But Barnabas …

by Jerry Senn

"And when he had come to Jerusalem, he attempted to join the disciples. And they were all afraid of him, for they did not believe that he was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles and declared to them how on the road he had seen the Lord, who spoke to him, and how at Damascus he had preached boldly in the name of Jesus. So he went in and out among them at Jerusalem, preaching boldly in the name of the Lord. And he spoke and disputed against the Hellenists [Greek-speaking Jews]. But they were seeking to kill him. And when the brothers learned this, they brought him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus." 
— Acts 9:26-30

Saul was a Christian without a church! No one wanted to be near him, much less give to him the “right-hand of fellowship.” They feared he was an a deceiver who wanted to pull the wool over their eyes and bring them harm.

They had good reason for being afraid, given Saul’s former history as the greatest of Jesus’ opponents (Acts 9:1-1-3). It has been several years since they had heard of his whereabouts, and they perhaps thought since time had passed, he was now ready to move in on them with his perverse and violent plan of attack.

But, one man was willing to listen to Saul’s testimony and watch his willingness to continue taking life and death attempts to preach Jesus as Messiah in Damascus. He saw and believed this man’s faith lived out in real time.

So Barnabas, realizing Saul’s problem in Jerusalem with credibility among the disciples, “took him and brought him to the apostles,” giving his honest appraisal of Saul’s testimony, based on solid evidence he has personally obtained.

The words, “but Barnabas,” indicate he stood alone in accepting Saul as an honest brother in Christ. His confidence was well placed.

LESSON: Helping the underdog, the one who has demonstrated genuine repentance, even transformation of life, is a virtue. Saul could have become discouraged enough to give up when brethren would not listen. “But Barnabas …”