Knowing that Saul needed a friend more than ever, God provided. The friend’s name was Joseph (Joses in KJV), but you might know him as Barnabas. Barnabas, which means son of encouragement, was the surname or nickname the apostles gave him. Barnabas was a Levite, from the tribe of the priests, and he lived in the country of Cyprus according to Acts 4:36-37.
The first thing we learn about Barnabas from scripture is that he is generous. When he hears other Christians are in need, the Bible tells us Barnabas puts his faith into action. In order to help, he sells his land and gives all the money from the sale of his property to the apostles.
In Acts 11:22-24, the Bible tells us more about Barnabas’ character. Scripture says Barnabas is “a good man” who was “full of the Holy Ghost and of faith.” The Bible says he brought many people to the Lord, and is a respected member of the early church.
For Saul, we learn Barnabas’ friendship is crucial. Barnabas is a tremendous encouragement to Saul, and he supports Saul’s willingness to teach and preach about Jesus. Barnabas truly believes Saul has changed from the persecutor he once was. Because of this, Barnabas puts his own reputation on the line, and takes Saul to the apostles. Determined to convince the apostles of Saul’s change in heart, Barbabas spends time explaining how Saul has changed and why he believes it by recounting Saul’s conversion and ministry in Damascus.
It is Barnabas who encourages Saul during his time of hardship. It is Barnabas who vouches for Saul. It is Barnabas who plays a key role in Saul’s acceptance by the Apostles and the Christians in Jerusalem.
For Saul, his friend Barnabas makes all the difference. Barnabas’ words and actions have a tremendous impact. One could argue that without Barnabas, without the friend that God provided, Saul may have never stepped into his role as a missionary. If not for Barnabas, Saul may have never made the transition from Saul to the man we know as Paul.