Then Departed Barnabas…To Seek Saul

Then Departed Barnabas…To Seek Saul

Dr. Earl D. Jessup

In Acts 11:25 the Bible says, “Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church and taught much people.” We find that one of the first things that Barnabas did after the church was planted in Antioch was get some help with the winning of souls and the discipling of the Christians.

We have heard discussions on the “Team Concept” of church planting and how effective it is for more than one family to work together in the planting of a new church. I believe that we have several biblical principles that lead us to this conclusion. We find in Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 the Bible says, “Two are better than one: because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth for he hath not another to help him up.” The teaching of the Scripture is clear that two working together can get more done than a single individual. We also have the teaching of the Lord Jesus in Luke 10 where Jesus sent them out “two and two” into the villages to preach the gospel. The Lord Jesus thought it was important for men to work together in the ministry. Then as the church is planted in Antioch and Barnabas becomes the pastor he immediately goes to get Saul, who eventually becomes the great missionary named Paul, to help him teach the saints in this young church.

I want to concentrate on why Barnabas did this and the interesting results of Saul going to Antioch with Barnabas to work in this new ministry. First of all, I think this was a help to Barnabas. Barnabas first met Saul when Saul traveled to Jerusalem from Damascus and tried to join the church in Jerusalem. The disciples were afraid of Saul and his reputation but Barnabas took him in and convinced the church at Jerusalem that he was a genuine disciple of the Lord Jesus. Thus Saul and Barnabas became friends and I believe that Saul learned a great deal from Barnabas while in Jerusalem. Because of this, I believe they developed a “kindred spirit” for the ministry and as soon as Barnabas began leading the ministry at Antioch, he knew that Saul would be helpful to him and the church. Secondly, I think that Barnabas went to get Saul because he thought that the church would be a help to Saul. I believe that Barnabas was trained in the local church at Jerusalem for the purpose of pastoring a church as the one in Antioch. Because of this, when Barnabas became the leader of the church in Antioch, he determined that he would also train someone and prepare them for ministry. Saul was the one the he wanted to help in the ministry and Antioch was the right place to do it. His philosophy was to use the church to train leaders in order for them to be sent out to serve. He learned this in Jerusalem as they sent out their best and brightest to pastor the churches they were starting.

As we get to Acts 13 we find that God places His hand not only on Saul but Barnabas as well for the special purpose of traveling around the country to plant churches. The church at Antioch did not try to keep the best but to send the best. I am afraid that is quite different from what we see in many churches today. I visit a number of Bible colleges and many times the best and the brightest are targeted to stay in the ministry there instead of being sent out to the fields of harvest. We rationalize it by saying that we must keep the home base strong and it is true we must do that. However, are we doing it because we cannot trust God to take care of our base if we send the best and brightest to plant churches? In Antioch, it seems they sent the best and brightest to plant the churches and God blessed the work with those that remained faithful.

There is another thought that I want to consider as well. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if our church planters could go to our churches and colleges and get some of our well trained young men to help them in the planting of a new church? What better place is there to learn what it takes to plant a new church than working with a church planter? I believe that is what Saul learned when he went to Antioch to work with Barnabas. Maybe we could get some of our young men to take up this challenge to go and work with a new church planter for several years before launching out on their own.

I know what many are thinking and that is, “How will this young church be able to pay this new ‘staff member’”. I seriously doubt that the church at Antioch was able to pay Saul anything. I think he worked to pay his way and I don’t see any reason a young man or couple cannot go to a community, work with a church planter, and work a secular job to pay his way. I believe God would honor that type of sacrifice. The Bible tells us in Lamentation 3:27, “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” I am afraid we have raised our young men to think that they can complete Bible college and everyone of them should get a paid position with a local church and that they will have a car allowance, housing allowance and all the comforts that the pastor has. I doubt that is the way most of our young men will have it.

We can clearly see that God honored the sacrifice of Saul when he went to Antioch to work with Barnabas and I believe that God will use young men today that are willing to “bear the yoke in their youth.” They would be a help to the church and the church would be a help to them. I am praying that God would raise up some men willing to work with new churches and learn the ministry as it really is.

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