Barnabas was an apostle in the early church and worked with Paul on missionary journeys. Barnabas's real name was Joseph, but because he was so inspiring, people called him Barnabas which means "Son of Encouragement" (Acts 4:36–37). Though we do not have his exact words, according to Acts 11:19–13:12, we can most likely assume his messages were like a soothing balm, providing comfort to the persecuted church.
We can imagine that his letters may have sounded something like this:
My faithful, friends of Antioch,
Oh, how I miss your company! I often reflect on our ministry together. I think about teaching the younger believers the wonders of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I can still see their eyes light up with this revelation by the Holy Spirit. Now I am writing to you from Cyprus where the apostle Paul and I are continuing the Lord's work. Friends, the schemes of the enemy are prevalent here, but I am confident that with Christ, the mission will not be thwarted.
Please do not mistake my encouragement for naivet√©. I know the depths of sorrow we experience for the gospel, but we also have hope in Jesus. I do not forget the persecution that drove many of you from Jerusalem to Antioch. Such persecution made us scatter like a handful of rocks thrown from a child's hand. Though we are apart, we are never separated in Spirit. With the indwelling Spirit of Jesus, we are always near the throne. It is true that we have lost many. Stephen and James are gone, but we can rejoice because they now forever rest in the Father's arms. Peter was arrested, but the Lord broke the chains from his wrists and rescued him from the jail cell. Famine struck Jerusalem, but we can remember that though this life perishes, we have everlasting treasures in Christ.
Though there are present troubles of various kinds, we can remain encouraged in the gospel. May the gospel's truth constantly be on your lips. Abide in Jesus's love for you. Jesus left heaven and took on flesh. He lived a perfect and obedient life in our place. He carried our shortcomings and burdens. He brought our sickness and shame to the cross. There, He offered His body as the punishment for our sins. Three days later, Jesus rose from the grave, in victory over sin and death. He ascended to the Father's right hand where He rules over all in His majesty. The gospel is why we can take heart in hard times. Through our faith in Jesus, we have a fervor that darkness cannot quench.
So stay true to the Lord with devoted hearts. When we are feeling weary and worn out, let us come before the Lord who cares for us. Know that God sees you in your sorrow and loneliness. God will mourn with you over the fallenness of the world while showing you how He overcame it. He will keep your mind centered on the gospel. The Holy Spirit will guide you to prayer and Scripture. Cling to these gifts from the Lord. God wants you to experience the joy of basking in His mercy and grace. Also, lean on each other for support, my friends. God has done great things in Antioch, building a church with His name on it. You are surrounded by a community of believers who will cheer you on until you reach the finish line.
There is hope, my friends; there is hope. We have hope in Christ. There is eternal life for our future, a relationship with God for our present, and forgiveness for our past. Rest in all who Jesus is and in His salvation. Though ministry has taken me elsewhere for now, I know I will see you again–either in this life or in paradise.
With the love of Christ Jesus,
Though this letter is imagined, we know that Barnabas constantly encouraged others. Can you imagine receiving such an exhortation? Exhortation, which is speech calling or encouraging someone to something, is a biblical practice. Romans 12:8 identifies exhortation as a gift of the Holy Spirit. As believers today, we should strive to encourage each other to trust in the gospel.
The Daily Grace Co. strives to embody biblical exhortation like Barnabas. We want to point to the comfort of Christ. If you need encouragement, Take Heart is a resource that will encourage you to rest in the arms of your Creator. Below is a description for more information:
Take Heart is a 90-day devotional for those who are weary, anxious, and overwhelmed. Each day includes a passage of Scripture, a prayer prompt, and a short devotional designed to bring encouragement from God's Word. With gospel truths on every page, this devotional will help lift the hearts of those who are downcast to rest in the love of the Lord.
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