“And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,”
The apostles chose a nickname for Joses and “surnamed” him Barnabas. The name Barnabas means “comfort or encouragement.”
You can probably think of someone you know, perhaps even yourself, that received a nickname because of some attribute or characteristic in his personality or behavior. This is what happened to Barnabas. He was such a man of encouragement that the apostles gave him this nickname. What if we were given a nickname that described our character or mannerisms? Are you an encourager? Would the name Barnabas be a fitting nickname for you? What kind of nickname would be appropriate for our lives or would be consistent with our behavior? I have known many people who could appropriately be “surnamed” Barnabas. They are genuine encouragers. I have known those who have earned the nickname “Faithful,” “Servant,” “Humble,” “Generous,” “Cheerful,” “Positive,” “Merciful,” “Friendly,” etc. There are other people I have known that should be nicknamed, “Critical,” “Selfish,” “Prideful,” “Tardy,” “Greedy,” or “Negative.” We do not know how Barnabas earned his nickname, but we have several examples of his encouragement after he “was surnamed.”
When we are introduced to him in our text, he sold a piece of property and gave the proceeds to the church. His generosity was encouraging. In another place, he befriended the newly converted Paul when other disciples were suspicious of his testimony. His friendship was an encouragement. His support of John Mark when Paul thought Mark to be unqualified to serve was another example of his encouraging attitude. Barnabas was commissioned to go to Antioch to lead in the establishment of a church there, and he was an encourager in his soul winning and discipleship.
As we can see in Barnabas’ life, he was an encourager in many ways, and an example to all of us. How might we be encouragers to others? Are we the kind of friend that encourages others? Does our personal witnessing and concern for the spiritual growth of converts serve to encourage others in the same way? Our reputation is being formed by the actions and attitudes others see in us.