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July 8, 2006

Barnabas: Son of Encouragement

Filed under: Bible Studies,Old and New Testament — Adam Osborne @ 10:49 am


Barnabas “Son of Encouragement”

A Bible Study by Adam Osborne, Jr.

Taught on Sunday, 30 July 2006

Who can tell me about Barnabas?

  • Friend and companion of Paul.
  • Barnabas, was originally named Joseph, he was given his nickname by the disciples.
  • He was a committed Christian who sold the land he owned and gave the money to the Church.?
  • The Christian leaders respected him.
  • Instrumental in bringing the newly converted Saul from Tarsus to Antioch.
  • Influential in having Saul received by the apostles in Jerusalem.
  • Barnabas and Saul (Paul) were commissioned by the church at Antioch to conduct a missionary tour.
  • Barnabas was a “developer”.
    • Developers look for “potential”
    • Developers don’t give up.
  • Barnabas was a mentor.
  • What does “Barnabas” actually mean?
    • Son of Encouragement…he lived up to that name.

Acts 4:36-37 (NIV) Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

  • What can you say about this scripture? It not only introduces us to Barnabas, but his introduction also gives us an example on how God’s people give to the kingdom of God. He challenges us with his servanthood and charity for the body of Christ.

Acts 11:21-24 (NIV) The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord. News of this reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas to Antioch. 23 When he arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. 24 He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith, and a great number of people were brought to the Lord. A little history. The first preachers of the gospel at Antioch, were dispersed from Jerusalem by persecution. What was meant to hurt the church, was made to work for its good. The wrath of man is made to praise God. Barnabas was full of faith; full of the grace of faith, and full of the fruits of the faith that works by love.

  • How many of you know someone who obviously the Lord just “uses?”
  • What kinds of personality do they have? What’s different about them? Is it always “obvious” to everyone why God is using them, or is it sometimes hidden?

Developers look for potential

Acts 9:26-30 (NIV) When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple.
27 But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles. He told them how Saul on his journey had seen the Lord and that the Lord had spoken to him, and how in Damascus he had preached fearlessly in the name of Jesus. 28 So Saul stayed with them and moved about freely in Jerusalem, speaking boldly in the name of the Lord. 29 He talked and debated with the Grecian Jews, but they tried to kill him.
30 When the brothers learned of this, they took him down to Caesarea and sent him off to Tarsus.

QUESTION: What do you think Barnabas saw in Paul that the others did not? (Barnabas had seen Saul preach…so he saw the Holy Spirit in Barnabas). What a blessing Barnabas was to Paul. Barnabas was not only helping a future LEADER in God’s church, he was helping a NEW CHRISTIAN.

NOTICE: Barnabas “took him”. Took is a verb here, an action word. Men and women of God need to get up off the couch and take action for God’s church.

QUESTION: Of all the older Christians in this class, how many of you had a Christian man or woman just put their arms around you and help you along in your Christian growth?

This is an example that we all need to remember. All new Christians need some “older” more mature Christian to help build them up in the faith.

Developers never give up

Acts 15:36-41 (NIV) (When planning for Paul’s and Barnabas’ second missionary journey) Some time later Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us go back and visit the brothers in all the towns where we preached the word of the Lord and see how they are doing.”
37 Barnabas wanted to take John, also called Mark, with them, 38 but Paul did not think it wise to take him, because he had deserted them in Pamphylia and had not continued with them in the work. 39 They had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company. Barnabas took Mark and sailed for Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas and left, commended by the brothers to the grace of the Lord. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

QUESTION: Who was John Mark? (Barnabas’ cousin).
John Mark had let the disciples down once, but Barnabas gave him a second chance and went with him. Barnabas recognized John Mark’s potential. Things to see in this scripture.

  • Paul wanted to go back and check on the brothers in the cities where they had preached.?
  • New Christians need to be checked on.? Left to their own, bad things can possibly happen.? We need to “lead” and “train” our Christian brothers.
  • Notice that Barnabas, the son of encouragement didn’t back down. Paul wanted to do one thing, Barnabas the other.

This tells us a couple of things (a) Barnabas knew the John Mark deserved another chance…. and… (b) Barnabas / Paul were both human. They argued and couldn’t work things out, so they separated. However, here’s the important point. Saints can disagree without being disagreeable. This could have been disastrous in God’s church. But fortunately because they let God control their lives, things were totally worked out in the end. This is a GREAT example for us to follow in God’s church.

QUESTION: What was the consequence of Barnabas taking John Mark. How did things work out?

(Paul writing Timothy) 2 Tim 4:11 (NIV) Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry.

John Mark went on to help Paul and to write the Gospel of Mark. By the way, Barnabas and Paul rejoined forces again later. They remained friends.

Barnabas Trivia

  • He was a Jew, from the tribe of Levi.? Can anyone tell me what was special about the tribe of Levi?? (Tribe of priests).
  • He was from the island of Cyprus.
  • Even though the scripture said that no one was in need, Barnabas sold some land and gave the money to the disciples.? Can anyone remember another New Testament story about two people who sold land and things didn’t go to well for them? (Ananias and Sapphira)

Acts 5:1-10 (NIV) Now a man named Ananias, together with his wife Sapphira, also sold a piece of property. 2 With his wife’s full knowledge he kept back part of the money for himself, but brought the rest and put it at the apostles’ feet. 3 Then Peter said, “Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? 4 Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied to men but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died. And great fear seized all who heard what had happened. 6 Then the young men came forward, wrapped up his body, and carried him out and buried him. 7 About three hours later his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me, is this the price you and Ananias got for the land?” “Yes,” she said, “that is the price.” 9 Peter said to her, “How could you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look! The feet of the men who buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” 10 At that moment she fell down at his feet and died. Then the young men came in and, finding her dead, carried her out and buried her beside her husband.?

Godly developers want to make others more like Christ.

Heb 10:24-25 (NIV) And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. 25 Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another–and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

The biblical pattern for mentorship

1 Corinthians 11:1? (NIV) Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

Matt 5:16 (NIV) In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven


  • How many of us can say that we set the example for others, and that we are following the example of Christ?
  • Can someone give me an example of an instance when someone you know claimed to be a Christian, but then set a horrible example at work (or some other place) for others to follow?

One more thing to consider as a mentor

James 3:1 (NIV) Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.

Other mentors & leaders who used encouragement like Barnabas

2 Chron 35:1-2 (NIV) Josiah celebrated the Passover to the LORD in Jerusalem, and the Passover lamb was slaughtered on the fourteenth day of the first month. 2 He appointed the priests to their duties and encouraged them in the service of the Lord’s temple.

Matt 9:2 (NIV) Some men brought to him a paralytic, lying on a mat. When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.

Matt 14:27 (NIV) But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”Acts 27:22 (NIV) (Paul speaking) But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed. (Paul speaking) But now I urge you to keep up your courage, because not one of you will be lost; only the ship will be destroyed.


July 2, 2006

Prejudice – Bartholomew Nathanael

Filed under: Bible Studies — Adam Osborne @ 12:46 pm

Bartholomew Nathanael – Wrestling Through Prejudice

A Bible Study by Adam Osborne, Jr.

CENTRAL BIBLE TRUTH: Prejudice has no place in a disciple’s life.

“Who was Bartholomew Nathanael?”

  • Bartholomew is a Hebrew surname meaning “son of Tolmai”.
  • Nathanael means “God has Given”.
  • So he is Nathanael, son of Tolmai, or Nathanael Bar-Tolmai.
  • What is prejudice?
  • ANSWER: An opinion, judgment, or evaluation, favorable or more often unfavorable, conceived without proof or competent evidence, but based on what seems valid to one’s own mind. A bias against a race, creed, group, or the like.
  • What do you think of when you hear the word prejudice?
    • Possible answers: 1960’s; Martin Luther King’s speeches; civil rights marches; sitting in the back of the bus; different classrooms for white and black; etc.
  • Give me some examples of modern day prejudice.
  • What national problem are we dealing with right now on the news that has prejudicial overtones?
    • Answer: Illegal Immigrants from Mexico.
  • Question, what is STEREOTYPE?
    • A set image or conception held by or applied to members of a certain group.
  • Question, what’s the difference between prejudice and stereotype?
  • Prejudice is more unfavorable. Stereotype doesn’t appear to be so judgmental against a person/culture. Stereotypes usually look only at the surface.


  • In the US in 2000, there were roughly 195 million whites, 33 million blacks; 35 million Hispanics, 10 million Asian and Pacific Islanders, 2 million American Indians, 1 million Arabs, and 4.6 million who identified with two or more races.
  • 19.5 million people in the US ages 5 and older do not speak English very well.
  • The most common countries of origin for immigrants were: Mexico, the Philippines, Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, and Korea.
  • If current trends continue, almost half of the US population will be non-white by 2050.
  • Over the next 25 years, minority concentrations are projected to increase in all parts of the country, especially in the South, Southwest and West. By 2025 minority groups are expected to account for over 50% of the population in Hawaii, California, New Mexico, Texas and the District of Columbia.

FOCAL PASSAGE: John 1:43-51

John 1:43-51 (NIV) The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. Finding Philip, he said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Philip, like Andrew and Peter, was from the town of Bethsaida. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote–Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.” 48 “How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered, “I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”
49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” 50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, “I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”


  • Did Jesus know what Nathaniel had said that about him? (Answer: Yes).
  • Knowing that Jesus knew what Nathaniel had already said about him, what do we learn about Christ through this scripture?
    • Answer: He is merciful, he could have been angry with Nathaniel; he knows all things, and even our individual personalities. Also, when Jesus complimented Nathanael, that tells us that Jesus knew that he was an honest and trustworthy person. Also, Jesus knows the potential of man.


1. Prejudice can only see the surface

vv 45 – 46  Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote–Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip


  • What was Nathanael saying about Nazareth
    • We can not be certain “for sure” why Nathanael was saying this against Nazareth. It has been suggested that it may have carried a negative reputation because of its close location to a Roman city and the fact that it was on a major trade route. One researcher suggests that people in the town used to throw their garbage in the streets, which may have been what Nathanael was referring to.
  • BY THE WAY: Nathanael was from Cana. Not much better than Nazareth. No one went there, it was off the beaten track, while Nazareth was at least at the crossroads. To travel from the Mediterranean to Galilee, people at least traveled through Nazareth.
  • Nathaniel might have said, “As I read the Old Testament, Micah the prophet says Messiah comes out of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), not Nazareth.
  • Nathaniel might have said, “But Philip, Messiah is identified with Jerusalem, because he is going to reign in Jerusalem.”
  • But instead, the depth of his prejudice comes through when he chose: Can anything good come out of Nazareth.”
  • That was not a rational or biblical objection; it was based on sheer emotion and bigotry.
  • Nathanael’s comment about Nazareth reveals a civic rivalry and prejudice.
  • Prejudice is UGLY. Generalizations based on feelings of superiority, not on fact, can be spiritually debilitating. As a matter of fact, much of the nation of Israel rejected their Messiah because of prejudice. (John 7:52) (Luke 4:22-24, 28-29).

2. Prejudice can blind us from the truth

vv 46 – 47 “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. 47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.”

  • Nathanael, a mere man like the rest of us, had that sinful tendency. His prejudice caused him at first to be skeptical when Philip told him the Messiah was a Nazarene.
  • The most important aspect of Nathanael’s character is expressed from the lips of Jesus. Jesus knew Nathanael already. So His first words upon seeing Nathanael were a powerful commendation of Nathanael’s character.
  • Jesus’ comment speaks volumes about Nathanael’s character. He was pure-hearted from the beginning. Certainly he was human, he had sinful faults. His mind was tainted by a degree of prejudice.? But his heart was not poisoned by deceit.
  • Jesus knew that Nathanael loved God and that he could teach him the truth.


  • What would have happened if Nathanael hadn’t taken Phillip’s advice to go and see for himself
    • Possible answers: He would have not met the Christ; he would have continued with his prejudicial, stereotypical opinions.

Something to think about: What kind of behavior was Philip demonstrating?

  • Possible answers: faith; trust; non-prejudicial, excitement.

3. Prejudice is confronted when truth is exposed
v 48
“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked. Jesus answered,
I saw you while you were still under the fig tree before Philip called you.”

A LITTLE HISTORY TRIVIA. A fig tree was a symbol of peace. Jews would sometimes sit under a fig tree to pray.

QUESTION: What do you think it was that Jesus saw in Nathanael that others did not?

  • Possible answers: Jesus knew Nathanael’s heart. He knew that Nathanael was a good man and a future disciple. He knew that Nathanael was “teachable” and would shortly be teaching others.

4. Prejudice crumbles when truth is realized

vv 49-51 49 Then Nathanael declared, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” 50 Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You shall see greater things than that.” 51 He then added, I tell you the truth, you shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”

  • Nathanael’s first thought about Jesus was that he could not be everything that Philip thought he was because he came from Nazareth. But he soon learned different.
  • Now, since Jesus told Nathanael this information, Nathanael no longer cared where Jesus was from.
  • Why did Nathanael respond the way he did after Jesus talked to him?
  • QUESTION: Is it always that simple?? Do we learn such important lessons the first time?? Why was Nathanael able to learn not to be prejudice with only one lesson?
  • How do we “know” that Nathanael learned his lesson and no longer was prejudicial toward others?
  • Answer:? He ministered to Jews; Samaritans (John 4); Romans (Luke 7), Greeks (John 12) and even Pharisees who were willing to listen (John 3).

QUESTION: Can you remember any other time when Jesus had to deal with prejudices??

  • Possible answers: (a) Hanging out with tax collectors and sinners; (b) the Jewish behavior and thoughts about gentiles; etc.

QUESTION:? Christ disproved Nathanael’s prejudice.? How is it mostly that we disprove a preconceived prejudice?

  • Possible answers: (a) after getting to know or work with someone of a different culture.

KEY POINT TO REMEMBER: Christ went on to use Nathanael in big, powerful ways, even though he initially displayed prejudicial behaviors. Christ can do that for us too.

1 Samuel 16:7b The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

1 Kings 8:39-40 (NIV) then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with each man according to all he does, since you know his heart (for you alone know the hearts of all men), 40 so that they will fear you all the time they live in the land you gave our fathers.

Jeremiah 17:10 (NIV) “I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward a man according to his conduct, according to what his deeds deserve.”


  • He was a native of Cana in Galilee, a neighboring village to Nazareth. This is where Jesus did his first miracle, turning water in to wine.
  • Close companion of Philip.? In each of the synoptic Gospels’ list of the 12 disciples, the names Philip and Bartholomew are linked.? In a lot of church history documents their names are linked as well.?
  • Philip introduced Nathanael to Jesus (John 1:43).
  • After Pentecost, Bartholomew Nathanael was not mentioned again in the Bible.? Tradition says that he went east, possibly as far as India.
  • There he translated the Gospel of Matthew and taught.? Supposedly, a Christian named Pantaenus went to India a hundred years later and some of the people still had a Gospel of Matthew that Nathanael had given them.?
  • One story we have of his death was that he was placed in a sack and thrown into the sea; another is that he was flayed alive and crucified.
  • Verse 45: Philip found Nathanael and explained that Jesus was the one that the prophets had foretold.? We have no way of knowing if the two had ever even met before; he may have even been a stranger.? Philip mentioned Jesus’ name and where He was from, which was a common way of introducing someone in those days.? What Philip said triggered a prejudice that Nathanael had.
  • Verse 46-47.? Nathanael responded with prejudice, not knowing the person, but only the stereotype.? Philip in contrast urged him to come see Jesus for himself.
  • Verse 48-50. Christ’s statement to Nathanael shocked him.? We aren’t sure exactly what Nathanael was doing, but the fact that Christ knew amazed him.? Many suggest that he was looking for peace and praying, and the fact that Jesus knew his prayers proved His divinity.? Astounded by His knowledge, Nathanael proclaimed that Jesus was the Son of God.? Because of this proclamation, he was given the reward of one day seeing greater things.
  • He was one of the disciples to whom our Lord appeared at the Sea of Tiberias after his resurrection John 21:2…. NIV Simon Peter, Thomas (called Didymus), Nathanael from Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two other disciples were together.
  • He was also a witness of the Ascension (Acts 1:4, 12, 13).??

13 When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.?

  • He was an “Israelite indeed” (John 1:47).

47 When Jesus saw Nathanael approaching, he said of him, “Here is a true Israelite, in whom there is nothing false.”

  • Men’s ears are closed to the Gospel by many kinds of prejudice – racial, social, religious, intellectual and temperament.

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