A Man Named Joseph
Joseph was a Jewish Christian who lived in the first century. While he wasn’t extremely rich, he was a landowner. He lived in a time and place in which many of the early Christians were greatly persecuted.
One of the things Joseph did to help his fellow Christians was to sell his land and give the money he made to the group of believers in Jerusalem. However, not only were the early Christians being stripped of their money, their very lives were being threatened for following Jesus. Therefore, Joseph traveled the land to encourage those believers and to persuade them to keep on keeping on in their commitment to Christ.
He was much loved and though you’ve probably never heard Joseph’s name, the early church knew him well. He was highly regarded among them. In fact, he was so highly considered that the leaders of the early church assigned him the job of teaming up with a recent convert to the faith, a fellow who had been known for stirring up a great deal of trouble against the early church.
This new convert had been a great persecutor of the early church, but now, seemingly out of nowhere, was a disciple of Jesus. Understandably, the men and women of the early church found it difficult to trust this man.
What this new convert needed desperately was for someone greatly loved and trusted to come alongside him and help him build bridges to the rest of the early church. That’s exactly what Joseph did. In fact, Joseph did such a thorough job that he was eventually eclipsed by the mighty work God did in and through the life of this new disciple. This new disciple of Jesus became one of the most influential missionaries and theologians the Church, in any age, has ever seen.
Perhaps you have figured out who that “new convert” was. It was Saul of Tarsus who became the Apostle Paul. However, you may not be quite as sure of Joseph’s identity. Maybe you know him by his nickname: Barnabas. The name “Barnabas” meant, “Son of Encouragement,” and that’s exactly who Barnabas was. He was a great encourager.
Come Alongside Of
One of the primary definitions of the word, “encourage,” is “to come alongside of.” That’s exactly what Barnabas did.
He came alongside those in the early church when they needed money. He sold his land and gave the profits to the early church in Jerusalem.
He came alongside the persecuted believers and lifted their spirits with the message of the Gospel and by reminding them of the hope they had in God.
He came alongside Paul when he was distrusted and disliked by so many folks and helped to bring reconciliation and trust between Paul and the early churches.
Stay tuned for Part 2