Acts 11:22-26 :
The report concerning them came to the ears of the assembly which was in Jerusalem. They sent out Barnabas to go as far as Antioch, who, when he had come, and had seen the grace of God, was glad. He exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they should remain near to the Lord. For he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith, and many people were added to the Lord.
Barnabas went out to Tarsus to look for Saul. When he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. It happened, that for a whole year they were gathered together with the assembly, and taught many people. The disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.
Barnabas was called an encourager and I learned something new about encouragement through this passage.
I used to think that encouragement was a passive thing. I thought an encourager mainly listened to people and helped them out. Although listening and helping is part of it, we see that encouragement in the life of Barnabas was something that was far more active. First, Barnabas is sent out to Antioch where he “exhorted them all, that with purpose of heart they should remain near to the Lord.” Then he decides to take another trip “to look for Saul.” This was a very active move. He had to go to another city to do it.
By the way, Barnabas’ message is true for us today. We should live with purpose of heart and remain near to the Lord. Only by remaining near to the Lord and doing what He wants, can we expect God’s righteousness to shine out through us so that we can live godly lives.
This is also the first time that believers were called “Christians.” Notice that it says that the “disciples” were called Christians. A true Christian is also a disciple.