The Ministry of Encouragement

A quick character study of Barnabas

Four stories in Acts feature Barnabas. While his birth name was Joseph, the apostles started calling him Barnabas, which means "Son of Encouragement." What a compliment: they changed his name to match his behavior!

Read the four passages that feature Barnabas, keeping the context in mind: Acts 4:32-37, Acts 9:22-30, Acts 11:19-26, and Acts 15:36-41. Use the following questions to discuss Barnabas' ministry and impact.

  • What character traits described Barnabas? (Look for what is stated as well as implied by what he said or did.)
  • Why are these particular traits prerequisites for the ministry of encouragement?
  • Who did he encourage in these passages? (Cite individuals and groups.)
  • What did he say or do to encourage people?
  • What were the ultimate results of his encouragement of those individuals or groups? (Think ahead to what those churches or individuals accomplished.)
  • What principles about the ministry of encouragement can you glean from these passages?
  • When you see or hear the word "encourager," who comes to mind? Why?
  • Which of Barnabas' methods of encouragement are most applicable to relationships within our group?

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