ABC’S OF BARNABAS: THE POWER OF ENCOURAGEMENT was originally taught in its entirety on November 17, 2017, for Purpose Institute at the First Apostolic Church of Troy Campus, Pastor Marvin Walker.

One of my favorite ways to study the Word of God is through the lives of Biblical Biographies. I love seeing how they lived, succeeded, and even failed. I have recently been studying the life of Barnabas, and his kindness and spirit of encouragement have enthralled me. As I have peeked into his life, numerous lessons have jumped out at me. I would like for you to join me on the journey by creating the ABC’s of Barnabas. With each letter of the alphabet, we are going to discover a new attribute of his life.

The overarching theme of Barnabas’ life is encouragement. Encouragement means to come alongside to help. The word “encourage” is used in the Bible to indicate: to make strong, to cheer up or cause to smile, to urge forward or motivate toward goals, and to move alongside with Biblical counsel.

I was recently teaching this to a church on midweek Bible study. I asked everyone to say something kind to three different people. At the end of this activity, one lady was refreshingly honest when she stated, “It is tough for me to say nice things to people.” The truth is if we want to build a new habit we have to start new activities. We must “train our brain” to encourage one another instead of complaining one to another. Barnabas perfected the art of encouragement. Here are some of my greatest take-ways:


  • Acts 15:35 Paul also and Barnabas continued in Antioch, teaching and preaching the word of the Lord, with many others also.
  • Barnabas was a spiritual leader in the church of Antioch. Acts 11:26 tells us, the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch.” I personally want to know the Characteristics of the first Christian church. By examining the life of Barnabas, we can discover several keys of Christianity:
    • 1) Encouragement (4:36)
    • 2) Prayer (Acts 13:2)
    • 3) Fasting (13:2)
    • 4) Giving (4:37)  
    • 5) Developing disciples (11:24)  
  • If we are going to have a Book of Acts revival, then we must develop Book of Acts habits! QUESTION: What are the three spiritual habits that you exercise daily?


  • 1 Thessalonians 5:11 So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
  • Encouragers build each other up. Barnabas gave Paul his first chance and John Mark his second chance when it would have been easy for him to block both of them. It has been said, “There are two ways to have the tallest building in the city. Either build up your own or tear down others.” My experience is the more you block, the more blockers will come into your life. The opposite is also true, the more you build, builders will come into your life, this correlates with the scripture that states, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap (Galatians 6:7).” Like Barnabas, it is essential to be a builder and not a blocker. QUESTION: What does “being a builder” look like in your life?


  • Acts 11:24 For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Ghost and of faith.
  • The Bible says that Barnabas was a good man. At the end of my life, if my tombstone read, “David Morehead was a good man,” I believe I would have had a successful life. So how does one achieve the merit of a right man/person? Through scripture, we find that Barnabas had— goodness, faith, big-heartedness, courage, generosity, humbleness, self-sacrifice, open-mindedness, boldness, and was full of the Holy Spirit. QUESTION: Of the list above, what is your high/low? Your highest attribute on the list and your weakest quality?


  • Acts 9:27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
  • Barnabas asked the church to accept Paul as a Christian and a leader. I desire to be a defender of people. Even if in time people prove you wrong about themselves, I believe you will do well to err on the side of grace. QUESTION: Is your natural disposition that of a defender or prosecutor?


  • Acts 14:22 Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God. 23. And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.
  • Barnabas did not merely “win” people to the Lord. He equipped them to be disciples of Christ and then leaders in the church. We can do this by:
    • Confirming – Through Bible Studies, we can “confirm” their knowledge in Christ.
    • Exhorting – We do this by spending time with them. Barnabas spent a lot of one-on-one time with Paul.
    • Ordaining – It’s not enough to simply “know,” we must also “do.” We must help new believers find a ministry within the church.
    • Prayer and fasting – By teaching new believers how to pray and fast, we can help shield them from discouragement from the enemy.
  • The concept of “winning” people to the Lord means that the job is done. The role of an encourager is never complete. Our job is to help our converts be “rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17). QUESTION: Who is someone that you are currently equipping?


  • Acts 9:27 But Barnabas took him, and brought him to the apostles, and declared unto them how he had seen the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken to him, and how he had preached boldly at Damascus in the name of Jesus.
  • One year after Saul’s conversion to Paul, Barnabas gave Saul his first chance. He laid his entire reputation on the line for someone who seemingly did not deserve this opportunity. He stood and vouched for him when this was not popular and maybe not even wise. Encouragers give other people their first chance. Encouragers empower people with things they don’t deserve. Yes, they hold them accountable, but they also enable them. Of course, you must supply the tools, but you encourage them. We must always build a network and a safety net around people that we are disciplining, yet we encourage. QUESTION: Who is someone you can give their first chance? What are some tools we can use to support people?

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