22 Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem, and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch. 23 When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord. 24 For he was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And a great many people were added to the Lord. 25 Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul. 26 And when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people. And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
Then news of these things came to the ears of the church in Jerusalem,
When the news of great numbers of Gentiles came to the attention of the Jerusalem church, they sent Barnabas to investigate what was happening and to strengthen them in the faith.
and they sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch.
Because of the great evangelistic work in Antioch, the Jerusalem church sent Barnabas 300 miles to encourage them (v. 23). This Barnabas is the same one who advocated for Paul when he was under suspicion by the Jerusalem church (Acts 9:27-28). Barnabas was called the “son of encouragement” (Acts 4:36-37).
When he [Barnabas] came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad,
When Barnabas saw what God was doing in Antioch by God’s grace, he rejoiced in what God was doing. It was evident to him that God was at work in Antioch.
and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord.
Barnabas encouraged the church at Antioch to persist in their work of evangelizing. “Continue” is an essential concept for new believers. It was vital that they not stagnate in their walk with God (Acts 13:43; 14:22).
For [because] he [Barnabas] was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith.
Barnabas did what he did because he was “a good man” and “filled with the Holy Spirit and faith.” The term “good” denotes excellence, a person of sterling character. His character was “full of the Holy Spirit and faith,” so he lived in fellowship with God depending on the Holy Spirit.
And a great many people were added to the Lord.
Barnabas’s ministry to the evangelists in Antioch contributed to the exponential growth of the church.
Then Barnabas departed for Tarsus to seek Saul.
After fulfilling God’s purpose for him in Antioch, Barnabas left for Tarsus to find Saul (Paul). Tarsus was about 100 miles northeast of Antioch (Acts 21:39).
And when he [Barnabas] had found him [Paul], he brought him to Antioch.
After Barnabas found Paul in Cilicia, Paul’s home area, he brought him back to Antioch. Paul launched his subsequent missionary expeditions from Antioch (Acts 13:1f). This city became the strategic center for world evangelism.
Paul had previously preached in Syria and Cilicia (Ga 1:21f). Barnabas knew of Paul’s call to be an apostle to the Gentiles, so he sought the apostle to help in the Gentile city of Antioch (Acts 9:15, 27).
So it was that for a whole year they assembled with the church and taught a great many people.
Barnabas and Paul engaged in a teaching ministry in Antioch for an entire year to a great number of people. Teaching is foundational for a strong church.
And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
Antioch was the location where believers were first called “Christians.” The term “Christian” is also used in Acts 26:28 and 1 Peter 4:16, where unbelievers used it for believers. The church did not use the term until the turn of the second century, by way of Ignatius. The use of the term “Christians” indicates the essence of the church was Christ; it was a Christocentric church.
It is better to put 10 men to work than to do the work of 10 men.
When Barnabas recruited Saul of Tarsus, he must have known he would sink into a secondary role in ministry. He was not concerned about his prominence in the church but about advancing the cause of Christ in the world. God’s plan was to take a man called Saul, who turned Paul, to be the greatest missionary to the world. That team shared ministry in Antioch for a year together. D. L. Moody once said, “It is better to put 10 men to work than to do the work of 10 men.” Pastors make a big mistake if they think they must do all of the serving in the church. If the pastor recruits many people to help him, he will cause his church to grow much faster than if he were to do it all.
Christians build a foundation for their faith by continuing in the Word of God (Jn 8:31; 1 Jn 2:24, 27). Continuing in the faith is foundational to a Christian.