27 Now [ae]at this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them named Agabus stood up and began to indicate [af]by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the [ag]world. [ah]And this took place in the reign of Claudius. 29 And in the proportion that any of the disciples had means, each of them determined to send a contribution for the [ai]relief of the brethren living in Judea. 30 And this they did, sending it [aj]in charge of Barnabas and Saul to the elders.
This isn't the first time that we've seen Barnabas but it is a very important time. As you can read in verse 26, he had witnessed many in Antioch who had believed in the LORD. So much so that he searched for Saul, brought him to Antioch and together, for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch (vs. 27).
The first time we meet Barnabas, it was in Acts 4. He had owned a tract of land which he sold, brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet (Acts 4:36, 37). We don't see him again until after the conversion of Saul. He was clearly instrumental in Saul's life and acted as a mediator between him and the disciples (who at that time were very wary of allowing Saul into their group; see Acts 9:26ff). This text for today is the third time we see Barnabas 'in action. And what a time it was!
Just as a novelist writes a variety of stories intermingled in the great story to grip their readers attention, Luke now reminds us that there were 'scattered people' that we haven't thought about and now he revisits their story. It was way back in chapter 8 where we read that, due to the persecution of Stephen, people were scattered throughout the regions of Judea and Samaria (8:2). We pick up their story now in chapter 11 and what a story it is!
It is very clear to me that there was a movement of the Spirit in this time of history. Many were coming to the LORD and the Apostles most definitely had work on their hands. Barnabas, sent by the church in Jerusalem, met up with these 'scattered peoples' and clearly saw he needed help - and so, in steps Saul (again) and they both ministered together in Antioch and it is here that the word 'Christian' was first used in the Gospel account.
Barnabas' ministry is clearly encouragement. He saw the faith of these people and demonstrated that by encourag[ing] them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord. He is called a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith (vss. 23, 24). We need more Barnabas' in our ministries. I do not for a second see a lack of faith or courage that he sought out Saul. He clearly saw the need of these people to be discipled and knew that Saul would not only benefit from this experience but they too would benefit from Saul's giftings. He truly was the Son of Encouragement.
Where is there a Barnabas in your ministry? Is God calling you to be a Barnabas to someone?
It is so clear to me that the LORD was using this man in this time of the history of the Church. What can we learn and apply today by looking at this man?