Studying through Romans reminds us not only of the goodness of God, but how much we owe to Paul for being a faithful messenger. Just think of how much of the NT was written by Paul. Paul has had an amazing impact on the church. His teachings on justification by faith, the resurrection, the second coming, the importance of the church and the example of his life have been transformative. It’s hard to overemphasize just how much influence Paul has had on the church. But we should also ask, what would Paul have been without Barnabas?
Paul was not born an apostle. Saul’s violent reputation had preceded him to Jerusalem. None of the Christians, apparently not even the apostles, believed he was a Christian. They were afraid of him. It took Barnabas’ intercession to convince the church that Paul was the real deal. They trusted Paul because of Barnabas. It was only after Barnabas spoke up for Paul that Paul began to speak out boldly in the name of Jesus. Unfortunately, Paul’s preaching brought death threats from the Hellenistic Jews and the brethren sent him home to Tarsus (Acts 9:26-30).
Christians were scattered by persecution and some of them came to Antioch. There was a large conversion of gentiles there. The church in Jerusalem sent Barnabas to Antioch to check things out and he witnessed and rejoiced for the considerable numbers who were brought to the Lord. What the Bible says he did next is very insightful. The Bible tells us that Barnabas went to Tarsus to look for Saul. Saul was still home in Tarsus. Barnabas found him and brought him to Antioch. A partnership developed between Barnabas and Paul. They were sent to Judea with relief funds for the Christians there (Acts 11:20-30). Later, the church sent them off for what we refer to as the “first missionary journey” (Acts 13:2-4). It is “Barnabas and Saul” until later in Acts 13 when it becomes “Paul and Barnabas.” Paul followed what he learned and became a mentor too. We see this relationship especially with Timothy.
Where would the church be without Barnabas? What an impact he had on the life of Paul. Mentoring was a lifestyle for Barnabas. When Paul rejected Mark, it was Barnabas who took Mark under his wings to spread the gospel. Mark would go on to write a gospel and become someone very valuable, not only to the church, but to Paul himself. The church must always be mindful of the next generation of leaders.
Let mature Christians mentor you and look for others you can influence too.