We have already met Barnabas (4:36–37). He was a Cypriot Jew, of the tribe of Levi. The meaning of his name is variously rendered, one lovely derivation being Son of Consolation. What a consolation he must have been to Saul! Barnabas believed him. Nothing in this world can be more frustrating than to be an object of universal suspicion and mistrust, to be eyed by everyone, to be kept at arm’s length. Saul was a social leper to everyone in Jerusalem. But Barnabas believed him. Barnabas came to visit him, talked to him, sensed the innate honesty of the man, perhaps quietly but prudently checked out his story, and befriended him. No tongue can tell what that must have meant to Saul.
Then Barnabas introduced Saul into the the highest church circles. He introduced him to Peter, James, and John, to Thomas, Matthew, and Bartholomew, Andrew, and the rest. What a meeting that must have been! To see Saul looking Simon Peter in the face, to see Simon, his suspicion melting, give Saul a big fisherman’s bear hug! To see Saul and John greet one another with a holy kiss!
And how they must have talked once the barriers were finally down! To the end of his days Paul never forgot what he owed to Barnabas, the first man to trust him in Jerusalem.
May we not seek to play the part of a Barnabas to some new believer?
John Phillips, Exploring Acts: An Expository Commentary, The John Phillips Commentary Series (Kregel Publications; WORDsearch Corp., 2009), Ac 9:27.