in someone’s past – Saul the Persecutor and Murderer


b.      But Barnabas saw what the grace of God could do anybody!


2.      He sacrificed his own possessions, and reputation, and life, for the benefit of others


a.      Sold his own land to provide for the needs of other Christians against his own needs (4:34-37)

b.      And then started investing his time and life into other believers


3.      Let’s look at just two people he helped transform and strengthen


a.      John Mark (Acts 12:25)


1)     Mark was Barnabas’ nephew.

2)     Mark was a fearful, introverted believer, who had never done anything for Christ.

3)     Barnabas invited him to go along with he and Saul (13:5)

4)     And when he faced spiritual warfare, He wimped out as a missionary Acts 13:13

5)     Yet, Barnabas transformed John Mark into the great writer of the Gospel of MARK

6)     And later on, as a great helper to Paul the Apostle (2Tim 4:11)


b.      And Saul of Tarsus.


1)     The biggest thing Barnabas ever did was help take Saul the religious murderer, and make him into the great evangelist known as the Apostle Paul

2)     Barnabas personally vouched for Saul’s conversion, and persuaded the Christians of Jerusalem (who were terrified of Saul) to accept Saul's claim that he was now a believer in Jesus (Acts 9:26-30)


a)      Think about it! Barnabas was the first in Jerusalem to believe Saul’s testimony – nobody else did!

b)     He went out of his way, and risked his reputation to get other Christians to let down their guard, and to accept Saul into the church! What a great risk!


3)     In time, Barnabas helped make Paul into a great people-trainer himself


a)      In other words, What Barnabas had been doing, he taught Saul to do

b)     So, later you find Saul taking Silas, and then later Timothy and even Dr. Luke under his wing, and transforming THEIR lives into great believers and great preachers and great servants of the Lord!


4.      None of those lives changed without Barnabas – remember that!


D.    It was never easy for Barnabas to do what he was doing


1.      From the start, he endured intense persecutions as a Believer just like everyone else – wasn’t immune to troubles – part of every Christian life!


a.      At first in Jerusalem in Acts 2-4 – he lost job, friends, career (he had been a Levite)

b.      Rejected by his family and his nation – he was considered a traitor!

c.      He was regularly attacked, and almost murdered at Lystra (Acts 14:19,20)

d.      Later on, he and Paul didn’t get along so well and had to split up

e.      But he just kept focusing on the needs of everyone else, no matter who they were

f.       There is something so great about that!


2.      He CHOSE to be an Encourager


a.      I can’t emphasise this enough!

b.      There is no magic wand, no quick class to take, no pill or prayer

c.      Just a determined Christian heart, to REALLY live like Jesus did!

d.      Remember that Jesus went out of His way to bring fishermen, carpenters, tax collectors, political zealots and discouraged doubters together in HIS team!

e.      Most of the work Jesus did was encouraging them to just do as He said and reach out to OTHERS with help and hope and a better way to live, following HIM!


3.      Barnabas overcame every obstacle against his efforts, not for HIS success, but for others’ success


a.      Those rejected by others as failures, or having too much baggage in their past, were just the ones he helped become GREAT in the kingdom of God

b.      It is NOT so easy to stand with a murderer like Saul, or a scaredy-cat like John Mark – usually you are going to be the only one doing it!

c.      But, We all need that kind of helper in all our lives!


4.      One other great attribute of Barnabas! He willingly took second place when he invested in the lives of others


a.      He started as leader and a teacher, but wasn’t offended when his students (like Saul) became the master!


1)     Barnabas and Saul  Acts 11:25; 11:30; 12:25; 13:1,2; 13:7

2)     Paul and Barnabas  Acts 13:43; 13:46; 13:50; 14:14; 15:22

3)     Barnabas and Saul again  Acts 15:25

4)     The finally Paul and Barnabas  Acts 15:35,36


b.      Later, when he took a defeated young John Mark under his wing, and encouraged HIM, and built HIM up, and got HIM strong in his own walk and faith in Christ, you find John Mark writing one of the four Gospels – the Gospel of Mark! And Barnabas… well, he never got to write anything! Paul… YES! Mark… YES! But nothing in the Bible bears Barnabas’ name.

c.      But that was okay with Barnabas! Whew!

d.      And it SHOULD be okay with US too!


5.      Barnabas KEPT being an encourager – never quit! Kept investing in, and believing in, and encouraging other Christians!

6.      What a way to live!

7.      Just realize that not everyone worked out.


a.      You wouldn’t know it, but Barnabas probably had to deal with a lot of discouragement due to many people around him NOT going on for God.

b.      They ALL don’t stay faithful, or strong in the Lord.

c.      But some do! And they seem to make it all worthwhile


E.    The Truth is…


1.      Most people naturally are the opposite of Barnabas – they are Diotrephes’ (3John 1:9)


a.      Did you ever hear of HIM? He is the exact opposite of Barnabas

b.      Diotrephes love to have all the attention, and love to be in first place, and in charge, and get all the glory! None of their life is EVER sacrificed for others – only for themselves!

c.      May God save us from such a spirit that Diotrephes had!

d.      There are so many people who in their own hearts are Diotrephes’

e.      They destroy churches – split them, and leave them wounded! All out of arrogant pride!

f.       But Barnabas willingly took second, third, and maybe even last place… I think Jesus reserved that place for his greatest heroes (1Cor 4:11-13).


2.      Not everyone can become a great Apostle Paul, who obviously was great spiritually:


a.      Paul was a Great soul-winner

b.      A Great preacher

c.      A Great Bible Teacher

d.      A Great Missionary


3.      But I believe that every Christian CAN become a GREAT HELPER, a Barnabas, who helps OTHERS become great Christians!

4.      No church needs to be full of Apostle Pauls! That’s not what we need!


a.      Everyone constantly trying to be the leader

b.      Trying to preach

c.      Trying to correct everyone else’s preaching

d.      Trying to establish precise doctrine

e.      Wow! That would make a very contentious group wouldn’t it?


5.      But EVERY Church should be filled with Barnabas’!


a.      People who value everyone in the church body – especially the lessor known ones

b.      People who sacrifice their time and invest in everyone else in the church

c.      People who are glad to lead, but gladder to take second place


III.      Conclusion and Probing Questions


A.    WHO led you to Christ? Who looked past all your arguments and disrespect and put-downs, and running from God? And stayed working on you, praying for you, loving you into God’s kingdom?

B.    WHO has invested in your Christian life?


1.      I would bet many people!

2.      That’s a good thing! It’s GREAT to have Barnabas’ in your life

3.      It’s even a better thing when it is YOU and “I” who are investing in, and building up lives


C.    How do we get a church full of Barnabas’? Where do they come from?


1.      Remember, THEY come from other Barnabas’ before them. Timothy had two “Barnabas’” in his life before Paul came along – they were his mother and grandmother (2Tim 1:5,6)

2.      Barnabas’ come from people who determine to BE Barnabas’ and not Diotrephes


D.    WHO are YOU willingly, and joyfully investing in?

E.    Humble YOURSELF, and go out of your way to help OTHERS – invest in them


1.      Not as superior to them

2.      But as a risk taker


a.      Of kids in the teen dept

b.      Of kids in Sunday School who are always acting up

c.      Of the loners, and the fearful in church

d.      Of the newly saved – JACK AND MAUREEN SMITH DID THIS FOR ME


3.      Look for Divine Appointments where God puts YOU in someone else’s life to win them to faith in Christ!

4.      Look around and search for the discouraged “Sauls” in this church – people who are failing in trying to serve God

5.      Be willing to stay in the background, in the shadows as THEY start to take a lead

6.      You may just end up helping the next great preacher or missionary!

7.      That’s MY goal!